A recent trend I’ve seen on Twitter and the Indiehacker space is the concept of productizing yourself and trying to scale this up to an unbearable scale for a solo or duo team.
Designers, developers, writers, etc… are thinking more about offering their services in a SaaS-like model that might be more attractive to their customers. It seems a little too good to be true and in these types of cases, I’ve always found it to be as such. That said, can it work? Absolutely.
A long time ago I quit my W-2 job and started a design agency with my wife. We were a one-stop-shop for small businesses that needed marketing and branding. Our clients were generally small businesses.
Making our services automatic was a big goal of mine so we could take on more without doing all the selling in between. Often when one project ends we’d need to go hunt or sell to find another. It was annoying and income was inconsistent as a result.
At one point I spent a ton of time developing an idea of “productizing” our services so our clients could effectively be on retainer for a monthly fee.
We had tiers with different offerings across each and a pricing model that on paper seemed pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it never caught on. We landed most clients on a per-project basis which was easier from both sides' perspectives.
I think if your brand is large enough you could start to offer these types of services as a product. I think we just weren’t there yet and needed to either shift to more of a “product” in our marketing or ditch the concept entirely which is what we did.
Unlimited revisions are a mirage
Our model wasn’t necessarily to offer unlimited anything but it’s a big problem of offering services as a product. I see this trend with other folks in the industry now. They offer unlimited service for a monthly rate. This seems awesome at first but I think quality ultimately suffers over time and at scale.
People subscribing to the productized service want to know what they are paying and how often with a subscription. They also don’t want a cookie-cutter solution to their problems.
Around Twitter, I’ve been seeing the model of “unlimited everything” for a flat monthly fee. I’d argue this is fine for a small subset of clients but when you scale, you become a bottleneck unless your team can scale along with demand. Quality has no choice but to suffer when this happens.
I see too many businesses approaching the concept of scale by thinking they can just offer the same thing for everyone. The whole concept of SaaS is one-to-many but I think that’s a bit of a fallacy when it comes to services.
Even in the software space, you’ll have customers that need some hand-holding or special features toggled on or off. Things get complex fast.
Product design as a service (PDaaS)
Recently I thought about opening up a product design service on a SaaS model. It would be niched heavily in the web app space. I could hire a mobile app designer and maybe a webflow/marketing page designer. I’d manage the business and fill in the gaps. It could be cool.
It would also require constant grinding. I’m in my 30s now so I don’t know that I’m up for that. Maybe a decade ago I would be.
Ultimately, I think you need attention for this to truly work and make bank. Becoming a semi-celebrity on Twitter or YouTube is how this model truly sees big scale/profits. Anyone can deploy the same tactics but you have to be real with yourself that if it gets too busy you’ll need a way to adapt and grow or to exit gracefully.
Maybe I’ll get a spark to try it soon.