The Death of the Free Mentality

I remember the good old days…

There was a time when guys like Robert Puddy, Soren Jordansen, Tim Linden, Paul Kinder, Tony Tezak and myself used to hang out in a Hot Conference room and discuss business all day, everyday! It was a fantastic time for traffic exchanges and something I miss about it was the MESSAGE that every owner shared with their members and people that came and hung out with us in the conference room…

It takes money to make money!

It was encouraged and at times beat into people’s head that they needed to spend money on their business to eventually make money down the road. Somewhere along the line, we lost our way…

With the re-launch of yesterday we’ve seen a few rumblings around the net with ‘outrage’ and disgust that (heaven forbid) a for=profit company starts to charge for their service. We made a decision to get rid of free accounts but still allowed members to use our system for 30 days for free to try it out. Hey I know sometimes people think it’s evil for companies to actually turn a profit but it is what it is…

Why the entitlement mind set? Why should everything be free? Does this make sense?

Freemium is a popular business model and it’s something we will always have in our traffic exchanges and programs like ClickTrackProfit but for essential tools like, hosting, autoresponders and even AdKreator, that doesn’t always make sense…

And why is this such a bad idea? Most offline businesses require 100’s of thousands in capital and initial investments not to mention the minimum 3-5 years to turn a profit but online it’s looked down on for asking people to budget 75 bucks a month? It’s insane…

And for everyone that starts the argument like this ‘It’s hard to spend money when you have none’…Guess what I did and every other successful business person online? They found the money, they worked offline to make money to fund their online business…They struggled, they clawed and they fought to make their dreams a reality. But they never used the entitlement mind set…It’s a very dangerous card to play!

Invest in your business. Invest in the tools and don’t ever cut corners when it comes to this. Down the road, you will see how important it is to break out of the freebie mentality and build your business by INVESTING in yourself and your business!

Jon Olson

I'm Jon Olson, I've been publishing Hit Exchange News since 2003 and been involved in the traffic exchange industry since...Well, the beginning :) I'd love to network with you as you browse the pulse of the traffic exchange industry! I am also a HUGE fan of reading your comments. I will respond to every single one! Poke around and enjoy the 'News! And thanks for hanging out...

97 thoughts to “The Death of the Free Mentality”

  1. A painful reality for some, I’m finding it to be a bit more and more true for me as I go along. I’m not upgraded at everything I’d like to be (yet), but finding myself able to increase the investing over time.

    Here’s to growing your business the old fashion way — by spending money!

    1. Yessir, and it takes time…But thinking you can just go along and not invest in your business and in the TOOLS is just wrong on so many levels…

      And it used to be applauded and encouraged…Now it seems everyone wants to do it for free.

  2. It seems that the internet is only place where its acceptable to expect things for free. I’m not sure why that is. I don’t know too many people who walk into offline stores and demand the products on the store shelf for free. Yet it seems to be the normal occurrence online.

    I understand that businesses online, just like businesses offline, have to make money to exist.

    What has taken me quite awhile to understand (I am admittedly stubborn at times) is the importance of investing (spending money) in yourself. Understanding that I am, in fact, worth justifying setting aside a budget for myself to invest in my business.

    It’s taken me awhile but I get it now.

    1. Wonder if the internet they are using to get online is free…Wonder if ISP’s all over the world are free? LOL Yeah it’s a crazy way of thinking but it seems to live and prosper in this business ……Not anymore though πŸ™‚

    2. I have an idea Janelle because I felt the same way. I was looking for work. Thinking that I should be able to work online for free like you get a job offline, but confused all of this with online businesses. My wish to work a job online took over my realistic thinking, and I wanted to be able to do business for free as a pipe dream I guess. I was very unrealistic at the time and purposely confused myself. But I never gave up looking and learned from Jon how to be realistic about online business.

  3. Hi Jon,
    People should look at it from the other way round.

    You are on camera every day in TELive telling people they have to invest in their business to make money.

    You tell people that a wise move is to start as an affiliate marketer and then, when they can, to invest in their own programs.

    Now I don’t suspect a single person who attends TELive would plan to launch a program and not make money from it.

    So why all the rabid hatred when you choose to do the same…launching a program from which you make money from subscriptions.

    If people want to take advantage of free programs which are out there then fair enough.

    If people think they have an automatic God-given entitlement to use a program for free then they are hopelessly deluded.


    1. Amen and I completely agree! Yes, there are plenty of options out there to do it the free route but then I ask everyone doing that….If no one pays for anything, and we are in a sales business…Who makes money? Ever?

    2. Patrick,

      I haven’t seen any of this rabid hatred yet. Where’s it at?

      I certainly don’t see any need for said hatred. There are free and freemium alternatives out there. It’s up to each user to examine his or her own tracking needs and decide who’s offering the best deal that meets those needs.

      1. LOL Go read Sweeva comments and have a look at our support tickets. Oh the hatred is there but it’s a minimum…Most people are starting to understand that the free options suck and doesn’t do anything for anyone. Sorry Tom, you are wrong. Free models for tracking , hosting, web design, auto responders….Is a bad business model.

        1. Jon,

          I’ll check out those comments.

          I’m not sure where you think that I am disagreeing with you.

          I was just pointing out that these alleged haters have nothing legit to complain about — if they think the “free” model is better for them, they have options out there.

          I pay for my autoresponder. I pay for AdKreator. I pay for traffic exchange upgrades. I pay for web hosting. I pay for graphic design.

          And I have no problem in principle with paying for tracking. I am setting aside time this weekend to evaluate my tracking needs and decide which product/company best meets those needs. Cost will be only one consideration.

  4. Hi Jon. I totally agree with you. It does not make sense to make free. Everything costs money. And it’s not wrong to charge a fee. We have to pay our rent, buy food, buy gas just like offline people. People just don’t get it! How do they expect you/me to pay your bills? The free syndrome is unrealistic. And how could anyone run a restaurant, book store or clothing store giving stuff away for free! They have to pay bills, too. People think for some strange reason that everything online should be free. They need to wake up and see the realistic side to online business. That we are real people on the other end that need to pay bills πŸ™‚

    1. Yes Barb!!! Completely agree! Again if everyone is going the free route, how does anyone make money…But even above and beyond that…Tools to WORK your business are must pay programs in my opinion.

  5. Here is my point of view: if you spend less than 9 bucks a month in advertising, then don’t buy it. But if you think that this tracking service will save you a lot of money from useless advertising then go for it by all means. It’s THAT simple!

  6. I have been trying β€œThe Free Way” For about three years now and didn’t make a dime. After finding the timtech guys about two months ago I have already made enough to pay for the month of November @ CTP, it’s not much but it’s a start. And as for not having no money to spend on your business, I quit smoking, actually the day the Pizza Plan 2 came out, that was $50 right there. Thank you Jon and the rest of TimTech for showing me the right way of doing things. It takes money to make money.

    1. Wow dude, that’s awesome man. Seriously, I hate telling people things like that but it’s bang on…I did the same thing. I quit smoking and took that cash and put it into my business. That combined with my ‘pizza addiction’ helped me find the money to fund my business…That is so amazing dude, it’s to be congratulated!

    2. One of the things most people don’t think about is that their TIME is an investment also and the one thing they can NOT recover. So if it is a question of spending more money or more time, then really time is more precious.

  7. I think one of the things that people think about “online stuff” like credits, tracking, advertising, and other services is that it isn’t costing the owner anything, but they don’t see many of the hidden costs that are transparent to them such as:

    – Server costs/hosting
    – Programming
    – Domain names
    – Advertising costs
    – Administrative costs

    And a host of other things that are all done in the background. The “freemium” model can work well with some services, but you also need to consider what you are getting.

    Even though I am no longer a TE or safelist owner I understand that a good owner needs to provide a good service to stay competitive. Without a reliable source of revenue each and every month that makes it tough to keep providing your customers with great features they want. You always have to be on guard against your competition building a better mousetrap and making your service obsolete.

    So I applaud the move to the “paid for” service Jon.

    Just my 2 cents.

    1. Thank you sir and that’s bang on…TimTech pays around 40,000 a month on servers, salaries, development, administrative costs….I mean that 40k needs to come from somewhere and it doesn’t just happen…It takes a lot of work and a lot of resources.

  8. Great post Jon. This industry has gotten very lazy with attempting to run a business. People got to where they expect free stuff and they would rather surf for pennies than earn bigger commission by referring people.

    But some of it was our faults as owners telling people for years they don’t have to upgrade in order to make money. So people expect us to always give a free option .

    I don’t know if certain people in this industry will ever be ok with this but you are ok with them going elsewhere so it doesn’t matter.

    1. Thank you sir, and yes I completely agree! I blame myself completely for this…But I’m going to try to bring it back to when we were taught and did the teaching on why you should pay for things and upgrade…It will help everyone out!

  9. Great post. The reality is, however (and what sets you apart) is you must have the mindset to spend $75 for months or years if you have to until it becomes profitable for you. Most are not coming from a good place financially, and $75/month for essentially a hobby (until it becomes profitable)is hard to explain to the spouse, or try it for 90 days and then complain you got “took” again by the big guys. Thanks.

    1. Yup completely agree and understand that! The mind set is lifetime of your business…No longer just 90 days but sadly people only give things 90 days or less than call it quits….Business just doesn’t happen like that.

  10. Hello Jon,

    I have been learning more from you and the CTP members and other TE owners more in this past nine months or so than I did from all my other sites with training!

    I’ve paid for many membership sites in the past that promised to make it “easy to make money”. I could not use the technical information, or the clear-cut instructions were simply non-existent.

    Click Track Profit has the plan to follow, the tools needed and the bare minimum to be spent to learn how to properly market. What more could a reasonable person attempting to build a business ask for?

    I will stick with it and invest in myself at my own pace.

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    1. Thanks Barbara – yup go at your own pace for sure but what’s important to know is that it does take money and sadly most people don’t want to hear that.

  11. I have been in business practically my whole adult life, so I understand your point. Exchange is important, something for a return of something of equal value. However, I have been nickel-and-dimed to death by worthless scams, which have blackened the eye of the industry.

    There are two things I need to know about a program; first, does it really work, and secondly, can I do it?

    If a program is worth its salt, then I will be more than glad to pay for it. If the second question as to whether I can do it or not, I’m sure you don’t want someone in your program who is not capable of working it, because all he’s going to do is sully your reputation. And in the case of the first question, why not let him prove that it works first? If the program is true then you’ve got a loyal customer. If it’s not true you shouldn’t be selling it anyway.

    1. Agreed! And that’s why we always recommend and promote ever green products….Some opportunities come and go all the time but the ever green stuff sticks. It’s proven and doesn’t go away when the next shiny object comes online.

    2. George,

      It’s important to remember that is not just a “program.”

      Tracking is a TOOL that you need, whether you make money directly from it or not.

      Of course, because it is a tool that EVERYBODY needs, no matter what “program” they are working, it is an obviously good basis for being a “program” itself. Evergreen tools have a larger potential customer pool, and that pool is likely to stick with them longer than with non-tool products and services.

  12. To be honest this us suprising. If you don’t realize this from day one your not a business person. Isn’t this one of those duhg things? I mean look at it from the customers point of view. If yhe biz owner wont spend their own money on their own biz why would I give you my money. Its not a mentality to me. Its judt these people aren’t serious about building a biz. Maybe I’m over simplyfying but this just seems like a universal truth and dint see what’s all the discussion. Put on your big boy pants or stop wasting your time. Simple as that.

  13. The good old days…..I remember them well. One of the very confusing things to me over the past couple of years has been people’s willingness to readily hand over cash for one up schemes, pyramid schemes and ponzis but when it comes to actually investing in tools, advertising and brand, they baulk.
    Part of this is wrapped up in he push button internet ATM mentality promoted by many, but part of it runs deeper. As you know I’ve been around the TE & IM industry for a good while and I’ve reached the conclusion that most people never get the spend money to make money principle – in short they’re waiting to “Win” on the Internet. Business principles remain the same online and offline. Planning, Risk and reward are all part of the picture. Aiming at nothing and praying for good fortune makes people victims and easy marks.
    I wish timtech well with their new initiative. It seems to be geared for Pro traffic exchange users and I would encourage anyone who sees themselves that way to use it.

    1. Mark – this is brilliant and one of the best comments I’ve read in such a long time. Thank you for that. We have people that have spent hundreds in online schemes but won’t spend 9 bucks on a tool they need….Just a warped way of thinking.

  14. Another great topic for here or telive would be concentrate on your business or what your promoting before your promoting. Kinda like others are saying, so many spend time promoting worthless programs, or so much energy on little return. Yes spending money on your business is key. Setting it up, improving, and promoting it. That’s a given and so many need to work on this. What’s more surprising to me is the amount of energy and money people spend in promoting “NOTHING”

  15. I’m not sure where the entitlement mentality started, but it is alive on well both online and offline. So many people think that they should be paid for just showing up. They forget it is the value they bring to their company or business that earns them an income.

  16. Great Blog Post Jon! I really liked it a lot… It really makes sense to make… Just ROCKS and if anyone who is marketing online these days doesn’t track their ads they are missing out… BRAVO on keep on posting Great Topics!

  17. Hi Jon,

    Great to see “the death of” headline working a treat again.

    Compare these 2 mindsets and you can see the issue that plagues the internet.

    #1 Promote yourself and invest in the tools you need to do this well. Will require work and learning new skills.

    #2 Promote others and chase opportunities until you have no money left. No work, and easy to blame the people you promoted.

  18. I totally agree 100%

    Every single person that i know, works hard, and plays harder, with the delicate ballance between attracting customers and retaining them.

    Some things are precieved as ” the norm”…mabee a few traffic exchanges, and sometimes web hosting.

    But, with all life, you get what you pay for, if you pay nothing, you get nothing. So there has to be a paid for service at some point, and with that paid service you get top end quality and service.

    Anyone can get a TE script, host it and run it free, but what sort of customers are you planning to attract, do you want a good mix of all members of socierty, or just the freeloaders that expect everything free. 1 sort of customer might buy, the others, dont really expect to…it’s all about quality and choice:)

  19. The freebie mentality can be a dangerous game, but it is also just as dangerous to think that everything that is worthwhile on the internet (or in life) costs money. As a TE owner, my free surfers are important just like my pro members are. The free members generate the website views that the pro members pay to enjoy. It is a symbiotic relationship where everyone benefits. Without free members, there would be nothing to offer to my pro members. Without pro members, the bills don’t get paid.

    1. You need a healthy mix of free / pro member sin that kind of business model – the TE freemium model. I’m all for that. But the fact that people will spend hundreds of a pyramid scheme and then cry when people start charging for a tracking service….Is the reason 99% of people online fail at business.

  20. Jon,
    Great read here. From your original posts to all the comments left.
    It is certainly a huge subject in TEland. And I think the problem has been growing in recent years. Makes me wonder if some people even want to earn an income online. Sure they will surf and join all these lottery matrixes and such, but build a solid long term business, they are just not interested.(employee vs entrepreneur syndrome) This causes many real marketers and business people to conclude there is no money to be made with traffic exchanges……and somedays I can’t argue with them.
    And with tools, you get what you pay for. Try a free autoresponder and see how that works. Something as important as tracking, wouldn’t you want a high quality reliable service?? I say yes.


    1. Thank you sir, and yes I completely agree. It’s hard to defend these programs sometimes with all the crap people promote, support and pay for…

      1. That’s one thing that puzzles me as well.

        I understand the “I don’t want to spend money to make money” mentality. It’s a dead end, but I understand it.

        What I don’t and can’t understand is the “I’ll spend $5 here and $5 there on every cheesy matrix and cycler that comes along, not problem. But $9.97 a month on useful tools? NEVER!!!!” mentality.

  21. Hi Jon. It looks like you have lots of support here. I’ll add my name to the “agree” column just in case you need stats to beat someone on the head with. (I was watching your live webcast yesterday!!) πŸ˜€

  22. Wow! Good post and support! Short and sweet. I was in a haters chat earlier, I asked the question “Can you go to your local hardware store and get a tool for free?” I shut down the room. Rock on Jon!

  23. It’s funny, I totally agree with what you are saying. I was one of those people who years ago you were trying to tell me to spend money and I was saying back, ok tell me how to make money and I will spend it. I understand the lower than low income mentality.

    I spent years, YEARS, working with nothing to make something and when I started to spend money I was getting much better results.

    The Idea that free = money is a hard one to combat when trying to get people to spend money on the tools to make money online.

    There is one more thing I learned. If the tool works, the pay plan shouldn’t matter. The tool should be making your business money even if it doesn’t have a commissions structure. The best tools I use have very low commissions but the benefit I get from using them only makes me more money.

    Don’t be afraid to spend a little money but know where you are spending it for your best benefit.

    Thanks for this great post, I am a slow learner but I have finally learned that it is ok to spend money to make money online.

  24. I couldn’t agree…

    ..any more πŸ˜‰

    You definitely get out of something what you put into it – if you are not willing to put anything in, you won’t get anything out. It also shows a person, as an owner, which of your members are really wanting to take it to the next level and how many are just hobbyists, which is ok too.

    I’ve also found success in this model even in Traffic Exchanges, though that debate saved for another day.

    Your headline drew me back to your blog, but the reason I felt compelled to comment is that also having a tracking site it is ridiculous the amount of server resources it uses vs the income share it brings in compared to other types of websites, and based on the numbers on your front page you’re tracking about 4x what I am, so I can’t even imagine how you guys managed to even afford to keep TE Toolbox open to begin with. If I could go back in time I would have either not done it at all or have done a model like you appear to have done with this product. NOT CHARGING for a service that requires as much resources as these do borders on insanity.

    1. Yes sir. It really is the difference between a hobby and a business. Some people use these programs just to make some spare change, and that’s cool. But the business people, really need to change the way they think about this. It is a business and business requires investment in time AND money, not either or. Thanks for the comments John, I appreciate them.

  25. Jon,

    Your response to Michael Coursey’s comment should be read first!

    You outline that your overhead is over $40k a month. Which is why TE owners have to meet daily sales quotas in order to make a profit once these necessary costs are paid.

    I applaud the move to a paid service and the business principles you share (free) to every surfer who takes the time to listen.

    My first TE failed. Because, among other reasons, I was no longer making a profit and coming out of pocket for those monthly expenses.

    People are willing to pay for value, which is why your business model works so well, I believe.



    1. Anyone remember Traffic Buck? That was my first TE and it failed miserably. It’s just part of growing as a business owner. We are supposed to fail, it’s natural and ok πŸ™‚ Thanks for the comments sir.

  26. Hey Jon!

    First, I’d like to say CONGRATS to TimTech for the launch of! KOOL Stuff and I’ll be checking it out! πŸ˜‰

    Now … To all those people that want to go in business online and want ALL the info, services and tools to get started to be free …

    “How the HELL are YOU gonna expect to make money online if EVERYTHING is supposed to be FREE then?”

    One has to sell SOMETHING to make some moolah, right? I mean, IF everyone else ALSO wants everything for FREE, where does that leave the profitability of one’s online biz then? Are they gonna give their product/service away too? I mean, after all, it should be free – right? Uh … NO.

    Quite the “vicious circle” – huh?

    IMO, IF one cannot afford the small monthly expenses of the ‘basic’ tools needed to start an online biz, then maybe having your own biz probably isn’t a good idea.

    For those that don’t have that “free mentality” mindset … You have a HUGE advantage over those that do. RUN with it!

    Rick Wilson aka CorpRebel 😎

    P.S. BTW… Anyone here remember Free Yellow and GeoCities? heh heh

    1. GeoCities…LOL How about Bravenet πŸ˜‰

      Yessir, I completely agree and thanks for the awesome insight…That’s exactly the message we’re trying to convey…If everyone is free how does anyone make any money?

  27. I totally agree Jon. FREE is never free. Someone, somewhere, somehow has to pay something either it’s time or money. Time is money and money is time. But when it’s all said and done, when people finally get done trudging through all the FREE stuff online that’s not working for them, they’ll always come back to the “Branded” things that they “know” and “trust”. So with that said, cut the crap and save yourself the wasted time of the free stuff which isn’t really free and invest in yourself and your business the right way. It takes money to make money. Period !!!!!

  28. Another mindset I have problems with is the surfing for cash mindset. I get emails from members complaining because they don’t get cash from surfing my traffic exchange. They are there soley for the purpose of collecting pennies and nickels. To them, credits are worth nothing and they complain when they win credits and no cash.

    I find myself explaining more and more that traffic exchanges are for getting views to their websites or affiliate programs and not for collecting cash. If they do get cash on a prize page or from a promo then that is a bonus but should not be the main reason for using a traffic exchange.

    I hope we can steer members back to the basics of what traffic exchanges were meant to be. They sure as heck ain’t ATM machines! That my rant for today, lol.

    1. Yeah man, it started with Jackpot surfing, EasyHits4U made it popular and hell, TimTech has even contributed with Money Badges. That’s the problem with the industry we are in, you have to offer it to even compete…

      But it’s getting better I think. People are coming around again to the idea that making pennies isn’t a good business plan. Just look at the comments here πŸ™‚

      But I completely agree Mr. Black. These aren’t cash machines like people think they are….Money has to be generated somewhere, it doesn’t just appear.

  29. All I gots to say… free dont make anyone any money, I tell people dont even bother trying to build an online business if you think you are going to do it for free, it is not going to happen…….never!

    I sure wouldnt go to work for free, the same applies to building a program online, somebody has to pay for the hosting and other cost associated with having a program.

    Free = no commitment
    you have nothing to lose, hence nothing to gain.

    This is why it is so easy for people to give up, now if they had 10,000 dollars invested in their online business, I think most would try a little harder, longer and seek out the knowledge they need so they wouldnt lose their money.

    Richard Weberg

  30. Jon,
    You have another thought provoking post… I was of the mindset at one time that free was the way to go. Then I realized it was more true it required spending money to make money. First of all if no one invested in themselves would they succeed. You or your parents paid for your education. Whether it be grade school or college. Second, if you wanted to start any business an investment has to be made. Time is money… if you are spending hours and hours a day surfing to earn credits then take that same time and multiply it times minimum wage. How much money are you spending for a “free” solution. Now you are still paying for the electricity and the internet access. So to shorten the timeframe or excel at a faster rate spend the money at least for the basics. If this is a business meant for you to be in you will have fun, make money, and be successful. The same is true with an MLM business. If you are not willing to invest in the start up costs then why are you looking at the business and wanting it for free? My final comment is this… how many people do you know that gave their child a car? Now how many of those children take care of that car they were given. Then compare that to the child that paid for their car. Who do you think took better care of their car? The one who invested the money or the one who got it for Free? The same is true with a free business. Most of the time people do not take it serious… it was free so who cares if it fails. But, if they had to pay for it that would make it work! Cheers to you Jon and thank you for your bold post!


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