I sold my course & brand, Productize
After 7 years of building a brand around teaching the concept of “Productized Services”, I have officially stepped away from that chapter in my career.
I’m excited to announce I have sold my course and content brand, Productize, to my friend and long-time Productize community member, Sam Shepler 🎉. Sam will be carrying the torch on the Productize course, community, website, and the Productize Podcast.
I couldn’t have asked for a better person to carry the torch forward for the community and audience of folks building productized services businesses. Sam has built an incredible productized service business, Testimonial Hero, and he’s got tons of experience and insight to share. It’s the perfect next chapter for Productize, and I feel good knowing I’ve left it in good hands.
Productize made an incredibly significant impact on my growth as an entrepreneur. Today, I’ll share some closing thoughts as I close this chapter of my career.
My most successful “side business”
This 7-year project called Productize was by far, the most successful and impactful side hustle in my career.
Thanks to Productize:
- I met so many awesome and inspiring entrepreneurs who are scaling client services.
- I grew my personal profile and network, which opened lots of doors in my career.
- I honed my chops as a communictor, publisher, and content creator.
- I earned several hundred thousand dollars in revenue, almost entirely passive & profitable side-income.
- My other products benefited from a jumpstart that an engaged audience can provide.
I think there were 2 main factors that made Productize a success:
1) It was decidedly a side-business
I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is by doing the thing yourself. The second-best way to learn is by soaking up insight from others who’ve done the thing—even better if they’re still doing it and sharing their notes in real-time.
For that reason, I always intended to have Productize be a side endeavor, while building and a different business as my primary focus. This worked perfectly during the years I was starting, building, and running productized services businesses.
This added a lot of credibility to the Productize course product and me as a teacher. It was taught by a true practitioner.
This is one reason I think Sam is perfect to take over Productize as he’s still actively running his productized service business as his primary focus, and intends to continue this balance going forward.
2) The idea. Not the teacher.
Some people might look at “info-product” businesses as being successful because of the teacher. That might be the case for some course sellers out there, but it definitely wasn’t the case for me with Productize.
Case in point: Both before and after I launched Productized, I also launched 2 other “info products”. One was about designing websites. The other was about creating automations. Both of those were mostly flops, in terms of sales and notoriety.
Productize was different. The concept of “productizing your service” deeply resonated with people, especially those who’ve been freelancers and want to level up beyond billable hours. It resonated from the time I started writing about it in 2014, through the launch of the Productize course, and every year since—including recent years when I almost never talked about it anymore. People still seek out and find (and buy) my content about productized services to this day.
That goes to show it was the idea and the problem/solution/market fit that made Productize a success. Not the teacher.
Why did I sell Productize?
It did pretty well for me financially. It was almost all profit and required almost zero of my time to run. So why would I sell this side business?
As I said, Productize still attracts people organically, seeking the ideas, guideance, and community that this product provides. Since my sites were some of the earliest around talkign about this idea, it rises to the top of searches and referrals.
There’s so much more value that can be delivered to these people. Whether it’s more free content, new and updated courses, a more engaging community, more personalized coaching and accountability groups, conferences, spin-off products… You name it, I probably dreamed it up for where Productize could go in the future. But pursing these ideas just aren’t in the cards for me anymore.
I’m in software now. Not courses.
Today I’m fully invested personally and professionally in the craft of making and selling software products (currently ZipMessage). I’ve been heading in this direction since 2018 when I invested in becoming a full-stack product designer.
Driving a course & content business no longer gives me energy. The nature of my work is a key personal value for me, and the work of creating course content, engaging a community, coaching and advising is just not for me anymore.
An opportunity to see Productize live on
I never expected Productize to be something I’d ever sell. While I’ve done some work to decouple it from my personal brand, it still had a lot of “me” in it. Even if I could sell this business, I had to be very selective in who I’d sell it to. A) it has to be someone who would do right by the current Productize community and audience. And B) I don’t want my name being attached to something that doesn’t reflect my values in the future.
Luckily, Sam Shepler and I connected in late 2021 to discuss the possibility of him taking over Productize. I had known Sam since he’s been a member of Productize and from watching him build his amazing productized service business.
Sam turned out to be the perfect fit because:
- He can teach from his own experience
- Many in the community already know him and follow his work
- He’s interested in pursuing more teaching, mentoring, and community building in this space going forward.
I was lucky to sync up with Sam at exactly the right time in both his and my journeys.
By the way, you can listen to the podcast episode Sam and I recorded this week where we talked all about the sale and transition.
A last word about Productized Services
Does this mean I’m “done” with Productized Services now?
As a business model for me to run? Yeah, I don’t plan on starting another productized service in the foreseeable future.
As a path for other entrepreneurs to take in their careers? I 100% still consider Productized Services to be that path of least resistence for those looking to level up from being a freelancer into owning a business that scale. So yes, I will still recommend this approach to anyone who thinks it might fit their current goals.
It sure feels good to find some (unexpected) closure on this wonderful chapter in my career.
Now back to what I’m working on today:
Making software with ZipMessage :)