Starting a Creative Agency

How It Started

Welcome to the JJ Creative blog. This is the first blog post, so I thought I would introduce myself and explain a bit about JJ Creative and how it came into existence.

Hi! I’m Jackie the graphic designer and owner of JJ Creative. I have been a freelance graphic designer for the last 3 years living in Spain. My love of travel and adventure took me to Spain originally for a teaching assistant position in a small town near Madrid. I loved this country so much that I decided to return a second time to work remotely from my computer and live in Madrid. To have the opportunity to be able to do this was a complete dream. The people, culture, and language were impactful in my life in so many ways.

When I returned, I knew that I was ready to start something new and exciting of my own. I had a moment of self reflection and realization in my ability to take on something fantastic, challenging, and rewarding. I love to collaborate with people, challenge myself, and create new things, so it only made sense to take the next step to starting a creative agency as it gives me the opportunity to execute all these wonderful ideas that go off in my brain on a daily basis and work towards something truly bigger than freelancing.

Now you understand a bit about how JJ Creative came to be but I really don’t want to bore you with how I got here! I would like to offer the beginning steps I took that really helped me understand and prepare myself properly for the transition from freelance to starting a creative agency.

Step 1: Determine what your services will be

Before you can launch a creative agency, you need to decide what services you’ll offer. I can’t stress this enough, if you don’t have a clear idea of what you will offer your clients, it will make your marketing and promoting a whole lot more work and not only unclear to you, but for your target market as well. Instead of being a jack of all trades of 50 different things, you can focus and become really strong in 3 or 4 areas that you already know really well. That being said, when you start to gain more traction, you can always expand your services when you have more cash flow coming in. I chose to specialize in branding, web design, print design, and social media. I am still learning all I can everyday to get better and better at these four things.

Step 2: Who is your niche?

From all the research I have done up to this point, this has to be one of the most important. Before you start anything, it is vital to think about who you want to work for and market your products to. Some businesses focus on entrepreneurs and small business while others do B2B, while others focus on corporations. Make notes and think about what demographic you can see yourself working with regularly in the future. Whatever you decide, write down your demographic or demographics and create a profile for each one. Whenever you do anything to promote your products, create a separate strategy for each profile and choose the methods that will work best to engage and appeal to them.

Step 3: Pricing

That’s right pricing! We all love to talk about pricing. Pricing can always be a tough one especially in the beginning. But one of the biggest mind set shifts I had to make was changing from freelance rates to agency rates. Don’t forget, you have a business now and more expenses come with that so don’t be afraid to mark those prices up and charge what you are worth as a business now! Get your mind out of consumer mode and into business owner mode.  Do your research and see what your competitors are charging in your industry and area if it applies, then come up with a comfortable and profitable price for your services. It is also very appealing especially in the beginning to start off with packages for your services that can appeal to each target demographic. You can send customers to this package pricing on your site where all the info is laid out in front of them. Also depending on your services, you may want to be open to retainer pricing as well as your package or hourly pricing that you already offer. This method is super convenient and long term friendly as it allows you to charge a flat rate each month for the services that you will provide to your client.

Step 4: Outsourcing

Depending on how many clients you have already and how busy you are at the moment, this is something you definitely need to try and make time to plan for. Burning out trying to be super woman and doing everything that comes your way 24 hours a day 7 days a week doesn’t ever look good on anyone. I don’t care how invincible you think you are, we all need some down time and rest. Not all of us are going to be able to start hiring full-time employees especially in the beginning so contact and reach out to some freelancers that you think could contribute to the success of your business. Before you do this, first think about what your strengths and weaknesses are. If web development isn’t your forte, find and contact some web developers that would fit nicely into your business. Maybe content writing would be a good asset if you are doing web design? Start looking for content writers who you can afford and will contribute positively to the web design service for your clients. You get the point, this backup list will be important to have especially when things start to get stupid busy.

Step 5: Find those clients!

Yay! You are almost there. You have your products, target market, pricing, outsourcing list, and now it’s time to promote your beautiful business to that loyal client base. I am working on this right now which is exciting and scary at the same time. Naturally sales is not my thing, I am the creative behind the computer screen coming up with all the ideas and designs for promoting your brand. So if you’re like me sales is a work in progress, but none the less we need to practice this skill in order to make new clients and grow our businesses. What I will recommend especially in the beginning is network network network. Sign up and attend networking events, wow has it already had a positive effect on my business and I have only gone to 3 or 4! Every contact that you meet raises your chances of finding new clients. Everyone talks and knows someone who knows someone so be yourself and be genuine to every entrepreneur you meet, because although they might not give you work directly they probably know someone who is interested in hiring you.

While you are off networking and meeting amazing entrepreneurs like yourself, get started on the digital marketing side and build some targeted Facebook campaigns. I won’t get into Facebook campaigns as that is enough content for a whole different post, but creating a clear offer for a specific product that will appeal to your target market is the best way to start. Be clear and concise in what you are offering and zone in on your customer profile. Facebook has amazing precision when it comes to who you want to target so take advantage of this feature!

Step 6: Is this what you really want?

I am a firm believer that if you put positive energy and passion into things it will be reciprocated back to you. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing and you don’t dive into it with everything you have, the results will reflect that. Plain and simple, if you are doing this because you feel you should rather than because you truly want to, don’t. Half assing anything is a waste of everyone’s time including yours. Starting a business is a lot of work, so give it everything you got and good things will come your way. Write amazing content for your followers, get people you meet and your family and friends excited about your new business, own it, and make it the best agency out there! I am also going to add here, there is a whole support system of amazing women entrepreneurs who have astounded me with their grace, energy, and support for one another. You are not in this alone. Attend those networking events and get completely inspired by amazing women who are doing it already.

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