Recently I listened to a podcast interview Pat Flynn did with Brian Casel of Briancasel.com.
The interview, on the Smart Passive Income podcast, was all about “productizing” your service. I thought the whole concept was brilliant.
Brian developed this concept because, as a website design freelancer, he was constantly dealing with sales pitches, proposal writing and price negotiating for each and every job.
And he didn’t always win the job in the end, so it was a lot of work, without the guarantee of a paying job on the other side.
And if he did win the job, chances are the price of his work and the scope of the project had been negotiated down to fit the client’s budget.
Not exactly a win-win.
Does this sound familiar ? If you are a freelancer, then you can probably relate to Brian’s pain points.
It’s the life of a freelancer. And while it’s great being a freelancer and working for yourself, the extra work that can go into getting a client job and negotiating the fee can be exhausting.
So what exactly is productizing?
Productizing is the concept of removing billable hours and systematizing your processes, all while charging a flat fee for a set scope of work.
For example, let’s say you are a virtual assistant.
With the typical freelance model, you have an hourly rate. You connect with a potential client. They tell you their needs, you pitch your services. The potential client asks what you would charge for x amount of hours per month for doing x,y,z services each month.
You discuss their business more so you can get a feel for their needs, then you may write up a proposal (that’s what I did for my VA clients).
They may give the green light, but chances are, your scope of work will vary and change as the needs of the client changes. Your pay changes as well based on the number of hours you work each month.
Not a bad model, but not the perfect one if you’re looking for more of a standardized, predictable workflow – and cash flow.
Now let’s look at the method of productizing this service.
As a virtual assistant, you may have a core set of offerings such as, for example, email inbox management, customer service and blog editing and loading onto WordPress.
Obviously your offerings will vary, but I’d say pick a core focus for what you ‘d like to offer. For example, podcast transcribing, client management and scheduling, or perhaps blog writing.
Pick one core offering around a pain point that customers are willing to pay for in order to get it off their plate.
Again, the key here is to pick an offering that potential clients are more than willing to pay for to get it off their plate. It must be a service that your ideal customer would find valuable in their day-to-day business.
Pick that core offering, clearly set the scope of work (for example, “editing of 4 blog posts per month with upload to WordPress and sharing on 3 social media platforms”), then set a flat rate for this service.
Set rate. Set scope of work. No negotiating, no pitching and no gray areas on what you will do for your client.
Depending on your particular service, you might also considering offering a couple packages at different price levels. Put your pricing right on your website and stay firm to the pricing. It’s not up for negotiation. Be sure and get testimonials too as you get clients under your belt.
You might be wondering how this is productizing since you are still offering a service. Well, yes, you are still offering a service, and initially you may still be doing all of the work.
But what Brian suggests doing is writing down your processes for what you do so that as you get more clients you can remove yourself a bit more and have other people doing the work.
In the virtual assistant world, this could be a great way to scale up your income without working 90 hours a week. Simply document everything you do and how you do it – and then hire others (if you want) to do the work as you’ve documented it.
You may or may not want to hire other people and scale big, and that’s okay. You’re still removing the price haggling and scope of work negotiation, making your income and work flow so much more predictable.
I decided to give this a try myself with my blog writing.
I had a virtual client for years that ran a diaper bag company. She had the hardest time keeping up with her blog because she wasn’t a writer and didn’t want to pay big bucks for someone to write her blog posts for her (that wasn’t part of my scope of work as her VA at the time).
I noticed this was an issue with a couple e-commerce clients. After listening to Brian’s interview, I decided to launch a proofreading and editing service to established bloggers.
It didn't long for me to get a very good client. Then that client referred a few other people to me. Ultimately, I discovered that I really wasn't charging quite enough. You want to make sure you price your services appropriately. After all, you don't want to make $2 per hour :).
And if you don’t have a service-based business yet, why not skip the freelance model and just go straight to this? I would recommend it completely. It’s easier for you, and for your potential new clients!
What is the pain point?
Just remember to offer something that is a pain point for your ideal customer. Have I said that enough times yet :).
If you ‘d like to learn more about how to productize your service, I suggest checking out Brian’s site at Casjam.com. He offers a course and walks you through exactly how to productize a service.
To check out Pat Flynn’s interview with Brian, click here.
Good luck and please share in the comments if you are already doing this with your business!