Five months ago, I launched my productized service. I completely bootstrapped from the start and made the MVP of the site in 5 hours. Since then, it grew to $34,000 in MRR and I also wrote a post on Indie Hackers on how to start a productized service.
As a non-technical Indie Hacker, it is a business model that caught my interest since it does not require a lot of development and can in most cases be fully bootstrapped.
Since I build all my projects in public, a lot of people have reached out to me wanting to start their own productized services. I also connected with many founders in the same space and decided as a result to make a small summary of the various productized services models I have come across over the last few months.
Hopefully, this will help and empower fellow bootstrappers / Indie Hackers to launch their own projects too.
Sit back, relax, take a cup of ☕ and enjoy the read!
What is a productized service?
Before diving in, Empire Flippers defines productized services as the following:
Productized services are a relatively new kid on the block for proven online business models (...) It is a way to take what normally would be a one-to-one client service, such as web design and SEO, and packaging them into a more packaged service. Because of this, it can limit one of the biggest frustrations that freelancers know as a “scope creep” (...) Instead, people buy packages and are sometimes upsold on more customized solutions that are still “productized”. It is an exciting opportunity, and businesses like WPCurve and Design Pickle have shown that it can work wonders, even despite early-doubters (who are now huge fans of the model).
Now that we have a clear definition of what productized services are, let's dive into the examples!
Example 1: Design-as-a-Service
One of the most popular examples of productized services are design-as-a-service business. Since design is a very broken industry (finding freelancers who complete a good job is not always easy as design is subjective and it is hard to outline requirements), a lot of players have started to tackle that problem in various niches.
DesignPickle is probably the most well known (currently generating $600k in MRR)
There are a ton of other services that solve a specific niche problem, for example 24slides focuses on presentation-as-a-service, but there are other opportunities such as infographics, or other design category for different types of clients.
In addition, a lot of these companies outsource their work to other countries. DesignPickle has staff in the Philippines and 24slides in Indonesia.
Example 2: Marketing-as-a-Service
A second category of services is services that strictly focus on marketing.
A good example is Drawbotics, focusing on services for real estate agents and developers and architects, which have most of their staff in Madagascar.
Other services could include lead generation-as-a-service, lead enrichment as as service, PR-as-a-service, funnel creation-as-as-service, etc etc.
Example 3: Coaching-as-a-service
Another innovative model of such services are service that focus on personal development or coaching. A funny example (and a service I signed up for recently and renewed) is Boss-as-a-Service, which essentially is an accountability "boss" for entrepreneurs. Another example of such service is the Telegram group Mindful makers which talks about love, philosophy, mindfulness among other topics.
Other services in that category could include relationship advice-as-service, dating-as-a-service, or even personal branding-as-a-service.
Example 4: Maintenance-as-a-Service
A very popular model (and perhaps one of the earliest one) of productized services is services doing maintenance. Such examples include WPBuffs (Wordpress-management-as-a-service) or WPCurve (acquired by GoDaddy)
Other examples could include: Sysadmin-as-a-Service or any other businesses that require regular checks and maintenance.
Example 5: Optimization-as-a-Service
Another innovative model is services catered around optimizing a certain part of a business. Popular models include Facebook-ads-optimisation-as-a-Service such as GrowthNinja (which manages $500k in monthly ad spend). Another such service is GrowthPros which focuses on improving onboarding of SaaS startups.
Other examples of such services could include CFO-as-a-service, or AB/test as a service, or CRO-as-a-service or even ASO-as-a-service.
Example 6: Customer-Support-as-a-Service
A good example of such service is HiOperator (YC S16) which provides customer support as a service.
Other examples of such services could include live-chat-as-a-service, phone support-as-as-service, etc.
Example 7: Newsletter-as-a-Service (or Curated-Content-as-a-Service)
A successful example of such model is Letsworkshop which researches and curates freelancing opportunities for a fixed monthly fee.
Other examples of such services could include health or nutrition tips as a service, or any business that requires a lot of researches and curation.
Example 8: B2C services-as-a-Service
A very popular model of such service is Scott Cheap Flights which sends regular flight deals via email.
Other productized services in that category could include flat share finding-as-a-service, relocation packages-as-a-service (my previous company offered fixed packages to students offering them to find them a room), etc.
Example 9: Content-creation-as-a-Service
A popular model of that service is AudienceOps which plans and creates content for companies. Other services could include translation-as-a-service, captions-as-a-service, video editing-as-a-service, etc.
Example 10: B2B-services-as-a-Service
Finally other services that do not fit in those categories include incorporation-as-a-service such as Sleek (which help you found and manage a company online) but there are plenty of other productized services that could be created such as in legal, accounting for example.
- Focus and standardisation: A lot of these services are very niche, they do one thing and do it very well. They are also extremely standardised (and say no to a lot of things) to avoid scope creep and be able to scale.
- Recurring revenue (most of the time): A lot of these services operate on a subscription-model which leads to recurring revenue. However, Drawbotics and 24slides also operate a Pay-as-you-go model with a credit system.
- They thrive best in businesses with low customer satisfaction: A lot of these services sit in industries where SaaS, online marketplaces and freelancers haven't been able to deliver a great service.
- Risk innovation: A lot of these services take the risk of the project going bad by offering a money back guarantee.
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