Productized Services. Good in theory. Bad in practice.

Productized services, the perceived holy grail of freelance, which intended to be your ticket to freedom.

The idea is that by standardizing services and automating tasks, you make your freelance practice more scalable.

This is great in theory.

But in practice, it is not that simple, mainly if your business is focused on providing customized solutions.

The reality of freelance work is that it is just that – work.

Your clients expect results, and you wish to be paid for your time, knowledge, and expertise. Which makes it very difficult to "productize" certain services.

For example, suppose you specialize in website design and development. In that case, you might productize this service so that it is more scalable.

This may seem like a great idea at first.

But, it is essential to ask yourself, what happens when you have a client that wants more (or less) from your productized service?

What if they want some custom functionality?

Or, they want to only pay for the functionality they need?

Or, maybe they want you to throw in some after-hours support for free?

Do you just bite the bullet and do the extra work, or raise the productized service's price significantly to compensate for all the extra work?

In the end, you quickly realize that your "productized" service ends up becomes customized.

Therein lies the problem with productized services.

Every client has different needs. Every project is different. And every client expects a customized solution.

Which effectively makes productized services very difficult to utilize in this situation.

There are only 2 types of models for customized solution businesses. You can either:

a) Go after small but high-value clients where profit margins are very high.

b) Go after a large, low-margin client base (or sell productized services).

Unless you're an agency with more than 10 employees, you'll quickly realize that option "b" is going to be suicidal for freelancers.

The fact that freelancers relied on their time and expertise to get paid makes it challenging to sell a "productized service" (which relies on selling at a higher volume).

And that's why I'm not a fan of productized services.

A better way is focusing on finding & keeping small, high-value clients that can provide you with repeat business (and referrals).

They then become your base, but at the same time, you're not dependent on them to make a living.

The flexibility is very liberating and allows you to work on other projects and have a hobby, side business, or life in general.

At the end of the day, you're still doing what you love to do while not having to work yourself to death.

But, being said that, there are also some circumstances where selling a productized service makes sense.

For instance, website hosting, maintenance, and support.

These types of services have a low barrier to entry yet have a high perceived value.

For your high-value clients, it's great to be able to offer these services to them for recurring revenue.

Since you already build them the website/app/system, it's a natural progression to offer these services as a bonus to your high-value clients.

However, there is one thing that you should be very careful of is the pricing model of your "product."

It shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all solution.

You need to figure out what your clients want and how to price it accordingly.

For example, a client in the financial industry will probably want a more tailored solution with enterprise-level support/security/consulting to go along with it.

Whereas a small business owner may just want their website optimized for conversions/SEO.

Based on these differences, you can price accordingly.

The financial industry client will pay more expensively than the small business owner.

Clearly, one solution can't fit everyone.

You should price it according to your client's needs and not expect that all clients should pay the same price (even though it's relatively the same thing).

At the end of the day, selling a productized service is not for everyone.

It's something you need to be confident in providing without getting burnt out and confident enough to raise prices accordingly (if required).

The bottom line is that productized services may be effective in certain circumstances but are generally not the best solution for freelancers looking to make a living.

So, unless your client is highly specialized, you should avoid the temptation to "productize" your services.

For me, it's just a matter of picking up clients with a high ROI and maximizing the revenue from them.