At some point, freelancers hit a crossroads. You start getting so many job requests that you can’t handle them all on your own. It’s tough to turn money away, but there are only so many hours in a day. Trading time for money can eventually lead to a dreaded income plateau. You simply don’t have enough time to do all of the work.
Going the agency route is an option to continue expanding your business. An agency is where you bring on other creators to help you with the work. I toyed with the idea of going agency for a while but decided that doing a bulk of the creative work while pursuing other opportunities was right for me.
Should You Start a Freelance Agency?
Here are the pros and cons of establishing an agency if you’re considering it for your business:
The pros of going agency:
1. More revenue. You can comfortably take on more clients (and bring in more revenue) because you have a team backing you up. The opportunity to grow your business could be limitless if you have the right support behind you.
2. More freedom to be a leader. Doing less of the actual freelance work frees you up to take on a visionary role. You may also have more freedom to take much needed breaks. An agency can be less reliant on you putting in long hours. Get your agency running like a well-oiled machine and you could have an empire on your hands.
The cons of going agency:
1. Good help is hard to find. The saying is cliche, but it’s unbelievably true. I hire writers and assistants occasionally for support. It can be tough to find people who can do the simplest of tasks. Having the right people is integral for your business when running an agency. Without the right people, you may find yourself doing double the work because you have to fix mistakes. Difficulty finding good help was a key reason I decided to pass on starting an agency.
2. You need to manage people. The harsh truth is, creatives don’t always make the best managers. If your expertise is creating, managing other creatives could be a challenge. A solution to this may be hiring a project manager, but it’s another expense to factor in.
3. Manpower costs and other expenses. You get what you pay for when you hire help. If you’re cheap, you’re going to get work back that’s less-than-stellar. Extra revenue comes in when you start an agency, but you may also have significantly more business expenses to pay. You need to pay contractors and you may need to pay for additional systems to manage your processes.
The expenses and management responsibilities of running an agency are what made me shy away from starting one myself. Instead, I decided to experiment with expansion opportunities that would help me continue running a slim business. I increased my rates, got a certificate in my industry, started teaching, and plan to begin speaking in addition to freelancing.
Ultimately, deciding how to grow your freelance business will depend on your goals. If engaging in your art (writing, designing, coding, etc.) is important to you, finding ways to grow your business where you can continue to be hands-on may be a better move. If you’ve set your sights on building an empire where you’re the creative brains that directs others, going agency may be the right next step.