When I was starting Contentbulb, it took a while before I figured out exactly what I needed to run everything. I couldn't find any clear examples of people sharing the tools they use on a daily basis - so I thought I'd share my product stack. If it can help one person out, I'll be happy.
I've focused on the tools that would be applicable to any Productized Service (PS). Contentbulb is a content marketing service, and there are other specific tools I use to help with work there that I haven't included here simply because they won't be useful to anyone not starting a content-based service. The goal is that this article can be useful to you no matter what type of PS you're starting.
If you're just starting a PS, I'd recommend keeping things simple.
When you're in the early stages, you'll get most of your business based on trust and you don't need a complicated marketing funnel or twenty touch-points before someone converts.
You need a simple site, a way for people to pay you, and an effective way to communicate and deliver your finished work to clients.
I'll show you tools I use to create the website, handle payments, and manage the day-to-day.
Webflow is a powerful and affordable website builder. There is a learning curve, but it's not that bad. I started off with one of Webflow's pre-built themes and then customized it to my liking. I also used Webflow to create this website.
There's still a lot of improvements that could be made on Contentbulb's landing page/website, but revamping my landing page isn't a priority at the moment and it does the job.
Other good landing page builders I've heard about are Dorik, Carrd (I've used Carrd and recommend it) and Landen. If you know how to use WordPress, you can also create a great looking website using that.
One of the major differences between an agency and a productized service is the idea that you don't customize pricing and packages for every client. You offer a proven offer at a fixed price, similar to a SaaS.
For that reason, I included a pricing page with direct links to a payment page. This is handled using Stripe Checkout.
It's a super-simple way to set up a pricing page that looks relatively good and handles everything for you. It links with Stripe which can then hold funds or transfer to my business bank account easily. You don't need to know any code (although you will have to add a code snippet to your site) and you can have it set up in 10 minutes. If I ever wanted to add a new pricing option or change pricing, all I'd need to do is change the product details in Stripe, and update the code snippet on the pricing page.
Another smallbenefit of using Stripe is that it's a well-known brand, so it adds an extra element of trust to the checkout.
There are other options available, but this works well for me at the moment.
After a customer pays, they get directed to an onboarding form that I use to learn about their business, their customers, and their goals. That form is hosted with Typeform.
If I have follow-up questions after reading this, I send the customer and email.
The major benefit of using this over a manual onboarding form is time saving. It also gives me and the customer a chance to reflect over answers before we start working.
Zapier is essential for productized services (or pretty much any tech-enabled business). If you don't know what Zapier is, definitely check it out. But, to sum it up, it helps you automate boring, repetitive tasks.
I use Zapier for tasks like:
The only way to save yourself as much time as Zapier allows you to would be to have a VA on call.
I use ClickUp for client workflow management. It's flexible and you can create a system to fill pretty much any need. I mainly use ClickUp to manage client work. Every new client gets their own folder with a board. I can easily get an overview of individual client deadlines on their own board, or see an overview of all client boards at once. The calendar view is useful as you can see exactly when things need to be done by.
You can assign people to tasks, set due dates, recurring tasks, and basically keep everything in your productized service running smoothly.
I've also started using it as a CRM to keep track of sales leads.
I use Notion to document processes and SOPs for tasks that I repeat. This helps me save time on repetitive tasks that can't quite be automated. For example, emails that I send regularly to clients (monthly updates, post-consultation call, post-onboarding form, etc.)
Previously, I used it to manage content calendars (I had used it to keep track of work/clients when freelancing), but the lack of API, lack of recurring tasks, and a few other limitations made me switch my project management to ClickUp. I like Notion for static knowledge storage, but I don't enjoy using it for task management.
I use Appointlet to let people book a time to call directly from the website. It's like Calendly, but I chose Appointlet because I was familiar with it after using it at my last full-time job.
Despite using Appointlet for booking consultation calls on the website, I still use Calendly if I need to manually send a calendar link to someone.
I manage most client facing deliverables using Google Workspace, formerly G Suite. For example, finished articles are sent in Google Docs, and add other client deliverables are shared in a Google Sheet.
As well as that, I use email for the majority of client communication. It's simple, everyone uses it, and there's no friction - I don't have to change someone's behaviour and get them to start using a new Slack channel or join another platform to manage communication.
That said, in the future, using a third party platform to manage communication could definitely be valuable.
When reading this, you should keep in mind that exact software you use don't actually matter.
I could do the same things with different tools and just mirror the implementation. For example, ClickUp could be replaced by Asana, Airtable, or even Trello.
Stripe Checkout could be replaced by something like SPP or ManyRequests. I could have created the site in pretty much any cheap website builder.
The main thing that matters, particularly early on, is that you can deliver a great service to clients, keep them, and grow.