Starting up a digital marketing agency from scratch is challenging, but not impossible. From having nothing to having a full-fledged Digital Marketing business with clients and employees requires a lot of time and effort.
If you’re interested in entering this lucrative industry, it’s easier than you think.
Today you have more opportunities to strike out on your own in the digital marketing space than ever before. But how do you achieve this? Where do you begin, and how do you scale?
This is what we’re going to discuss here.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how to start a digital marketing agency with no experience at all.
The notion that starting a digital marketing agency means you have to build a huge company and do “all the things” and receive all the clients is also a common misconception.
In actuality, a digital marketing agency can actually be just…you. It’s not about the expensive software, nor about having expensive office or huge number of employees. It’s about figuring out who you will help, how you will help them, and then doing the work.
HOW TO START A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY WITH NO EXPERIENCE
An agency’s business model is fairly straightforward. You can play around with the billing methods, such as billing by the hour, the week, the task, or the project. However, you are primarily providing specialized knowledge for a fee. Basically, an agency of one and an agency of 100 work the same way.
A digital marketing company is a company that develops and manages digital marketing campaigns.
They are sought out by small and big companies alike for the reliable promotion of their products and services through the Internet. “Digital marketing” carries an abundance of meaning. Essentially, it is an online technique used to increase brand awareness, create new customers, or gain new leads.
If you want to know how to start a digital marketing agency, there are several ways to get the experience you need. Internships can be extremely beneficial for gaining a first-hand understanding of what the profession entails. An internship likewise enables you to become familiar with current digital marketing strategies and technologies. It is vital to have these skills to succeed in the business world.
If you are unsure of how to get started, take a look at THE SSM ACADEMY’s digital marketing courses that can help you become a savvy and confident digital marketer.
Is Digital Marketing a good business to start?
Before we move on to the steps of launching your business, let me briefly explain why a digital marketing agency is a good business to start.
- Digital marketing is very demanding- Business operations are increasingly moving online as competition grows. More competition means a greater need for digital marketing services.
- Work from home – You won’t need a physical office if you set up a digital marketing agency. Everything can be done remotely. By working remotely, you can reduce costs.
- Be your own boss – Would you like to be free from the 9-5 routine and have your own business? Consider digital marketing.
- It’s scalable – Once you get some clients, you can hire more people and grow your digital marketing agency business.
- It’s affordable to start – At first, you don’t have to invest much. To get started, you only need a computer, internet access, and a website. Employees and office space can be added later, as the business grows.
As a result, many entrepreneurs and freelancers are keen to become involved in this sector. However, starting an agency for digital marketing has its benefits and challenges just as any other small business.
How to Start a Digital Marketing Company
Starting your own digital marketing agency is not hard if you put in the time and effort. There are some critical steps to follow if you want to be on the list of the best social media agencies for startups and big companies.
If you’ve read this far, you’re serious about starting up your agency.
That’s fantastic, so let’s walk through every step of the process so you know what to expect.
1. Develop Your Skills
First, you need to develop the skills and self-confidence needed to run a social media marketing agency.
We can divide it into three categories:
- Digital marketing skills
- Business management skills
Digital Marketing Skills
The first step to starting a social media marketing agency is to develop your digital marketing skills.
It means that you need to know what digital marketing is, how it works, and how to run campaigns to increase traffic and sales for your clients using one or more digital marketing channels.
The digital marketing industry has so many channels, and you don’t have to understand them all from day one, it’s important to learn the most important ones, such as:
- Website Designing
- Google Ads
- Social Media Marketing
- Content Writing
- Email Marketing
- Graphic Designing
If you are starting out now without money or experience, it’s crucial to learn the basics yourself. As your agency grows, you can build your digital marketing team and hire experts, but if you’re just starting out, you’ll need to learn the basics.
In fact, learning is a critical success factor. Early in your business, you should minimize your costs and also your dependence on other people.
It’s vital that you have hands-on experience with various digital marketing channels so that you can eventually figure out what works best and where you need assistance.
At THE SSM ACADEMY, we understand the appeal, as we have worked hard to develop coursework that will enable our students to achieve exactly what they want.
The Internet has plenty of great resources to help you learn valuable skills (including our digital marketing blog). However, it is crucial to consider a formal, structured course. As a result, you are guaranteed to have a broad range of skills, which is crucial for social media marketing.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our digital marketing courses that will help you become a savvy and confident digital marketer.
Business Management Skills
Your goal is to start an online business, so you need to learn the basics of running a business.
There’s no need to have a degree in Business Management but you should learn a few things related to it:
- Planning and Managing Projects
- Time management
- Business Ethics
- HR management
If you own a business, you’ll probably have to do these things for quite a while until you are able to hire dedicated employees.
Business is impossible if you are not willing to take risks. You cannot take risks unless you have self-confidence, and to gain self-confidence, you must believe in your skills.
You will not succeed if you try to start this business without knowing exactly how to raise the ranking of a website or how to use advertising to get more customers for your clients.
To start serving clients, you first need to gain experience by working in an established agency or starting your own website.
Once you’ve mastered digital marketing in a way that leads you to achieve measurable results, you’ll be ready to become a service provider.
You should keep in mind that there are thousands of digital marketing agencies in the market, and clients most likely will get multiple proposals and interview a handful of companies before making a hiring decision.
In this case, self-confidence helps you stand out from the crowd so make sure you have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience before taking the leap.
2. Decide Your Services
Your next step is to determine what kind of digital marketing services you will offer your clients.
In general, a top-tier digital marketing agency offers the following services:
- Website Designing and Development
- Android Application Development
- Paid Advertisements (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, etc)
- Content Marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Conversion optimization
- Graphic Designing
- Digital PR
- Link Building
As a beginner, it’s very difficult to offer all of these services so it’s better to focus on the ones that match your skills.
For example, if you specialize in Google Ads, you could start by providing only Google Ads services and then, as your clientele and income grow, you could offer more services.
Your goal at this stage should be to keep your costs low and rely on your skills. Don’t try to offer everything from day one.
3. Develop Your Business Model
Your next step is to decide how you operate your business.
You have three choices:
- Remote work with Remote employees
- An office and local employees
It is important to consider the costs and location of your possible clients when evaluating these three options.
For example, if you intend to serve clients in a specific location, then having an office in the city can help you establish your brand and get more local clients.
One of the benefits of starting your own digital marketing agency is that you can work from home with remote employees. There are lots of online and SaaS companies following this model, and this is the future of business.
However, if you provide services the world over, you will need to set up your home office. This can either be a room in your house or a separate room that you use for work. You should also ensure that you have a fast internet connection since you will be working online.
The next step is to decide how you’ll charge your clients.
The most used methods are:
- Per Hour – You can charge an hourly fee here. You can charge anywhere from $5 per hour to $100 per hour, depending on your experience, location of the client, type of business, type of services you provide, and intuition of the project.
- Per Project – You can charge your clients based on the completion of the project. When you estimate correctly, you make a profit, but when you estimate incorrectly, you can end up losing money.
- Per Month – Here you can create a monthly service agreement for a list of services. The client pays a monthly fee for the agreed services. It’s generally applicable for monthly SEO management, PPC management, and social media management.
- Percentage of Spend – It is very popular with agencies because it takes the client’s growth potential and scalability into account. In the beginning, this may not be the best option, as you will want to expand your network, but with time you will realize that having larger clients is far more beneficial to you for a variety of reasons.
Ideally, you should start with the ‘per hour’ or ‘per project’ model in the beginning. Although it isn’t the most profitable model, your goal is to get new clients and build your portfolio as quickly as possible, so the ‘per hour’ model allows you to adjust your hourly rate in order to be more attractive to potential clients.
4. Register Your Business
Now it’s time to make things official before taking the next steps.
This includes :
- Register your Domain name
- Design your Logo
- Legalize your business entity
- Hire an Accountant
- Find a lawyer
- Google My Business Registration
- Create business cards
Even if you don’t intend to use all of these immediately, it is essential to do this now and put together all of those pieces.
5. Warm-Up your Online Presence
The first step in creating an online presence is to create a website for your business.
Your website is the face of your digital marketing agency, so that’s why you need to make sure it accurately represents your business.
Your website should look professional and offer all of the information potential clients need to decide if they want to hire your company.
As well as introducing yourself and what you do, let clients know what benefits they will get if they hire you. Make your website about them, not only about you.
Make sure that potential clients can easily contact you without answering too many questions or filling out complex registration forms.
After creating a website, you should set up business profiles on all the major social networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc) and register your brand name.
You should not forget this step because clients will check your Facebook page and research your business more before hiring, so be sure that everything looks professional.
Additionally, you should register your business with websites like Crunchbase and other organizations (local, government) that can aid in verifying your legal presence.
6. Showcase Your Expertise
In running a digital marketing agency, finding new clients is one of the most challenging tasks. However, you should also be able to convince clients to do business with you.
This can be accomplished by demonstrating your expertise and achievements.
This includes :
- An ‘About Us’ page that tells your story
- Success stories
- Case studies
- Previous works
- Customer testimonials
- Partnership agreements
- Mentions from brands
With no experience, it’s normal that some of the above items may not apply to you; however, do put them on your to-do list and gradually work towards reaching them.
For example, you can do some work on a friend’s business website and ask them to send you a review, which you can attach to your own website.
Write guest posts for reputable websites, and then mention them on your homepage.
Only publish real reviews and case studies based on your experience. Fake reviews are not a good basis for establishing a successful business relationship.
7. Do Competitor Research
It’s important to know how you will compete with your competitors when you start a new business. When you research your competitors, you’ll be able to know how to beat them.
When you do your competitor analysis, you should use the same keywords your business uses on the internet. Choose only 10-15 competitors to analyze.
As soon as you discover your competition, analyze how they’re monetizing. This will give you an insight into what methods they’re using and what is working for them.
As soon as you determine their monetization technique, you can determine their content marketing strategy.
View their blog posts, social media, and SEO.
How do you plan to present your content? Will you be creating podcasts, blogs, or videos?
See how they communicate with their customers.
Then, decide whether you want to use a similar content marketing strategy or a different one.
8. Select Digital Marketing Tools
If you want to run your digital agency efficiently, you’ll need a lot of tools.
In fact, paying for tools will be your second-highest expense, after paying salaries.
There are plenty of tools in the market, but what you need to remember is to select tools with features you’ll actually use rather than features that are nice to have.
You should sign up for tools you can use on your own website as well as your clients’ website, so take that into account when comparing the pricing plans.
The very first tool you need is a digital marketing platform such as Semrush, Ahrefs, Hubspot, or Moz.
You can use these platforms for SEO, content marketing, social media management, and PPC campaign management.
I prefer SEMrush because it’s a superb all-in-one platform with great features and reasonable pricing, but the other tools mentioned above are good for the job.
Other digital marketing tools you’ll need are:
Lead Generation – Optinmonster is an excellent tool for growing email lists and improving conversion rates. It’s really easy to use and offers many features.
Email Marketing – MailChimp is a very good tool for Email Marketing, with its ease of use and range of features, as well as its free and pay-per-use plans.
Grammarly Extension – Grammarly is a tool that every online business should have. It helps you avoid making spelling or grammar errors in your online content.
Canva Design – Canva is a great online graphic design tool. You can use it for everything from basic photo editing to designing social media images and documents.
Additionally, you’ll also need:
- Google Meet
- Google Slides
- Google Docs
- Google Forms
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Google Search Console
- Google Data Studio
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Alerts
- Google Media Planning Toolkit
- Windows Movie Maker
It’s important to choose which tools you’ll use and to spend some time learning how to use them and what features they offer. Once you begin working with clients, your time will be limited, so it’s a good idea to become familiar with these tools in advance.
9. Start Digital Marketing Blog
A blog with valuable content is the most effective way to generate leads for a digital marketing agency.
It’s the greatest way to get new leads as well as convince potential customers that you know what you’re doing.
On the other hand, when clients find you on Google search, you don’t have to “sell yourself”, they know you can rank websites high in Google, which makes the signup process a lot easier.
If you are creating content for your blog, you should use keywords that are related to the kind of services you offer and that potential clients may search for.
If you grow your blog, your agency will also grow. Having no reliance on advertising will also help you turn your company into a profitable company more quickly.
10. Get Your First Client
We have discussed how to begin a startup agency and how to create a plan, but to become a successful company you need clients.
Without clients, a business is nothing more than an idea.
Now we’ll discuss how to get digital marketing projects.
In the beginning, I tried these ideas:
People, You Know – There is a good chance that some of your friends and family members own or work for a company that uses digital marketing.
Contact them and offer to help them with their digital marketing campaigns. Take a look at their website and marketing strategies and come up with strategies on how you can help them to increase their sales.
This is your first ‘official proposal’, so ensure that it is detailed and contains specific goals. It should not be a sales pitch or a pitch with unrealistic expectations. In other words, do not promise too much.
At this point, make sure your pricing is affordable. The goal is not to start making money, but to build your portfolio to start making more money.
Freelancing sites – Best freelancing sites like Upwork and Toptal is another way to get your first client. Thousands of jobs related to digital marketing are posted on these websites.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Please ensure that you answer ALL the questions asked in the job posting when responding to a job request. Please read the job description carefully and explain what you intend to accomplish.
- Reply as early as possible.
- Make honest, realistic promises
- Maintain a low price
- Have a good attitude
- Make a ppt plan by using your knowledge
Let’s look at the next one …
11. Focus on your Portfolio
Your next goal should be to continue building your business portfolio.
Your portfolio is crucial to your startup success.
In order to build your portfolio fast, you will need to provide services at a low cost, but good testimonials and positive reviews from customers will help you gain more and larger customers as you go forward to the future.
12. Build Your Team
Teamwork ensures that deadlines are met and that work is of high quality. If one member of a team falls behind, another can pick up the slack. When work is divided among members of a team, it gets done more quickly, resulting in more efficient operations overall.
Teamwork is fundamental to so much of what makes work valuable. As a matter of fact, the synergies gained through teamwork are essential for the effective management of resources.
So, if you are having to hire new employees, you probably already have a clientele, are profitable, and your processes are in place.
Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
Hire people for simple tasks – Explain what you expect from your employees and document all their steps.
Hire freelancers, not full-time employees – This will save you money and give you more flexibility.
Provide a small project – If you are unsure of a freelancer’s skills, the best way to find out if they are a good fit for your team is to hire them for a small project before committing to a larger project.
One of the most appealing aspects of opening your own marketing agency is that it’s yours. You make all the decisions, choose the clients, and do all the work. You reap the rewards, but you also bear the blame. After all, it’s your baby, raised by your family of employees.
Starting a digital marketing agency is a great idea. You can work from home, you can work on your own schedule and it’s a business that can scale without a huge investment.
The first step is to learn. If you’re new to digital marketing, you should first build your skills and gain experience before starting up a business.
You should start by trying different strategies on your own website to get a sense of what is working and what isn’t.
As soon as you begin seeing some real results, you will also have the confidence to offer your services to others.
Make sure you have processes in place before hiring new people and build your team gradually. You may have to hire a number of remote candidates before you find someone who can work with you effectively.
Your top priority should always be creating and growing your blog. Your business will gain much more exposure by blogging since you won’t have to pay for advertising.
Make sure you pay attention to your clients so they become repeat customers. With this strategy, you’ll lower your cost of acquiring new customers, increase your profit, and scale your business more quickly.
With this guide, you now have the complete picture of how to launch a digital marketing agency from your home office.
So what’s stopping you to start right away?
Please share all your questions in the COMMENTS section – I’d love to help you more!
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