The trade secret is the long-heralded differentiator between brands, right? It's what makes Crest better than Arm and Hammer or Ford better than Chevy (I don't believe either, by the way). Thing is, in the social marketplace, it doesn't work. People want transparency. They want to know how to do things, especially in the handmade world. Those who keep their techniques "close to the vest" are wasting a massive opportunity to give something to the community, and by doing so, amplify their brand. Don't buy it? Here are my top five arguments in favor of it:
1. People remember generosity far longer than they remember a product. In the social landscape, your product is secondary. You are selling YOU first. You develop far more street cred by being known as a giver, rather than just a seller.
2. It's your small chance to make a difference. Maybe someone wants to make a scrabble tile pendant. They've seen them on Etsy and they would love to make one with a picture of their dog on it. They find your tutorial (the only one out there from a person who also happens to sell Scrabble tile pendants on Etsy). Two things happen. One, that person gets to learn a new skill and will probably share it with other people. Two, you get instant respect (and probably a recommendation) for giving away a valuable secret. Both are far more valuable than any immediate money you would have made from a sale.
3. Giving things away pays respect to the craftspeople that came before you and shows that you care about the community that you are a part of. Helping other people "win" is the first and best thing you can do to increase your own chances of success. Just look at how well this is working for Gary Vaynerchuk.
4. Value is the new black. If you aren't pumping out things that are valuable to the community and giving some of them away, you aren't really doing business. Yesterday, I was reading a blog post about online marketing and I clicked on a link to another article about Search Engine Optimization. I was dead-sure that I would be redirected to a shopping cart page and be presented with an opportunity to buy their ebook on the subject. I wasn't. It was a dozen pages of super valuable, free information with no strings attached. Will I now amplify that website through every social media outlet at my disposal? Yes, I will.
5. You can monetize it. I'm not saying that you have to give away everything that you've worked so hard for. All the hours you've put into learning this or that technique should be worth some cash in return. If your readers feel that your first impulse is to be generous, they'll happily spend money to support your other efforts. Remember though, they can tell the difference between someone who is using giving to get ahead and someone who really feels that giving is important. Giving is not a strategy, it has to become part of who you are.