starting a digital marketing agency

How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

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Covid-19 came ostensiblyout of nowhere, turned the world on its head and in due course, changed life, as we know it. One of the extents most impacted is the workplace.

During this trying time, businesses have had to adopt technologies and business models they would have never thought possible.

Although they were thrust into the digital world with no say in the matter and little preparation, businesses and theirworkforce are “getting with the times” andembracing a digital way of life.

In other words, there has NEVER been a better time to start your own digital marketing agency.

In today’s article you will discover why and how. Are you ready to be the proud owner of a successful digital marketing agency from scratch? Then keep reading.

Brush Up on Your Skills

What better way to spend your time in quarantine than equipping yourself with the skills every digital marketer needs? Remember that you are starting an agency and will be charging for the work you do.

As harsh as it sounds, ensures that your digital marketing skills are valuable. You are about to step foot in a mega competitive industry so make sure that your skills are on par with the pros. 

Read every blog you can, listen to podcasts, and gobble up the content provided by the industry leaders. Build mock landing pages, start crafting content for your website’s blog, learn about new software and tools to utilize in your agency.

One of the greatest tools ever invented is at your fingertips- the internet.

Use it.

Stop Imitating and Start Innovating

Scrutinizet the up and running digital marketing agencies. Instead of devising a copy-paste offering for your agency, innovate.

What is something that your agency can extendthat the others seem to lack?

If you can’t invent unique ideas, turn to those in the industry to build something on their conceptsand make them better.

While turning to competitors for inspiration is perfectly fine, never go in the same box as them. Your agency should standout. Your agency should be unique.

If You Don’t Know Who You Are, How Will Your Customers?

Creating a brand identity is vital and consists of more than designing a logo and picking the future aesthetic of your Instagram page content.

Brand identity is astatement to future clients “this is who I am, this is what I do, and this is why you should work with me”.

What is your tone of voice and who does it resonate with? What is your talent to would-be clients and why should they consider your business?

After a little bit of soul searching should have answers to these questions. From there you can move onto creative tasks like designing a logo, inventing a slogan, and designing the website.

Start Pumping Your Portfolio

You might wonder how to build a portfolio without a single client. The answer is simple. Offer your services to those who need it.

Free of charge.

That’s right! Be prepared to work harder than ever before for no monetary gain. Reach out to friends and family members or local business owners and set about working on projects worthy of a spot in your portfolio.

Whoever you offer pro bono portfolio-building work for is already doing you a favor. To maximize on the relationship and boost your credibility even more, in return for the services provided, request a testimonial.

The fact of the matter is that you cannot run a digital marketing agency without a portfolio. Be prepared to make sacrifices along the way in order to achieve greatness and this starts right now.

What is the Best Business Model for Your Agency?

Digital marketing agency owners havevarious business models to operate by. Which one is suitable for you?

Will you charge by the hour? Or do you prefer charging a monthly retainer fee? Does a commission-only business model suit your personality and work ethic? Or would you prefer a percentage basis?

Digital marketing agencies frequently employ each of these business models. Examineevery option and select the appropriate one for your needs. Nobody else can do this for you.

It’s Time to Get Social

How can others entrust you with building their online audience if you don’t have one? By this point, you’ve established a lot about your agency and what you want to achieve.

Your logo is ready and waiting to be shown to the rest of the world. So get out there and do just that!

Build your presence on the social media channels that are most appropriate. Where do you think your potential clients are hanging out? Is it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or all three?

Having a social media presence not only builds credibility but also makes for the perfect platforms to create brand awareness. On top of this, it acts as a permanent lead generating tool and has the ability to grow your network exponentially.

Start Building Relationships and Generating Leads

Once the foundation that you will build your digital marketing agency on is laid, tell everyone about it!

Reach out to your network and let them know what you have been up to. Let everyone know what’s in the works and that you’ll be opentobusiness in no time.

However—and this is key—don’t try to hard-sell your services to everyone and their dog. You do not want to come across asaggressive or starving for business.

Rather, provide value to anyone you reach out to. It can be accomplished in many ways. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Answer questions on Quora and establish yourself as a thought-leading authoritative figure in your niche.
  • Find a website that is underperforming and put together a plan of what you would do to improve it, given the opportunity. Reach out to the website owner and highlight two or three “blunders” they are making and provide them with solutions.
  • Contact family members and friends who have businesses andalert them that your business may be of great value to theirs.
  • Attend networking events, connect online with people in your niche, touch base with your network of friends, old colleagues, and LinkedIn connections.  

Know Your Niche and Make Sure They Know You

When the word gets out about your new venture, all sorts of people will want to be a part of it. This is the perfect time to define your niche to continue your agency creation journey with a newfound sense of targeted focus.

Do you want to work with small indie brands or the mom and pop shop down the road? Are you going to take small business owners to the next level? Or is your ideal customer a Fortune 500 company or massive corporate?

Once you realize who your ideal customer is you can curate your service around their needs and set about finding them. 

Find Out What Your Closest Competitors Do – And Do It Better

Even once you have defined your niche, you’ll be competing with an insane number of competitors. The digital marketing agency is booming.Do whatever you can to secure your slice of the pie.

Discover what your closest competitors do and figure out how to do it better.

Conduct a S.W.O.T analysis on a few of your biggest competitors and definehow to surpass their offering. Trawl through their social media platforms to get an idea of what their customers complain about and make sure not to repeat their mistakes.

All Systems Go: It’s Time to Launch Your Website

You have put in the legwork, it’s time to appreciate the tangible results of your effort. A website is the most powerful tool.

It’s the place where prospective clients will visit for information about your agency. It’s where you will display  aportfolio and examples of work you’ll be able to produce for your clients.

In short: nothing is as important to a digital marketing agency owner as their website.

A website should be designed and optimized to the highest possible standards. It should contain everything about your brand, your services, and your promise.

Before officially launching your website, soft launch it to a few friends and family members for their input.

Make Sure Your Agency is Scalable

It’s inevitable: your agency will grow. That is fantastic! However, ensure that you are prepared for its growth.

In the early stages of running your agency, you will be the biggest expense. Nevertheless there will come a time to expand your team to more than a one-man-show.

Whether it is paying for advertising or bringing on a new member, be prepared to adapt to these growth needs—and have the funds to cover them.

Fire Up the Freelancers

You may be incredible at setting up ads guaranteed to convert but your design skills may be lacking. You may be flooded with business the moment you open the virtual door.

What to do in cases where your skills are not up to scratch?Oor you’re struggling to keep up with the workflow, but can’t afford to hire an employee?

Reach out to the incredible force of freelancers a click of a button away. Freelancers are the perfect solution to save the day AND save you money.

The best sites to find freelancers for almost any purpose are Upwork, Fiverr,, PeoplePerHour,, and Toptal.   

Get Tooled Up

Finally, be capable to measure whether or not your hard work has paid off. We recommended adopting the S.M.A.R.T way of tracking your agency goals as it’s prudent.

  • Specific: Be specific about the goals you set. Here’s what we mean: “Making money” is not a goal. But “Make $1,000 in two weeks” is. And “get clients” isn’t a goal. But “land 10 SEO clients by the end of the year” is. It’s easier to manage specific ambitions. 
  • Measurable: Specificity and measurability work hand in hand. How else will you know once you’ve achieved the goal you set? For example, if your objective was to land 10 SEO clients by the end of the year then you’ll know it the moment you onboard the 10th client.
  • Achievable: Setting a goal that is too boldwill cause more damage than good. Start small and work your way up. Instead of saying “Become a millionaire after 6 months of operating,” rather say “Be able to pay my monthly car installments after 3 months of operating”. Be patient.  
  • Realistic: Always be realistic when setting youraspirations. You know your personality, your skills, weaknesses, and your overall capabilities better than anyone. Make sure that your goals are sensiblein nature while still remaining optimistic and aspirational.
  • Time-Bound:Goals need a deadline. This helps to quantify your objective and give you the motivation—and pressure—to stay on track. If you don’t set goals with clear time requirements you run the risk of becoming lazy, unfocused, or unmotivated.

Tools not only ensure you are on track as an agency owner. Tools also report to clients that you have indeed delivered on your promise and that the desired results have been achieved.


Why should you start your own digital marketing agency?

Start a digital marketing agency for many reasons. First, you can make some serious profits in the industry no matter which business model you adopt. Secondly, you have the freedom to accept or decline jobs at your leisure.

Thirdly, you get to be part of an ever-evolving digital stratosphere.Those in it constantly iterate, learn, and evolve. Plus, who doesn’t want to be their own boss?

So what exactly does a digital marketer do?

A digital marketer wears many hats. At the core, a digital marketer uses a range of digital channels to build brand awareness and generate leads for their clients. They will be the intellects behind marketing campaigns.

Digital marketers are often responsible for SEO or SEM, content creation, landing page development, and the development of communication strategies.

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Written byEthan Perkins