The transition from freelancer to agency is a significant one. With the change comes a slew of new and exciting challenges, as well as a substantial opportunity for income growth.
However, money isn’t the only reason to switch from freelancer to agency. You can want more leisure time, more money, or the exhilaration of creating something bigger than yourself.
Whatever your motivation for wanting to go from freelancing to developing an agency, we’re here to help.
So, today, we’d like to go through some of the top things we’ve seen freelancers do right (and wrong) while transitioning from freelancer to agency.
Let’s get started!
Treat yourself as if you were a company.
Before we get into the specifics, it’s crucial to recognize that 90 percent of the transition from freelancing to an agency is in your head.
You can, in fact, “make the change” right now. Nothing can stop you.
Simply begin using the word “we” when discussing your business, and consider adopting a business name rather than your name.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it (thus the remainder of this essay), but it all starts with you treating yourself, talking about yourself, and acting like an agency rather than a freelancer.
Now for the tactical stuff:
Increase your client stream.
Before you can even consider transitioning from freelancer to agency, you must first establish a business and generate money to fund the transition.
Having too much work is one vital sign that it’s time to stop working as a freelancer and start your agency model.
If you already have more work than you can handle, it’s time to face your fears and move on.
Establish mechanisms for dealing with client intake.
When you have a consistent flow of client leads coming in, you must ensure that you take good care of them. To advance from freelance to agency, you must master the art of closing the deal.
First, listen to this episode in which we discuss how to close 90% of new clients without filling out interminable proposals.
Following that, you’ll need to create your unique client onboarding process to convert as many leads as possible into paying customers.
Here are a few crucial points to keep in mind when designing your system:
Filter out problematic clients as soon as possible.
The last thing you need is a slew of unqualified leads clogging your pipeline and wasting your time. Instead, you must ensure that you are attracting the correct clients.
Concentrate on conversion.
Remember that the goal of your marketing efforts is not to increase the number of Instagram followers or traffic to your blog. Instead, the goal is to increase sales and clientele.
Discover what works and do more of it.
You are not required to be present at all times. So stop wasting time and effort on Pinterest if it isn’t a helpful marketing tool for you.
Fine-tune your process for completing client jobs.
If you want to progress from freelancer to agency, making the sale is merely the beginning.
The actual work begins once your client has signed an agreement or shaken your hand.
As you (and eventually your team) understand what it takes to finish a project efficiently, your process will evolve.
To begin, here are a few critical questions you should ask yourself about your process:
- Can you list all of the specific tasks that needed to be accomplished to create a high-quality project?
- Who “owns” which steps in the process? Who, in the end, will be held accountable for its success?
- Which triggers cause the next stage in my process to occur? When will the following individual realize it’s their turn to move forward?
- Who sets deadlines, and how are they conveyed to all parties involved?
- How do my team members and I decide which projects to work on when?
- Who connects with the client during the process if there are any queries or concerns?
- Who decides when a project is finished and ready to be delivered to the client?
- What happens once a project has been finished, approved, and finalized?
You may also want to think about adopting project management software to keep your projects moving forward and everyone on the same page.
Organize yourself and ensure that you are legally protected.
At some time, you’ll need to officially establish yourself as a corporation rather than a sole proprietorship.
Some articles include this part right at the start of their suggestions for transitioning from freelancer to agency.
We believe that many people transitioning from being a freelancer to developing a business are concerned about this too soon.
In addition to forming an LLC (or other legal company), you should research the business licenses and other permits required by your local, regional, and national governments to conduct a business legally.
Fill roles that generate revenue.
Now that you’ve made the transition from freelancer to agency, the next step is to hire.
You can start by hiring part-time staff or contractors if that is the greatest fit for you. Alternatively, if you are confident in the viability of your firm, you can hire full-time personnel.
Whatever choice you choose, we recommend that you hire for revenue-generating positions.
When you’re a freelancer starting an agency, it’s tempting to begin by hiring traditional service providers like attorneys and accountants.
The truth is that these are money-takers rather than money-makers.
Meanwhile, hire people who can generate revenue for you. You have two choices:
- Hire people who work on a per-hour basis.
- Hire sales and marketing personnel.
When it comes to transitioning from freelancer to agency, positive cash flow is the key, and focusing on money in the door when hiring is a smart first step.
Concentrate on sales and marketing.
Whether you hire a sales and marketing person or not, your new duty as an agency owner is to move your focus away from work product and execution and toward sales and marketing.
Of course, the quality of your service is likely your most powerful marketing strategy, so don’t ignore it for any reason.
However, as an entrepreneur, you should be continually thinking about how to increase sales.
If you simply cannot bear the thought of focusing on sales while others do the creative work you are accustomed to doing as a freelancer, you might try to recruit a sales and marketing specialist to join your team.
This is frequently difficult to do right and can be very expensive. However, if you discover the appropriate salesperson, it can pay off handsomely.
Keep a close eye on your numbers.
Finally, as an agency owner, you must keep an eye on your figures as if your life depended on them.
In specific ways, it does. And so does the livelihood of everyone you’ve hired as you’ve progressed from freelancer to agency.
People rely on you to keep them employed. So if you allow sales to dwindle or fall too much, there is more at stake than just your revenue.
Nothing is more painful than having to let people go to cut costs. But, unfortunately, this path has resulted in the deaths of far too many agencies.
Have a good time!
Growing your agency can be a challenging experience at times. So, don’t forget to take a step back now and then to reflect on how far you’ve gone on your path from freelancer to agency builder.
You get to assemble a skilled team, work with intriguing clients, generate money from scratch, and construct your small empire in whatever industry you enjoy working in.
There is nothing better when it comes to labor.
So have a good time. You work hard and deserve to be happy.
Flexgigzz is the Asia leading marketplace for freelancer service and together with SOHO Learning Hub which is an online platform for short courses and both of them aims to be the number one provider in Asia. For growth industries such as E-Sport Authority which is dedicated to providing independent media coverage to all E-Sport News related from around the world and for the art world, there is Atelier Auction which is an investable art auctioneer and being in the art scene for decades