This newsletter title might be a bit controversial 🥷🏾... that's the whole point.
Let's be clear, I'm not trying to oppose the product to the service/freelancing but let's say that the product has much more potential than the freelancing because it allows direct sales without having any contact with the client, at least for us, web and other graphic designers.
But in my opinion, it is always good to combine the two. Create products, release them as you go and offer services when you want to. This gives you control over your time, but also can make you more money.
On the other hand, if your products allow you to live without having to do any service/freelancing, that's up to you... but I would drop the service of course and focus only on the products if necessary.
The downside of selling products is that you can't especially sell in large quantities if you don't have a community... but there's also a bit of luck in the equation sometimes.
Webflow, for example, has a growing community of early adopters and that's why I can afford to sell templates with Sidebay.Studio without having to do any marketing or have 1 million followers on Instagram first. All my templates are published on their marketplace and therefore have lifetime visibility.... at least if Webflow doesn't disappear in the meantime.
Creating my own community with Sidebay Studio and my personal branding on the networks will only be a bonus later if I want to sell something else than templates or simply to boost their sales.
The other example is a designer called Traf. At the time of the release of iOS 14, everyone was hyped about the shortcuts that allowed the integration of custom icons. So Traf released his own icon pack on Gumroad before a big tech YouTuber called Marques Brownlee stumbled across and talked about it in one of his videos, which even led to a collaboration... Just goes to show... sometimes it doesn't take much.
You also have to take into account that the product can take a long time to set up because creating passive income requires a lot of thought, a lot of work before a possible launch, knowing the niche, but above all... creating the products. Without products you can't sell. Obvious.
The disadvantages to freelancing/service are first: the time you consume because you sell your time for money and second... the designers themselves. Yes you read that right, we are clearly the problem with doing service, but why?
I often hear that Fiverr and other freelance services marketplaces have killed the service niche itself because the prices that can be found there are clearly ridiculous and anti-competitive.
I want to tell you first... welcome to the 21st century and second, it's not true. Designers are themselves responsible for the death of service/freelancing in general for the simple reason that they don't know what suits them and what doesn't. Not everything in design is about money.
Execution is good, choosing who you want to work with is better. Imposing your choices is better. Saying "no" is better, and once again, it can help you earn more money.
You choose your clients, your clients are willing to pay you a lot of money for your competences and knowledge, you find fun in what you do because you like it... everybody is happy and that's the point of the game, that everybody is satisfied.
In itself, there's not really a bad choice, but I'm a person who values products more than services because that's my thing. Moreover, it turns out that the product can end up doing you a favor in the sense that it can also bring you customers. Customers who are, therefore, prepared to pay a lot for your services if the products you provide are well-made and the customer service is good.
Indeed, I recently had requests to make websites with Webflow. I didn't accept any of them because in theory, I don't want to do this kind of services anymore.
But the few times I accepted, I was able to sell my expertise at prices much higher than what I used to charge when I was not doing products and when Sidebay was not even in my roadmap yet.
That's where I would have started several years earlier, doing products before services.