Combining a "productized" service with a day job?

I’m wondering if any of you have any experience in combining a (part-time) “productized” service with a full-time day job, and if so:

  • How do you solve it logicistially and marketing-wise when you are doing the fullfilment yourself (at least in the beginning)?

  • How do you deal with expected delivery times, availability, etc., when you are only able to work during nights and weekends?

As I’m in Europe, I will have some overlap with U.S time zones, but I will not be (fully) available for customers during my regular work hours or when I’m asleep. For European customers I will only be available outside office hours.

Additional Info

  • I don’t have a day job in the traditional sense, as I’m a self-employed, but I work full-time for a client (at their office) on weekdays. I have some flexibility with regards to working hours and availabilty, but I do not (initially) want these services to interfere with the “day job”.

  • The services I’m thinking of launching are productized versions of things I’m already doing in my “day job”, so I’m hoping there might be some interest for them, but I don’t really know, yet.

  • I’m looking to do a soft launch to test the market/products by setting up a site describing the services and making them available for order/inquiry.

  • The sales process will probably be somewhat high-touch, as I’m looking at the $500 - $5,000 price range. I don’t mind speaking to potential customers on the phone or via Skype, but it would need to happen while I’m not at work.

  • My target customers are small/medium businesses who are doing software development themselves or outsouring their development, typically with development teams of 1-7 people and possibly only a few employees.

Is this for a SaaS or a desktop product?

If this is for a SaaS product and there’s no way to leave work for an hour, I wouldn’t do it. If your service goes down in the morning while you are at work and your customers have to wait until the evening for you to fix it, this will be problematic.

Other than that, for products with a high price range, people expect you to be busy. They don’t mind waiting 8-12 hours for a response, or schedule a call for the upcoming week.

I think this is your bigger issue. If you expect anyone pays you $500-$5000 you can’t provide the same service level as freelancer selling their “off work” hours provides. You can find them way cheaper in upwork.

What exactly is this?

Productized services (or sometimes called productized consulting) are just a spin on the classic retainer model. Prepackaged consulting solution.

It’s taking what would normally be a service that is billed hourly (time and materials) or per engagement (fixed bid), and pricing it as an entirely recurring billed offering with a pre-defined scope. The scope is generally not customized from customer to customer.

For $XXX/mo you get Y and Z, where humans perform this service for you.

As Brian Casel puts it [1]:

a value-added, systemized, “done-for-you” service, packaged neatly as a product with a defined scope and price.

A productized service thrives when it’s tightly focused on delivering one specific service exceptionally well. It also adds value in unique ways that neither a piece of software nor a freelancer is able to provide.

Design Pickle is an example

WP Curve was an example (before they were sold to GoDaddy).

PodcastMotor’s podcast editing service is an example.

Further reading:

  1. Why Build a Productized Service (Instead of Software)?

  2. The Productized Services Business Model Explained (with Pros and Cons)

  3. 7 simple steps to creating a profitable productized service

  4. How to ‘Productize’ Your Service Business Offerings

  5. Lessons Learned Building A Productized Service

  6. Christoph Engelhardt’s Ultimate Badass List of Productized Consulting Services


It’s neither:

  • What I’m looking into would be a small set of professional services offered with a fixed price, scope and “feature set”.

  • The deliverables would be PDFs, e-mails, Skype/phone sessions, etc. There may be software involved in delivering the products or the processes in which the deliverables are created, but the product itself is not software.

  • Most services (the ones I plan to start with) would be one-time purchases, but I am also looking into a recurring/subscription-based service.

It could be doable, as I would probably not have to leave work for most issues. I’m already sitting in front of a computer all day anyway, but I would of course not be able to bill the “day job” client for any time spent on my own products. However, potential time/resource conflicts with current client work is one of the reasons why I am not looking into launching a SaaS at this time (and also the fact that I don’t have any useful product ideas for a SaaS, yet).

Being available for short incoming phone calls during my regular work hours is not a problem. I would typically not be replying to e-mail, but I could if something required a quick reply. Scheduling a one hour Skype meeting during the day would also not be a problem, as long as it’s planned a few days ahead. My “day job” work schedule is very flexible, but any “irregularities” would have to be clarified with the client, as they need to know when I’m available if I’m not at the office or if I have to step out for an hour or two. What I cannot do, however, is spend hours each day doing lead follow-up and outgoing sales calls during office hours.

I also have the option of working at my home office one or two days a week, so I could set up one or two days with regular office hours for “product” customers, if need be. However, most of that time would have to be spent working for my main client, but whether those hours are spent during the day or during the evening, they do not really care as long as I’m available to them for questions/clarifications during the day, or if a production incident occurs.

I don’t know what service level an UpWork freelancer selling “off hours” is offering, but I am not planning to target customers who want the cheapest solution. Customers who want to spend the time and effort, and have the technical skills to do so, to try to save some money by going the UpWork route for the services I plan to offer are not my in my target market. I do however, plan to target customers who have gone this route and maybe experienced that the end result was not of the expected quality, and customers who do not have the technical skillset to do this themselves.

To summarize, the service level I can (easily) offer, even while working a full-time consulting gig is:

  • Replying to any e-mail request within 24 hours (in practice, usually faster).

  • Being available via e-mail, Skype and phone between 09:00 - 21:00 CET seven days a week for short calls, chats or urgent e-mail replies.

  • Being available for longer Skype/phone meetings between 09:00 - 23:00 CET seven days a week, if they are scheduled 1-3 days in advance.

  • Being available for in-person meetings/workshops any time on weekdays or weekends, if they are scheduled 3-5 days in advance for customers in Europe or 1-2 weeks in advance for customers outside Europe.

  • Delivering product deliverables within 3-7 business days (depending on service package purchased, and size/complexity of project).

That being said, the services I plan to offer will typically not be (operationally) mission-critical or time-sensitive.

Also, thanks to @Ken for excellent background info on productized services. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’ve got to disagree with you Ken. While many of the recent examples have included a recurring billing model that’s not the defining feature.

Brian’s “defined scope and price” is spot on. I would add that the scope and price (possibly with options) are set by the service provider up front. For example, I could offer a fixed price PSD to HTML conversion as a productized service with per file pricing.