What’s that, you say? You don’t sell products? Well, why not?
Trading time for money when selling WordPress services is an inefficient way to make money.
Not only does it teach your clients that the value of what you do comes from how much time you spend on it (instead of the results you deliver), but it also caps your earning potential. You will never be able to make more than what a 40-, 50- or 60-hour workweek allows for.
Now, if you were to turn your service into a product, that’s a whole different story.
In this guide, I want to delve into why you should turn your service into a product or why it’s time to think about building a new product from scratch. If you’re sitting there, scratching your head about how you could do that, don’t fret. I’ve included a list of 18 ways you can turn your WordPress service into a product for 2019.
1. Website Development
3. Maintenance Plans
4. Website Audit
5. Website Edits & Support
6. Educational Materials
7. Develop Your Own Plugin
8. Themes & Templates
9. Design Marketplace
10. Marketing Audits
11. Content Creation
12. eBooks & Other Research
14. Social Media Management
15. Email Marketing Management
16. Google AdWords Management
17. Competitor Analysis
18. Reputation Management
Have you ever made the mistake of trying to explain what it is you do to clients when pitching your WordPress services?
“First, I conduct a rigorous competitive analysis and keyword research. Then, I move into wireframing and UX development.
Yada yada yada.”
The prospect’s eyes glaze over or, worse, they wave away what you’re saying.
Whether they come right out and say it, what they’re thinking is:
“I don’t care about any of this.”
Do you know why that is? It’s because what they really want to know is:
“What do I get in exchange for paying you X amount of dollars?”
Obviously, clients expect you to be qualified and to produce good work. But they don’t need to know the nuts and bolts of it. That’s why they’re paying you to take this off their hands. Plus, it’s all gibberish to them anyway.
What they want to know is what the end result will be.
Which is why productising a service makes a lot of sense for WordPress consultants and services. To break it down:
Ultimately, the goal here is to spend less time providing a service, but still increase your profits. Now, it’s up to you to figure out how to turn your service into a product that sells.
18 Ideas to Turn Your WordPress Service into a Product That Sells
There are three keys to profitability with a WordPress business:
If you’re a WordPress consultant that has struggled with building and sustaining profitability, that needs to stop now. You probably have a WordPress service you can turn into a product. You just need to know what to do with it.
So, let’s talk practical applications of this. Here are 18 ideas for ways to turn your service into a product:
If you think about it, the development of WordPress websites is already a productised service… if you’ve built your process the right way.
In other words, with most of the administrative work, communication and project management streamlined by automation — or delegated to someone else – this isn’t a job that requires your manual labour or input every step of the way. It’s also not one you have to think much about since your tools, processes and checklists seamlessly guide you through the workflow each time.
So, start billing this as the product that it is! Here’s an example from don, a creative design agency, to get you started:
WordPress consulting is another type of service you provide that could easily be productised. There are three ways in which you can offer WordPress consulting:
1. DIY (which I’ll provide examples of down below)
Each of these methods allows you to put a price tag on your service as a whole. Clients won’t be counting the hours spent with you or on their own, nor will they get caught up in individual lesson plans. You’ve promised a clear outcome and that’s what they’re working towards.
Here is a great example from Piccia Neri:
Think about how appealing the idea of a WordPress care plan would be for your web development clients. They’ve just sent their final payment for the kickass website you built for them… and now they’re wondering what the heck they’re going to do.
Here you come with an answer:
“For just $____ a year (or month), I’ll handle all of your WordPress maintenance needs.”
Even if you’re not a trained WordPress developer or you have no interest in managing website security and performance post-deployment, you can always just resell this as your own product! You could sign up for a white labelled WordPress maintenance service such as WP Buffs and charge a markup on the cost of it.
This is a great way to get that recurring revenue stream flowing through your business.
Here’s an example of how Digi Wolf handles it:
On a similar note, you can sell website audits on an annual or semi-annual basis. These probably wouldn’t be for WordPress maintenance clients who understand the value of keeping security and performance in check. These audits would be for the clients who need a little more persuasion.
What you do is simple:
You dig into their website and their web hosting account and look for opportunities to optimise. It doesn’t take too much time on your part since you have tools like website scanners and optimisation plugins to offload most of the work to. However, you’re providing a truly valuable tune-up service, so you can charge well for it and then convince those clients to sign up for the year-long maintenance support product.
Renegade Empire has a nice example of this:
For those of you who enjoy providing other types of support to WordPress clients, you might consider developing a product package for website edits – content, development or other.
Basically, you allocate a set number of hours to support tasks every month. You never exceed that amount of support, but you might have clients who don’t find they need much of it, especially as time goes on. (Kind of like how fitness clubs make a ton of money off of customers who know they need to work out, but just don’t take advantage of the service they’re paying for.)
Roojai Website Solutions has an example of how it built support options into monthly web development plans:
Or you can take a more niche approach like AlpineWeb that offers a number of security-related support tasks for a flat fee every year:
If you’re like me, then you enjoy passing knowledge onto others, so they can take the ball and run with it. In that case, the development of an educational program such as our Blueprint Program could be a good choice for you. If you want the abridged version of this course, don't miss our free workshop where you'll learn how to get better clients, better projects and better fees.
If you’d rather tackle something a little less robust, something you can package up into tiny pieces and sell on an individual basis, that’s doable, too. It just depends on how much time you want to spend on crafting educational material, who your target audience is and what you’re most comfortable doing.
Here are some other ideas:
Have you found a solution for something that irks you in WordPress and that no one has done anything about (at least not well)? That’s actually the story behind Video User Manuals.
Early on, I recognised a need for WordPress help videos inside of WordPress. The Codex is a decent resource, but WordPress really does nothing to help users get started once they’re inside the CMS.
As such, I wrote a manual and was giving it to my web consultant clients. But I found that no one was using it. So, I thought:
“Why not put this inside of the WordPress backend?”
So that’s how the plugin came to be. I converted the physical manual into videos and now use the plugin to embed those help videos into the backend of customers’ WordPress installations.
Pretty cool, huh? It was something I created once and now I sell it 24/7 without an iota of input from me. If you have an idea for a plugin that would revolutionise the way your audience works in WordPress, give it a shot. It’s a worthwhile venture.
For those of you who are more design-savvy, a WordPress theme would be the obvious choice in terms of productising a service. Sure, you can still design WordPress websites for clients if you want. But why not create an awesome WordPress theme built specifically for their niche?
This isn’t just a chance to create a theme that gets licensed and renewed once a year either. Take The Blog Spa, for instance.
The website includes a number of upgrades and add-on packages that make this an even more valuable theme purchase for users. So, rather than put the focus on building custom websites from-scratch, The Blog Spa offers custom add-ons that really help make a customers’ website stand out.
There are other design products you can sell as well. It depends on what your speciality is.
You could license:
Now, we’re getting into the content marketing side of productisation. This first one is similar to a website audit. The key difference is that you would conduct a discovery session and analysis for a very specific part of their content or social media marketing strategy.
Just keep in mind that your focus needs to be on key areas of marketing that drive great value for your clients.
For instance, if you target local businesses, an audit of Google Places and other local SEO strategies would make sense. Or, if you target e-commerce companies, an audit of the checkout would be the logical choice. Then, you can sell the setup or optimisation solution, based on the assessment they received.
There is a difference between selling your content creation services at an hourly or per-word rate and offering them as a product with a predictable monthly fee attached. Rather than get stuck quantifying your value and running the risk of clients counting every single word you deliver, provide a recurring “product” they can depend on.
There are so many ways to do this – and you don’t even have to be the one to create the content either. You can:
As the Video User Manuals plugin story demonstrates, a digital or paper guide isn’t always the best way to get a product into your customers’ hands. That said, what worked for me might not be the solution for you – especially if you have plans to create a lengthy guide that targets people who don’t work inside a dedicated software platform like WordPress.
If you enjoy the process of crafting guides for your users, and you don’t really like the process of providing information in person or over video, eBooks and white papers could be a good choice.
What’s nice about this is it gives you the chance to sell add-ons, too. That’s the beauty of creating content. There’s always some offshoot idea you can explore in another book or offer as a companion piece (such as worksheets or checklists to help them through the guide).
SEO is a big one for WordPress consultants. It’s probably because a lot of what works well in Google’s search algorithm boils down to how a website is configured. As such, you don’t have to be a trained copywriter or SEO in order to know how to compress images, cache a web page or add header tags to a post.
But the trick in productising this is to turn it into something your clients are willing to pay for on a monthly basis.
Halo Digital has a nice example of how to do this:
As you can see, the first part of their SEO packages revolves around traditional WordPress care services: uptime and security monitoring, edit requests, etc. While a WordPress consultant understands that these contribute to the whole SEO picture, your clients might not understand the value in that… which is why providing more explicit SEO services like these is a brilliant move:
You can also sell this product separately. However, if you find it hard to convince clients to pay a monthly SEO retainer, this is a good way to get your foot in the door.
Whether you understand the constantly changing social media landscape well or you have a team member or partner you can outsource to, social media management is another way to turn a service into a product.
The Digital Maven has carved out a number of social media management plans for clients.
Each plan offers the same services. The difference between each, however, is in how much time The Digital Maven dedicates to the clients’ accounts. That’s one way to handle it.
Another would be to develop monthly plans based on the kind of social media management offered. For instance, if an entrepreneur is attempting to move into influencer marketing, you might have a social media management plan carved out specifically for that.
Again, just think about your target audience and how to communicate the most value in terms of how you define your plans.
Email marketing is another avenue to consider pursuing.
What’s nice about this one is it integrates so well with WordPress and there’s also a significant design piece to it, too. So it’s not too far of a stretch for a web designer to offer something like email templates (productised the way you would a theme, of course) or to manage the lead generation funnel through a client’s plugin and email marketing tool.
Let’s not forget about pay-per-click marketing. Even if you do the most outstanding job in building a client’s WordPress website or optimising it for organic search results each month, at some point, they need to pay-to-play.
Google AdWords can be a complicated tool to navigate – especially if your clients don’t have an understanding of audience development or don’t want to take the time to – so this could be a lucrative product offering.
Marketing Clinic has carved out a speciality package for this:
As you can see, this is a nice companion product to other website and search optimisation solutions.
Something your clients spend a lot of time thinking about is the competition. Practically speaking, though, they probably don’t know what to do with that focus.
A competitor analysis is similar to other auditing services. Essentially, you survey the landscape of competitors and learn everything you can about what works and what doesn’t for them. This will be even easier if you specialise in one niche and are already familiar with the competition.
Then, you provide an analysis that shows how your client stacks up against them. This is a good way to establish a reputation as an authority in the space and, later, sell these clients on web development or SEO services.
This last idea is one many people don’t think about, though it’s becoming ever more important as Google reviews litter search results pages.
Which of the following sites are you most likely to check before visiting a business?
As you can see in this ReviewTrackers online reviews survey, Google is the primary platform people turn to before they visit a business (or website).
Pay attention to what ReviewTrackers’ analysis says:
“Seeing as how most website traffic comes through Google, Google effectively preempts other review sites by showing its own star ratings to users before they can click through to their search result. Sneaky, huh? Google has effectively cut in line, jumping ahead of the major players in the review industry.”
Phil Singleton understands this – he even talked about his Google review funnel in podcast episode #156. Simon hosted a webinar with Phil (that is available to WP Elevation members in the member area of our site) in which he expands on how he uses review funnels to build his business.
As for what you can do with this, your goal is to develop a product that targets Google’s review-friendly property (Google Places), tools (schema markup) and then monitor and manage the reviews that come through. Once you’ve gained your clients’ trust in providing other services and products, then reputation management will be a breeze.
Think of what you do most frequently in your business and which of your services clients gravitate towards most. Does it have a repeatable process? Is it something you could turn into a singular product and then sell over and over without having to recreate anything each time?
In that case, my friends, you already have a way to grow your freelance business with predictable products. You’ve simply got to start selling it that way.
If you're interested in this topic, I delve further into this in our free webinar. Click here and join today.
Do you have something neatly packaged up that you’ve built for your own purposes, but haven’t thought to share with others?
If you’ve found a way to successfully turn your service into a product, leave a note in the comments below or join the Digital Mavericks Facebook group and share it with us there.
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