Building a creative agency is not a short-term effort. You may be able to get up and running fairly quickly, especially if you’ve got some great connections among other freelancers already. But getting enough work to keep all of you busy is only a first step.
Exactly how far you want to grow your agency is a question of your own goals. You may have modest ambitions, like building up enough business to be able to afford some great health insurance. You may have bigger plans, like being able to bring home six figures a year, beyond what you need to pay everyone working for you. No matter your goals, however, you’ll need to keep growing your business to meet them. Continue Reading
When you open an agency, you’re the head honcho. Everybody else has to do what you say, while you kick back and put up your feet.
Or, at least, that’s what we’d all like to think.
But, while you do get to define your team’s roles at the agency, you’ll still have your hands full with work of your own. The big question becomes what work you’re going to take responsibility for at your agency.
As you first start working towards an agency model, the answer will probably be ‘all of it.’ But it’s worth setting some expectations of where you’d like to wind up. That way, you can prioritize what sort of team members you’ll need to bring in first. Continue Reading
When you’re first marketing yourself as a freelancer, you have to make sure that your clients trust you. The entire point of your marketing is to convince each prospective client that you, personally, will do an awesome job on their project. But that approach doesn’t work when you won’t be personally doing every piece of work that passes through your agency. You’re going to have to make some major changes in how you handle marketing in order to get your agency’s name out there. Continue Reading
Time management is a topic that often comes up in conversations among freelancers. That’s because each of us has to take responsibility for getting everything on her plate done, without someone else nagging us about the work.
But when you establish an agency, the situation becomes harder: on top of getting the creative work done that you need to keep clients happy, you also need to assign work to everyone else at the agency, if not keep checking to ensure everything get’s done.
For some freelancers, it’s a fast way to go crazy. For others, it’s just a matter of making sure that there’s a good system in place and that you know what your priorities are. Provided you feel comfortable with a little management responsibility, getting everyone organized is very doable. Continue Reading
Especially when you’re first starting out, the odds are good that you’re going to be relying on other freelancers to handle the work that you can’t manage on your own. Depending on how you choose to grow your agency, you may continue to rely on contractors well into the future. But that means that you’re going to have to take on the role of client: you’re going to have to decide who you are comfortable sending your agency’s work to.
It’s a bit extreme to think this way, but the fact of the matter is that the work produced by any freelancer you hire will reflect directly on you. This doesn’t mean that you should go into full-on micro-manager mode, but it does mean that you need to be very clear about your criteria for who you will work with and your expectations throughout the process. Continue Reading
When you’ve got a whole team working at your agency, you have to make sure that you have enough projects to keep them all busy. If you don’t, idle employees can hurt your bottom line and freelancers can go elsewhere. But some of the problems that go along with freelancing — particularly the feast and famine cycles — are present in agencies, only written bigger.
As a general rule, a freelancer shouldn’t even consider establishing an agency until she’s consistently overwhelmed with work of her own. That’s the easiest way to know that you’ll have enough work to at least start bringing another person on board. But you’re going to have to shift your client attraction strategies to bring in big work more often. Continue Reading
One of the key decisions in establishing a creative agency is how to structure it. When you’re working on your own, structure doesn’t matter very much. Dividing your workload, even just between administrative work and client work, doesn’t seem to matter overly much when you’re the person who will need to do all of it, no matter what divisions you come up with. But when you may wind up with several people working on client projects and perhaps even an assistant on the administrative side of things, you need to be very clear on who is responsible for what.
The danger of not clearly establishing structure is that you can easily wind up in situations where you need to pay someone for time in which they did no work or did the same work that another person had already completed. Putting a solid structure and clear workflow in place that shows how different tasks pass through your business processes are necessary for an agency to grow. Continue Reading
Most freelancers are ambitious. We have to be if we want to build up a solid client roster and bring home enough income to justify not getting a day job. But that’s not the end of the line — in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take a freelancer all that long to build up a full-time income. Then we have to ask ourselves what we want to do next. There’s not a clear career path that we can follow, like one might climb up the corporate ladder.
One of the options that appeals to many freelancers is building an agency, which can allow you to keep working on the types of projects you like in a much larger quantity. Running an agency isn’t exactly something to jump into without prep work, but if that’s the direction your freelance career is evolving into, it’s a surprisingly practical option. Continue Reading
In this interview learn from James Chartrand of how to take your freelancing to the next level. She outlines ways you can grow from a freelancer into an agency, sell your own educational products, and increase your revenue. She runs Men with Pens where she manages a team of creatives that deliver copywriting and graphic design services.
I’m going to start this article by showing you a couple of my bruises. (Okay, fellas, I know what you’re thinking. But calm down. These are ego bruises.)
The first happened about a month ago. A longtime friend asked me to write a website redesign proposal for the non-profit organization she directs. I distinctly recall her saying that she wanted me to do this redesign project. So, I went into proposal-writing mode, submitted it, and the silence was deafening.
Oh, yes, I did follow up by phone and e-mail, but to no avail.
The truth came out in mid-June, when Elusive Friend and I spoke on the phone. She’d just gotten out of a meeting with her board of directors, and, sorry, Martha, the board had chosen a local marketing firm as the redesigner of the organization’s website.
My initial reaction was, shall we say, shocked. This marketing firm isn’t exactly known for the eye-catching design of its websites. But, according to Elusive Friend, two of the board members were friends of the marketing firm’s owner, and that was that.