BUSINESS

The Agency Model I’d Launch if I Started Over With Nothing

I’ve been writing blog posts and providing SEO services for the past 3 years.

I like SEO, but it wouldn’t be my first choice if I started back at zero. I’d still start an agency, because it’s the best way to make money online as a beginner with limited knowledge and a tiny budget.

You can build a highly successful agency and:

  • You don’t need a huge audience
  • You don’t need to get tons of traffic
  • You don’t need to invest in a product
  • You don’t need to worry about inventory
  • You don’t need to worry about employees

All you need is a brain and coffee shop WiFi. Because there’s a low barrier to entry, there’s a good amount of competition out there.

I’ve found that there’s no space that’s too crowded for you — as long as you have something in your offer that differentiates you. And you need to be willing to work hard. Grit goes a long way in this game.

I started in March 2020 on a frayed shoestring (honestly more like a spiderweb) budget and have done a ton of figuringitout along the way.

I’m going to share the 5 types of agencies I’d start if I rewound to 2020 and lost all of the money, knowledge, and experience.

Content Repurposing Agency

What is it:

A content repurposing agency helps creators reach more people by multiplying each piece of content. The agency takes one form of content and turns it into different forms of content.

For example: A repurposing agency works with educational YouTubers and repurposes their videos into short-form text to share on Twitter, Threads, and LinkedIn.

Another idea is to work with newsletters and repurpose their newsletters into short-form videos to share on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

Why it’s awesome:

When you’re repurposing content, most of the hard work has been done for you. The creator has already thought of the idea, created the content, and you can verify its success by looking at views and engagement.

This is valuable because it allows your clients to focus on what they’re best at and enjoy the most. Podcasters are podcasting because it’s their favorite type of content. They don’t want to write articles or tweets, even if the articles and tweets grow their brand.

How to start:

To start this, you need to find your favorite type content to create.

My favorite is long-form writing. So, I’d offer to repurpose other forms of content (videos and podcasts) into articles. If you love making videos, find a writer and turn their words into videos.

I’ve done a bit of this before, and it also helps to work in niches that you enjoy and understand the basics. You don’t need to be a subject matter expert because you’re working with someone who is and you’re not creating from scratch.

The best way to get your first clients is to do some free work.

This agency model makes that very easy. You find someone who’s not creating the type of content you’re creating, and create a sample for them.

Don’t ask for permission “Hey, I repurpose podcasts into Twitter threads. Can I repurpose one of your episodes?”

Do the work and send it to them.

This is time consuming, but it’s guaranteed to work. Eventually, you’ll have enough clients, referrals, and inbound leads. This is just the best way to start.

Social Media Engagement Agency

What is it:

Social media marketing agencies are everywhere. There are tons of people who would love to spend their days scrolling through feeds and creating content.

The big problem is most agencies only post content, which doesn’t build a following. You need to be social on social media (crazy…I know).

A social media engagement agency is only focused on engaging with other people. Liking, commenting, replying, messaging, sharing.

Why it’s awesome:

The first reason I’d start this is because it works. Clients want to see results, and results on social media come from engaging with other people.

One of the first clients I worked with had a social media agency. My job was to write the captions and post 3x every week. I did that for 5 accounts for a few months and none of the accounts gained any traction.

Ghostwriting is popular right now, but ghost engaging is easier to do and sell. You’ll also get better results because social media accounts only grow when you’re engaging.

How to start:

A solid case study is the best way to start any type of social media marketing agency.

That means you’ll need to do it for yourself (or a friend) before working with clients. I promise this will be much easier if clients see that you’ve got at least a few thousand followers and high engagement rates.

Choose a platform to focus on (it can be any of ‘em), create your account, and start engaging.

I don’t like charging by the hour, but that’s the pricing model that makes the most sense for this. Tell your clients that you’ll spend an hour a day, 5 days per week engaging on their account.

Email Marketing Agency

What is it:

Email marketing is almost as old as the internet. And before email was born, people were using regular mail marketing.

An email marketing agency writes and designs emails and automated email flows for businesses. The most common niche is eCommerce, but every business can profit from good email marketing.

Why it’s awesome:

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing strategy. Stats show that every $1 invested in email results in $35–40 revenue.

This means even though it’s more competitive, getting email marketing clients is easier compared to a lot of other marketing agencies. Emails are also short and easier to write than a landing page, website homepage, or blog post.

How to start:

Your best bet is to start with a tiny, well-defined niche. Specificity will win until you have enough experience and reputation to expand.

  1. “I write emails for eCommerce stores”
  2. “I write emails for eCommerce stores that sell pet products”
  3. “I write emails for eCommerce stores that sell dog products”
  4. “I write emails for eCommerce stores that sell dog food and treats”

Guess which offer the dog treat store owner will say yes to? Even if the person writing emails for any eCommerce store writes better emails than you, your specificity gives you the advantage.

You only need a handful of clients to get started, so it would be hard to find a niche that’s too small.

Define your niche. Find companies in your niche and join their email list.

Once you start receiving their emails, look for the companies with obvious room for improvement. Plenty of eCommerce shops send bad emails (or no emails at all). Then reach out to them with your offer.

Short Form Video Agency

What is it:

30–120 second videos are huge right now. Everyone wants them, and there’s not an easy way to create them yet. If people want good video content for social media, they need to hire someone to create it for them.

A short-form video agency creates videos designed for TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube shorts, or websites. You can provide a video clip service and take long videos from YouTube and cut them into shorter viral clips, but creating videos from scratch is where the real value is.

Why it’s awesome:

You’ll need to learn some video editing skills, but once you know the basics, you have a good business moat. Most people have no interest in creating videos, which means you have a lot less competition.

The startup costs are also relatively low. you might need to pay for some editing tools, but if you have a newish iPhone, you can shoot videos in 4k.

How to start:

I’d go down the filming and editing route, rather than the video clipping route. That means you need to go to your clients and create videos for them.

This can be as simple as walking into your local restaurant or coffee shop and asking them if you can film a quick video for their social media page.

If you don’t know what the video should look like, open up TikTok or Instagram and look at the viral videos restaurants and coffee shops are posting. Figure out how to make something similar.

Start by doing this for free. If you’re decent, they’ll hire you to create more videos, and tell their restaurant owner friends about you. You also get your marketing material at the same time. You post the video and say “Hey, I made this. Reach out if you want something similar.”

Web Design Agency

What is it:

A web design agency isn’t new by any means. Agencies have been designing websites for clients since the earliest days of the internet.

You can look at that and say the space is overcrowded or outdated. I see it as proof that this is a good business model providing a valuable service.

Why it’s awesome:

Building websites has never been easier than it is today. You might be thinking that means no one is hiring an agency to build their website. If it’s so easy, everyone will do it on their own and save money.

That’s not the case at all.

There are lots of easy things that people still don’t enjoy or know how to do. Millions of people would rather focus on their business and not deal with technology. I know plenty of people who still struggle to post an Instagram story — something much simpler than web design. And there are tons of businesses with awful websites out there.

The other reason why this is awesome is because there’s an abundance of free training resources available. You can learn how to build a decent website in a couple weeks.

How to start:

I still use WordPress for my websites, but I’m a big fan of Webflow. They have a library of free courses that’ll help you learn web design, build your portfolio, and get started as a professional web designer.

  • Ultimate web design course
  • 21-day design portfolio course
  • Freelance web design boot camp

I’d start with either Webflow (for business websites) or Shopify for eCommerce stores.

Learn how to navigate the website builder and create a few examples that you can show people. Your biggest challenge will be convincing business owners that their website is worth investing in. I’ve found that it’s best to connect and work with people who are starting a new business, rather than convincing someone that they need to update their website that hasn’t been touched since 2004.

I won’t say that starting any of these will be a walk in the park. Starting an agency (and any other type of business) requires tons of work upfront.

It’ll feel like you’re pushing a 2-ton boulder up Mt Everest.

But, once you land your first jobs and have some momentum, you can build a great business and work with awesome clients.

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