From Freelancer to Agency: Is it the Right Move for You?
Have you ever wondered what’s next for your freelance business? Starting an agency could be a good way to grow. Upwork’s agency structure enables multiple freelancers to work on behalf of a single organization, delivering high-quality work to their clients.
But running an agency isn’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the things you may want to consider to get a clearer understanding about what running an agency could mean for you.
Decide whether launching an agency is the right move for you
Moving from solo freelancer to agency owner can be a profound transition. Here are five questions to consider when weighing the benefits and rewards against the hurdles and risks:
- What is your motivation to start an agency? Be clear about what is driving you. For example, maybe you want to increase your earning power, challenge yourself by leading a team, or pursue larger and more challenging projects.
- What is your vision? As an agency owner, you’ll make decisions every day that will shape your agency’s work and reputation. These include types of projects, target clients, project approach, and core values. Having a vision can help you stay focused.
- What is your agency’s niche? Even an agency can’t serve everything and everybody. As you start to look for people to collaborate with, it’s helpful to define the specialized type of work you want to do as well as criteria for projects you want to work on.
- Are you ready to lead a team? As an agency owner, you will ultimately be responsible for delivering high-quality work to the agency’s clients. What are the potential risks? How can you proactively address those challenges?
- What skills do you need to add to create a successful agency? Considering the vision and niche you defined above, what skills and level of experience will the agency need to help its clients succeed? Clients will engage your agency not just for its specialized skills but also for the processes, communication, and organization it can provide. You may need to add additional talent to meet those expectations.
There are many reasons to create an agency account on Upwork. Some accounts are launched by individual freelancers who want to offer more to their clients. Others are created by freelancers who want a better way to coordinate an established team. And an increasing number of traditional agencies are starting to sell their services online.
Know what you’re aiming for
Michigan-based designer Melody Richmond saw leading a team of like-minded freelancers as a way to achieve a better work/life balance. With her freelance business booming and projects pouring in, she found she was running out of hours in the day to help all her clients.
She started her design agency, Richmond Concept, to better serve her clients and collaborate with other freelancers who, like her, are “looking to avoid the 9-to-5 daily grind, trying to support their families and balance their personal lives.”
Starting an agency was also a game changer for Julie Ewald, who owns Nevada-based inbound marketing agency Impressa Solutions: “I instantly had more time to focus on my own marketing and sales, hone my skills, and do billable client work. And I have more free time—and money—to pursue things that I enjoy: I can step back to take a vacation, or I can focus on an important project without putting the rest of my income on hold.”
As a Top Rated freelancer, Ewald decided to open an agency when she realized she needed help. “I was freelancing full-time, and I was maxed out,” she says. “If I wanted to continue to meet my existing clients’ needs as their businesses grew, continue prospecting and taking on new clients, and do any kind of professional development to increase my skills—and in turn, raise my rates—something had to give.”
Still not sure? Here’s how you can test the waters
Once you’ve identified your goals and considered how an agency might shift your day-to-day, you can make a more informed choice.
But if you’re not ready to make the leap into agency ownership, you can pursue another option, such as becoming a full-time freelancer (if you aren’t already), joining an existing agency, entering a new niche, raising your rates, or going after bigger projects.
And if you start an agency only to find that it’s not what you’d expected, you can always close your agency account and return to being the successful individual freelancer you are now.
This article is part of a series written to help freelancers decide whether to launch their own agency and navigate the early steps toward success. Want to learn more? Check out: