As part of my branding exercise I’ve started giving some thought to possible product and service offerings. Over the last four years I have not focused on products at all. All of my efforts were focused on services and none of them are standardized in any way. For a short period of time I tested a fixed price mobile app prototype offering and it did help pull in some mobile projects but I quietly abandoned it after just two months.
One problem with the fixed price prototype idea was I priced it way too low. It attracted a lot of people who had marginal ideas as well as a few with some really good ideas. I’m happy to say the good ideas all led to released products and with only one exception I took the project from conception to release in the Google and Apple app stores.
The one exception was an app I initially agreed to do but cut loose for all the right reasons even though I personally like one of the founders and hated the idea of not working with them. I am happy to say they are still pushing forward without me and I really do wish them all the best and hope they succeed.
But I have started looking at options for standardized services and possible product offerings I can bring to market. I’m not abandoning my consulting because it is very emotionally fulfilling and the margins are very good. But over the last four years I have built a large number of tools to support my daily efforts with my clients.
For example, I built a monitoring tool I use to monitor servers and sites for clients. I think a standardized self-service offering is possible built around this monitoring tool. Similarly, I think a standardized service offering is possible using the tools I’ve collected, extended and built from scratch for WordPress hardening and monitoring. I doubt it would be a good fit for a self-service offering but a one-time scan with analysis and recommendations at some fixed price is a possibility.
Just two of the many obvious challenges I face with this effort is pricing and making sure it doesn’t sidetrack what I’ve been doing for the last four years. The general idea is supplementing my current efforts and even use these offerings to increase my client base.
Based on the last four years, I know I want to focus on four general areas which are more interrelated than they appear at first glance.
- Server and site security
- Website design, marketing and management
- Custom software solutions
- Mobile Applications
The cornerstone of any web presence is server and site security. The best web design, SEO and social media strategies are useless if you can’t keep your site on-line and working. Unfortunately, security is often an afterthought or a ‘we will get around to it when we have time’ kind of thing. The absolutely reality is it is far cheaper to engage someone like me early in the process than to call me in after the damage is done. A proactive approach to any internet facing solution or server is very critical but all too often overlooked.
Website design and marketing is usually where everyone wants to focus their attention. It makes sense because a well crafted website can definitely improve any company’s public image. But even the best website is useless without traffic from your target audience. All too often a well planned social media strategy and SEO is left until the end. It’s something to do at or even after launch. Unless the website is built with your target audience in mind once you risk never achieving the SEO you desire. Sure, you can hire an SEO service to come in after the fact and help but unless everything is in harmony your SEO will come up short at best and fail miserably at worst. This is the primary reason I rarely provide stand alone SEO services.
Almost every engagement I’ve had with clients over the last four years has involved some kind of customized solution. Sometimes it’s a custom WordPress plugin or customizing a theme. Many times it’s involved complex integration between WordPress and other systems or data sources. For example, utilizing existing company data stored in Microsoft SQLServer database within WordPress. Or integration with external systems like Raiser’s Edge from Blackbaud.
About half of the web sites and custom web applications I’ve built over the last four years have had mobile app sub-projects. It’s is a natural extension of any web site and if it is a business facing application for anything other than a very small and specialized audience a mobile app is almost a must.
I’m confident I can build a cohesive strategy around these four interconnected areas. I don’t expect the distribution to be equal and a year from now I may find myself refining and trimming these even further.
And I am okay with that.