Creating a digital marketing agency from scratch is difficult but not impossible. It takes time to build a client base and hire employees for a digital marketing company.
It’s not easy, but there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a service provider in the exciting world of digital marketing.
After ten years as a part-time SEO freelancer, I founded my digital marketing firm in 2012. The transition from part-time freelancer to full-time business owner was fraught with challenges and rewards.
The process taught me valuable lessons that helped me improve my processes and offerings and build a successful online marketing business.
This guide was written to help you avoid my mistakes, reduce your risks, and increase your chances of getting it right the first time.
Is digital marketing a viable business?
Let me explain briefly why a digital marketing agency is a good business to start.
Digital marketing services are in high demand as more businesses and competitors move their operations online. Demand for digital marketing services rises with competition A digital marketing agency can be run from home using remote teams – One of the benefits of running a digital marketing agency is not needing a physical location.
All operations can be done via email or Skype. Working from home and hiring remote teams can help you save money as a business owner.
No prior experience required – While prior SEO and digital marketing experience is a plus, you can learn digital marketing skills by taking an online course and practicing on your own websites before offering services to clients.
Get out of the 9-to-17:00 grind and start your own business as a digital marketing manager.
Providing services yourself can get you started, but as you gain clients, you can hire more people and expand your business.
Starting a business doesn’t require a large initial investment. You only need an Internet connection, a few subscriptions, and a website. Everything else (office space, employees, etc.) can be added later.
1. Gain digital marketing knowledge and confidence
Assemble the skills and confidence required to run a digital marketing agency. This is divided into three parts:
Skills in digital marketing
e-Marketing Skills Obviously, you need digital marketing skills to start a digital marketing agency. That means you need to understand digital marketing, how it works, and how to use it to increase your client’s traffic and sales.
What is Digital Marketing? While you don’t need to know everything from day one, you should know the following:
SMM (Social Media Marketing)
If your agency grows, you can hire experts in digital marketing, but if you’re just starting out, you need to know how to do it yourself.
This is a key success factor. In the early stages of a business, you must reduce costs and reliance on others.
You need hands-on experience with digital marketing to figure out what works (in terms of money and clients) and where you need help.
Learning theory and best practices from established experts is the best way to master a skill.
It’s not enough to know the basics; you need to practice digital marketing to gain the necessary experience.
You can use the resources listed below to learn digital marketing.
Learn More About Digital Marketing Full Course Bundle – Learn all about digital marketing. A complete course for novices and experts.
The Complete SEO Course – A comprehensive SEO course.
How to Become a Digital Marketing Specialist
Best Digital Marketing Certification Programs
Management Skills Because you want to start an online business rather than work as a freelancer, you must learn business basics.
You don’t need a business degree, but you do need to develop skills in:
Billing and invoicing
As a business owner, you’ll have to do this from the start and probably for a long time before you can hire dedicated people.
Self-Belief Skills You can’t run a business without taking risks. To take risks, you need confidence, and in the digital marketing industry, you need confidence in your skills.
You’ll fail if you start this business without knowing how to improve a website’s ranking or use advertising to get more customers for your clients.
You must have prior experience working in an established agency or on your own websites before serving clients (as a digital marketer freelancer or agency).
When you can use digital marketing to achieve real measurable results, you’re ready to become a service provider.
Remember that there are thousands of digital marketing professionals and agencies out there, and that clients will likely get multiple proposals and interviews before hiring.
Before taking the big step, make sure you have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience.
2. Determine the services to offer
Next, decide what digital marketing services to offer potential clients. Typical full-service digital marketing services include:
HTML/CSS/JS Services SEO
Paid-Per-C (Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, etc)
e-commerce services (content writing included)
Marketing on social media
Mailing list services
Optimisation of conversion
It’s difficult for a new business to offer all of these services, so pick the ones that best suit your skills.
For example, if you’re an SEO expert, you can start by only offering SEO services, and as you gain clients and money, you can add more services.
Keep in mind that your goal is to keep costs low and rely on your skills. If you try to go full-service from the start, you may get lost.
My experience is that the services that can generate more revenue for you are SEO and PPC services.
3. Determine your business model.
The next decision is how you will run your company.
As a home-based business hiring remote workers
As a ‘traditional business’ with a local office and staff
Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and your choice should be based on cost and client location.
With a physical presence in a city, you can establish your brand and attract more local clients.
Having a physical office will only increase your monthly costs if you plan to serve clients globally.
One of the benefits of starting your own digital marketing agency is that you can work from home with remote employees. This is the future of business and many online and SaaS companies use it.
You may hire local employees as your digital marketing portfolio grows, but they can work from home, so there is no need to pay rent or other office expenses at this stage.
Find a place in your home for your home office. This can be a dedicated work space or a room in your home. Because you’ll be working online, you’ll need the best internet connection possible.
4. Register your firm
It’s time to make it official before moving on. By this, I mean:
Choose a business name.
Obtain a domain name
Create a logo
Register your company with the appropriate authorities.
Get a tool-free #
Find a CPA or a
It’s important to do this now, even if you won’t use them all right away.
5. Create a web presence
The first step is to create an online presence for your company, starting with a website.
Your agency’s website is the “front door,” so make sure it accurately represents your brand.
Your website should be professional and provide potential clients with all the information they need to hire you.
Along with who you are and what you do, make sure to explain the benefits of hiring you. Make your website about them, not you.
Create landing pages for each of your services and make it easy for potential clients to contact you without excessive questions or complicated signup forms.
Your goal is to gather as many leads as possible, filter them, and focus on the most likely to convert.
Create business pages on all major social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and secure your brand name.
Clients will check your Facebook page and learn more about your company before hiring, so make sure it looks good and professional.
Register your company with Crunchbase and other organizations (local, government) that can help you prove your legality.
More Information Digital marketing for startups – advice on building a brand for your new business.
A step-by-step guide to creating a website for your business.
6. Demonstrate your expertise
Finding new clients is one of the most difficult aspects of running a digital marketing agency. But you must also be able to persuade potential clients to work with you.
The best way to do this is to show your expertise.
An ‘about us’ page that tells your story
Companies you’ve worked for before
Some of the above items may not apply to you if you are just starting out, but keep them on your to-do list and work towards them.
Don’t forget to get some digital marketing certifications from well-known companies and work on a friend’s business website.
Use your own website results as case studies on your business website.
Invite reputable websites to guest post on your site.
Honest reviews and case studies only. Fake reviews are not the way to build a successful business relationship with a client.
7. Choose the right tools
You’ll need a lot of tools to run your digital agency efficiently. In fact, after salaries, tool licenses will be your second largest expense.
You’ll need tools to optimize your digital marketing campaigns, create client reports, invoice, and more.
There are many tools available on the market, but you should choose tools that have features you’ll actually use, not just nice to have.
Businesses frequently overpay for software features they never use, so choose wisely.
Remember to sign up for tools you can use on both your own and your clients’ websites when comparing licensing costs.
Digital marketing platforms like SEMRUSH, Ahrefs, Hubspot, and Moz are essential.
These platforms help you manage SEO, content marketing, social media, and PPC campaigns.
In addition to SEMRUSH, the other tools mentioned above are suitable for the job.
Platform for digital marketing all in one.
You’ll also need:
Optinmonster helps me grow my email list and increase conversions. It’s easy to use and has many features.
Other good solutions include Drip, Constant Contact, Klayvio, and others.
Grammarly – An essential tool for online businesses. It helps you avoid spelling and grammar errors when writing online (including emails, proposals, etc).
For creating attractive graphics and presentations, Canva is a great choice.
You’ll also need:
Google Docs Google AdWords
Decide which tools you’ll use and spend time learning how to use them and their features. Your time will be limited once you start working with clients, so learn these tools now.
8. Develop your business model.
The next step is to determine your business model, or how you will charge for your services.
Some popular digital marketing agency business models:
You charge by the hour. The rate ranges from $30 to $120 per hour depending on experience, client location, business type, services provided, and work complexity.
For each project, you and the client agree on a fixed price. If your estimates are correct, you make a profit, but if they are incorrect, you may lose money.
The client pays a monthly retainer for agreed-upon services. This usually applies to monthly SEO, PPC, and social media management.
The ‘monthly fee’ model is the most profitable.
My advice to new agencies is to start with the per-hour or per-project model. It’s not the most profitable model, but it allows you to adjust your hourly rate to attract new clients.
9. Get your First client
We’ve talked about laying the groundwork for your new agency, but you need clients to make it a reality. A business without clients is just an idea.
HOW TO GET YOUR FIRST DM CLIENT
Here are some initial ideas that worked for me.
Family – Your friends and family probably own or work for a company that can benefit from digital marketing.
Offer to assist with their digital marketing efforts. Plan ahead of time how you can help them get more clients, improve their search presence, and increase sales.
Since this is your first official proposal, make it as detailed and specific as possible.
Demonstrate how they can benefit from Google AdWords, the missed opportunities from not using email marketing, and anything else needed to persuade them to hire you as their digital marketing consultant.
Make sure your pricing appeals to them now. Your goal is to build your portfolio, not make money.
Lessons learned from your first client will be invaluable when working with your first real client.
Online job boards like Upwork and PeoplePerHour are another way to get your first client. These websites have hundreds of digital marketing job postings and are a good place to start.
Here are some suggestions:
When responding to a job posting, make sure you answer ALL questions. Examine the job description and explain your approach.
Quick reply. These websites get a lot of responses quickly, and the work is usually assigned to those who respond first.
Make realistic promises.
10. start a Digital Marketing blog
while working on your first client, start your own blog. A good blog with useful content is a digital marketing agency’s best lead generation tool.
It’s the fastest way to generate new leads while also demonstrating your expertise to potential clients. They know you can rank websites high in Google, so you don’t have to “sell yourself” to them, which helps with the signup process.
When writing for your blog, try to use keywords that relate to the services you provide and that potential customers may search for.
For example, in the last decade, my agency’s main source of leads has been blogging. We worked with hundreds of clients worldwide without advertising.
Growing your blog is crucial because it grows your agency. Not relying on advertising will also help you turn a profit faster.
More Information How to Blog – A Beginner’s Guide
11. Create a portfolio and get reviews
Once you get here, keep working on your portfolio and customer testimonials.
To build a portfolio quickly, you must provide low-cost services, but positive customer testimonials will help you signup more and larger customers in the future.
While it’s easy to get new clients with low marketing budgets, securing clients with large budgets that can generate good profit requires a decent portfolio and past customer reviews.
I know this will take time, so don’t get discouraged, but take it one client at a time.
12. Organize your methods
As your digital marketing agency grows and gets more clients, you’ll find that you can’t handle all projects alone.
Now is the time to hire help, but first you must set up your processes.
By processes, we mean having a set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) to document all your steps. This includes client onboarding and all services offered.
If you don’t do this now, you’ll waste time explaining to your team how to handle client work.
Create email templates, proposal templates, custom reports, and checklists that anyone can use to perform a specific task.
Keep it simple and don’t complicate it. Use Google Docs and Gmail to create processes and folders.
13. Build Your Digital Marketing Team
Having to hire new people means you already have clients, are profitable, and have established processes.
If you aren’t there yet, don’t hire anyone unless you have the funds to take the risk.
This is something that many digital marketing agency owners (including myself) struggled with at first.
Some helpful hints:
Begin by hiring people for simple tasks – Document all steps and explain them to your employees. Refine your processes (created in step 1) to be current and relevant.
Hire freelancers instead of full-time employees to save money and gain flexibility. You can use extra help as needed and per project.
Give them a test project – To determine if a freelancer is a good fit for your team, hire them for a trial project before hiring them full-time. Hiring the wrong people can cost you a lot of money and time.
More Information Management of Remote Teams – The 7 best practices to help your remote team run like a machine.
A list of the best human resource tools for managing your digital marketing team.
The best way to handle client onboarding is with software.
It’s easy to start a digital marketing agency. You can work from home, be your own boss, and scale your business without a lot of capital.
While this sounds great, there are several factors to consider before becoming a digital marketing service provider.
First, you need to know what you’re doing. If you’re new to digital marketing, you should gain skills and experience before starting a business.
Begin by digital marketing your own sites and experimenting with different techniques until you know what works.
Once you see real results, you’ll be confident enough to offer your services to others.
Start slowly and don’t try to offer everything right away. One client at a time, build your portfolio.
Build your team gradually when it’s time to hire new people. Hiring remote employees is difficult and you may need to interview several candidates before finding the right fit.
Your blog’s growth should always be your top priority. For your business, blogging can help you gain new clients without spending money on advertising.
Finally, remember that the customer is always right. Give your customers the attention they deserve and they will return. You’ll save money on new customer acquisition, increase profits, and speed up business growth.
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