At the end of last year, I was in a pickle.
I had successfully built my creative writing shop, Honey Copy, into a mini-juggernaut and brands of all shapes and sizes were knocking on my door enquiring about me slinging some pretty words for them.
I was making damn good money but I was also working 70+ hour weeks. And, due to the fact that Honey Copy was (and in many ways still is) a service business… I had to trade actual time for every $1 I earned.
The formula was simple — the more words I wrote for brands, the more money they paid me.
And, due to the fact that crafting pretty words that sell like hell takes time… I was trading my time for money.
At the end of the year, I had a realization…
While this whole 70+ hour work week thing might be okay right now, it’s not sustainable forever.
So, I began to think about a pivot.
My fuck, I hate that startup buzzword.
Let’s instead call it… a re-finagling.
After doing some thinking, I came to the conclusion that it would sure be nice to make money while I slept. Or, in other words, not have to trade my time for money.
Unfortunately, for service-based businesses (think: ad agencies, massage therapists and accountants)… there are only two ways to make money while you sleep…
- Hire more people to do the services for you so you don’t have to.
- Re-finagle your service based business to be equal parts services and products.
I thought long and hard about option #1. I had an ass ton of business and was at the point where I could hire a full-time writer if I wanted to.
However, I ultimately chose not to for the following reasons…
For one, Honey Copy isn’t an agency it is a shop — the brands who work with me want to work with Cole Schafer not Cole Schafer’s name on another writer’s work.
For two, I love writing, I hate managing — while I am pretty damn good at word-slinging, I’m very subpar at managing other word-slingers. So, why build a business where I have to do something I hate and am subpar at 90% of the time?
For three, I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve crafted with my own two hands every single one of the hundreds of thousands of words on Honey Copy’s blog and for the clients Honey Copy has worked with. Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf and John Steinbeck never hired ghostwriters. And, while I am no Hemingway or Woolf or Steinbeck, I’m not going to hire ghostwriters either. Plus, I’ve tried ghostwriting for other people and it left a nasty shitty metallic taste in my mouth.
And, for all of these reasons I decided I was going to somehow, someway, design a product I could sell.
Who says you can’t teach a service business new tricks?
Often times, when folks think about service businesses they think of “lifestyle” businesses that can’t scale. While to a certain extent, this is true. It’s not entirely.
I know because I successfully did it at Honey Copy. Towards the beginning of this year, I launched a $97 copywriting guide with an extravagantly long title… How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.
Upon launching the guide I had a modest list of 2,500 subscribers who up until the launch had been receiving a newsletter from me each week called Sticky Notes.
It has been on Honey Copy’s shelf for three months now and has made me $7,000 and some change.
And, while the $7,000 is nice, what I really enjoy is that the guide makes me between $300 — $500 a week in passive income. In fact, many times, I will be fast asleep at night snuggled up under my blankets only to wake up the next morning to a few notifications on my phone telling me I had made a sale.
That’s a damn good feeling.
Today, while only a very small portion of my income is made while I sleep… I’m still making money while I sleep.
So, I say all this not to brag but to challenge the widely accepted notion that service businesses can’t scale (or make money while they sleep).
In my opinion, they can and here’s why…
Why service businesses can and should go hybrid.
I challenge service businesses to go hybrid — to make the transition from service to service/product.
There are a handful of benefits to this transition that I have experienced…
Firstly, you have more time on your hands — while building out my copywriting guide took an upfront time investment, I now make $300 — $500 a week with absolutely no time investment whatsoever.
Today, I can use the time I would normally spend generating this income on better marketing Honey Copy, working on bigger projects for clients or doing things outside of work.
Secondly, you can say no to more projects — as I’ve created some passive income at Honey Copy, it has allowed me to say no to smaller more high-maintenance clients that eat up a ton of my time — which ironically makes room in my schedule to take on bigger fish when they come a swimming.
Lastly, you can gain greater credibility that will cross-over to the service based side of your business. There is a reason consultants write books — because the $25 book helps them land $10,000 speaking engagements.
This is how I view my $97 copywriting guide. No, $97 isn’t going to change my life… but the $9,700 copywriting project because of the $97 copywriting guide will. Human psychology is interesting. We as humans tend to value others higher in our minds when they’ve crafted something tangible in their field.
Now, let’s talk about the how.
How can marketers, freelancers and service businesses make money while they sleep?
First and foremost, I would recommend getting in touch with me at ‘email@example.com’… I would love to help you design this.
With that said, here’s how I think service businesses can make the move to hybrid.
If you’re a service business you need to think about what you are really selling.
Barbers aren’t selling haircuts…
They are selling pretty.
Writers aren’t selling blogs…
They are selling stories that sell brands.
Massage therapists aren’t selling massages…
They are selling the feeling after the massage.
When as a service business you can put into words the value you are selling, it really just comes down to turning this value into a physical or digital product.
For the barber, he might choose to sell his very own line of french safety razors.
For the writer, he might choose to sell his very own guide on writing for brands who can’t afford his services.
For the massage therapist, she might choose to sell her own line of essential oils.
As long as the product is in line with the service you are selling, it will work or at the very least have an actual shot at working.
Another way to look at this is what I just mentioned.
Many service businesses find themselves turning customers away because they can’t afford their services… why not create a more affordable product for those customers so you don’t have to turn them away?
That, in many ways, is what How to write words that sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year is.
Not every brand can afford to pay a copywriter $2,500 — $10,000+ to sling some copy for them. And, for those who can’t, there is a $97 guide.
I don’t think service and product are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think they can work really well hand-in-hand. But, I digress.
By Cole Schafer.
You gotta check this out — Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.