Are you a freelance web designer who wants to step up your game and grow your business? As a one-person shop, you’re limited in what you can accomplish.
Have you wondered what it would be like to have help? Would you like to able to focus on the tasks you’re best at and work with talented specialists? It may be time for you to consider starting a creative agency.
As a solo operator, your options are limited. I’m sure you’ve faced the struggle. You know you need to develop new business, but you’re drowning in detail. There are only so many hours in the day, and one person can only accomplish so much.
Consider the benefits and you may find that an agency is a great option for your business.
Three benefits of the agency model:
- You can focus on your strengths, those things you enjoy the most and do well. Maybe you’re best at conceptualizing, but get tired of the detail associated with finishing a project. You can hire (or contract) someone who thrives on minutiae. Perhaps you’re weak at — or don’t enjoy sales. Hire a salesperson! Developing an agency allows you to build on your strengths.
- Increase your billable hours. With a solo shop, there’s a limit to how many hours you can bill. When you add other developers, designers, writers or admin staff, you can charge for hours they work, too.
- Your growth potential increases. The details can be overwhelming when you work by yourself. You have trouble finding the time to develop a growth strategy, much less work the plan. Getting help lets you free up time to plan and execute strategies for growth.
Are you ready to wave your magic wand and assemble your creative team? OK, it might not be that easy. But an agency means you’ll be working with other people, and it’s important that you pick the right ones. Your future success — and even the business you’ve already built — depends on building the perfect team.
You might want to have actual employees, but I recommend using contractors instead, especially if your capital is limited. You can develop your team slowly, trying different contractors for various projects until you have a great group of people who work well together.
Not necessarily in this order, here are some of the types of contractors you may need:
- Administrative Assistant
- Sales or marketing staff
- Web developers
These may be people from your area who work with you face-to-face but today that’s not necessary. The Internet allows you to connect with talented people anywhere in the world.
As you put your team together, consider how you will work together. Perhaps you will provide a physical workplace, but again, you don’t need one. You and your team can work together without ever even meeting in person!
But you will need a system. Fortunately many project management apps are available to let you delegate work, share files, make lists and keep track of tasks and where things stand at all times. Apps with the options you will need are not free, but compared to the cost of maintaining a physical workspace, the cost is minimal.
Niche and branding:
Oh, the places you will go, you and your new team!
But this is no time for chasing butterflies — you need to focus. Even more than a solo operator, an agency needs to be concerned with niche and branding.
You’re starting fresh with your new operation, but you’re likely building it on the platform of your solo enterprise. Are you already working within a niche, or have you worked on a wide variety of projects? Where do you think the opportunity for growth lies?
A niche might be a particular industry (such as restaurants or real estate). Or it might be specific projects, such as landing page design.
You likely have samples and client relationships upon which to build, so sticking with what you know makes sense in the beginning. But make sure there is room for growth. Evaluate opportunities with that in mind. You might need to start making subtle shifts until you’re on the right path. Enlist the help of any members you’ve added to your team as you consider your collective strengths and abilities to make a place for your agency in a crowded marketplace. How will you be different (and better) than the competition?
The main reason to be clear about the niche you think is best for your agency is so you can plan your marketing strategy. And that, of course, ties into your branding.
It is important that you understand the personality and voice you want your agency to have. After all, it’s an extension of you and needs to reflect your values. You’ll want to have this in mind as you select people to work with, too, since you’ll be relying on them to help build your brand.
What will you call your agency? You can, of course, name it after yourself. Or you may want a name that reflects your vision.
As you’re brainstorming, come up with three positive adjectives that you want to describe your brand. It’s important that these descriptors apply to you, as well, since you are the face of the agency. Be sure to pick a name that is timeless and allows for growth. Then get busy developing your logo, your new website and collateral material for marketing.
When you launch your new agency, your existing clients should be the first to know. And you need to consider your pricing structure. With more people involved, it’s more important than ever to keep cash flow positive. If you must raise rates, let your clients know you’re bringing more expertise to solve their problems. Yes, you may lose some business, but you’re building infrastructure for growth, something you don’t have with your solo operation.
By joining forces with the right creative team, you can attract larger projects and bigger brands. With organization and drive, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!