As a service provider, I have to keep close track of how much work I’ve agreed to do for clients in a given week. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day that I can actually work—and every hour I spend on one client’s work is an hour that I can’t get paid for by another client. It makes the thought of creating a product that I can sell to my clients appealing. Since clients are paying for my expertise in performing services like writing articles, maybe they would pay for a product that I use my expertise to create?
A lot of products are simply the end result of the sort of work that someone might otherwise sell as a service. When you buy a toy at the store, you could have also paid a toymaker for the service of creating that toy and the materials necessary to do so. But some services are better suited to being transformed into products than others. There are certain signs worth looking for.
1. Do you finish the project by giving your client a completed piece of work?
There are plenty of services in which the client walks away with the results of a project, as opposed to an actual finished product. While it isn’t impossible to make a product out of results, having something that your client walks away with, like a website or a technical document, makes it easier to create a product that fits your clients’ needs.
2. Do you do the same sort of work over and over again?
It’s much easier to make repetitive processes into a product than a service like consulting. If you go into a new situation and have to look at a lot of details before you can decide what your next step will be, it’s harder to create a product.
3. Do you get a lot of questions about DIY options?
Especially if your target market is small businesses or individuals, you might be asked if you can help someone learn just what they need to do the project themselves. In such situations, it may make sense to create a product priced lower than your usual services that guides a business owner through a DIY process.
4. Have you created your own templates or shortcuts to completing a project?
If you’re experienced with the services you provide, you’ve probably built up your own little toolbox of files, templates or other task-related resources that help you complete a project significantly faster. The more templates you’ve been able to build, the more likely that you can create a product from your services that a buyer can customize for themselves.
5. Do you have to do a lot of repeatable research?
For many projects, research is the first step—and it’s often research that is very similar, again and again. That sort of research can be packaged as a product in certain situations, either to be made available to clients in the earliest stages of working with you, or for other people offering the same services you do.
6. Do you have a blog or a newsletter that is well-received?
If you post content about your business regularly and your audience finds it interesting, you may already have a built-in clientele for any product you create. To make things even better, you may be able to build a product based on the information readers are most interested in on your blog or newsletter.
7. Do you need to provide a lot of background materials to get your clients up to you speed?
In a lot of fields, service providers need to educate clients before those clients will realize that a consultant or another service provider is necessary. That education may present a useful area to consider building a product from.
8. Have you built up a backlog of material about your area of expertise?
While you don’t have to have lots of material ready to go when you’re planning a product, having that sort of collection (especially if you’ve got templates or bits and pieces that you copy for new projects) is a great sign that you’ll be able to create a product your clients will consider worth buying.
9. Can you see a big need for a specific tool that would make your work easier?
Whether the tool in question is software or a more physical product, you’re the expert in your field—if you need it, chances are that other service providers working in your field would find the same tool useful. It may be just a matter of building it.
Depending on the service you provide, you may have plenty of opportunities to create products based on the tasks you already do. The mechanics are like creating any other product: research your market, test your products in your market, and then actually create the product. Because you already know the market (from selling your services), you almost certainly have access to past clients who can give you a few answers about what they’d be willing to buy from and perhaps even test out your products.