According to Chris Anderson in his book, Free:  The Future of a Radical Price, free is not going away but there are things people will still pay for.  He says people will still pay to

  • Save time
  • Lower risk
  • Purchase things they love
  • Achieve status
  • Keep using something you’ve got them hooked on

It’s time to innovate and the real innovation in this economy, Anderson says, is finding new and unique ways to charge for your goods and services.  He refers to two groups of consumers: 

  • price sensitive consumers who will like the free version (think Linux);
  • risk sensitive consumers who will like the paid version (think service level agreements from Microsoft). 

In other words, when you reach new customers, it doesn’t mean you can’t charge some of them.  But you’ve got to either match the price of free or ensure that the differences in quality overcome the differences in price.

And to my reader from yesterday’s post who hasn’t figured out how to compete with free, you’re in good company.  Neither has YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and many other companies with outstanding reach.  They still lack a business model that actually makes a profit. In fact, Google, the godfather of free, is beginning to be dragged down by the increasing investment in computers and data storage equipment needed to keep up with the 20 hours of video per minute being uploaded to YouTube, for free.

A couple of more gems from Anderson’s book:  he says that you can shift your company culture, or personal mindset, from “Don’t screw up” to “Fail fast”.  This is a freedom of Neptune in Aquarius.  Since effective efforts are not so much personal but collective these days, we are freed from the mental block of thinking it is up to us to find the correct answer to a problem.  The community is there like never before.  I love music sites like Jamglue where you can upload your songs and let the community work out the backgrounds and mixes.   Or Sound Cloud,where you can put up a demo and let people give feedback on your work. 

When the marginal cost of trying new things is zero, we are free to throw ideas against a wall and see what sticks.  Not that the marginal cost of our time is zero.  The time you spend experimenting may be time wasted if the idea goes nowhere.  And in the meantime, there’s that constant requirement of eating and shelter to take care of.  But I like this “fail fast” idea – I think it’s very Neptune in Aquarius.  Seems like a good idea?  Try it.  Another good idea?  Try it.  A totally different good idea?  Try that one too.  An off the wall idea?  Yes, that one too.  Neptune’s inspiration doesn’t always come in familiar forms.  But one way to be successful is to be a conduit for what she is trying to bring into the world today. 

The other gem from Anderson’s book I want to pass along is, “Every abundance creates a new scarcity.”  What has become scarce in this environment of zero cost for marginal bits?    

An excerpt from my blogging mentor, Yaro Starak gives the clue:

… Being open, honest and demonstrating your personality in everything you publish on your blog is the key to developing rapport… I want you to be very open, honest and real with your readers.

This reminded me that what can be scarce with Neptune in Aquarius is the very opposite of the Aquarian energy – the individual personality.  Even in this time of the ascendancy of the group you can find a platform on which to stand out, to demarcate yourself with your individuality.  The quotes above from Anderson and Starak apply to any product or service.  What is in abundance?  Digital bits.  What is scarce?  Face to face personal contact.  And personal responsibility.

My tax clients know they can take their taxes to H & R Block, or do them on TurboTax.  Even my astrology clients can buy computerized, very accurate reports about their strengths and weaknesses, or coming days.  Why don’t they?  Because personal interaction is vital to many kinds of problem solving.   And they know I will consider their unique situations compassionately and with commitment to their personal success.

What are you doing that the internet cannot do?  Let’s create a forum for how to compete with free.