So you have decided you are going to take the plunge into the seo business.
Itâs a very difficult marketplace to get started in and there are a few things you should know before you do anything (like how to actually do SEOâ¦.) but I have definitely ranted enough about that subject, so without further ado:
Should I Start an SEO Agency or become a private SEO freelancer?
I’ve done quite a bit of writing on this subject in the past as itâs a subject close to the heart and one I find particularly interesting. In 2018 I’m officially both. I own an agency and do smaller one time gigs just to help local businesses (usually just in my city.)
If you havenât read these yet, check out:
Another great article on this subject.
There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both and itâs such a tight call for a newbie starting out nowadays with whether you should be one or the other, so I felt a discussion was needed to be had.
- Big corporate clients and less of them (usually) – Becoming an SEO agency allows you to create a corporate “big company” feel. Big companies work with big companies, it’s just how it works, so branding yourself as a professional agency will allow you to close the huge corporate clients a lot more easily. This is also advantageous as you will find your agency having larger contracts but less of them. Which means only 1 website to optimise (granted its likely to be a huge site), but you will spend a lot less time emailing and calling your clients and more time doing what you were actually paid to do and not answering client questions and calls. Secondly; big companies understand the SEO investment. It’s not someone who might be looking to “try seo” and as a result you don’t need to convince corporations that its a very important marketing channel.
- Growth is exponential – You are always ready to grow, you can take on premises if needed, hire staff and become a limited company without actually changing very much at all, and hence you can do this very quickly! Sure this is possible for an SEO freelancer to do, but its a lot more difficult to expand.
- Branding – Creating a memorable brand (with a big brand feel). For example “Tom Buckland did some great work for me” vs. “Ghost Marketing helped us a lot”. The latter is a lot more memorable and the brand grows with every conversation. This also adds value if you were ever going to sell your business, brands sell!
- Overheads – These will obviously be higher if you are an agency, your premise (when you get one), your staff and all your random bills will all increase your overheads and hence decrease your profit margins.
- Staff / Corporate levels – If you are a 5+ strong agency you will likely begin to have corporate structure and the dreaded MIDDLE MANAGEMENT – Probably my most hated thing on earth. Be careful of the corporate levels and staff that are ineffective in their positions.
- Pressure – Most common is the cost, especially in starting up but another big pressure is the potential loss of clients: if you only have 2 or 3 large corporate clients, even if they have contracts and your work is good, there is always a chance something happens and your lose the client,Â then your business is in the red!
- Difficult to close clients – Corporations love the presentation model, chances are your agency will be up against multiple others, going through multiple stages with people to “okay” this makes closing clients more difficult!
- Freedom – Work whenever you want (donât have to ensure you answer phones during work hours) and if you’re a night owl and want to work through the night and sleep through the day you can!
- Personal – You can be more personal with clients, talk to them directly and not have them trying to tackle corporate levels, emailing clients after work hours and asking on a more personal level “how are you finding the results” “What’s working/not working, any questions?”
- Client Selection – You can choose your clients, this becomes quite important once you have begun to generate clients and can begin to turn people away. Don’t want that difficult time consuming client? Just say “no thank you I’m afraid I’ve reached client capacity” – Polite and you do not need to deal with them any more.
- Clients âexpectâ to pay less â Itâs annoying but itâs the truth. For some reason SEO agencies charge a lot more than freelancers (on average), its a strange dynamic but it seems that potential client’s want to pay less (especially if you are a start up!)
- Scalability is difficult – Scaling up the businessÂ can be difficult, if you are “John Smith SEO Services” it can be extremely difficult to get that “on the door”. Also “local seo services Cardiff” or locational specific brand names are doomed too.
- Corporate closing is impossible – Closing the large corporate deals from a freelancers perspective is extremely difficult, nigh on impossible to close!
Make your decision based on the future. In my case I decided to go with a brand name âGhost Marketingâ but with a freelancer approach, so the keywords I targetÂ are all seo freelancer / consultant related and not company / agency ones. But in the future if I had a change of heart and want to promote Ghost as a digital marketing or seo agency, the baseline is already in placeÂ and the brand signals are in place to change ghost marketing seo freelancer into âGhost Marketing â Digital Marketing Agencyâ.
Let me know which one you choose (or will choose) to go with, and WHY!?
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