Some of your competitors are using the Free strategy to draw in traffic, and then once in monetize that traffic by other means (ads, supplemental products, premium service, etc.). In some cases I do agree with Matt and Craig above, you get what you pay for. However, that is only relevant to the strategy that you are pursuing.
Seth Godin, master marketer, writes high-quality articles everyday on his blog. Doesn`t charge anyone to read it, even though he probably could. But he still manages to sell thousands of copies of his book, `Small is the New Big`, which...is merely a collection of some of these same Free articles. Mint.com provides an incredibly valuable personal finance tool for millions of people, but doesn`t charge a cent to its users. Mint makes money on advertising and connecting its users to credit card offers and such. Hubspot.com is an awesome internet marketing business that offers tons of free tools, info and articles to their audience. This draws in prospects, and they then convert these prospects into clients.
Now I am not saying that you shouldn`t charge people for your service and give everything away for free. But unfortunately the online consumer expects a lot from businesses these days. If you keep everything behind lock and key, I think it will hurt your business. What you need is a balance of both. Offer some free advice, blog about your topic, connect with your community, and show your target audience that you you know what you`re talking about and can provide value to them. This builds trust and loyalty from your audience.
I`d suggest writing a blog on your topic, hanging out where your target hangs out online, and in general try to help people with your advice. If what you have is valuable, your customers will find you. And then when they are at your site, and loving you for the awesome article you just shared with them, ask them to sign up for your guided meditation and your conversion rate will double.
Check out www.ZenHabits.net. Leo is an awesome writer, and one that I think you will find a connection with. He writes great articles on his topic and has over 100,000 people subscribed to his blog. Once there, he promotes his book, has a few ads, and even asks for donations. As I said, don`t give away everything (unless that`s your strategy), but offer something of value to your audience and they will find you. Keep `everything` behind a credit card processor and it will make for a tough sale.
As for your pricing, I too know very little about what is appropriate for your market. However, $3 a month seems reasonable. Use the tactics above to draw prospects in, gain their trust, and pitch them with "Find greater happiness for $3 a month." Now who could turn that down?
One last thought, an idea. Offer "live" guided general meditations to all for free once a day, three times a week, whatever you are able to fit into your schedule. Then, offer people access to the recordings for a fee. Not everyone will be able to be online for the free live sessions and will want to meditate on their own schedule.
See `free` as a tool, not the enemy, and seek balance between them. If your goal is truly to "...provide an important and meaningful service" stick with it and you will be successful. Best of luck.
eVentureToday3/17/2009 8:36 AM