Should you start your own marketing agency or be a freelancer?

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If you’re offering marketing services to businesses, you have the choice between keeping it simple as a freelancer or going big and wide by starting your own marketing agency.

The question is: how do you choose which path is best for you?

There is more potential for growth by launching your own marketing agency, but it also means more responsibilities. You can scale better as a marketing agency but you get more “freedom” as a freelancer.

3 important questions to ask yourself

There are are three key questions you should ask yourself before you make a decision on whether you should be a freelancer or start your own marketing agency.

1. How many services do you want to focus on?

As a freelancer, you focus on one or two specific services. As a result, it’s easy to develop a high level of skill for the service you’re offering. Opting to focus on specific services and delivering outstanding results will also help you establish a strong reputation in your field.

If you start a marketing agency, you’re expected to offer multiple services. While you can focus on a couple of services, a good number of your clients will want a comprehensive service. These services can include everything from search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), email marketing, web design, and more.

Clients also prefer to work with one agency for a more cohesive marketing campaign and a simple working relationship. Starting a marketing agency means you have to work on bigger campaigns, learn multiple skill sets, and work with other specialists. This can be more work than you may like to take on.

2. How much responsibility do you want to take on?

As a freelancer, you’re only responsible for yourself. You have a lot of freedom to choose your hours, clients, and projects. As long as you meet client expectations and submit your work on time, clients will come back to do business with you in the future.

If you’re building a marketing agency, you have to accept all the responsibilities that come with it. You’ll have to train employees, create attractive employment packages to bring in talent, pay competitive salaries, and take on projects you’re not interested in to keep your business afloat. You also have to work on a constrained timeline since you now have employees on your payroll.

Then there many other things you’ll have to do such as managing employees, getting insurance for your business, figuring out how to generate pay stub reports, and leasing office space. If you think you can handle these responsibilities and challenges without any problems, then starting your own marketing agency may be the right decision for you.

3. How do you want to scale?

There are different strategies for scaling as well. Freelancers often do well by focusing on their specific industry. For example, many freelancers will speak and attend certain marketing conferences.

Email marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) experts do the same, as there are many industry-specific marketing events for various sectors of digital marketing. The goal is to establish yourself as an expert for the service you are providing.

Many freelancers go on to take part in podcasts, write for big industry publications, speak at small and large marketing events, become a guest blog contributor, and create a blog focusing on their marketing expertise. This is how they build their careers.

On the other hand, marketing agencies usually get started by focusing on their local city. They try to focus on various industries occupied by their best clients. This can be anything ranging from roofing companies to auto shops to restaurants to real estate. Later on, the agencies start to expand nationally, and even internationally, to bring in more clients.

There’s less of a focus on personal brand with marketing agencies. It’s more about building a strong reputation on a local level and going from there. And since your employees also reflect your reputation, you have to make sure you hire right, and set up clear structures for how everything operates.

In summary

To sum up, these are the things to think about when deciding between a freelancing career and starting a marketing agency. Both paths can be very lucrative. Marketing agencies can scale far higher due to the large list of services you can offer to clients but, as a freelancer, you can specialize and you have a lot of freedom to pick your hours, clients, and projects. At the end of the day, it really comes down to how much responsibility you’re willing to take and the rewards you’re looking to reap.

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This guest blog article was written by Kevin Gardner, who graduated with a bachelor’s of science in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. Follow him on Twitter @kevgardner83.

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