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Whether you’re working as a copywriter or a graphic designer, most freelancers and solopreneurs offer on a service-based model. It can be the perfect way to get started; with little more than a laptop and an internet connection, you can connect to clients around the world and start earning money.
The problem, however, is that while it may be easy to start a service-based career, this path isn’t always ideally suited for scaling later on. The good news is that by adapting the way you sell your services, you can “productize” your business and see a big increase in revenue. Here's how.
1. Determine the right product match for your business
Naturally, your first step is finding a way to package your services so they can be sold as if they were a physical product. The right solution is going to vary from industry to industry.
Service as a software (SaaS) is a great example of how services can be sold as a package. Businesses are generally presented with a set of package options to choose from, each with different pricing tiers based on the level of included features that the software will handle for them.
These systems have proven so popular that Gartner projects worldwide cloud-service revenue to reach $331.2 billion by 2022 — nearly double 2018’s $182.4 billion.
Of course, not everyone has services that can be sold as part of a software package. Personal trainers and other consultants could productize their services through webinars, allowing them to reach more clients in less time. Marketers often combine multiple services into a single package to sell to clients.
As always, understanding the needs of your customers is key. When you know what they are looking for, you can better identify productized services that will solve their most pressing problems.
2. Create a systemized package to sell your services
A key part of successfully productizing your business lies in your ability to systemize the delivery of your service. Details like pricing, included services and delivery timeline should be standardized so that you don’t have to spend time on proposals and pitches.
A recent email conversation with Pia Silva, partner and brand strategist at Worstofall Design, provided a great example of this. Silva explained, “We productized our branding services into one- to three-day ‘Brandups’ where we build the entire brand, website, copy and more all in one go. Before this, though, clients must go through our lead product — a ‘Brandshrink’ engagement where we determine their branding and business strategy.”
Continued Silva, “These streamlined products have helped us go from fighting to close $30,000 projects that would take six months to complete to quickly acquiring clients that generate $25,000 to $50,000 for a three-day project.”
Straightforward pricing options that list the features or services included with each pre-made package mean you don’t have to pitch custom proposals. Clear communication about what is (or isn’t) included in a particular package sets clear expectations upfront. Customers will quickly know whether or not you are a good fit for their needs. This also helps your team by giving them a clear understanding of the tasks that they’ll need to accomplish for each project.
When you’re selling the same “product” each time, you sell clients on your brand and the solutions it offers — not you, the entrepreneur or founder. This helps strengthen your brand as a whole, which means you don’t necessarily have to be directly involved with every project.
You can let your team handle more of the heavy-lifting, if necessary.
3. Understand the scope of your work
Productizing your services means that your offerings will naturally need to become more limited in scope. An “off the shelf,” prepackaged service is not going to be as customizable as if you continued to offer your old service-based model.
As part of this, you need to fully understand how much time is required to deliver your productized service. This will help you set rates and better define your service packages for your clients. Even for creative tasks, setting a standardized timeline is essential.
As Neville Chamberlain writes in a blog post for Gist, “I usually challenge creatives with the following: How much time can you spend on the creative process for each of your clients? We already know the answer is not ‘unlimited.’ So it is finite. And if it is finite you can put a time box around it. In fact, to run a profitable business, you have to put a time box around it. And if you can put a time box around it, you have just one more ingredient in your product.”
A key goal of creating a productized service is to give yourself more control over how you spend your time. A standardized system that is easily replicated will help your team run more efficiently, giving you more time to work with more clients.
Productizing your business will likely require that you look at your services from a new perspective. You might need to adjust your business model to make things work. But as these tips reveal, this upgraded approach can be the path to more consistent revenue growth, allowing you to scale like never before.