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The COVID-19 pandemic saw significant growth in online businesses around the world. Many companies have switched to online advertising and content marketing to attract their customers. The reports by Content Marketing Institute revealed 46% of businesses are looking forward to increasing their content creation spending this year.
Businesses are leveraging the power of content to connect with customers, educate them, and persuade them to purchase products or services. A powerful content marketing plan coupled with high-quality content can boost brand awareness, generate leads, and drive sales for business growth.
Content marketing is a booming industry in the current times. According to this study by Research Dive, the global content marketing industry is expected to be $107540.6 million by 2026. The increasing demand for the adoption of content marketing has opened up outstanding opportunities for freelance writers for scaling up their businesses.
Starting a content agency will help freelance writers progress higher in their careers. However, remember that freelancing and running a content agency are completely different. It brings in tons of responsibilities and adjustments. The freedom freelancing offers might have to be compromised. That is why most freelancers are skeptical about ending their careers as freelance writers.
The transition from freelancer to an agency often takes time. The changes in the operations, work schedules, team handling, and other activities should be done systematically.
A carefully-crafted change management plan can help overcome the challenges and make the shift a smooth sail for freelancers. This will also help them get into the business mindset where they will be managing a team of content creators.
This brings us to the main question – how do you know that it is time to consider starting your content agency?
5 Signs You Should Start Your Agency
Turning their freelance business into a content agency is a dream for most freelance writers. However, they fail to understand that the agency model will not instantly work. Setting up an agency works if you have a high volume of projects. These projects should cover both the writer’s fees as well as your cut.
Here are five signs you should look out for.
1. You have high volumes of work
One of the most obvious signs you should consider expanding your freelance business
into an agency is the number of projects you have on your plate. Even though you have been working on good projects, your freelance business is not showing any signs of scaling.
If you are working many hours in a day or if you have started turning down projects because you do not have the required bandwidth, you should start looking for a team to assign the work.
2. Clients are expecting more from you
A powerful piece of content that converts is a byproduct of content writing, SEO, and
content marketing. Some clients might ask you for an SEO-optimized website copy, a well-researched white paper, or a writer specialized in technical writing. In such situations, hiring specialists would be a good decision. You will also be able to take up more projects.
3. You are excellent at managing a team
Your people management skills play a significant role if you wish to start up an agency.
As you will be speaking directly to the clients and conveying the requirements to your team, you should have outstanding communication skills.
Furthermore, you should also possess exceptional project management skills to ensure the content is delivered to the client according to the deadline. If you are an excellent communicator, can manage a team, and possess excellent leadership skills, you will make for an excellent agency head.
4. Your client base is rapidly growing
Having your email inbox filled with new projects and a calendar booked for client
meetings is the dream of many freelance writers. However, this amount of work can
start overwhelming you because you cannot get more clients on board. In such cases,
it is ideal to scale your business to hire more people to deliver it.
5. Your priority is business growth
Another sure sign to start your content agency is you have started to look at the bigger
picture. You spend more time on growing your business and not the client deliverables. You focus on strategizing your marketing plan to attract more clients for better projects.
Running a content agency is not a piece of cake. But, passion and determination can help you turn your annual revenue into monthly revenue in a matter of a few months.
Like any other business, content agencies also have their share of challenges.
Let us understand what challenges content agencies face and how to overcome them.
Challenges Faced by Content Agencies (and How to Overcome Them!)
1. Growing Competition in the Industry
The growing number of content agencies has made finding prospects and
converting them into successful clients difficult for most agencies. Further, creating unique content is also becoming tedious considering the number of articles and blogs that are already present on the web.
As a result, new agencies have to struggle to maintain their visibility and deliver exceptional results. They have to put in extra effort to stand out from the competition.
Maintaining high-quality content is one of the proven ways to catch the attention of your clients. Another approach that could work out is having unique offerings that can be tailored according to the client’s requirements.
For example, Brian Dean is one of the pioneers in the SEO industry today. The site, Backlinko focuses extensively on SEO and link-building activities. Thus, by narrowing down the niche, Brain has set an entirely different business model for Backlinko.
Focus on identifying your core strengths and building your agency offering services around the same. If you are excellent at writing informative blogs for SaaS, let SaaS writing be your forte.
2. Finding the Right Team
The next challenge most content agencies face today is finding the right talent. The competition for hiring the best professionals is getting fiercer because of the number of upcoming startups and established industries.
Hiring remote talent can help you diversify your talent pool and give you an edge in building your A-team without any hassles. Alternatively, you can also hire freshers who are passionate about content creation and train them for the job roles you are offering.
Remember, retaining talent is as important as hiring. Offer your employees benefits such as an excellent working environment, flexible work timings, reimbursements for online certifications, and numerous opportunities for career growth. Build a company culture that everyone would want to be a part of.
3. Managing Client Relationships
Although getting new clients is essential for your agency’s success, maintaining existing client relationships is also important. Honest communication is the key to maintaining professional relationships with clients.
Schedule weekly calls with clients to discuss the project updates. Set the right
expectations and discuss the performance of content activities. Plan out a detailed
content strategy by involving the clients in the brainstorming sessions. Keep them updated about the progress via a dedicated content board like Trello.
Your clients need to understand the value you offer to their brand and audience.
4. Dealing with Unrealistic Expectations
Creating high-quality content is not easy. It requires extensive research and excellent writing and editing skills along with a good amount of time. ‘Anyone can write high-quality content’ is one of the biggest myths about content writing.
Secondly, content creation and marketing take a significant share of budget and time to show positive results. Clients having high expectations of an immediate return on investment can be stressful for the entire team.
Be mindful of the fact that success at content marketing takes time and convey the same to your clients. You can follow a methodical approach towards calculating the ROI by setting realistic goals and tracking the engagement on your content pieces.
5. Maintaining Consistent Quality
The amount of information present on the web is rapidly growing. According to Envisage Digital, around 4.4 million blog posts are published every day on the internet. There are a multitude of articles that are consumed by audiences every day. So, the only thing that can help you shine in this sea of articles is its uniqueness and quality.
However, maintaining your article quality consistently high can get difficult. The reason could be any – unrealistic publishing schedules, last-minute article changes, or large volume of content pieces.
You should focus on maintaining a content calendar for all your projects. Assign the work to your team based on their schedules and have stringent checks on content quality. Focus on producing engaging content based on the recent industry trends and try making it better than your previous posts.
Benefits of Owning a Content Agency
Starting a content agency can be a fulfilling experience. The agency model offers excellent benefits over freelancing. Here are a few you should know about.
1. You will be able to take on more projects.
When you have a team of other writers and editors working on multiple projects,
your productivity will be multiplied manifold. You will have more resources to
delegate work and thus, bill clients with more hours every month. It will also open up opportunities for onboarding new clients.
2. You can focus on building your skillset.
There are often times when you do not have the opportunity to upgrade your skills. Whether it is taking up a new course or attending a webinar, you will have ample time to work on yourself while your team handles most of the client work.
3. You can set milestones and plan business growth.
Handling numerous projects on your own can at times be a struggle as you do not get time to focus on marketing and sales. But with extra hands on deck, you can plan your client deliverables and strategize your marketing efforts for achieving business goals successfully.
Quick 5 Step Guide to Setting up Your Content Agency
1. Decide on a Name That Reflects Your Brand Culture
Naming your content agency can be a stressful task. Your agency name should be such that it is easy to remember and conveys your values and company goals. The right name can have a significant impact on the success of your content agency.
Get your creative juices flowing when deciding a name for your agency. Choose a name that is unique, catchy, and conveys some meaning. Ensure that the name you have chosen is not taken by some other business. Check if the “.com” domain name is available for the same. You can check its availability on sites like GoDaddy or Hostinger.
You can also use these sites for brainstorming name ideas for your agency.
- Name Mesh
- Business Name Generator
- Shopify Business Name Generator
For example, Content Harmony is a content agency in the U.S. that produces targeted content using SEO, paid media, and email outreach strategies. The name ‘Content Harmony’ is catchy and gives a gist about the services that the company could offer.
Once the name is decided, you can get started with designing your company logo
and beginning the company registration process.
2. Choose a Good Office Space
Although this step is not necessary, especially when you are starting out, having a physical space gives clients and employees a first-hand experience of your brand. Even if your team is working remotely, a physical office space will provide a professional outlook to your brand.
Secondly, ensure that your office location is easily commutable. Having offices in remote corners of the town can cause traveling hassles both for employees as well as clients.
Here are some quick tips you can follow while designing your office space.
- Design your office space in a way that portrays and enhances your company culture.
- Use brighter colors as they radiate energy and enthusiasm.
- Have an airy and bright work environment. Ensure there is ample natural light.
- Enhance your workspaces with mood-boosting things like plants, art and paintings, aroma dispersers, and calm background music if possible.
- Invest in good quality furniture. You can buy sit and stand desks to allow your employees to stand and work.
3. Select Your Niche or Industry
Thanks to the fierce competition in the content industry, companies today are looking
for agencies that can provide specialized services. Therefore, it is better to specialize in a few sectors rather than offering generalized services. Choosing a niche gives you an edge in this competitive market.
This brings us to the question of how to choose a niche? Meticulous research is the key to selecting the right niche. Brainstorm with your trusted peers to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of niches that suits your experience and skills. Analyze your industry and competitors to find out their offerings.
Here are a few niche suggestions for you.
- Real estate
- Non-profit organizations
4. List Down the Services You Wish to Offer
The next step is to list down the services you wish to offer your clients. Your experience as a freelance writer can be of utmost help at this step.
You can offer content writing services for the following content types based on your expertise.
- Website copy
- Case studies
- White papers
- Landing pages
- Interactive content like surveys and quizzes
- Infographic content
- Video scripts
- Product descriptions
- Product manuals
In addition to content writing services, your agency can also offer –
- Content marketing
- Content optimization
- Content promotion
- Content maintenance and reporting
These services will help you chalk out a 360degree inbound marketing strategy for your clients.
In addition to the above-mentioned services, you can also provide one-on-one consulting services to your clients.
5. Invest in the Desired Tools
The use of software tools can digitally transform your processes to deliver better results.
These tools will help you be more productive by working smarter and saving time. From content writing to SEO and content marketing, these tools will streamline your processes and make work a breeze.
- Google Docs – For writing and sharing content with the team as well as the clients
- Hemingway App – For checking the readability of your content piece
- Grammarly – For checking grammar
- Trello – For managing your client projects
- Blog Ideas Generator by HubSpot – For generating blog post ideas for a content calendar
- Semrush – For creating an informed content strategy according to clients’ needs
- Answer the Public – For conducting keyword research
- Canva – For designing graphics for content pieces
- Pexels – For free stock images
- Freshbooks – For accounting and generating invoices
- Buffer – For scheduling your social media posts
By following the above-mentioned steps, you will be ready to take your agency out there in the content services industry.
Ready to Take the Plunge?
It is really up to you to scale your freelance writing business to a content agency. We understand that setting up an agency can get overwhelming. But by following a structured process (like the one we mentioned above), you can have the initial business plan and set up ready before launch.
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