I’ve always loved creative agencies for as long as i could remember. That was what led me to working in the sector for a couple of years before setting up Brand Envoy Africa. If you would love to find out how to build a creative agency business, I’d provide you with the key steps to making this a reality.
Most clients would stifle your creativity and can’t stand “out-of-the norm” creative thinking. So if you are already working in an environment that supports traditional creative thinking or with the kind of clients i mentioned above, this could be your opportunity to venture. You could be an illustrator, a brand, photographer or a creative designer. You can now venture and kick-off your very own agency because there may never be a more apt time than now to do this (with the definition of normal greatly shifted by the COVID-19 pandemic).
The year is almost gone (again) but you can begin now. Here are some proven steps that could help you launch your own creative agency.
Strategically Mine Your Existing Contacts
Resist the urge to dive into your contact list if you have been working in the creative niche for an agency. This is simply because you do not want to kick off your career poaching someone else’s clients. Bad way to start. Instead, look for contacts who had maybe given you harmless side gigs and inform them you have started your own agency. After this clean up your online professional profiles on upwork, linkedIn etc. if you have any. This helps your contacts know you have started off something and anyone interested can reach out.
Reach out To Your Network
Call, email, skype, zoom out your former colleagues and co-workers. This is not the time to have quiet thought times. You ought to have done this before deciding to leave. While you are thinking, you should be on the move as well. Take them out to lunch and inform them you are open to handle any projects they may be struggling to complete. For those who do not have anything at the moment, they will remember you once something pops up. At this point, look for every opportunity to serve with your talents even if it’s free! At the onset while struggling to get a creative business on track, one of the first things to do is define the nature of free work you would get involved with because you need to give back somehow. For us, we still get students, entrepreneurs and NGO’s ask us to come in and support their events, market their social initiatives for free etc.
Understand that whatever you give away always has a way of coming back to you in form of goodwill, currency etc. So never shy away from using your gift to help others even if there’s no cash involved.
Prudently Build The Right Team
This is the point where you hire freelancers. Everyone wants to have that awesome team of 50 professionals all under one roof. Take your time “Ranger Charlie”! it’s a process. Loads of other professionals who either left or lost their jobs are searching for opportunities to work on something.This is the time to learn how to negotiate and create value systems that are mutually beneficial to you and other creatives you may bring on board your projects on a per-project basis.
There are lots of professionals willing to lend their expertise on platforms such as up-work, LinkedIn etc. It’s time to find them and forge alliances. A big client would easily give a project to an agency with a team of professionals rather than a one-man lone wolf. If you don’t have this, Seek out and organise talented one-man operators and bring them together to form that winning team.
Put up a Functional Website
The fact is that the expectations potential clients have for an agency website is on another level. However, this should not put you under any form of pressure. The most important thing is to ensure that your website has;
- The Ability to generate leads (either via the projects you display, the clarity used in describing projects or how knowledgeable your blog posts are)
- A clear call-to-action on your site that tells potential clients what your agency wants them to do.
- A clear service offering that shows what your key competencies as an agency is.
I’ve placed an example below from the Brand Envoy Africa website.
Become a Content Powerhouse
Every sector has key searches carried our by potential clients. Your job as an agency is to put yourself in the position of a client and imagine what he would be searching for. My team and i run this exercise ever so often and it gives value everytime.
Your everyday life and journey as a creative agency is an exciting journey that deserves to be shared. Whatever you learn, endeavor to share this via your blog posts.
When it comes to lead generation, you cannot go wrong with using a good Content Strategy in achieving this. Use creative problems you have solved for brands in the past and create value with it. Afterwards, share tis with your network. That’s value. To further enhance it’s reach, you can turn some of them to e-books, develop an online course with it or simply send them out to a “willing” mailing list weekly.
Running your own agency is not as easy as it seems but if you genuinely have a passion for it, the late nights, pitches and research wouldn’t be as hectic. From the onset, understand the type of clients you intend to work with, understand the type of agency you want to be and please do not forget to have fun while you are at it.