An effective done-for-you service is very rarely built entirely custom to each client. In fact, it’s often when service providers stop creating custom proposals and packages for clients that they not only find it easier to sell said packages, but their clients more reliably see the intended result or outcome of the service. If you want to sell with more ease AND serve your clients even more effectively, then you are going to want to read this post.

Over the last 5+ years in business where I both started out as a done-for-you service provider and now have personally coached dozens of done-for-you service providers, I have seen again and again that when they create custom packages for each client, not only are they exhausted by the process—those custom proposals are no joke!—but they also end up being frequently exhausted by the DFY (done-for-you) work they’re doing. Not to mention: it feels really freaking hard to actually get clients onto a sales call about the DFY work, and then when they do make a sale, a lot of clients will then drag their feet on their part of the work, constantly changing scope and deliverables, and often not be satisfied with the work (even if the DFY service provider is, indeed, doing really great work). And as a really fun addition to all of that, the client will often not want to do some part of the process that the DFY service provider knows is integral to the result/outcome being what the client says they want it to be.

All of this happens, in large part because this service provider is customizing proposals and therefore offers to each client. I know, it’s counterintuitive: you would think that if something is customized, it’s set up to create more reliable results for or with the client. And yet, that’s rarely the case. Here’s why custom proposals and packages are rarely in service of your Right Fit clients ⤵️

Why aren’t custom proposals and projects in service of your Right Fit clients?

Reason #1: Custom proposals and projects often encourage you to NOT include (or to rush through) things that you KNOW need to be included to reliably facilitate results.

Back when I was transitioning from Social Media Management and Strategy to Brand Strategy, I brought in a client who originally just wanted me to design something for them (the first red flag: because design wasn’t actually even an individual service I offered). After talking to them however and getting a clearer idea of what they truly needed, I built them a custom proposal that included the design, as well as the brand strategy work before the design, and some social media training for their team after the brand strategy work. The proposal reflected what I knew they needed, but they fought me—hard—on the inclusion of that brand strategy work. They “just” wanted the design and they also liked the idea of the social media training for their team. Eventually (and miraculously) I convinced them to go ahead with the proposal as I had written it, but it wasn’t until we actually completed the brand strategy portion of our work together that they finally realized: “Oh, yes, I see why we needed to do that.” The entire process of doing that work was filled with me continually needing to meet their doubts about the process and convincing them: “Yes, we need to do this.” In other words: it was draining.

Another prospective client that came to me in this time period was a new (very well funded) startup backed by some truly huge names in their industry, and they wanted me to manage their social media. This prospective client came to me with a laundry list of exactly what that meant, that looked something like: “5 posts on Facebook, 10 tweets, 3 Instagram posts, hourly stories during North American daylight hours, and 2 LinkedIn posts—PER DAY, 7 days per week.” (While I can’t remember the exact numbers they asked for for each platform, the amount of requested work is truly not an exaggeration.) Because I was a bit starstruck by the people who were backing the startup, I acquiesced and created a custom proposal to their exact specifications (even though I never would have recommended that they publish that amount of content). When I presented it to them, they balked on the cost—which was going to be approximately $7k monthly, and I still think I undercharged for their requirements 🫠—and then wanted to nitpick and get rid of specific elements of it (of course, those were the elements I had included beyond their requirements—elements that would have actually allowed me to do the work well rather than just create strategy-less content). Until eventually, we parted ways and I “lost” the client.

When you offer your DFY services on a custom proposal basis, you almost always end up attracting clients who think they know exactly what they need, despite the fact that they are NOT the expert at this work. YOU are. Not only that, but if you do have the wherewithal to price the custom proposal at an appropriate-for-the-work rate and including things that you know they need but that they didn’t specifically request, they’ll often push back and not want to include those things (often as an attempt to make the work cheaper). PLUS, even if the client does say “yes” to the custom proposal, they’re often not satisfied with the work, in large part because you were not able to include things that YOU know you actually need to include in order to reliably facilitate the intended result. (Or, you had to sneak those things in/rush through them, and therefore not give yourself the proper space to do the things you needed to do in order to be able to do your work effectively.)

Reason #2: Custom proposals and projects put the client in the position of power (in places that it’s not helpful for them or you for them to be in power).

On that note, when you offer your services primarily as custom proposals and projects, you end up putting the client into a position of power in the areas where they don’t need to be in power (and where YOU do).

Here’s what I mean by that: YOU are the expert at the actual work that you do. The client is the expert at the actual work that THEY do. They are hiring you because they are not an expert at what you do, and typically because they don’t want to become one. But when you present a custom proposal to them—instead of saying, “Here’s what needs to happen”—you’re now putting them in the position to say, “Yes, I need that,” or “No, I don’t need that.” When the truth is, if they fully knew what needed to happen in order for them to get the result or outcome of your work, they very likely wouldn’t be hiring you. Now don’t get me wrong here, you also don’t want to work with people who have no clue what they want or need—those are wrong fit clients, too—but you do need to allow yourself to be the expert at the HOW and let them be the expert at the WHAT. Meaning: a true Right Fit client knows what they want (in terms of outcome and/or result), but they may not fully know how to create that (and that how is where you as a done-for-you service provider comes in). This improper distribution of power follows you into your work, where clients will now think that they are an expert at something that they truly aren’t, and that will be reflected in their feedback to you (which, from your perspective, will often be very all over the place, disorganized, and even contradictory to themselves).

As the done-for-you service provider, you absolutely want to do your work in a way that will serve your Right Fit clients, but part of that is you doing that work in the way that you know it needs to be done rather than building to what they say needs to happen (which might change depending on the day and what external voices they’re listening to).

Reason #3: Custom proposals and projects make it harder for you to reliably facilitate results, because you don’t have the opportunity to systematize your methods.

Custom proposals and projects mean that you’re doing things differently for each client, which also means that you aren’t given the opportunity to systematize and refine your overall method for facilitating results but instead are having to remake it every single time. A true Right Fit client is looking for a trustworthy expert who has a process that works. It’s extremely difficult to develop a process that works if you are constantly changing that process for different clients.

Whereas when you allow yourself to build set packages for your work, you allow yourself to get better at your work with every new client that you work with. This leads not only to better results for your clients, but also to rave reviews, aligned referrals, and even re-sign-ups (where appropriate).

Instead of customizing your proposals and packages to each client, create standardized packages for your done-for-you services.

Unlike custom proposals and packages, standardized packages are set up to reliably facilitate the result or outcome that you say they will. Which means not only are they way simpler for you to sell and deliver, they also almost always serve your clients WAY MORE EFFECTIVELY than the custom proposals and packages do.

We share the foundations of effective done-for-you packages inside of our free guide Powerful Offers that Transform, but here are some questions to get you started:

  1. If your client was to achieve the intended result of your work on their own, what steps would they need to take to do so?
  2. What part of those steps lie within your expertise? (This is where you begin to take ownership of the parts that you need to do.)
  3. How long would it realistically take for you to do those steps? (Give yourself 50% more time than you think; this is the timeline for the deliverables.)
  4. What would you need from the client in order for you to take those steps?
  5. What else might you need to include in the offer to help them do their part of the work with as much ease as possible?

Again, those questions are simply an introduction to the process of developing a standardized done-for-you service package, and we go more in-depth on the process inside of our free guide, Powerful Offers That Transform. Of course, it’s very likely that you’ll move through the process of developing a standardized package for your services, and find yourself drawing from past experiences you’ve had in delivering custom proposals and packages. The primary differentiator here, however, will be that you finally are confident that you’ve built the offer the way that it needs to be built in order to reliably facilitate the result or outcome that you say it will, and now can be even more confident in telling a Right Fit client: this is the offer. (In a sort of “take it or leave it” way, but of course without sass lol.)

Building standardized packages for your done-for-you services is one of the (many!) things that I’ll guide you to do inside of our course The Aligned Niche™. And on Monday, February 12, we are running a 4-week LIVE round in which you will learn to clearly express who you help and how so that you can confidently showcase what makes you and your work unique everywhere that you’re marketing and selling your stuff.

Over these 4 weeks, you’ll have access to:

  • A library of short and action-focused trainings (which you’ll have lifetime of the course access to!)
  • Two 90-minute group coaching sessions with me, where you can ask any of your business-building Qs and receive individualized support from me!
  • A 90-minute Offers development workshop, where we will actually build at least one of your offers together, right then and there!
  • A 90-minute Messaging development workshop, where we will actually craft messaging for at least one of your offers, right then and there!
  • Ongoing availability for in-depth, personalized feedback on everything you’re building and creating in the course.
  • Lifetime of the podcast access to our client-exclusive podcast, Mornings with Carly, where I drop ~5 minute episodes every M-W-F full of inspiration, client lessons, mindset shifts, behind the scenes of WholeCo, and more!
  • At-your-fingertips support throughout the entire course inside of our WholeCo community, with a 48-hour response time M-Th
  • …and some other bonus goodies!

If you are ready to create standardized packages for your services that not only are simpler to sell but also are more in service of your Right Fit clients, then come and join us inside of The Aligned Niche™ LIVE.

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Carly Jo Bell of WholeCo Media - Headshot@2x


I’m Carly Jo Bell.

(Though you can just call me Carly.)

Carly Jo Bell is a business strategist and mentor, and fonder of Whole Co media. Through her courses and programs, podcast, and one on one coaching, Carly helps pulled-in-every-direction entrepreneurs create a business that brings in as much joy as it does revenue — by cultivating deep self trust, and solid foundations as the first step.

For more from Carly, and to learn about her signature “looking external for inspiration, and internal for answers” approach, join the conversation by signing up for her weekly email series, Carly's Couch.


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