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7 Tips for Starting a PPC Marketing Agency (Or Freelance)

desert_by_tonyguo-d54eusz.png7 Tips for Starting a PPC Marketing Agency (Or Freelance)

 

Merry Christmas Y’all. I had time to reflect about my agency (it’s 1 year old). I’m glad I started but there are a few things I wish I knew. Owning an agency has been great. It’s incredibly rewarding and quite the adventure. You end of meeting a diverse array of clients, employees, and vendors. Before you start I recommend creating a business plan. Here are 7 things to consider.

 

Cash Flow

 

$5,000 is a good starting point. $10,000 is even better. I try to have a 90 days of operations cushion : employee salaries, third party vendors, and 1099 contractors. Like in real life, an unexpected emergency or opportunity for your agency / freelance operation could make or break profitability for the year. Having a cushion of cash allows operations to continue smoothly. Employees, vendors, and contractors shouldn’t worry about payment. If they begin to worry, the addition stress and tension can dismantle workflow and harmony.

 

Work for an Agency

 

You need experience. And you need friends in the industry. Other agencies have policies which they determined from trial and error. Pay attention to how things are done. And ask why they are done this way. Agencies have unique styles, however general operations : legal, accounting, sales, and lead generation should be similar. Understanding the agency’s structure can save you sleepless nights later on. Without the correct structure, there’s the danger of systematic failure.

 

Unique Proposition 

 

When I started my agency we offered SEO, Web Development, PPC, Content, Social Media, and Web Based Apps. We no longer offer Web Development or Social Media since it’s not profitable for us (it could be profitable for you). And we quit offering Web Based App development; every time we received a Web Based App, the client drastically changed scope during development. What I found was our team was great at creating content with SEO. They can produce content at volume on boring topics. This has been a great selling point since our quality and volume is high.



Figure Out Bad Clients

 

Not every client is a good client. Some clients are just bad. There are two clients you need to identify and move on from, clients who change scope and clients who lower your quality of life. An example of a client who changed scope was a startup education company we worked with. They signed a contract for a simple (inexpensive) website to begin marketing. Towards the middle of the project they drastically changed the scope to a website with Daylite, Quickbooks, BaseCamp, and Docusign integration. We hired a third party design firm to make changes according their ephemeral requirements; we paid out of pocket for this firm. The end result was we lost $4,000 after refunding the client back their money. The other type of client, the one who lowers your quality of life, drains your happiness. If you are doubting whether you want an agency because of a certain client… you have to release that client. It will boost overall morale and make your team more productive.

 

Never Stop Learning

 

Every day is a good day to learn something new. PPC changes. We get new extensions… and sometimes even the entire right side goes away (AdWords). My staff spends the first 30 minutes each day hanging out and talking about the news. Reading PPC blogs is good. Speaking at events is better. There are plenty of local events that would love to have a marketing expert to speak. My CTO Toni speaks at women developer events in Houston. I speak at social media, search, immigration law, and patent conferences. My record is 7 conferences in a month (which is way too much). Learning is key to figuring out sales. Clients like new things. First to market makes a big difference.

 

Reduce Your Personal Debt

 

If you don’t have personal debt, Congrats. There are many forms of personal debt, house, car, STUDENT loans (capped for emphasize), credit card, etc. Having large personal debt creates an awkward situation where it may influence your business decisions. Try to minimize as much personal debt as possible before starting your agency. Making business decisions based on personal needs… is not a long term plan. If you do own a home, don’t leverage it for your business. Personal and business finances should be separated.

 

Owning a Business is Hard

 

It’s not easy. And it shouldn’t be easy. It’s emotionally draining. Every 2 weeks you are responsible for paying employee salaries. That’s a huge responsibility. It’s important to remain optimistic; your attitude will have a large affect on employee morale and consequently workflow. I have a rule : on Saturday I don’t work. I will do anything but work. Having hobbies (mine are making youtube videos, magic the gathering, and RPGs) helps detox from a tough work week. Remember you are part of a community. And we are here to help.

 

Let me know if this was helpful. And what your hobbies are for de-stressing.

 

Thanks.



Tony

Comments
Josh Schneider
December 2016

 Great Article Tony, I liked to hear about your thoughts on running an agency. I am looking to open one very soon and would love a few more tips. How can I contact you?

William W
January 2017

Thanks, Tony. I successfully hit all your important points. I'd like to add that having a spouse working in another sector with great health benefits takes some of that private life stress away, too. 

Tony_Guo
January 2017

@Josh Schneider Hi Josh.  Feel free to email me Tony@runrex.com.  I'm more than happy to help.  You can also put a comment here so more people can see it.  Smiley Happy 

Tony_Guo
January 2017 - last edited January 2017

@William W Oh health insurance... I hope premiums go down soon.  They've already tripled since I first got health insurance for the agency.  

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