When it comes to running a business, particularly with marketing, there is really no such thing as free. But sometimes a free service or strategy is working well even while it’s taking up too much of your time so you can’t bring yourself to cut it out entirely. One of the hardest things is knowing when you need to upgrade from free to paid.

It can be hard to wrap your brain around the idea that you need to spend money to make money. It’s also easy to get so attached to the idea of something being free that you’re too stubborn to start paying for it, even if it’s the right thing for your business. Of course, for others, spending comes so easily that their challenge is realizing when to stop the spending to leave themselves some profit. Whichever group you’re in, there’s a point at which paying a little extra for something can be worth more than the time you’re spending on it.

Throughout this series, as we cover free marketing techniques, understand that there are ways to upgrade all of these ideas into things that cost money. This could mean upgrading your account level, paying for external advertising, hiring someone or by purchasing additional equipment. There’s almost always a way to make something a little easier to manage by throwing money at it and I’ll try to highlight these opportunities whenever possible.

But something that yielded great results at the price tag of $0 might not still be worth it once it’s taking money away from the bottom line. It’s a balance, one that will require flexibility and a close eye on your returns vs effort until you get it right. But the important thing to take away from this section is that you should never get so seduced by the idea of free that you aren’t willing to admit when the time has come to pony up and actually pay for something.