Growing a digital agency?

8 replies
Hi Guys

I was wondering if anyone here runs a successful digital agency?

I am currently a self employed web designer and have been slowly growing my brand for the past 6 months, I'm getting busier and increasing my prices which is going well but have ambitions to grow a digital agency in the future.

I am a bit confused as to how the transition happens from a one man band with one speciality to hiring people to do the other services? I have seen countless blog posts and videos on people advising to specialise in one field to start with which is what I am doing but not much else on how they expanded to offer other services and ultimately employing other people to do it. I know it's a complex question so I guess what I am asking is what is a good next step to get closer to this goal? Learn the other services? Wait until I work with bigger clients who want the other services with bigger budgets and hire someone to do it? I am a bit confused!

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies!
#agency #digital #growing
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  • Profile picture of the author ConversionSharks
    Like you I was a one man show for a long time doing design, marketing, and consulting for local businesses on the side in between my affiliate marketing efforts.

    I struggled with hiring people to take on tasks or projects once I became too busy to do it on my own. Not only is it hard to find people who have the same skill sets but you could also say I am anal and want to ensure things are completed to my expectations when my business name is attached to it.

    I tried with a few and ultimately never found a good fit. I closed down that business as my time was better spent elsewhere as it was far more profitable and will refer business to a few other local businesses who I think do good work.

    One piece of advice I would have is to learn to let go of the control. People can provide previous work, references, etc but until you are actually working side by side with them on a project and see the final result it is tough to say whether they will be a good fit long term for your business or not.

    It is indeed tough to tell if a potential partner or employee completes a task correctly when you yourself don't understand it (maybe coding or SEO for example) but IMO you have no choice but to research their previous work and allow them a chance and ultimately rely on the finished product/project to see if it fit within your budget and functions or looks exactly as intended.

    Just my 2 cents.
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  • Profile picture of the author echelon
    If you are earning enough, I think that you could take a very little portion of your income to start delegating a time consuming action (that you do not have to perform yourself for it to be well done). Don't wait to be overwhelmed with work before you start getting help from an outsourcer. Ultimately, you want your agency to be able to function properly without having to deal with day to day tasks. So you have to start somewhere. This may help prevent burnout and help you price your services appropriately while having the time to work on improving your actual services business.
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    Originally Posted by melpa64 View Post

    Hi Guys

    I was wondering if anyone here runs a successful digital agency?

    I am currently a self employed web designer and have been slowly growing my brand for the past 6 months, I'm getting busier and increasing my prices which is going well but have ambitions to grow a digital agency in the future.

    I am a bit confused as to how the transition happens from a one man band with one speciality to hiring people to do the other services? I have seen countless blog posts and videos on people advising to specialise in one field to start with which is what I am doing but not much else on how they expanded to offer other services and ultimately employing other people to do it. I know it's a complex question so I guess what I am asking is what is a good next step to get closer to this goal? Learn the other services? Wait until I work with bigger clients who want the other services with bigger budgets and hire someone to do it? I am a bit confused!

    Thanks in advance to anyone who replies!
    The natural thought process in progression is to hire production side first. I learned by virtue of the long road, that was the wrong side for solid growth. ( this will make sense by the end I promise )

    You say you have specialized... your a web designer... a one man web designer at that. But the reality is you are specializing in a multitude of tasks.. you are coding, you are writing text, you are doing graphics, you are doing maintenance, you are selling your services, and so on. You are far from specialized when you think about it. Look at fiverr as an example..you can hire someone that is specialzed in each and every one of those aspects of your business.

    So I will guess at the moment, you are probably dealing with 1 build at a time... so how would you increase this to 2 builds or 5 or 15? Do you think you will be able to find another you.. that has the ability to do all of these differnt aspects.. and better yet, at the standard you have set for yourself?

    I would suggest that the first person you should try and board on to your company is a manager.. someone that can be taught the process and its flow.

    You onboard a client ( YOU SELL - you have proven at this point you can ) You then need images and text from the clients.. you need to pass drafts of concept etc.. you have to get e-mail address' and what ever else. Delegate the getting, and you focus on the production side of placing all things together.

    Be it a white board or any of the production management software options out there work with your manager to decrease your back and foerth time,and focus on the production time, giving you the ability to expand the number of clients you can deal with at any one time.

    Once you have reached this point... you can then start looking at what points are consuming the most of your time, and hire to remove that from you, so that you can keep selling, and completing the other production tasks. My first production hire as an example was a graphic artist. - I got involved in the local community College graphics program and found my first "Employee" that way. ( why a graphic designer first? Page graphics and logos.. Facebook meme's and ads. landing page design etc )

    Some of the expansion of your current service you can start thinking about... Designing site is one thing, designing a conversion machine is another. Once you understand conversion, you can then get into funnel developement.. or face book ads, or adword campaigns. Different concepts by definition, but the truth is, its a link that goes to a webpage that produces a result... nothing different than what you are doing right now. There are no new skills to be learned per se, just the change in mind set from just building pages, to developing conversions.

    Like I said before, find that person that can remove the running around that is probably chewing up 50% of your time, so you can focus 6 hours a day on production and 2 hours a day on sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave d
    As you are a web designer think about the other things a client needs once they get their brand new site, perhaps make a list.

    Then from your list choose some services which could be delegated quite easily with as little input from you as possible, apart from supervision.

    In time the amount of after services you can provide to clients will grow along with your staff.

    It's also important to consider if you will outsource, hire staff or use a company that can white label the services for you.

    I hope that helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author melpa64
    Hi Everyone

    Thanks so much for all the replies! I have read them more than once. Very much appreciated.

    Have taken on board what you have all suggested.

    Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author oppyeaunome
    I think the hardest part of growing a business is finding the right people you can rely on. You see when you are doing things yourself you know what quality you can expect, but when you have other people working with you this can be a scary thing.

    A good way is to start by outsourcing different parts of the process and screening freelancers. What happens is the more you start working with this person the more you'll learn about the type of work you can expect from them.

    After you've worked with them for some time and you begin to see that they are worth it you can offer them a position to work with you full time if your budget can handle it.

    When you begin outsourcing parts of your business and you find people you can trust it's then you can start expanding your team.

    Start small and build slowly.
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  • I could not agree more on hiring reliable people. This is also my problem in the past. if you want to scale up your digital agency business, it is better to put up an office and hire people who can work in your office. That is one of the best solution for hiring good workers.
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