In the digital age, dynamic web content and top-notch marketing material aren’t just a good idea for those who run their own businesses.
They’re a necessity, but not everyone has what it takes to handle the job on their own or even in-house.
That’s the point where a reliable creative agency becomes a must. So if you’re an experienced creative professional who’s thinking of starting an agency of your own, there’s never been a better time to explore your options.
But there’s also a method to doing things properly if you’re serious about succeeding.
Let’s dive into the details of how to start a creative agency and turn it into a surefire success. You’ll be on your way in no time.
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What is a Creative Agency?
A creative agency helps companies and entrepreneurs build a brand identity to be reckoned with via head-turning creative assets that really stand out.
Examples include informative content for blogs, marketing material, logos, slogans, and multimedia assets like videos or infographics.
A particular agency may offer a combination of all of those things (and more), or they may focus on just one or two of them (like content writing or graphic design).
So when looking into how to start a creative agency, make sure you also consider what you want your focus to become.
The Difference Between a Creative Agency and Other Agencies
Although most creative agencies do create various types of marketing content to help their clients get ahead, their focus is slightly different from that of an advertising agency.
A digital advertising agency seeks to spread a company’s name around by securing appropriate media space along with similar pursuits.
They’ll also typically handle the nuts and bolts of crafting a marketing strategy, as well as putting it into action.
On the other hand, a creative agency focuses on giving a brand a voice, developing its public image, and bringing its unique personality to life on a level that resonates with a target audience. Some creative agencies may also offer consulting services.
Creative agencies may well work with large brands and massive companies. Still, they’re often essential parts of a small business’s ongoing growth campaign, as smaller companies can’t always afford to do everything in-house.
How to Start a Creative Agency in 8 Steps
Now that you know a bit about what a creative agency does, as well as the factors that set one apart from similar types of agencies in the digital niche, it’s time to get into how to start a creative agency of your own.
Here are a few essential pointers to keep in mind.
1. Determine the focus of your creative agency
When you’re starting from scratch, you first need to consider what strengths you bring to the table as a creative professional. (Remember, a creative agency can either cover a lot of ground or focus on just one or two aspects of brand-building as a discipline.)
Maybe you’re a gifted writer with a knack for penning interactive blog posts or a social media whiz who knows everything about engaging an audience. Or perhaps you’re more of a graphic designer, a videographer, or a creative director.
Ultimately, it’s your unique strengths that will help you stand apart from the rest of your competition and deliver the results your future clients are looking for.
Figure out what you’re best at, consider what you enjoy doing most, and make those things the initial focus of your future creative agency.
There’s plenty of time to expand into other areas, as well, in the future.
2. Plan out the details
Careful, detailed planning is an essential part of not only planning a business but running one, so you’ll need to map out the specifics of what you want yours to be.
- What types of companies form your agency’s target audience?
- What have you decided to name your business?
- How much will you charge for your services? How do those price points stack up against those of your competitors?
- How much will it cost you to start your business and keep it running over time?
You’ll also need to consider your agency’s selling points. What will you be doing differently from your competitors, and why should a potential client choose you instead of them?
3. Establish a legal entity
When launching any new business, it’s crucial that you form a legal business entity first. This way, you won’t be held personally liable for any damages if your company is ever sued.
You have a couple of different business structures to choose from:
Informally organized structures like sole proprietorships and general partnerships are simpler, but they don’t offer tax benefits or complete personal liability protection.
They also offer limited growth potential.
However, these options may still be excellent fits for low-risk businesses with small, intimate customer bases.
Formalized business structures like limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations offer tax benefits and legal protections informal structures don’t.
They’re great for companies with more extensive customer bases and growth potential.
LLCs are owned by their members and are simpler to form and maintain than corporations.
Corporations are owned by shareholders and are more complex, but they’re an ideal fit for entrepreneurs who hope to attract outside investors.
4. Get your finances squared away
Before officially opening your doors for business, you need to register for state and federal taxes.
Start the process by applying for an employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS, and then check with your state to see if there are additional steps you need to take.
Savvy business owners should also open a dedicated business bank account and credit accounts to further protect their personal assets.
That way, if you’re ever sued, you won’t be at risk of losing your car, home, or private investments.
5. Get your company licensed and obtain permits
It’s also essential to determine what your state’s requirements are as far as licensing and permits when it comes to how to start a creative agency.
You can begin the process of finding out and applying by visiting the U.S. Small Business Association.
If you’ll be operating your business out of a specific physical location, you should also look into obtaining a certificate of occupancy (CO).
This confirms for both your customers and any legal entities that all necessary laws and regulations have been met.
You should also get your business insured to make absolutely sure that you’re protected in the event something ever goes wrong.
6. Create a unified brand identity
Before you can get down to the business of helping other companies build, cultivate, and maintain their brand identities, it’s crucial that you come up with one for your own agency.
Brand assets like logos, color schemes, slogans, and mission statements will appear on everything from your social media profiles to your marketing materials, so it’s crucial to get them squared away early on in the process of how to start a creative agency.
Choose a brand identity that is strong, dynamic, and appealing, and create assets to match.
Ideally, potential customers should get the impression you’re entirely different from your competition at a glance.
7. Build a user-friendly business website
Here in the digital age, a creative agency’s website is about so much more than simple convenience.
It’s a vital part of attracting customers and managing your day-to-day business operations.
For that reason, all legitimate businesses operating today have websites regardless of their size or focus.
A creative agency’s website will also make or break the impression new clients will have about the company behind it, so it’s crucial to make sure yours is sleek and professional.
- Business websites need to be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and simply designed. No noisy, cluttered designs allowed!
- They need to be mobile accessible, as many of your customers will find you while searching for solutions via their phones and other mobile devices.
- Thorough search engine optimization (SEO) is also critical, as your potential customers won’t be able to find you without it.
Please note that although an active social media presence is also a necessary part of building a brand identity, it’s not a proper substitute for a website.
Remember, if web design isn’t exactly your forte, there are many tools and services out there that take the guesswork out of it.
8. Start spreading the word
At this point, you should have your brand identity figured out and all the legal paperwork taken care of.
You should also have a killer user-friendly website that underscores everything your agency is all about. Now it’s time to let your target audience know you’re out there.
Fill your website’s blog with optimized, helpful content that answers any questions your would-be customers might have about services like yours, as well as related topics.
Set a posting schedule for your social media profiles, and use them to engage with your audience.
Network with others in your niche or industry, including peers, thought leaders, and influencers. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before you start getting leads and converting them into happy paying customers.
And if you need any help creating content, there’s always the option of counting on high-quality freelancers.
Now that you know how to start a creative agency and set it up for future business success, it’s time to start tracking your progress, especially when it comes to SEO.
It’s the only way you can know for sure whether you’re meeting your goals when it comes to driving traffic and generating new leads.
Take the first step in the right direction, and check out our comprehensive write-up on SEO ROI.
You’ll learn why SEO ROI is a key performance indicator every agency owner should know, as well as discover how to calculate it and put what you learn to work for you!