Separate Your Content from Your Selling

George Kao


“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

This is where so many of us heart-based entrepreneurs fall down: we try to mix our selling with our moments of content-sharing generosity. We know it doesn’t feel totally right… it appears you’re giving free content, but then you’re trying also to make them buy something…

I used to do that (it’s what’s taught out there in marketing circles), and I always felt a conflict in my conscience.

Eventually, I began to be careful to distinguish content from selling.

It’s made me much more authentically creative. Yet at the same time, my efforts in selling my services also improved.

So this is what I now recommend:

When you’re creating authentic content, don’t try to sell your services or products in that piece of content. Just educate or inspire or express authentically.

On the other hand, you do need to share your offerings regularly — otherwise few people will remember what you offer. However, when you do, sell transparently and authentically, without needing to hide what you’re doing.

For context about this change of strategy, let me share a three phase evolution that I’ve noticed in my own journey of marketing…

Phase 1: A pure focus on Selling

It’s clear what the sales person is trying to do. Their primary purpose — transparent to them, and to you — is to sell you a product.

They might say they want to help you, but you know (and they know) that it’s a byproduct of the main intention: to make sales.

If they’re an ethical salesperson, they will do a good job of “filtering” or “qualifying” which is to ask good questions and help you explore whether the product is actually a good fit for you, that it will solve the problem you actually care about, and that it’s the right timing for you to buy it.

Phase 2: Content Marketing

The blogger, podcaster, social media maven, especially if they’re very heart-centered, might feel conflicted about Selling/Enrollment. They know they “have” to eventually sell, to stay in business, but they would prefer to simply give helpful content.

They may have learned from other marketing “experts” to create a “marketing funnel” where someone comes in at the top of the funnel through free content, then moves “down the funnel” to more in-depth content, then to a cheap product, then to more expensive products.

The problem with the Content Marketer is that they’re often conflicted internally, thinking that they should probably also be selling…

For example, right now, it seems like I’m genuine in sharing these ideas with you. But what if I suddenly went to saying “So, that’s why you should buy my course on how to separate content from selling…” It would erode trust. You thought that I was trying to genuinely share information that I’m passionate about, but it was just a thinly veiled sales pitch after all.

That internal conflict does not liberate the full creativity and authenticity of helping that full altruism does.

Phase 3: Authentic Marketing

This is what I’ve been exploring, since 2015, through my articles and videos.

I aim to borrow the best of Phase 1 and 2, and bring purity of heart and intention to the doing of each activity.

We understand that we have 2 separate activities in our business: (1) Selling and (2) Content.

It’s like a business having 2 arms: the for-profit arm and the non-profit arm.

In each department, there is purity of intention. There is no conflict. In this way, both can be done ethically and effectively for its purpose. You can make enough money, and yet also fulfill your natural desire to give and help with a full heart.

The key is that when I’m creating content, I’m not hoping that you’ll buy anything from me. Occasionally in various blog posts I do link to courses that I sell, but it’s more as an FYI rather than expecting my blog readers to buy.

Yet, I also consistently announce my launches and sales. When I sell, I aim with pure intention: I’m telling you why I created this product, who it’s for, what it aims to help you with, and other key details. My selling is not hidden within an article or video that purports to be free content.

To summarize, here are the benefits of separating content from selling:

  • You feel the freedom to fully explore ideas that intrigue you, without feeling like you have to “perform” and sell something.
  • You feel the abundant opportunity to experiment with finding your public “voice” and building confidence with it.
  • You don’t feel like you’re tricking the audience, pulling them in with “free” content only to have them experience a sales pitch at the end.
  • If you are distributing your content, using social media ads, for example, to increase the reach of your content, some of it will be shared widely, thus growing your audience.
  • Some of your audience will then check out your services or products, and buy when it’s the right time for them…
  • …especially because you also, on a consistent basis, remind your audience of what you offer through your transparent selling messages.

It’s a natural byproduct of authentic marketing that people will eventually buy from you. “Making” people buy from you is not something you need to worry about.

Instead, focus on doing these two activities with pure heart — content generosity, and selling with integrity — and the business will tend to grow as well.



George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"