No Image Available

Seb Anthony

Read more from Seb Anthony

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Are you undermining others with free materials?


The amount of information and knowledge offered on this site is commendable, often to complete strangers.
Its interesting that whilst some may earn their livelihood utilising such knowledge eg writing content for courses, offering consultancy others will readily give the same information away on site or via a quick email for free.
This got me thinking, why is this and does this depress market rates for said information?
I think this happens because people are basically positive and help others in need. Take a look at "Who wants to be a Millionaire", now there is no underlying why the audience should help someone else win a million when they are asked, but they always do, they act out of best intentions.
However on this site when you give something away for free you may be robbing someone else of part of their livelihood. Does this matter? Would it have happened anyway ? Or is it inevitable?
Juliet LeFevre

12 Responses

  1. Free Materials
    Hi Juliet

    I think there is a difference between free materials and a complete free training course / programme.

    I am happy to give away free materials and often do. What I won’t do however is give away a complete training course, complete with notes, slides, exercises, de-briefs etc.

    I do sell one course (Train the Trainer) with no supporting notes on Trainerbase and that is as far as it goes. You need to be a bloody good trainer to be able to take those notes and actually run a course with them as they stand; they do however cut down the time you need to spend developing your own work.

    Free material is one way of ensuring you can develop material in the time frame your clients want – and in my opinion that time frame is often unrealistic or nil development.


  2. It’s like having ‘virtual colleagues’
    In a nutshell, I agree with Andrew that giving away whole courses/sessions is a bit of a lose/lose. For a professional job, you need to do a proper TNA, tailor materials and so on.

    However, as an independent training designer, I am happy to give and recieve the odd exercise, research findings and so on. I have done my research, I am designing a programme, but sometimes I know that I need an exercise to do something in particular, or give a good example, and my brain is blank. When I was employed, I could simply turn to my colleagues for suggestions, but now I work for myself and by myself, that is not an option. In these circumstances, the on-line community become my virtual colleagues, and I am grateful whenever they help me out.

    As I have already said, I am happy to do the same, but would draw the line at people asking for whole sessions – not only would they be taking credit for my work, but there are also client/copyright issues to consider.

    Hope this helps to shed light on our ‘good samaritan’ approach.

  3. Why do people in the UK give blood for free?
    Hi Juliet,

    I think that there could be an analogy here. Many people have an altruistic streak and it shows through in many ways….like this (and similar) websites.

    Does it deprive someone else of an income? Maybe it does….although not everyone who posts a question may have a budget for employing a consultant or for buying access to the info through other means.

    I guess that there are two things that can irritate me a little and influence whether or not I help out:

    1. The first irritant is whether the person who is posting a request can be likened to a galactic “black hole”. By this I mean that they are constantly posting requests for help, but there is no reciprocity. The traffic is all one-way; they never contribute. You can see a poster’s track record on the CIPD Communities pages; I don’t think it is available here (or maybe I’ve missed it?)

    2. The second minor irritant is that a response to a request for help isn’t acknowledged. There is an earlier thread on this website on this topic with some interesting perspectives. I come from an old school which says that a simple “thanks” costs nothing.

    I know that you are frequent contributor on the CIPD site, Juliet, so thanks from me.

    I was very fortunate in my career when I was a late starter in Personnel, because I received great mentoring support before the internet had been invented. I’m happy to contribute to others in the early stages of their career, in the same way but using a different technology.


  4. Not just personal reasons
    Thanks for your comments and underlying reasons.

    Whilst we may focus on ourselves and say well ‘its not harming me’, is it harming others?
    Does it create a marketplace where we expect to get hold of knowledge and consultancy for free?
    One only has to look 3 posts below this one for examples.

    Furthermore one doesn’t have to look too far to find other Trainer related sites where Trainers are actually paying to join and upload their material for others to download (amongst other benefits).

  5. Reality of a free market?
    JL: “However on this site when you give something away for free you may be robbing someone else of part of their livelihood.”

    My feeling is that if someone has a business that is jeopardised by the release of limited free handouts or support materials then it can’t be that effective as a robust business.

    JL: “Does this matter?”

    Probably to the person concerned.

    JL: “Would it have happened anyway? Or is it inevitable?”

    I think in a free market it’s just an inescapable reality.

    An alternative view of free materials offered by Andrew Gibbons can be found here:

  6. free resources
    I have a downloadable resources page on my website but the materials are generic. I have been known to be asked to send free courses to people “preferably in word and powerpoint format” (!!!) at which point, I simply direct them to purchase one of my ready to deliver modules and allow them to make a decision whether they want to or not. But I think everyone these days are giving away samples as its the only way that a potential purchaser can gauge the value of your offering

  7. Free materials

    I have been helped by some very professional and clever people and not one of them held back on sharing their experiences, resources or ideas.

    I have followed this approach and will carry on doing so on the basis that I have gained far more than I have given away. I believe that this will be the experience for others who follow the same approach.



  8. Free Materials
    I’ve benefitted from the generosity of others on this site who have offered materials, ideas and comments freely – and i’m happy to do the same when I feel I have anything of value to contribute.

    I don’t think it does put anyone’s livlihood at risk. If anything it adds to everyone’s knowledge and potential earnings.

    I don’t think anyone’s giving away entire courses – it’s usually just the odd exercise.

    I think it’s a great way to share skills and experience.


  9. What goes around..
    I believe what goes around comes around. Over the years I have given material away on this and many other sites – in-fact I believe that I have been offered work BECAUSE I have made information freely available. Earlier this year I was commissioned by the CIPD to write some fact-sheets for them on the basis of content I offered on their community – a nice little earner…

    When people read your material they either engage with you for disengage from you…

    But never give away the whole sweet jar…

  10. I thinks its simpler than this.
    In any market, one persons ‘value add’ – the skill or knowledge that they charge for, in anothers ‘loss leader’ – something they can give away because they have a different value add.

    All the web has done is enable one kind of loss leader – knowledge – to be distributed very widely at almost no cost – or at least no incremental cost.

    Faced with this situation – the challenge is to improve your value add to the point where no-one can afford to give away its equivalent – which I admit is very hard.


  11. Free downloads
    Hi Juliet
    I totally understand your concern, however I think in most cases free materilas and downloads are additional support materials to accomponay paid courses.
    I also think that it would be quite difficult to run a course on free materilas alone.
    X C


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!