Freelance fish

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Brian Casel is an entrepreneur and product designer, who has been building and growing self-funded businesses since 2008. He publishes lessons and real-time stories in his newsletter and his podcasts.

The whole interview is worth listening to. You’ll get some interesting bits on:

  1. How Brian went from freelancer to building a software business
  2. How he sold that business and started a productized business that had 5k MRR in a few weeks
  3. The importance of processes in productized services
  4. How he finds most of his clients
  5. SaaS vs Productized Service
  6. Productized Service vs Agency
  7. The importance of finding your tribe


Productised service is a viable way to build out a very profitable and fulfilling business. A great path for a freelancer to pursue because its low risk and has a higher return than just tying your time one on one with clients.

What is a productised service ?

Quoting what Brian has already said on this post

  • From your customer’s perspective:  a productized service is one that is focused on a single deliverable, packaged at a set price and scope, and delivers a compelling value proposition.
  • From your perspective:  a productized service is designed to scale up with or without your direct involvement or time, allowing you to focus on the bigger picture.

Your personal network is a great way to get feedback and new clients

Brian reached 5k in MRR by just emailing a few of his entrepreneur friends about Audience Ops.

The early days is a lot of grunt work and figuring things out. That's okay.

Pick a niche that you have some leverage in

Either through experience or through your personal/ professional network. If you have a lot of chef friends, than building something for the restaurant industry really helps.

“Get it to a point of no brainer value."

Compared to the alternatives what is it worth. Whats the cost structure for you and how do you make sure its profitable for you.

Marketing/Distribution channels that worked best

Most of the clients came from referral in the early days. Started writing articles as a guest author in tech blogs like washable and smashing magazine. Grew his audience through this process. In the beginning of audience ops, it came from personal network and referrals. There’s a mix of people now, organically, through content marketing and word of mouth.

Processes are important as the team grows

Processes are very important when you have more than a few people working on a service. Especially if you want to standardise a service.

Use process kit if you have a services oriented process business

Teh customer gets a standardised experience. There's clarity on what needs to be done and how much time it will require. So as time passes you spend lesser time on figuring things out.

Benefits of productised service

  1. Predictable cash flow
  2. Predictable customer experience and workload
  3. Clarity in the type of customer your serving
  4. Clarity in the service you're offeringBusiness is more predictable.

Look at failure as learning experiments.

Just try things. Some things will work and some things won't. But as long as your persist, things will work out.

SaaS vs Productised service :

Building a product takes time. Moving from freelancing to productised service would be  a quicker path to get to revenue.

A lot of clients also like to have the job done vs just a tool to help them get a job done. They'd also pay a premium for this service.

I started charging for the done for you service, and I could charge a lot more because it solves more of the problem. Its a better solution than SaaS. A productiuzed service means you deliver the service.

Software with a service. You can build your own software or work with a popular software. You can offer a done for your service on these platforms.

Agency vs Productized service :

An agency you could certainly grow it. You could grow it and become a business. There are challenge with the agency model. Its still feast famine. You have to sell big projects to make money. Its a lot more pressure if you are a freelancer. It’s more predictable. Its a much easier thing to sustain.

Managing it is simpler. If every process is completely different from the rest. They can drive a lot of revenue end you need expensive people to run.

It's easier to sell and from the clients perspective its easier to buy.

Clarity for both customer and the service provider. Agency has a lot more w around.

One thing Brian would have done differently if he had to start again ?

It wasn’t until 4-5 year of being self employed did he make an effort to meet people and make friendships in the community. Join mastermind groups, freelancer groups. These have become close friends, and he gets an incredible value from these friends. They  advise him on a lot of aspects of his business.

Books that influenced Brian

1. E-myth-  Michael Gerber

Recommenends Microconf as a conference

One thing that had an outsized impact on your freelance career ?

Finding community - attend same conference - same group of friends that convene at the same conferences. He organises tiny conferences.

Mastermind groups are beneficial too. All these should be available online, the more intimate the better. You're trying to aim for quality of relationships not quantity

One thing you could do right after the podcast that'll help up your game

You’re always working on client work. Give yourself time to work your project. Your project for the time is to think about your business and not give client your time. What are some of the ideas you can work on in the next few months. You need to think objectively about your business. That kind of work you’re not going to get paid.

Sort of like the 80:20 innovation model that google had.