Our business is a mixture of advising companies how to make the most of their data, and building software tools (think dashboards and visualisations) that help them achieve this goal. So the value that we offer, the product that our clients pay for, is advice and software.
In the course of delivering our product, we produce a lot of ancillary 'stuff'. Things which aren't part of the final product that is exchanged for money, but, that help us in the production process along the way: libraries of code, design elements, templates, business docs - even more intangible things: procedures, processes, check-lists.
All of this 'stuff' is valuable. It helps us create our primary value.
I remember reading a post by Jason Fried of 37 Signals a few years back called 'Sell Your By-products', as well as a similar essay in their book 'Rework'.
In both, Jason outlines the idea that opportunity lies in the cast-offs and by-product of doing business. The opportunity to forge additional revenue-streams, to reinforce your cashflow, and help buffer you against economic storms.
Choosing Your Most Saleable By-product
We wanted to give this idea a whirl & cast about for just this kind of by-product in our business: One that might have value to others as well as ourselves.
Part of our process involves quickly mocking-up different dashboard and visualisation ideas for clients. For this we use the excellent Balsamiq. This is a great tool, very easy to use, but, comes with little by way of charts & graphs for use in creating mock-ups. It does, however, allow you to import any image you like for use within a mock-up. So, over time, we have built-up a small library of common charts & graphs as images in the Balsamiq style.
Valuable to us, and likely to be valuable to others too.
Selling Your By-product Without Expending Too Much Time & Effort.
Although we were keen to explore the process of selling by-product, we didn't want to spend too much time getting it all set-up, and as little as possible ongoing. We didn't want it to be a distraction from our main effort.
I've had some joy personally in the past selling little things via Gumroad: An easy fire-and-forget service that allows you to sell digital product without the hassle of sorting payment-processing, customer-support, and the like. You add your product - money appears in your account on a regular basis. Magic. We decided that Gumroad would be a good bet for our chart & graph bundle too.
Firstly, we bundled-up our graphs and charts into a zip file that we uploaded to Gumroad as our product. We then spent 20 minutes or so writing a description & tweaking the settings for the product.
Pretty painless all-told.
Have a look around your business & its processes for any by-product that you might produce: libraries of code, design elements, templates, business docs, procedures, processes, check-lists.
Spend next-to-no-time bundling them together and stick it up on Gumroad.