How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency
Many people ask me how I started my digital marketing agency. The good news is that my story can easily become your story if you love marketing and want to launch your own agency. Those who are most successful in this business are individuals who have a passion for what they do, from web design to paid search advertising, and helping customers.
“Bloom from where you’re planted,” said Saint Francis de Sales in the 15th century – and he was right. It’s very easy to look at what others and doing and get caught up with where YOU should be. But the reality is that we are each of us is unique and has a unique path.
Starting a digital marketing agency while working full time
I’m a big believer in the crawl, walk, run methodology. You might win games hitting home runs but championships are made of consistent singles, doubles, and triples. Said another way, start building your business with some project work. Become a freelancer who takes on small projects even while you’re working full-time. Although Instagram is littered with people who quit their job and made a million dollars overnight, it’s a fallacy for the masses.
Once you’ve started to do some work on the side, it’s time to start thinking about the type of digital marketing agency you’d like to create? There are 3 essential steps that you should consider before starting your own agency.
What will be the focus of your Agency?
A mistake that many people make at the very start of their planning is trying to be all things to all people. It’s a fool’s errand. Without a clear focus, you will be unable to differentiate yourself and find it incredibly challenging to market yourself effectively.
Focus can mean a lot of different things so let’s get pretty specific. You should decide who your audience will be for starters – business to business, consumer, or specific industries. Once you know who your audience is, the group that you want to serve, you can move on to focus on the types of services you will provide.
Think about the services you’re comfortable offering. For example, some agencies do nothing but content creation. They focus on blog writing or website copy. Others do nothing but paid search advertising or SEO. A number of agencies will group similar services and other a set of solutions. A good example of this would be website development companies that offer the design, development, and hosting of websites.
The last option to consider is creating a full-service agency. A full service digital marketing agency will often provide digital marketing strategy, website development, paid search, organic search (SEO), copywriting, and other solutions that meet their client’s needs.
How do you want your Agency to function?
Can you imagine a day when you are no longer at your full-time job and instead, running your own digital marketing agency? What does that look like? Do you have employees or is it just you? Are your employees all going into a share office or working remotely? How will you interact with your team in the U.S. or abroad?
It’s important to consider how your agency will function so you can start to plan using your current freelance business. A good example is storing all of your documents on Google Drive so that when you have a team, they’ll be able to access important documents. You may also want to get comfortable using collaboration software like Slack or Messenger to help improve communication among all those on your team.
Finally, consider how you’ll manage those you rely on to deliver your services. If it’s you alone, what will happen when you go on vacation or fall ill? If you’re working with a team, how often will you communicate with them and in what capacity? The more you start thinking about the ins and outs of building a business, the better off you’ll be when that day finally comes.
Identify Your Key Milestones
Although the realization that you want to start your own digital marketing agency may have happened overnight, getting there will take a little longer. One way to move closer to your goal is by writing down key milestones. Think about how you might transition from where you are to where you want to be. Think of critical steps like:
- Registering your business
- Building a website
- Earning 70% of your salary via freelance projects
Once you’ve created your milestones, put specific dates next to each one and post them in a place you see each and every day. By staying focused, you’ll start to move in the direction of your goals.
Starting your own digital marketing agency may not be easy but it’s attainable. My agency, Big Fin SEO has been in business for 10 years and is helping hundreds of clients look good online. As is the case with any business, give yourself a reasonable timeline to establish your business and realize that you don’t have to do it alone. There are plenty of resources and groups that can help you get there. One of my favorites is the Freelancer Profit System group on Facebook which is a collection of freelancers working together to solve some of their greatest challenges. Be patient with yourself and go for it!
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is the Founder of Big Fin SEO, entrepreneur, and speaker. He has been leading marketing organizations for 20 years and has appeared on the TODAY Show, ABC World News, and Bloomberg Radio. To learn more, visit Michael Fleischner’s Linkedin Profile.