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GOLD! CHECKLIST: How to Start a Digital Marketing Agency & Hit $5K in Less than 90 Days

Andy Black

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I know people who own agency websites ( these agencies do SEO, PPC, Social, etc ) that get almost 0 traffic monthly to their website, spend $0 on PPC themselves, and have little to 0 social activity on their FB and Twitter accounts.

These same agencies have Fortune 500 clients paying them 5 figures monthly, each.

I only know, because I work some of them one on one sometimes and I know what I get paid for helping consult with them. A few I even wrote the proposals for, so I know the exact amount they get paid.

Otherwise, you would think these agencies were nobodies if you did not have this insider info.

If you can sell, nothing else matters. Including proof you can actually do what you sell. Not saying the OP can not do what he sells, just using that as an example that selling tops all.
.
Case in point. I don’t really have a website. My personal brand name site redirects to my LinkedIn profile. My business domain site is a contact us page.

We’ve sold over 50 landing pages, without having a landing page to sell them from.

I don’t run paid search campaigns for myself. I run them for clients. They recommend me to other people and that’s how I get more clients.

You’ve probably noticed I’m pretty active online though... like in TFLF and some Facebook groups.

I presume you’re looking up Sean’s website because he’s been active in here. You found out about it because of his activity here. He’s probably active in other communities, and maybe he’s also got a productocracy where folks spread the good word?

I even get people contacting me because they searched for something to do with AdWords, found a TFLF thread, then signed up to reply to that thread.
 

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Pratik_ITpro

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That's really detailed and well written. I am an IT guy having in-house SEO, Web & Mobile App Development Team.

I wanted to read more on a points like Outsourcing & Offshore Services which may save the expenses and can give a great marginal profit.

For example:

Key benefits of outsourcing digital marketing project to a full-service digital marketing company are as follow:
  • Helps with digital transformation of business.
  • Easy to scale up or down.
  • Flexible approach.
  • Time-saving.
  • Better ROI.
Etc....

Hope this make sense :)

Thanks for the post...
 

cwalto12

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What is the best way to go about domain names?

If someone has a website that is outdated and wants to keep the same domain, should I transfer it to whatever hosting site I use or keep it on whatever it is? Or should I make them get a hostgator account for when the site is finished?

On the flip side, if they don’t have a site or want a new domain, should I make it for them or have them create an account and buy it themselves?

Really confused on these scenarios. Any help is appreciated!
 

DaveT

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1. At the beginning, I spoke to every business owner that breathed. If you want to target 2nd page businesses, that's fine but lead with value (see what I mean by throughout this thread). Don't just spam.

2. I don't go deep into what we do. I go high level with the benefits that they'll get from working with us. I use the game plan (sales proposal) to go deep and list out everything we do.

3. I assign them to a team member in Asana. I still like to do the first phone call with new clients or prospects. After that, it's email.
Thank you Sean!!
 

Nolan Harper

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Amazing post!

I've been considering this for a couple years but it seems like everybody and their mother has an agency. I'm an expert in video production for marketing and I am the head of video production for a startup that is pacing to do $150MM this year. My unique proposition would be combining my video with the ads (harmon brothers style), but the difficulty is that almost nothing associated with video production is scalable. Sure you can outsource it (not cheap) but you have to physically be THERE in order to film.

I am also fortunate enough that the company I work for has generously paid for almost any marketing course I have requested. Instantly I get access to some of the most highly sought after training ranging in topics from Youtube optimization to LinkedIn and Facebook ads.

I would only like to make this a side hustle for now. Being in video, I spend many days with the CEO's and I have learned more about being an entrepreneur in the past 6 months than any book could share. My goal is to finish paying off my debts, and then start stacking cash to invest in real estate and businesses.

Any thoughts on a video production agency as a viable side hustle?
 

Maxboost

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Amazing post!

I've been considering this for a couple years but it seems like everybody and their mother has an agency. I'm an expert in video production for marketing and I am the head of video production for a startup that is pacing to do $150MM this year. My unique proposition would be combining my video with the ads (harmon brothers style), but the difficulty is that almost nothing associated with video production is scalable. Sure you can outsource it (not cheap) but you have to physically be THERE in order to film.

I am also fortunate enough that the company I work for has generously paid for almost any marketing course I have requested. Instantly I get access to some of the most highly sought after training ranging in topics from Youtube optimization to LinkedIn and Facebook ads.

I would only like to make this a side hustle for now. Being in video, I spend many days with the CEO's and I have learned more about being an entrepreneur in the past 6 months than any book could share. My goal is to finish paying off my debts, and then start stacking cash to invest in real estate and businesses.

Any thoughts on a video production agency as a viable side hustle?
learn how to sell. That's all you need to know...it's 90% of the equation.
 

Nolan Harper

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Startup, and $150MM in revenue is an oxymoron


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
HAHA certainly is. Company still less than 2 years old, the CEO's just understand how to provide insane value for our clients.
 

Anfield

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This is interesting Adrian, did you start in the same way as sean suggested, carrying out work for friends businesses etc?

How did you find balancing your current job with starting up the agency? You mention you are about to resign, i assume you are ticking along with a few sales under your belt? This would be one of my main initial concerns, being able to dedicate the time to get something up and running with a job in the way. Financially, I'm not quite in the position to drop my job!

Thanks to Sean and all those who have contributed to this thread. Some really useful and interesting information.
Neon Lights,

First, please let me apologize for taking so long to respond, however I have been very busy lately and have been focusing on my new business quite significantly.
I followed Sean's principles for the most part. I worked in sales for many years, so the sales aspect of the business is, as it should, be relatively familiar to me.
There is never a "best time" to start a business and "drop" your job, something that MJ mentions in his books as well.
Over the years, I took great pride in putting together teams that I successfully led (as opposed to manage - I can explain the difference in a different post if anyone cares for it), however, the main beneficiary of the success attained by those teams has always been either the owner of the business or, in one case, the owner and the shareholders of the publicly traded company. The reason for this is, obviously, the fact that by being an employee, I was always compensated what someone decided that I should receive. Sure, since the brunt of my income was always based on commission, some could make the argument that "the sky is the limit". While, in a way, I can understand how people can be "sold" in believing this, it couldn't be further from the truth, due to scalability reasons. At the end of the day, you could earn more than other people in your position, however, you are still part of the script and you cannot efficiently scale your income, the way you should be able to do by owning a fastlane business.
For a very long time I didn't have a problem with all this, because by being stuck in the rat race, having to juggle a full time job (working 60+ hours per week on average, some weeks even more than 80), family time and entertainment, I lost sight of the fact that in my early twenties, I would have laughed at someone my current age - a man who had built his own prison in the form of a job...
My FTE (f this event) came in my last job, where my earnings potential was the lowest I had had in over 12 years and where I felt that the owner simply regards me as a cog in his wheel, which could be easily replaceable and, also, I felt that he expected me to be grateful and loyal to him for the simple fact that he provided me with a job. (He called me today to renegotiate, however, I turned him down, since I have lost all interest in having a job). I stumbled upon this forum at first, read up for a couple of days, got MJ's first book TFM, finished it in a few days and that became a huge eye opener for me, elevating my thinking to a level that, ironically enough, I hadn't had since my late teens and early twenties.

What did attract me to Sean's business is the scalability potential and the fact that what seems to be biggest obstacle in having success getting it off the ground is, of course, sales. Another reason is the fact that you get to put an entire team together, train them and then set goals for them that me or, eventually, a manager will hold them accountable for. The only thing that is extremely new to me in all this is that I will solely be able to design all the systems in place, rather than having them designed for me and my role being to either implement them, enforce them, or in many cases both.

Time will definitely tell, of course, but I can tell you that, for now, I am happier than I have been in a long time and I have this great feeling when I wake up in the morning knowing that everything I do business related for that day is for the benefit of me and my family.

There is a lot more to be said about this, but I think that I've rambled enough as it is.
 

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JonRyan

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Apr 3, 2019
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Ive gotten a few different "Start your own SMMA and make 5k+ a month" and none of them were as clear cut and informative as this. Fantastic post and thank you!!
 

Nuruu

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May 1, 2019
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Thanks Sean for the time you took to write this post. It is just mind blowing, helpful and straight to the point.
 

Matt Hunt

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This thread is absolutely amazing! I have been thinking of starting a social media marketing agency, but my biggest problem was I assumed I needed to learn everything and do all of the work myself! That mindset put it on the backburner as something that would just take up too much of my time. Not sure why I was thinking that way. That's self-employment, not a business. That was before reading MFL. Thank you for the info, Sean!
 

Tanu1234

Contributor
Aug 4, 2018
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I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.

DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.

MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.


Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.

WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?


Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit.
There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:



    • You can get started for less than $300
    • Extremely low overhead
    • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
    • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
    • Work online
    • Flexible schedule


THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up



I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.




    • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
    • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
    • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
    • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
    • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
    • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
    • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
    • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
    • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
    • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
    • Identify and write out your USP.
    • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
    • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
    • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
    • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
    • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
    • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
      o What is your company name?
      o What is your company tagline?
      o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
      o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
      o What is your USP?
      o How much do you charge?
      o What is your monthly revenue goal?
      o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
      o How do you get new clients?
      o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
      o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.
    • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
    • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
    • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com . Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
    • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
    • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.

SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.




    • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
    • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
    • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
    • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
    • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
    • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
    • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
    • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
    • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.

SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.




    • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
    • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
    • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
    • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
    • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks

STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.




    • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
    • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
    • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
    • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
    • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
    • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.

SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.




    • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
    • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
    • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
    • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
    • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
    • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
Very nice post.

I have bit doubt about loyalty of contractor we hired online.

Will they not switch to other jobs if they get higher pay?

How do you pay your contractor - Hourly or Fixed?
 

switching_lanes

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Apr 24, 2019
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I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.


DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.


MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.

Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.


WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?

Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit. There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:

  • You can get started for less than $300
  • Extremely low overhead
  • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
  • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
  • Work online
  • Flexible schedule



THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up



I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.


  • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
  • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
  • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
  • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
  • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
  • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
  • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
  • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
  • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
  • Identify and write out your USP.
  • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
  • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
  • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
  • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
  • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
    o What is your company name?
    o What is your company tagline?
    o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
    o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
    o What is your USP?
    o How much do you charge?
    o What is your monthly revenue goal?
    o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
    o How do you get new clients?
    o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
    o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.

  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
  • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
  • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com . Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
  • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
  • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.


SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.


  • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
  • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
  • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
  • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
  • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
  • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
  • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
  • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
  • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.


SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.


  • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
  • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
  • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
  • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
  • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks


STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.


  • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
  • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
  • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
  • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
  • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
  • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.


SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.


  • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
  • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
  • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
  • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
  • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
  • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
Awesome post, thanks man!!
 

The Abundant Man

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 3, 2018
1,360
1,902
555
Case in point. I don’t really have a website. My personal brand name site redirects to my LinkedIn profile. My business domain site is a contact us page.

We’ve sold over 50 landing pages, without having a landing page to sell them from.

I don’t run paid search campaigns for myself. I run them for clients. They recommend me to other people and that’s how I get more clients.

You’ve probably noticed I’m pretty active online though... like in TFLF and some Facebook groups.

I presume you’re looking up Sean’s website because he’s been active in here. You found out about it because of his activity here. He’s probably active in other communities, and maybe he’s also got a productocracy where folks spread the good word?

I even get people contacting me because they searched for something to do with AdWords, found a TFLF thread, then signed up to reply to that thread.
If you read Sean's website familyrocketship.com, apparently he's having too much fun with his family in Scottland. lol
 

Marrtol

New Contributor
Jun 1, 2019
1
2
11
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.


DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.


MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.

Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.


WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?

Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit. There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:

  • You can get started for less than $300
  • Extremely low overhead
  • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
  • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
  • Work online
  • Flexible schedule



THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up



I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.


  • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
  • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
  • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
  • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
  • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
  • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
  • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
  • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
  • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
  • Identify and write out your USP.
  • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
  • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
  • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
  • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
  • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
    o What is your company name?
    o What is your company tagline?
    o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
    o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
    o What is your USP?
    o How much do you charge?
    o What is your monthly revenue goal?
    o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
    o How do you get new clients?
    o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
    o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.

  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
  • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
  • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com . Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
  • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
  • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.


SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.


  • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
  • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
  • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
  • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
  • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
  • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
  • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
  • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
  • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.


SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.


  • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
  • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
  • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
  • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
  • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks


STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.


  • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
  • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
  • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
  • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
  • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
  • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.


SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.


  • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
  • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
  • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
  • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
  • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
  • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
Hey Sean. Thank you very much for this thread. I have finally made an account here after reading TMF mainly because of this post.

I am a young guy from a European, non-english speaking, small and poor country.

I want to start my digital agency but I really don't want to focus on my local market. I did some research here and the pay that agencies get here is really something that would take too many clients or too many years to make it even to the higher 4-figure range. Therefore I'd really like to focus and find clients outside of my country but I don't know how to go about it. My country is one of those countries which in the west is usually associated with a cheap workforce and work-for-peanuts freelancers.

Mostly I'd like to offer web design and social-media marketing related stuff.

What do you think would be a viable way to go about this?

I am sorry if it was already discussed, I am still just reading through the thread.

Thanks for any tips.
 
Jun 10, 2019
1
0
2
evolvedtoaster.com
I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. It's basically the story of how I started a digital marketing agency to be able to do cool stuff. And I would like to give you a nice little checklist that you could use as well if it interests you.

I started my business in 2010. Since then, I reduced my own work load to less than 10 hours a month, lived in Mexico for 4 1/2 years, traveled to 15 countries, and am prepping to head to Scotland for 6 months in Sept - all together with my wife & 3 kids.

I cracked the code to scaling a service-based business using detailed systems (a fancy checklist on Asana) and a good team (all based in the Philippines).

I made $2,450 in my first month. Not crazy I know but it was a big deal for me just starting out. More importantly, that number increased every single month afterwards.

At about month 11 is when I read The Millionaire Fastlane and it completely changed how I viewed my business. I made a bunch of changes based on MJ's advice and started hitting 5 figure months about two months later.


DOES IT FOLLOW MJ'S COMMANDMENTS?

I need to mention that a digital marketing agency does NOT follow all of MJ's 5 business commandments. It breaks one - Barrier to Entry. Basically, anyone can do this. They really can.

BUT, that's also the catch - most people DON'T ACTUALLY EXECUTE! You can give them all the tools, step-by-step instructions, templates, etc and they still won't do anything. I know because I offer a course giving people literally everything they need and only a handful of people actually do the thing.

So in a way, the barrier to entry commandment is almost a non-issue. Besides, there's more than enough business out there.

With the other commandments (time, scale, control, & need), this kind of business passes with full marks.


MAKING $5K IN UNDER 90 DAYS

Why $5,000? Two reasons:
  1. It’s usually enough money for most people to quit their jobs to focus full time on the business
  2. It’s totally realistic & achievable
This is a number that most people can hit with some focused work. How fast you’re able to hit $5k is up to two things:
  1. Your Prices
  2. Your Hustle
Obviously, the more you sell, the more you’ll make. Keep in mind that some services typically cost more than others (for example: websites cost more than social media management)

Like I said, I made $2,450 in my first month. How did I make that money? I networked with people I already knew and got in touch with a few key business owners. I shook hands and spoke with everyone I knew.

Simply put, I hustled.

Hitting $5K in under 90 days is totally doable. I have students in my course that have done much more in less time.


WHAT IS AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY?

Before I give you a checklist, I have to answer, what is an online marketing agency?

There are a lot of names for this kind of business - internet marketing company, digital marketing agency, online marketing business, and more. They’re all the same thing.

In a nutshell, it’s a service-based business that manages the online marketing activities for companies of any size that are in need of growing their presence online – which is all of them.

This includes services like SEO, social media management, reputation management, website design, and more.

You can choose to focus in on just one branch of online marketing (like website design or SEO) or you can choose to do it all.

As the business owner, you’re responsible for creating the services that your clients will choose from.
Then you will need to recruit a team of people to do the actual work. You can even hire salespeople or a sales company later on and scale it infinitely.

There’s no shortage of businesses that need help with their online marketing so the sky’s the limit. There’s also no shortage of people who can do the actual work and you can contract them relatively inexpensively.

*NOTE: Building an online marketing agency might not be your passion.

It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it offers you a way to sell a valuable service to real people who pay real money. You can quickly build this business, scale it up, and then do whatever the heck you want!

QUICK BENEFITS OF AN ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

The benefits primarily include:


  • You can get started for less than $300
  • Extremely low overhead
  • Large profit margin - you literally set the prices
  • Huge potential - an extra $50K/year or $500K/year - it's up to you
  • Work online
  • Flexible schedule



THE 5 S's OF YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AGENCY

Starting and running a digital marketing agency breaks down into what I call the 5 S's.

1. Setup
2. Sales
3. Systems
4. Staffing
5. Scaling-Up



I'm going to break down the checklist into those 5 groups.

The rest of this post is literally made up of the steps you can follow to start your own digital marketing agency. If you have any questions, obviously I'll be paying attention to this thread. I won't hold anything back.

Just ask.

***

SETUP
This portion is to help you get started by establishing your business services, messaging & branding, website, and so forth. The goal is to move quickly to hurry and get to making sales.



  • Start thinking about your business brand including your business name. Think about what kind “feel” you want your business to have. Write out at least 10 possible names.
  • Look up “online marketing company” and check out the first few sites – the goal is to get a feel for what they do and what you’ll be doing.
  • Consider taking a class or two on Udemy.com or Lynda.com to get an overview of the online marketing world. Strongly consider also going to QuickSprout.com/University
  • Think about an industry you might like to serve (i.e. – chiropractors) and then look up “online marketing for chiropractors” or similar terms and study what comes up.
  • Write out (or type out) your motivation. Why are you interested in starting this business? Answer this with something more specific than “to have more money”. Get as specific as you can. Don’t skip the mental work!
  • List out the amount of money you would like to make in your first month, second month, following months. Include your first year’s goal.
  • Go online and look up other online marketing companies (again) – jot down everything that you like and that you would like to emulate.
  • Start thinking about what sets you apart. Ideally it can be summed up in one sentence. i.e. – “We provide SEO services for dental professionals”. This is your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Come up with your 3 packages. List out the services that each package entails. Yours may be just offering social media or just website design or whatever. Be sure to be detailed - list out everything.
  • Come up with your package pricing. Decide what you think is valuable for all parties involved and use this as a starting point (you’ll most likely adjust this as you get more experience). Use this pattern: $499/$599/$999 OR $999/$1199/$1699 and so on.
  • Identify and write out your USP.
  • Write what your ideal client looks like – the more details the better.
  • Decide right now you will stay true to your niche and not take on anyone and everyone who needs help “online”. It’s better to focus on a core audience to avoid wasting time and money. Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Come up with your business name. Come up with your business tagline (if you need one).
  • Pick your colors. These can literally be your favorite colors. Don’t stress on this one.
  • Get a logo done (use 99designs.com, Upwork.com, or Fiverr.com) – don’t do it yourself unless you’re a graphic designer.
  • Write up your business plan. Print it out. Change as necessary. Just answer the following questions:
    o What is your company name?
    o What is your company tagline?
    o What services do you provide? What problem do you solve?
    o Who is your target audience or what does your ideal client look like?
    o What is your USP?
    o How much do you charge?
    o What is your monthly revenue goal?
    o How many new or repeat clients do you need to achieve this goal?
    o How do you get new clients?
    o How will you fulfill your services? Who makes up your production team?
    o Who are the other key players of your team? List their names and titles.

  • Set up your corporation (use LegalZoom – for now, just get a DBA and then incorporate once you’ve brought on a few clients and know this is going to work for you)
  • Set up your business checking & savings account. Set up your PayPal (or Stripe) business account.
  • Buy your domain name (use a registrar like GoDaddy.com). Buy your hosting (use a reliable & affordable host like SiteGround.com . Set up your website (use Wordpress – it’s super easy & all you need). Your host should have a 1-click Wordpress install.
  • Create a home page, about page, services page, & contact page to start. This is the minimum. Set up your social media platforms (Facebook business page, Twitter, Google+/YouTube, LinkedIn all a must. Pinterest, Instagram, etc are bonus).
  • Buy your business cards (and nothing else) Use VistaPrint.com because they’re super cheap. Only order 250 for your first cards. You may change some info later.


SALES
This portion is to help you start making sales - the lifeblood of your business. If you’re not making sales, you don’t have a business.



  • Get your first sale (work your own personal network to get started – make a list of 10 business owners you know or your friends/family might know and approach them offering them a discount or added value to get started).
  • Complete the work of your first sale and be sure to get results! If you don’t know how to do any of it, go to UpWork.com and hire someone immediately – see next section.
  • Document all of your work – you’ll need this to scale & build a team.
  • Get your next 3 clients quickly. Go to networking meetings in your area. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce and possibly a BNI group or other networking group.
  • Use online directories like Manta.com to find more businesses in your chosen niche. When you find their contact info, reach out to them leading with value - do a mock-up website with their info, list out specific tips to drive more business, or share exactly how they could tweak their online presence for increased traffic and conversion, etc. Think value!
  • Reach out to associations in your chosen niche and offer to give free webinars.
  • Optimize your company website to reach your target niche and drive traffic to it – have specific pages on your website that you get to rank in Google for organic traffic (i.e. – a page on “Search Engine Optimization Services for Chiropractors”). Then get it ranking and collect leads.
  • Continue to look up the Chambers of Commerce in your area and other mixers and networking opportunities. Look to set up 1-on-1’s with potential clients but only ones in your niche. Don’t waste time with anyone else!
  • Set up speaking and teaching gigs to get in front of a lot of people at once. Be as helpful as possible. Give your best stuff away for free - be incredibly detailed.


SYSTEMS
Once you have some sales coming in, you need to make sure you document everything and create systems in order for others to do the work for you. This also includes establishing what tools you use in your business. It’s simple but incredibly important.



  • Create a sales manual and a production manual. Be detailed and use bullet points.
  • Set up your work email (use Google apps or even just gmail to make it easy and route your Name@Company.com email through it)
  • Set up your account in Asana.com – it’s free and it will be your project management tool. Name each new project after your client name. Each project is a client & list out in the project all of the work you said you would do in the list of services.
  • Set your file storage using DropBox or Google Drive.
  • Set up your bookkeeping with Quickbooks


STAFFING
Getting a team in place to do the work for you is key to your growth. You need to hire, train, and lead your team members. As soon as possible, you’ll hire more team members to make sure all work is being done effectively.



  • Create a company org chart with you as owner. Create a general manager position with manager positions also in sales, production/operations, & finance.
  • List out the work for your first job (base this off of your services in your game plan). Then go to Upwork.com or OnlineJobs.ph and post your job.
  • Interview your top 3 candidates. Hire 1 but keep the other two on a short-list for when you need them in the future. Start them off on a part-time basis with the expectation of them doing more soon.
  • Hire your first employee or contractor – generally this is a production staff member first (you should not be doing the actual production beyond your first client).
  • Take time to train your first team member. Refine your systems and make sure they can operate independently of you as soon as possible. Use Asana (or Basecamp or Trello) to manage everything. If you’re concerned about tracking everything, consider using HubStaff.com.
  • As soon as revenue and need justifies it, hire another contractor. And then another. And another.


SCALING-UP
Once you have sales coming in and a team and systems in place, it’s time to scale-up. This section is all about refining your processes so that you can handle 5 or 500 clients while the work to you remains the same. In other words, this is how you make more money while working less.



  • Refine your services – productize them! When mapping out your services, make sure your offer is the same to everyone. If you choose a service like SEO for example, then it’s relatively the same regardless of the industry your client is in. Don’t match a service to the client. Match the client to one of your preexisting services.
  • Refine your clients - it’s OK & very necessary to the growth of your business to be choosy. Stay away from any "high maintenance" clients. Choose early on how you will handle communication with your clients. Most are just fine with email.
  • Refine your systems. Look for ways to save money, increase productivity, and so forth. When possible, swap out human effort with software and automated work.
  • Refine your sales. Spend money if necessary on advertising, always targeting your ideal niche/industry.
  • As soon as you have at least 90-day’s worth of savings in the bank, have made at least 3 sales (with a lot more in the pipeline), consider going full-time with your business. If you have a significant other, be sure to be on the same page.
  • Over-deliver with your clients. If the relationship is there, try asking for a referral but only if you’ve already done a great job.
***

That's it! Just sell. There's plenty of businesses out there. I don't mean to downplay it at all but really, I'm nobody special. I'm not like most of the successful hustlers in this forum. I'm a pretty average dude that managed to create a sweet business.

You can do the same. Just follow the checklist above.

If you have any questions, just ask!

-Sean
I just read this post in 2019. You hit the nail on the head with the post I love that you added scaling up and writing out your process. That was the number one thing I was glad I did in my agency. [backlink removed by mod]
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bru

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 17, 2018
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France
I ll never be thankful enough to @Sean Marshall for this thread.
This opened my eyes and gave me the confidence to start my agency.
While my success is still modest, I ve followed the steps (of course with some small mistakes) and got some results.

Separately, while I m creating most of my customer websites with Wordpress, I was wondering if anyone has constructive feedback on website creation and marketing with Builderall.

I ve been pondering about it for a few days considering the following:
1) The offering (price and services) seems impressive and most of the reviews I ve found are very positive.

2) The affiliate program looks very interesting, so coupled with a marketing/web design agency I think there are ways to build a steady and stress-free business. (ex: getting the customers to subscribe to a plan through your own affiliate link+you manage the creation and marketing of the website on their behalf)

Any feedback
All the best
 
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GetShitDone

Bronze Contributor
Monthly Package Pricing VS Outsourced Worker Cost?

Does anyone know how to accurately price each monthly package service (such as FB Ads, PPC Ads, SEO) in conjunction with how much you need to pay your Outsourced workers?

I'm using online jobs PH (just posted 3 job ads) - but need to know how to price the package so they get paid enough..

Eg. Could 1 FB Ads Virtual Assistant handle 8 clients per week where they spend 5 hours per client (40 hours total)? And thats how I price the package?
 

Sarthak Wadhawan

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Feb 15, 2019
5
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wont hiring an upwork freelancer be more expensive?
wouldnt low profit or no profit will be left if we outsourced it through upwork?
 

Matt Hunt

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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May 9, 2019
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What are your thoughts on using White Label Agencies to provide all the work @Sean Marshall ? Compared to outsourcing to freelancers and managing them individually?
That's what I'm doing, at least to start, and we'll see how it goes. You won't have as much control, but to me it made more sense than trying to find a handful of freelancers.
 

Bru

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 17, 2018
37
54
108
France
Monthly Package Pricing VS Outsourced Worker Cost?

Does anyone know how to accurately price each monthly package service (such as FB Ads, PPC Ads, SEO) in conjunction with how much you need to pay your Outsourced workers?

I'm using online jobs PH (just posted 3 job ads) - but need to know how to price the package so they get paid enough..

Eg. Could 1 FB Ads Virtual Assistant handle 8 clients per week where they spend 5 hours per client (40 hours total)? And thats how I price the package?
Hola,
for the moment I m using white label agencies, I contacted one and I explained the needs of my customers (X post/month on x Platform, 10keywords analysis...) in order to have an accurate price estimate (can differ slightly vs the fixed price display on their website).
Then I can define the price I ll charge.
Also note I m also still doing most part of the job for the moment:
1- My bad, because I struggle to fully rely on external partner until we have collaborated for a few months
2- To learn and be able to monitor and adjust the work of outsourced worker.
Best regards
 

GetShitDone

Bronze Contributor
That's what I'm doing, at least to start, and we'll see how it goes. You won't have as much control, but to me it made more sense than trying to find a handful of freelancers.
Nice Matt!

It's funny, I just posted to OnlineJobs.PH and Freelancer last night. Got hundreds of potential people. Seems like you really need to nail down a solid hiring process before hiring them.

That's why I am contacting White Label Agencies now to "get my feet wet" to understand it all.

I think I'll use White Label Agencies first and THEN transition into building my own Freelancer team that I can eventually make go full time one day.

Hola,
for the moment I m using white label agencies, I contacted one and I explained the needs of my customers (X post/month on x Platform, 10keywords analysis...) in order to have an accurate price estimate (can differ slightly vs the fixed price display on their website).
Then I can define the price I ll charge.
Also note I m also still doing most part of the job for the moment:
1- My bad, because I struggle to fully rely on external partner until we have collaborated for a few months
2- To learn and be able to monitor and adjust the work of outsourced worker.
Best regards
Nice. Yeah I am trying to figure out the white label cost VS my cost. Going to aim to have a 50% margin on all my packages.

It does seem a bit of a risk using a white label agency, but isn't using a freelancer the same risk? I suppose there is the "control/management" risk, but that seems to come down to picking a GOOD white label agency.

I'm asking them questions like

"Who exactly are the people performing the work?"

"Are they overseas and outsourced?"

"Are they experienced?"

"How is your business sustainable at providing wholesale prices while providing expert marketing services?"

I really want to understand who is performing the work so I can gauge the quality of service that my clients receive.

Going to contact way more White Label Agencies today and ask these questions to "shortlist" the best ones.
 

GetShitDone

Bronze Contributor
I do not like when people place affiliate links in these so called "helpful posts"
Who cares? That's such a monkey brain way of looking at it.

He's providing value and people can easily go and start an agency with the info he provided.

Even if he put affiliate links, he just put out 95% valuable and actionable content for you to take advantage of instead of complaining about him offering a paid value course for whoever is interested.
 

Santi Merino

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Jul 22, 2018
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Gandia, Comunidad Valenciana, España
Thank you so much, @Sean Marshall , incredible thread! It's basically what I needed as I'm about to start my Marketing Agency right now in Spain. I have some questions, would be great if I could get a clue about them.

My biggest doubt right now is about niche picking. What do you think are the best niches?

I've heard "restaurants", "dentists", "optics" and stuff like this but I've seen your answers in this thread and you talk about less "fancy" niches, but would be great if you talked about your favorite ones or the bests for starting out.

Thank you very much.
 

BlackMagician

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Speedway Pass
Jul 18, 2018
203
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Mumbai, India
Has anyone documented there process? Can you help me with the general outline on what you are documenting?
I have facing the problem in documenting the process and not getting the idea on the process of documentation, maybe, because i never documented?

Kindly help.
 

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