Why I'm Not Pursuing the Agency Business Model
Now, I must preface this article by saying that I absolutely think this business model is valid, needed, and the right fit for many creatives.
This is more of a personal reflection behind why I’ve chosen a different route that works for me.
I’m all about building a business your own way so I hope this post helps you use some of the same techniques and questions to help you determine the right fit for you.
Okay, enough of the boring disclaimers.
Let’s get into it.
Writing is a very personal thing for me.
Honestly, this is the biggest reason why. It’s not uncommon to find me writing blog posts, poetry, personal essays, and journal entries all throughout the day. It has been my longest and most beloved vocation.
When I write in someone else’s brand voice through my copywriting work, I have to really connect with the person before we begin. I’ve become highly selective with the projects I take on because of that reason, which has served me incredibly well.
If I was building an agency model, I’d either have employees or contractors writing things for clients delivered under my name (which does not feel good to me), or I’d have to create a whole new company entity to do my work.
Sending client referrals helps me work in abundance.
So you may be wondering what happens if I find a client project isn’t the right fit, which happens fairly often as a selective copywriter. When it does, I love sending those quality leads to other copywriters. Wait, you send them to your competition? Absolutely.
I almost feel like a creative matchmaker, helping to connect leads with the best copywriter for them based on style, niche, timeline, and budget. I’ve built some incredible referral relationships this way and the client lead is happy when I go the extra mile to help them. It’s a win-win!
I attribute much of my business growth this year to sending most of my leads elsewhere. That may seem backwards, but working in abundance has given me a whole new perspective on client relationships and ensures I spend my time with people I naturally click with. I want the same for other copywriters in my field, too.
If I worked within an agency model, I’d spend nearly all of my time managing my writers and all the client communication rather than writing. No bueno!
It’s a lot less messy and time-consuming to just send a personal email introduction detailing the copywriting project and let both business owners take it from there. And I get back to writing in record time - my favorite!
I’ve worked in an agency setting before, and it wasn’t for me.
Between the long hours (I’m talking 70-80 each week), short lunches, and constant churn of work, agency life was not as glam as I once thought. The honeymoon period of the job wore off fairly quickly. There were many reasons why but I’ll cover a big one.
I’m a words of affirmations girl. It’s my primary love language so it’s something I need fulfilled in order to produce my best work. I know, I know. You shouldn’t put too much emphasis on what others think but it’s how I’m naturally wired.
In an agency setting, I never quite got full credit for the work I was doing. I understand why since I was a part of the team, but I often missed that individual recognition to know I was growing in my position. I used to guilt myself into thinking I was lame for needing outside encouragement, like somehow it made me an “entitled Millennial”, but those fears have since been put to rest.
Time tracking was a time suck in agency life.
Time tracking had to be done in 15 minute increments, too. Writing it down throughout the day and staying 15-30 minutes later in the day or week to input your time into the system was awful.
Time tracking worsened my creative process because I was always worried I got done with projects too fast. I’m a pretty quick worker and usually way overestimate the amount of time I need to get something done. This may sound like a good thing, but when your agency is being paid by the hour, you need to be wary of hitting your billable work hours.
Not every agency is like this, but it’s largely why I don’t work with hourly rates for my freelance copywriting and content creation projects. I’d rather get paid a flat project fee based on the value of my work rather than the time it takes to get it done, something I talked about on ConvertKit’s blog last month.
Don’t worry, I did enjoy some aspects of agency life.
While running an agency isn’t for me, at least not at this stage of my life, I think it can be an incredible fit for others. Heck, there were even parts about it I liked before I quit my agency job to pursue my business full-time.
Here are some of the winning qualities of #agencylife:
You’re able to tap into more skills and specializations. Let’s be honest, there’s only so much you can do on your own. I’m a pretty good writer but I’m not the first person you’d come to for custom website coding or creating Pinterest ads. By starting an agency, you can hire people who are strong in the areas you’re weak, and vice versa. The same is true for choosing a business partner.
The people you work with will be interested in what you like to do outside of work. When I published my poetry collection, my coworkers surprised me with cake and asked me to recite one of my poems aloud (kind of scary but mostly awesome). My boss even got me a journal for National Poetry Day that year. Most days, I felt cherished and loved.
If you start an agency, you get to provide employment opportunities. Hello! That’s the coolest thing ever. Knowing that your business is providing income to a well-deserving employee who shares a similar heart for your business is amazing.
You can prioritize what projects you want to work on and outsource the rest. You are your own boss so you can say which projects go where. Just don’t let all the power go to your head. *wink*
You’ll build a tight-knit team of talented creatives. Teamwork makes the dream work. Having the opportunity to team up with others helps you build community within your organization. As a solo entrepreneur, I have to work much harder at building a “work” community that takes the place of what I had at the agency.
Fun fact: The dream of someday running my own PR agency is what even inspired me to start this blog. WHAT? I know. Wild.
My business looks different than 2013 Kayla would have imagined, but I think she’d be pretty darn happy with how it’s ended up.
What business model are you currently pursuing? What led you to that decision? How do you work it into your own life? I want to hear about it in the comments. (No, really. Like I’ll reply and everything.)