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Markup Fiverr & Upwork services and sell them for 10x returns đź’Ž

'Productized' services: Could this be the best solopreneur business model?


Wes Kimbell

Oct 07 2020

6 mins read


Welcome to another edition of Everyday Startup. A newsletter all about startups ideas aimed at solopreneuers and internet based businesses. We also bring together ideas from all over the internet including My First Million podcast from the creators of The Hustle.

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There are many successful companies out there who appear to be really big and automated but in fact have a super small team and utilize gig workers to do most things manually—including product creation. And they make BANK 💵.

How could you duplicate this?

Basically, these companies find a service offered from a gig worker on Fiverr, Upwork or similar, and sell it on their own website with prices marked up sometimes 10x.

These types of businesses can be set up as one-person companies and can be operated all online making them ideal for solopreneurs or digital nomads.

On episode #116 of My First Million podcast, Sam and Shaan discussed this concept in detail.

Sam gives a few examples:

  1. A website that allows you to upload a photo of your dog and they turn it into a cartoon and put it on canvas. They pay a small fee on Fiverr to transform the customer’s dog photo in cartoon style. Then pay $25 to put it on a canvas and frame. Then they charge you $150 from their website. Nice.
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  3. Pitchbook ($150M in sales). Pitchbook is a database for venture capitalist, private equity, and M&A. They get a lot of their data from guys in India who scrape data for them and aggregate it, according to Sam Parr.
  4. Summarizing books. One guy had a service where people would send him a photo of business cards you took and then they would turn around and pay people to upload it to your CRM / contact book and charge the customer as a monthly service. You can do the same thing with summarizing books. You just pay a gig worker to do it for cheap ($50 or so) and sell it to as many people as you can since you own the IP of the summary. Blinkist is an example of this. What else could you pay a gig worker to summarize and charge for it?
  5. Celebrity voice impersonators. Same idea here. Hire a impersonator and markup the cost 10x and sell it yourself on a website.
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  7. Offer a data service where someone tells you what type of industry data / contacts they need and you simply go to gig workers and pay them to scrape data off the internet. Then you turn around and sell it to your customer—at a marked up price, of course. Basically become a lead gen source.

Sam thinks people could start businesses doing this very thing. His thesis goes something like this:

Go to Fiverr and find the most impressive product you can find. Then build a great website selling the product at a marked up price and market the hell out of it.

All you’d really need is to manage the contractors to get it done or hire someone to do it for you.

Want to scale? Simply find another new product on Fiverr or Upwork then rinse and repeat.

A more holistic approach would be to bundle multiple services in the same category, like an online marketing agency.

You could outsource (from Fiverr or Upwork) all the services typical of a marketing agency, for example: logo creation, website design, paid ads, SEO services, copyrighting, etc.

This would soon require you to take on significant operational and logistic work to organize all the contractors, interface with your clients, plus you would still need to market and grow your own business to get new clients in the door.

For example, you’d have to vet the best gig workers. You’d also have to deal with revision requests from your customer and explain them to the gig worker. Plus, you will always be working with deadlines from your clients.

You could see how this could go awry pretty fast unless you’re really good at this sort of thing. You definitely don’t want to suffer from bad reviews.

Who would be an ideal candidate to start one of these businesses?

Definitely someone who has marketing skill sets—specifically copywriting, paid ads or SEO for ranking on Google.

As we all know, if you can’t sell then you will fail. So be sure you will be able to source leads as well as Fiverr or at least mark up your service enough to pay for paid marketing or ads if that’s the direction you want to go.

If you choose to go the SEO (search engine optimization) approach, this will require very little money upfront and you could get away with charging less to your customers. Over the long run you’ll get free leads to your website which you can then convert to a customer if your offer is compelling enough and your copywriting is good.

Going with the paid ads approach you can scale quickly and get your first sales in pretty fast. The downside, of course, is it will take significant investment. This in turn may force you to increase your pricing which could reduce customer acquisition rates.

Won’t I be competing with Fiverr?

One way to insulate yourself from competing with Fiverr is offering your customers and all in one solution or bundle around a common theme. This would be like my earlier example of creating a marketing agency and offering several different products you can bundle together to sell at a markup that makes sense.

Fiverr is great for people needing very specific tasks. However, it’s lacking when it comes to quality, all-in-one marketing targeting specific sectors or industries.

Marking up Fiverr & Upwork services and selling them for 10x returns is a compelling idea that’s worth the investment if you’re looking to build a company but don’t have a product people want. I can see this turning into a positive cash flow business quite quickly but may also be operationally involved.

If you have other examples of productized services or are doing this yourself, leave a comment in the discussion section and let us know all about it!

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