Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory are with us today helping us to move from free to fee! There is definitely a role for “free” and free can be a beautiful thing, but learning to serve your audience by developing fee based content and services serves both you and your audience as well. Listen in to learn how to get started on this journey or enhance the one you’re already and hear Cheri answer:

  • What has giving free content away helped you to do in your ministry?  
  • How did you accidentally train your audience to expect your best content for free? 
  • How do you turn the model upside down? 
  • What are some examples of how to move from free to fee? 


4 Week Group Coaching with Kathi and Cheri:

To learn more about Kathi and Cheri’s 4 Week Group Coaching click here: https://www.writingattheredhouse.com/freetofee

Links and Resources:

Red House Free to Fee PDF 1

Kelly Wilbanks

Anna LeBaron

Cheri Gregory

Write Beside You

Amy Carroll

Clutter Free Academy Podcast

Clutter Free Academy Facebook Group

Solo Stove

Tiffany Jo Baker

The Husband Project by Kathi

Soul-Care for Go-Getters by Tiffany Jo Baker

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Writing at the Red House

20 Books to 50K


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Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at https:writingattheredhouse.com

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory

Cheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”
Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and Overwhelmed.
Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.
Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at www.cherigregory.com.

Free-to-Fee Part 1

Free-to-Fee Part 1


Kathi: Well, Hey friends! Welcome to Writing at the Red House podcast where we gather at the table to break bread and tell tales with some of our favorite writers and speakers who love to share the story of God’s extravagant love. And with me today is my partner in crime. We have done more work together than any two human beings I currently know. It is author Cheri Gregory. Cheri, welcome back – well, it really it’s welcome for the first time – to the Writing at the Red House podcast.


Cheri: I’m so excited! Thank you so much for having me.


Kathi: Well, okay, so let’s talk about, we’re talking about how to go from free – I get these two words mixed up very easily – free to fee. And, you know, we’re all in business, but I think we get business and ministry – it’s just hard. I think there’s a lot of guilt surrounding people like what we do which is a I would say, for the most part, prescriptive nonfiction, charging anything for what we do. And I won’t go into all the psychology behind it. I won’t go into the reason that Roger thinks that’s the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. But the reality is – 


Cheri: The guilt is real. Some of it comes from inside of us, and some of it legit. I mean, we, we’ve heard it, we’ve been guilted by others.


Kathi: Yeah. I’ll tell you something really interesting recently, with, of course, Corona and all that kind of stuff. You know, my business this year, has gone from hero to zero. And I’m not worried about it because you know, there are people who are so much worse off. We are making adjustments. We are being smart. And I mentioned this to somebody in a different kind of discussion. I said, “Yeah, it’s a sad year because this is a business I’ve built for the past, I would say 20 years.” And this guy said to me, “Yeah, but Roger still has a job.”


Cheri: That’s so dismissive!


Kathi: Like, you would never say that to Roger if he lost his job. “Well, at least Kathi still has her job.” So I think because there are a lot of women in this area, that for some reason, we have this feeling that we should be giving everything away for free and trusting God to provide money. I’m like, I think we should be trusting God to provide money by providing a service. So that’s my personal thought. But you and I both know, at some points in our business ministry, you said – and this was so revealing to me – that you actually trained your audience to expect your best for free.


Cheri: Yeah, by accident, let’s be clear, I recognize that this had happened. And I think some of it, you know, I’ve been blogging as an actual blogger for over 10 years now, I’m not one of the – I didn’t join the wave way back when, like 15 years ago, but I’ve been blogging for a long time. And you know, when I started listening to the, I’m gonna just call them gurus, I’m not gonna name any names here. The common wisdom very early on was to offer ebooks for free and to just really give things for free because if you gave people things for free, they would then read it, fall in love with you be so you know, be changed by doing what the advice you gave them, they would be grateful. They would become loyal and then they would buy anything that you then eventually charged for and there might have been some truth to that –


Kathi: I think there was – 


Cheri: – way back when.


Kathi: – when there was when nobody would get a book for free, and like, oh, that was revolutionary.


Cheri: I have hard drives filled with free ebooks and videos.


Kathi: And how much did you consume?


Cheri: None. Yeah, I’m gonna erase them all. And so the, it’s, you know, like the universe is filled with space trash now – I mean, I feel like the internet is so clogged with free ebooks.


Kathi: Yeah. Now, there are some really interesting websites like there is a page I’m part of, not because I’m doing the program, but because I find it fascinating. It’s 20 books to 50k, I think it is? I can’t remember exactly the name. I’ll put it in the show notes. But it’s how you produce these low price or almost free or maybe free books and you build up a following and you build a series. And so because there are lots of people who still want to read free books, so it’s not that it never works. But really in the industry you and I are in – let’s just say that’s a lot of science fiction and romance novels.


Cheri: Oh, thank you because you were looking at me and I’m like, how many free ebooks would I have to write? There’s a window. I’ll go jump out of it.


Kathi: And I’ve got some friends who have done really, really well with this. So if you are a science fiction or romance author, totally see that go check that out. But there is, you know, in this series we’re talking about from free to fee.


Cheri: Yes.


Kathi: There is a role for free.


Cheri: Absolutely.


Kathi: Yeah. So here’s my you know, the things I wanted to talk so you trained your audience to get things for free. How did you then make the switch?


No. Okay. Edit that out. No, I don’t want to go there. I want to talk next week about –


So you trained your audience to get things for free. And because free can be a beautiful thing. What has free, giving free things away helped you do in your ministry?


Cheri: Well, I have to establish – we each have to establish some credibility.


Kathi: Right.


Cheri: You know, I think we’ve talked about the know, like, and trust factor, people have to know that we have something to offer them, they need to know that we know who we are, and what problem we can solve for them. They need to if they come to our website, they need to know if they’re in the right place for them or not. And so the free information that we give them is going to help them know if we’re somebody that they should connect with and stay connected with or if they should just bounce off to somebody else.


Kathi: I really do think that that is the biggest benefit of free. It’s serving your audience and figuring out who they are and who you are to them. All three at the same time. Because free – you heard me talk. I had somebody who said, you know, “Hey, I fell on hard times. And you used to pay attention to me when I paid you. And now you don’t pay attention to me anymore now that I can’t pay you.: So she was she was really trying to make me feel guilty. And what I came to understand – this was a huge revelation for me – you know what, I give a ton of stuff away for free. And we’re going to talk about some of those places. Information is almost always free. Yeah, I do sell books. But you know, that’s a very low cost way of getting a lot of information. But attention costs. Because I can put some information out. And you know, 10 1000 a million people can look at it, it cost me the same.


Cheri: Yeah, exactly. It’s out there.


Kathi: But attention is finite. And you know, I have 24 hours in the day, I like to spend about seven of those sleeping. And then I like to spend some of them with Roger and chickens and things like that. And then the rest, I have to divvy up and I have to figure out how am I going to use it? And part of that is being used to create free products.


Cheri: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.


Kathi: And create free services and do free things.


Cheri: Well, and here’s the thing. The mistake I made in the past and that was, I thought, if I did enough free, then it would eventually build up to the fee and then I could afford my ministry. What I now realize is I’ve got to be prioritizing the fee that makes the money that keeps the lights on so that I can then do what you just said, which is then I can afford to create the free stuff that those who don’t have the money or don’t want to pay for whatever reason, there’s an ample amount of free. And so I’ve turned that for me. I’ve had to turn the model upside down.


Kathi: Okay, so let’s talk about that for a second. Because I think that there is this expectation we’re supposed to give all this stuff away for free. And then I have seen that burn out not just other people, but me. To keep feeding the machine. And because people responded to it, and we’re excited about it. So yes, so you turn the model upside down. So you said, What can I charge for so that I can maintain my lifestyle? Now, when I say lifestyle, we’re not talking rich and famous.


Cheri: The Mazarati.


Kathi: Yes, exactly. You’d like to be able to cover the car payment, that kind of thing. So that I can continue to serve my audience. And serving your audience isn’t just giving things away for free producing high quality stuff that you can also sell. Because yes, there are people who have followed me for 10 years who have not bought one item.


Cheri: Yeah, absolutely.


Kathi: And which is totally fine. But I do need a certain percentage of people who are investing. So let’s talk about what do you offer for free? So when you’re defining your audience and things like that, we want to be able to put things out there and see what people respond to. Yeah. So um, you know, the, the most basic thing I would say is probably blog posts.


Cheri: Yes, those. A well written simple blog post, whether it’s a how to or if somebody is inspirational, and certainly maybe a devotional, that sort of thing. It’s going to be out there. And I’m sure, you know, our listeners if they’ve been blogging, and I know you probably get these emails of people who’ve read something you wrote five years ago, 10 years ago, and the Holy Spirit led them to it on a particular day at a particular time and it had a huge impact on them.


Kathi: Yes, and you know, So, I love how God is not bound by time. And often can point somebody to something that I wrote, like you said five, ten years ago, that I would never write today, but it still has a ministry to it. I love that. Okay, explain what a lead magnet is.


Cheri: It’s that little small gift that we give somebody when they sign up for our email list. And this is where I made the mistake. I thought it had to be 100 page ebook, but the goal of a lead magnet, whether it’s an audio, whether it’s a video or a little devotional series, or most commonly, it’s like a single page download, I know you have quite a few you use those in the past. It’s something that helps them get this teeny tiny taste test. It’s like walking through the mall and suddenly finding yourself in front of Cinnabon and they don’t give you a 12 pack. They have those little cups with a teeny tiny piece of a Cinnabon with a little dollop of frosting. And you eat that one little taste test and you either then find yourself buying the 12 pack with extra frosting or walking away. Both are valid. But the point is to get something very good – as bloggers as those of us who are in ministry, we offer something on our website, which is a very small taste test, which they can consume and use in five to 10 minutes max, and they can see an end result. A before and an after.


Kathi: Yeah, there have been times that I’ve got, I’ve been the consumer and I’ve looked at the free thing and I realized, “Oh, we’re not a good match.”


Cheri: Yeah.


Kathi: And you know what, that saves that and they’ll go unsubscribe. It may look like “Oh, I just subscribed to get the free thing.” No, I I tried it. Like I have done that at Costco. So many times. Like I’ve tried it. I’m like, “Oh, good. I know I never have to buy that product.”


Cheri: And especially not in a Costco size.


Kathi: Yeah, exactly. Okay, so lead magnet is one thing. Talk about a welcome sequence.


Cheri: And this is something I’ll have to confess I’m still working on. So the the lead magnet for Sensitive and Strong is the quiz “Am I a highly sensitive person?” And so I do have people unsubscribe when they take it and they’re not a highly sensitive person.


Kathi: Excellent. You don’t have to pay for them to be on your list.


Cheri: And they don’t have to get irritating emails from me. But when they find out that they are, then I’m going to be sending them five emails that are spaced a few days apart that walk them through the five key qualities of a highly sensitive person. And they’re going to get to know me, I’m going to tell them a little – short emails, little story; and I’m going to I’m going to add like a one to two minute video. Because I want them to see my face. I want them to hear my voice. I want them to get to know me as a person.


Kathi: Yeah. And can I tell you what I love about what you just said? He said, I’m going to admit I’m still working on. Can I just tell you, anybody who says they’ve got all their systems tied up with a neat little bow and it’s just perfect?


Cheri: Gagging sounds in the distance.


Kathi: Here’s why I say that. This is the Golden Gate Bridge. The day they are done painting the Golden Gate Bridge, they start over. All of this stuff is constantly being tinkered with, it would be lovely, if you could just do something – I kind of had one of those things for a welcome gift. When I wrote the husband project, which was 11 years ago, I had a free cookbook that was called The Ultimate Guide to Man Food: How to Drive Your Husband Wild With Passion by Impersonating Betty Crocker. I use that thing for years and years and years. And it’s so nice every once a while you hit upon one of those ideas. But the thing is, I don’t blog on marriage anymore. So you know, so I don’t use it anymore. But it was so nice to have something so simple that works so well. But for most of us, we are constantly having to tinker and tweak and make it better for our audience. And we only can do that when we know what our audience is.


Cheri: Absolutely.


Kathi: Okay, so that welcome sequence. And now, weekly emails. And this is something that I have been doing for – it’s so interesting we had somebody come onto our team Kelly will banks, and we have we have a series with her for writing at the Red House on how to create great newsletters.


Cheri: She is amazing. I look forward to getting your newsletter every single week and I literally get my coffee cup and sit down because I know it’s going to be such a fun read and all the links in there are going to be so worth checking out.


Kathi: So when she first started she had never written a newsletter in her life. She had worked for babies central baby center, and but I told her – and this is what this is what I really recommend guys – you find a newsletter that’s not in your industry, but has your heartbeat.


Cheri: Oh, I love that.


Kathi: And so the newsletter I pointed her to was for one called solo stove. Now if you don’t know what solo stove is, it’s basically a tin can. But it’s a tin can that Roger and I spent, I think $300 on. Now, I know we sound like the world’s biggest fools. What it is – it’s a light portable camping stove. Okay. And so when we have guests here at The Red House, we do our s’mores over it. It’s so well designed, it’s beautiful. But they have an entire newsletter every single week that I look forward to reading about a tin can. Because it’s not about the tin can –


Cheri: Now I have to subscribe because if anyone can do a newsletter that makes that so appealing –


Kathi: Yes. So like, they’ll have a list of 10 campfire songs to sing. They’ll have a new s’mores recipe. They’ll have 10 places you can pack up and take your solo stove this weekend.


Cheri: So it’s a combination of really practical and warm fuzzy yet, but there’s that you don’t want to miss out factor.


Kathi: Well, it’s inspirational and aspirational. It’s people buy the tin can – and they would die if they heard me calling it the tin can – but basically, that’s – I‘ll put a picture of it. So you guys see, yeah, and you’re gonna say, well, what’s on the inside? Nothing. I’m gonna show you a picture of the outside, you’re like, what’s on the inside? Nothing, but it’s just the way it’s designed. It’s really good. But um, when you when, when you buy it, you’re buying, like, I want this kind of lifestyle. With clutter free. You’re buying because you’re like, I want the clutter free lifestyle and you see all these people who are having progress on that and you’re like, that’s what I want. And I’m not selling them a fantasy. If you work the program, it actually works. But Kelly has done such a masterful job of this. And we get so many responses to that newsletter each week, which by the way I respond to and is just such a great way to nurture those relationships and say, you know, people keep people engaged. It’s really wonderful.


Cheri: My weekly email is a paragraph long with one call to action because anything else would kill my overwhelm my people. Yeah, yeah. So your newsletter mat meets the needs of your people. Right? And my extra simple email with one link to do one thing meets the needs of my people.


Kathi: Yeah. And mine has to have a picture of chickens pretty much every week.

Okay, so Facebook groups, talk about free Facebook groups.


Cheri: I’m gonna let you talk about free Facebook groups. You have – 


Kathi: I do have clutter free Academy, which at this point has 11,000 members and it is, I will say it’s a very self guided group. We do have, we have the amazing Tanya Kubo who, who manages that. But, you know, we have two groups. So we’ll talk next time about a paid Facebook group, which is my clutter free for life, which is a subscription. But in the clutter free group, what we’ve really done is set the tone and reinforce the tone. And so it’s a safe place to come and share your before and after pictures, ask questions. And one of the things we have had to do is say this is based only on Kathi Lipp’s clutter free book. If Marie Kondo works for you, there are a million groups out there, but cluttery people like to have a bunch of different systems. Yeah, so they can say the system didn’t work for me. no no no. if you work the system, the system will work for you, but you have to work this anyway. So the Facebook group has been wonderful, because as we also offer a fee group, we can say, hey, this has been working for you but if you need x, y and z which is usually more accountability –


Cheri: Yeah, and more – well, we’ll talk more about that, but more of your actual presence –


Kathi: more of my presence. Yeah, that kind of thing, then you’re going to need to go over here. And I just I love that Facebook group there’s and 11,000 people but not join my paid group. Mm hmm. You know, a lot of people are just trying it out, or they, they need a safe place. Because they can’t discuss their clutter with anybody else. It’s really kind of wonderful. And then podcasts which we both do, you do one with Amy Carol, And I do clutter free Academy. And then of course, the writing at the red house. And these are free.


Cheri: For the listeners


Kathi: For the listeners. Yes. And so we’re going to talk about ways that you can use these free things, which you’re still giving away for free. But how can you then – I want to say level up, level up to get to a fee part. But here’s the thing you have to start with the free.


Cheri: Oh, absolutely.


Kathi: So when people say I want to be a Christian writer and speaker, but I need to start making money right away? Like, that this is not the industry to do that in. It’s just not. Because most people don’t know what they’re doing right away, they’re still trying to figure it out. If you’re called by God, God has never shown up with a business plan in my ministry, so you have to figure that out with him. And that takes time and energy. And the only way I know how to do that – there may be other people who have figured something out – the only way I know how to do that is by serving my audience and letting them self select who they are. And so I love this free stuff. I love it because it gives us a chance to play and get creative and figure out what we want to be doing. And I think that that’s a beautiful thing.


So a couple of things I want to leave our listeners with. First of all, check out the podcast notes because Cheri is creating a planning guide for you that you’re going to be able to download that is going to help you work through “How do I get from free to actually earning an income when it comes to this?” And then – I’m so excited! – Cheri and I are going to be launching a four week group coaching program, where we’re going to walk you through how to take your business from free to fee. And I can’t wait to do this because it’s been paradigm changing for your business.


Cheri: Huge.


Kathi: It’s been a lifesaver for mine. And you know, I say – I was telling you earlier that we have lost a lot of income because everything was at the red house. Yeah. And now like we have pivoted. The first step was revenue retention, which we we did a an online retreat that helped us retain some revenue. And now we’re getting to the place where we’re coming up with new ways to bring money into the coffers, that is going to change my business forever. And I’m so excited that we’re going to be able to walk people through this. So we’re going to include a link in the show notes, go check it out. Cheri and I would love to have you guys join us. And we will be doing a few of these programs over the year because we want to make sure that you are able to grow in what you want to do. Cheri, thanks so much for being on.


Kathi: Oh, thanks so much for having me. This is way too much fun.


Kathi: And friends, thank you for listening. You’ve been listening to the Writing at the Red House podcast. Now go share your story of God’s extravagant love.



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