8 Steps to Start Productizing Your Service

Many experts make their living selling their time. To make matters worse, many sell their time too cheaply. Just these two factors are enough to prevent you from succeeding. Overworked, underpaid, constantly fighting to find the next client – it’s no wonder many experts question what they’re doing, become disillusioned and quit.

What’s the alternative? Turning your service into a series of commercial products you can sell, e.g:

  • Books/e-books
  • Training courses (e.g. video, e-learning, audio, text)
  • Live workshops
  • Webinars
  • Membership websites
  • Authority sites
  • Podcasts
  • Software
  • Out-of-the-box solutions, systems or kits

Selling your time is a bad idea

  1. Trading time for money. If, like most experts, you make your living by selling your expertise one-on-one, you will eventually hit a ceiling on how much money you can make. You will be limited by the hours in a day and how much you can charge. Of course, there are many experts who make a great living selling their time – but there are many who don’t and it comes at a price…
  2. Loss of freedom. If the only way you get paid is if you’re at your clients’ beck-and-call, you are not free. You can’t decide to pack your bags and go travelling for a month; you can’t take a week off sick. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.
  3. Selling to one time-intensive client at a time is a tough gig. There is immense pressure when your income depends on finding the next customer – and then the next, and the next, and the next… Many experts experience periods of feast or famine. They’re either turning work away because they’re too busy or their diary is empty for long periods.

When you’re starting out, selling your time is the natural option. It’s easy. But life has a habit of making easy things become difficult and difficult things become easy. One option is to make productizing your service the long-term goal whilst selling your time in the short/medium-term.

An 8-step framework for productizing your service

Here are 8 steps for converting your service into a series of products you can sell:

  1. Identify one thing your clients consistently need help with. What is the bread-and-butter service you currently offer? What do you most get called on to do? This is a good candidate for productization. Now, imagine if you were to teach a complete beginner how to perform this service for themselves – what would they need to know? Plan out a course accordingly. Your current clients may be happy to continue paying you for the service (you can take a view on this) – this product will primarily appeal to for new prospects or those existing clients look
  2. What is the outcome your product is promising your target audience? What will your customer be able to do after using your product? Can you deliver on this promise? If yes, great. If not, be sure to alter your offer accordingly to manage expectations.
  3. Define your business terms. How much will you charge for your product? What levels of support do you offer? When does that support become chargeable (if at all)? Do you offer a guarantee? If so, on what terms? Do you offer various service levels (e.g. free, professional, agency or basic, standard, premium etc.)
  4. Choose your product format. What form will your product take? An ebook? Software? A training course? A mixture of several formats? We recommend you ultimately create a training course – it has higher perceived value and you can therefore charge more. In addition, we urge you to embrace video as a format. Video is growing in popularity and show no signs of slowing. It’s the perfect medium for building trust with your target audience – and trust sells.
  5. Leverage technology and online tools. There’s never been a better time to productize your service. There are powerful and affordable solutions for creating and delivering any product format you can think of; you have exciting social networks to drive potential customers to your offer; you can take online payments; you can build an email list. Everything you need to succeed in monetizing your expertise already exists.
  6. Take branding seriously. Keep a consistent look and feel across all your products. This is so important. (Corporations spend huge sums to ensure their brand and image is presently consistently across their entire operation). If customers like your product, you want to build on that goodwill – it makes repeat sales far easier. You want to build a brand that customers associate with quality and which they grow to trust. In the same way you have preferred brands, you want to be a preferred brand to your customers. You want them to see your logo and font and think, “Oh, it’s a John Smith Product – it’s bound to be good”.
  7. Charge higher prices. Selling a high-priced product is not much harder than selling a low priced one: if the prospect likes your product, they will buy it; if they don’t, they won’t, regardless of the price. You can’t be afraid to charge higher prices. It’s hard to make a good living based on volume selling. It’s much better to have a few high-ticket sales. Be Mercedes, not Toyota.
  8. Repeat the above process to identify other potential products in your service. It’s likely there will be other aspects of your service you can convert into products. They may not be as comprehensive as your “flagship” product but valid nonetheless. Don’t limit your ideas at this stage – you can always edit/discard them later.

Takeaway points

  1. Turning your service into a series of saleable products will free you from having to sell your time; will give you greater freedom and removes the limit on what you can earn.
  2. If you’re currently selling your time, that’s understandable. However, set a goal of gradually moving to a product-based business.
  3. Everything you need to start selling your know-how is readily available and affordable.

Action steps

  1. Get started. Take our step-by-step course to learn how to make money selling what you know.

Photo credit: angelocesare via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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