I started out my business by taking on 1:1 web design clients, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier that I did!

Working with clients helped me to understand business owners’ website design struggles first hand, get to know the most common questions and hangups they face and truly work together to give them a website they’re super proud to show off to the world!

I got to work with clients who were just like me, excited about their business and collaborating with another entrepreneur to make their dreams come true.

I made friends with my clients and am always excited to go check out what they’re up to now. I love the personal aspect of client work, and truly being able to provide everything they needed, because I was just dedicated to them for the duration of our project together.

Client work is also the fastest way IMO to make your online business dreams a reality.

It doesn’t take months and years to build a massive audience, or require 100 sales a month to get by like a product-based business does.

Just providing your services for 1 or 2 clients a month is enough to get your business off the ground and go full-time.

But if you’re a service-based business owner, you know that there’s one challenge that’s pretty tough to overcome.

At some point, there’s no more hours in the day, and no more weeks in the year.

There’s a limit to how many clients you as one person can take on. No matter how many dreamy client inquiries land in your inbox, at some point you even need to turn down the truly ideal clients, because your calendar doesn’t allow you to fit in any more projects.

So what then? How do you continue to grow your impact and income, without taking on more clients?

There are 2 primary options you can choose from.

Option 1: Become an agency

Option 2: Productize your business

Becoming an agency details:

First, you can become an agency. Let’s talk about what exactly that would entail and what you individually would end up doing.

When you become an agency, you’re still offering 1:1 services to your clients, but instead of you doing the client work, you’re more likely overseeing projects and managing a team more frequently than you are providing the service.

You either hire on team members or contract projects out if you’re not quite feeling ready for employees yet. You then coordinate between team members and clients, oversee the project, and possibly provide feedback and advice to your team members on the results of the projects.

Your job becomes a lot less doing the service work, and much more managing a team, coordinating, and completing behind the scenes business operations work.

Agency pros:

  • You can still provide a 1:1 service, but in a more scalable way

  • You’re providing jobs and income to other skilled freelancers

Agency cons:

  • It can feel less personal to clients

  • You do less of the work you got into business to do

  • You need to manage people

Final thoughts: For some people, doing tasks like managing a team and getting out of the weeds of the work themselves sounds great. For others, managing a team sounds like a bit of a nightmare.

I really think choosing to run an agency or not depends a lot on you. Would you enjoy the new tasks you would take on as the leader of the agency? Or do those sound really unappealing to you?

In order to determine if this route is for you I think it’s worth reflecting back on your past work experience and look forward to your ideal lifestyle. Does this type of model feel like it fits both you as a person and the life you want?

Productizing your business details:

You might be wondering, what exactly does it mean to productize your business?

In my mind, to productize something means to systematize it, to streamline it and to package it up.

When you buy a product, you don’t get the 1:1 personal attention of the provider, but you do get their system, their idea, their knowledge and their expertise. It’s just not fit to your life/business, it’s then your job to customize the product to you.

With a service this is done-for-you, with a product it’s not.

So let’s say you’re a copywriter. You write website copy for business owners.

You likely have a system you use internally. You know what generally needs to be written on a home page, about page, sales page, etc. When you get a new client, you take your knowledge and expertise and apply it to their business.

In order to productize your service, you need to take you behind-the-scenes knowledge of what you’re writing, and why you’re writing it and share it. You share your thought processes and your knowledge on the topic of copywriting, so your customer can use that info to write their website copy themselves.

As an example, your productized service could be a sales page copy blueprint. You provide the blueprint, the prompts and info on what needs to go where, what points need to be hit on and mentioned in a sales page, and your customer uses that knowledge to actually write their own copy!

Ta da! Productized service!

Product pros:

  • You’re not able to be there for your client every step of the way and help them at every turn

  • Can be turned into a completely passive revenue stream

Product cons:

  • Generally sold for a lot less than a service sells for

  • You need an audience to make a volume of sales

Final thoughts: The product route is great, but before it really worked, you need a fair sized audience. Products sell for a fraction of the price of a done-for-you service, so you need to make a much higher volume of sales to come out with the same total revenue at the end of the month.

You need to build the audience first, an unpaid task, before you can hope to really make a product work well.

Once you do get it going however, it’s the much more freedom-giving option. You can turn this revenue stream passive and then have the ability to either fill that time with life, more clients, building an audience or creating more products. It’s your choice what to do from that point!

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How to scale your income and impact, without taking on more clients