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How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency

In today’s digital age, businesses need to have a strong online presence to succeed. As a result, the demand for digital marketing services has skyrocketed, creating an opportunity for entrepreneurs to start their own digital marketing agency. But with so much competition in the market, where do you start? 

Starting a digital marketing agency can be an exciting and rewarding journey, but it requires careful planning and execution. We will explore the essential steps you need to take to start a successful digital marketing agency, from defining your niche to building your team and acquiring clients. So, if you’re ready to turn your passion for digital marketing into a thriving business, read on.

Develop Your Digital Marketing Skills and Self-Assurance

Before starting a digital marketing agency, it is important to have the skills and self-confidence required to manage it effectively. Achieving this goal involves focusing on three distinct areas:

Digital Marketing Skills

To succeed in starting a digital marketing agency, you must have a good grasp of digital marketing principles and techniques. This includes understanding what digital marketing entails, how it functions, and how to implement campaigns to improve your client’s online traffic and sales through various digital channels. 

There are numerous aspects of digital marketing, such as SEO, Google Advertising, Facebook Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing, all of which require in-depth knowledge to execute successfully. As you grow your agency, you can expand your team and bring in specialists, but initially, it is crucial to learn how to perform these tasks yourself to keep your costs low and reduce your dependence on others. 

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You should gain hands-on experience with these processes to determine what works well and where you may require assistance. The most effective approach to mastering digital marketing is to learn from established experts and engage in hands-on practice.

Business Management Skills

If your aim is to establish an online business rather than operate as a freelancer, you must acquire fundamental business management skills. Although you may not require a Business Management degree, you must gradually develop expertise in several areas, such as project management, time management, invoicing and billing, contracts, and HR management. 

As a business owner, you will be responsible for performing these tasks from the outset and most likely for a prolonged period until you can hire dedicated staff. By mastering these essential business management abilities, you can run your operations efficiently, handle administrative tasks effectively, and ensure that your business is organized and financially stable.

Self-Confidence Skills

Risk-taking is an inherent component of running a successful business. To assume risks, you must possess self-assurance and to cultivate confidence in the digital marketing industry, you must believe in your abilities. If you begin this venture without a clear understanding of how to improve website rankings or use advertising to attract more clients, you are likely to fail. 

Therefore, before you begin serving customers as a digital marketing freelancer or agency, you must have practical experience working in an established agency or on your own websites. Once you reach a point where you can effectively utilize digital marketing techniques to produce tangible, measurable outcomes, you’ll know you’re ready to provide services to clients. 

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Keep in mind that there are numerous digital marketing professionals and agencies in the market, and clients will likely receive numerous proposals and conduct multiple interviews before making a hiring decision. Confidence will set you apart from the competition, so be sure to acquire the requisite knowledge, skills, and experience before taking the plunge.

Determine the Types of Services to Provide

After building your digital marketing skills, the next step is to determine which digital marketing services you will offer to potential clients. A comprehensive digital marketing agency usually offers a variety of services, including web design and development, SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and conversion optimization. 

However, as a startup, it’s advisable to begin with the services that best match your expertise. For example, if you specialize in SEO, start by providing SEO services and gradually add more services to your portfolio as your client base expands and your revenue increases. It’s crucial to keep your costs low at this stage and rely on your skills. 

Attempting to provide full-service offerings from the outset can be overwhelming and detrimental to your business’s growth.

Determine How You Intend to Run Your Business

When starting a digital marketing agency, the next important decision to make is how you plan to operate your business. You have three options to choose from, including operating as a virtual company from home and hiring remote teams, running a traditional business with an office and local employees, or a combination of both. 

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Your decision should consider the costs and location of your potential clients. If you plan to serve clients in a specific city, then having a physical presence in the area can help establish your brand and get more local clients. However, if you plan on serving clients globally, then having a physical office may only increase your monthly costs. 

An advantage of starting a digital marketing agency is that you can operate your business from home with remote employees. As you grow your digital marketing portfolio, you can consider hiring local employees who can also work remotely. Set up a home office and ensure that you have a reliable internet connection to conduct your online business smoothly.

Register Your Digital Marketing Agency Business

Establishing a digital marketing agency requires making it official, which involves several steps. First, you need to decide on a name for your business and register a domain name to ensure that your online presence is secure. Next, you must create a logo that represents your brand and register your business with the relevant authorities. 

Additionally, getting a toll-free number and creating business cards can help to make your agency appear more professional. Finally, it’s crucial to find an accountant and auditor as well as a lawyer to ensure that your business is legally compliant. Even if you don’t use all of these pieces from the beginning, it’s essential to put them together to avoid legal complications in the future.

Develop Your Online Presence

When starting a digital marketing agency, it’s crucial to establish a strong online presence, and this begins with creating a professional website that accurately represents your brand. Your website should clearly communicate what your company does and the benefits clients will gain by hiring you. 

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It’s essential to create landing pages for all your services, making it easy for potential clients to contact you. Your goal is to generate as many leads as possible and filter them to focus on the ones with the highest chance of becoming clients. It’s also important to secure your brand name on major social media platforms and create business pages to maintain a professional image. 

Registering your business with websites like Crunchbase and other relevant organizations will help establish your legal existence, which is critical for building trust with clients. Having a strong online presence is vital for any digital marketing agency looking to attract and retain clients.

Showcase Your Digital Marketing Experience and Expertise

In the competitive world of digital marketing, it’s not just enough to find new clients, but also to convince them to work with you. To achieve this, you must showcase your experience and expertise in the field. 

You can do this by creating an ‘about us’ page that tells your story and achievements, providing success stories, case studies, academic credentials, customer testimonials, partnership agreements, certifications, and mentions from other reputable websites. 

If you’re just starting out and don’t have much experience yet, work on a friend’s business website, get certifications from reputable companies, and showcase your own website’s results as case studies. Be honest about your working experience and only publish real reviews and case studies, as starting a business relationship with fake reviews is not the way to establish a successful business.

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Choose the Proper Online Tools

Running a digital marketing agency will require you to have various tools to help you manage your campaigns, create reports for your clients, and perform various tasks. While there are many tools available in the market, you must choose the ones that offer the features you’ll actually use. 

Don’t fall into the trap of paying for software features that you’ll never use. Also, make sure that you select tools that you can use both on your own website and on your client’s website. The first tool you’ll need is a digital marketing platform like SEMRUSH, Ahrefs, Hubspot, and Moz. 

These platforms can help you with SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and PPC campaign management. You’ll also need lead generation software, email marketing solutions, grammar and design tools like Grammarly and Canva. Some free tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, Google Data Studio, and Google Keyword Planner will also be necessary. 

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with these tools and their features so that you can use them efficiently when working with clients.

Define Your Business Model

One crucial aspect of running a successful digital marketing agency is deciding how to charge for your services. The most commonly used business models in the industry are per hour, per project, and monthly fee. Charging per hour involves setting an hourly fee for your services, and it varies based on your experience, the type of services you provide, and the complexity of work. 


Charging per project means agreeing with the client on a fixed amount to complete the project, which can result in profit or loss, depending on your estimations. On the other hand, charging a monthly retainer for the agreed services is more common for monthly SEO services, PPC management, and social media management. 

Although the monthly fee model is the most profitable, starting with the per hour or per project model is recommended for new agencies as they can adjust their hourly rates to attract more clients and build their portfolio quickly.

Get Your First Client

Getting your first client is crucial for any business, and it’s no different for a digital marketing agency. One approach to finding clients is to start with your friends and family. They might have businesses or know someone who does, and offering your services to them is a good way to start building your portfolio. 

Be sure to analyze their website and marketing strategies beforehand, and create a detailed plan that outlines how you can help them achieve their goals. It’s important to explain the benefits of your services, including improving their search presence and increasing sales. At this stage, your pricing should be attractive to them, with the goal of building your portfolio rather than making a profit. 

Another way to find clients is by using job boards like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, which have numerous digital marketing job postings. These methods will help you gain valuable experience and build a strong foundation for your agency.

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Begin a Digital Marketing Blog

Starting a blog can be an effective way to generate leads for your digital marketing agency. When clients search for services related to what you offer, they will be able to find you on Google search. Therefore, it’s important to create quality content that targets relevant keywords. By growing your blog, you can build trust and establish yourself as an authority in your field. 

This will help to increase your online visibility and generate more leads for your agency. Additionally, relying less on advertising can help you to achieve profitability faster. So, make sure to invest time in creating useful content for your blog and make it a top priority for your agency.

Develop Your Portfolio and Client Testimonials

As your digital marketing agency grows, it’s essential to continue building your portfolio and gathering customer testimonials. While you may still need to provide services at a lower cost to attract new clients, having positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers will help you secure bigger clients with larger budgets in the future. 

It’s crucial to focus on delivering high-quality services that exceed your clients’ expectations and to ask for feedback regularly to continue improving your agency’s reputation. A strong portfolio and customer testimonials will help you establish your agency as a trusted and reliable partner for your clients, and ultimately lead to more significant opportunities and higher profits.

Develop Your Procedures

As your digital marketing agency grows and more clients come on board, you may eventually reach a point where you can no longer handle all the projects alone. This is when you need to start thinking about hiring additional help, but before you do that, it’s important to establish your processes. 

Incorporated Business

Processes refer to a set of standard operating procedures that document all the steps involved in performing a specific task. This includes your client onboarding process and all the services you offer. Creating email templates, proposal templates, custom reports, and checklists can save a lot of time and help new hires understand your expectations. 

Keep your processes simple and organized by using tools like Google Docs and Gmail. By setting up your processes now, you can save valuable time and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to handling client work.

Assemble Your Digital Marketing Team

When considering hiring new people for your digital marketing agency, it’s important to make sure you’re at the right stage in your business to do so. It’s crucial to have some clients, be making a profit, and have your processes in place before you begin this process. If you’re not at this stage yet, it’s best to hold off on hiring until you have the funds to do so. 

When you do begin the hiring process, start by assigning tasks that are easy to execute and document all steps, so your new employees understand what is expected of them. Additionally, consider hiring freelancers instead of full-time employees to keep costs low and provide more flexibility. 

Before hiring them full-time, give freelancers a pilot project to work on to see if they are a good fit for your team. These tips will help ensure that you find the right people to help grow your digital marketing agency.

team work

What Kinds of Digital Marketing Agencies Are There?

Running a digital marketing agency comes with a lot of freedom to shape the type of agency that you want to run. You can work with any client, offer any service, charge any amount and work whenever you want. Despite this freedom, there are popular types of digital marketing agencies that are in high demand and offer high profitability. 

The three most common types are full-service, single-channel, and multi-channel agencies. Full-service agencies offer a wide range of services that can satisfy most or all of a client’s needs. Single-channel agencies specialize in one area of digital marketing, enabling them to provide exceptional results in that area. 

Multi-channel agencies offer a combination of complementary marketing channels such as SEO and web design or social media management and social media ads. The type of agency you choose to run should be based on your strengths, interests, and profitability.

Is It Worth It to Start a Digital Marketing Agency?

Starting a profitable digital marketing agency is possible if you possess the necessary skills, drive, and commitment to provide results for your clients, manage a team of professionals, and market your agency to attract new business. Building a successful digital marketing agency takes time, effort, and a strong understanding of the industry, but with determination and hard work, anyone can create a profitable business. 

The key is to remain focused on providing top-notch services to your clients, staying up-to-date on industry trends and changes, and building a strong team of marketing professionals who share your vision and commitment to excellence. By following these principles, you can create a profitable digital marketing agency that will thrive in today’s competitive market.

Is a Digital Marketing Agency Profitable and What is the Best Business Model?

Starting a digital marketing agency can be a highly lucrative venture due to the high potential profit margins. With the ability to work remotely, digital agencies can operate with lower overhead costs compared to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, leading to higher profits. 

Profit margins of up to 40% are not uncommon in the digital marketing industry. Therefore, if you are looking for a business venture that can yield a high return on investment, then starting a digital marketing agency might be the right choice for you.


Starting a digital marketing agency is a fantastic opportunity for those who are passionate about marketing, entrepreneurship, and creating their own destiny. With the potential for high profitability, the freedom to work remotely, and the ability to build a team of like-minded professionals, the possibilities are endless. 

By following the tips and advice shared in this topic, you can set yourself up for success and create a thriving business that provides value to your clients and fulfills your personal and professional goals. So, take that leap of faith, put in the hard work, and watch your digital marketing agency grow into a successful venture.

Charles McMillan
Charles McMillan
Charles is a family man, an entrepreneur, and a writer. He is skilled in finding the balance between efficiency, affordability, and high-quality offerings when it comes to business services. He’s on a continuing mission to discover and rediscover the most popular LLC services, while sharing his most accurate assessment and review to help business owners like himself.