March 8, 2019

Help me turn my services into a product.

Hey fellow hackers, new user here and could use some of your genius to help me define a new business.

I am currently a UX consultant who designs. For several years now I have had clients who come to me to figure out how to get their website / product / app to sell better. Typically they come away with some great results. Sometimes they re-focus their business entirely, sometimes they make some simple changes based on my recommendations, and other times I design a whole new solution for them. Overall my process is fairly repeatable - 1. Listen 2. Ask 3. Audit 4. Hypothesize 5. Design. The process is so solid that I even refer to it as "a proven process". There is really no guessworkm, no magic, just me looking for the same missing elements, checking to see if they have them, doing a bit of legwork to understand their customers and painpoints, then offering a solution.

I typically net 7-14k/mo with a handful of clients. The design work is intensive and projects often run 6-8 weeks on average, sometimes much longer. I have had projects that lasted 6 months... so in essence, I am part time employed by one client and if I have a few clients going at a time I make a decent living.

The part I am struggling with now is figuring out which part, if any, I should automate and turn into a product? Who would be my target audience? Would it even be worth it?

I feel like I can get the audit down into a systemic process that just about anyone that's capable of expressing themselves can go through and do it without any formal knowledge. So .. perhaps I can semi-automate this as done for you service. The only issue I see with this is pricing. I don't think I can justify charging my typical rates as a productized service. I just don't see people agreeing to paying 1.5-3k per audit without ever speaking to me. Part of why people hire me is because they get to talk to me first and understand where I come from, and typically know right away that I can solve their problems. There is a significant amount of trust in the individual (me), so if I turn this into a done for you faceless service, it may not be received very well without me doing the hands on work once again (calls).

There is also the possibility of doing a very basic audit, but one that goes beyond the typical (maybe even just a checklist) that the business can do themselves, or another marketer can do for others. However, I don't know if this is something that would gain any traction. I can probably write out an extensive checklist with recommendations based on responses, but not sure if it's worth it.

Lastly, I could just continue as is, try to work harder to get more clients and outsource some of the busy work or even the design part (the extensive hands on stuff) based on my recommendations. So, I do the audit + recommendations and have someone else do the design (but take a cut from it). I feel like this could work but right now I do not have enough clients for this.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I am curious if you have any ideas, contained here or otherwise on what I could do if anything to turn this into a scalable SaaS or done for you service.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

#product-feedback-request

  1. 1

    There seem to be not much space for automation, but maybe outsourcing? If the process is the same, you can hire some cheap but talented designer, teach him the process and get him to do all the time consuming, non-critical tasks. Don't reveal everything to him (like getting customers, some more difficult, custom tasks) so he won't be able to steal customers from you. Pay him something that is reasonable for HIS COUNTRY. Don't overpay him, or you will get in trouble. Provide him with incentives like bonuses for reaching the milestones within the agreed time. If he won't make it, decrease the bonus value by certain %, so if things went bad, he will still be in for giving his best to finish asap.

    I think you should try this.

    btw - congrats on creating a nice income stream for yourself!

    1. 1

      Thanks for your reply Bart. I have been thinking about possibly outsourcing the design work as that's not as important as the audit and recommendations (which I can still do myself). Right now the challenge is to get more clients more often so I can sustain an outsourced designer. Appreciate your input!

  2. 1

    My 2 cents on this:

    If I understood right, you have a name in your specific business. This is great! What I would do if I would be you:

    1. Try to automate what you're doing as much as you can. The goal is to get more (or as much) money with less work.

    2. Try to find a niche. What you are doing is very general and you have a lot of concurrence. Plus, people will believe more that you are a true expert if you are specialized. If you have a problem with pipes, you call a plumber, you don't call the guy who is a painter, a plumber and a dancer. I exaggerate but you can see my point.

    Even if you accept work which is totally outside of your niche, it doesn't matter. What matters is your image: how you present yourself. If you are an expert, you can justify to rise your prices.

    1. I think building a product could be an option if you have a specific pain point in mind which is common to all your clients. You could put your name on it and get the bonus notoriety + image for your product. But to be honest I would not go this path if I was you, and focus on the first two points.
    1. 1

      Thanks for your input Matthieu! I totally agree with #1, I can see myself outsourcing some parts while focusing on others.

      As for #2, I did not mention it in my post, but I am fairly specialized actually as is. My focus is on conversion optimization and that is how I sell my services. People come to me to get more $ out of an existing audience - hence I charge more than a typical UX designer (I think).

      The more I think about my situation, the more I am convinced that perhaps I should just try to scale up my existing work by having someone else help me, and focus any additional revenue on a totally unrelated SaaS. I can't code, but I can hire out development work if I can just put my finger on a specific problem/ solution I want to pursue.

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    This comment was deleted 3 months ago.

    1. 1

      This is exactly what I had in mind - a dumbed down, but still useful version of my audit / recommendations - completely automated via a complex set of questions / paths that get to the core of the problem and make recommendations. I thought about throwing in a human to do a visual audit as well, but perhaps I should lower the scope to a point where no human input is required and the person on the other end can simply answer some questions and get some suggestions. Bonus, I offer my full service at the end of the "tool / survey" if they would rather I help them directly. Thanks for your comment!