How To Start A Social Media Marketing Agency: The Complete Guide

So you want to learn how to start a social media marketing agency?

Then you’re in for one bumpy ride. Whether it’s a fun one or an awful one is going to depend on how closely you follow the rules I’m going to lay out for you today.

With that said, it can be a lucrative small business model that can even be done as a side hustle until you’re ready to grow.

Let’s talk about it…

Should I Start A Digital Marketing Agency?

The first step in learning how to start a social media marketing agency is understanding if you should even start on at all. Then and only then is worth talking about strategies and tactics.


Learning how to start a social media marketing agency is one of the best things you can ever do to build wealth. No, the agency itself likely won’t make you wealthy. But it is one of the best cash flows businesses you can ever start with $0 startup funds. Combined with its unlimited potential to scale and you’ve got a cash cow that can lead to a wealthy life.

Social media marketing agencies are quick to start. Since all you need is a computer, internet connection, and your own skills, you can literally start your agency today. This is perfect for people who need to make quick money or people who want to quit their job as soon as humanly possible. It’s one the easiest businesses to get into.


Running an agency can be very time consuming. That’s because you’re still trading time for money. Most agency owners end up spending tons of time doing lead generation and closing sales. Some agency owners even put time on client work on top of their growth responsibilities. Sure, you can and should scale with people, but you’re not going to be chilling on the beach.

It’s a people driven business. If you want to get clients, you have to be really good at convincing smart people to give you thousands of dollars just to try you out. And once you have them, you now have to hire people to do the work. The more clients you get, the more people you need to throw at the problem. So if you don’t like dealing with people, then it’s better to look for other ecommerce business ideas.

The One Thing You Need To Build A Social Media Marketing Agency

The agency business is an expertise business.

When a client hires you, they’re hiring you because they want your expertise. 

This means you have to sell something you have expertise in, which is where a lot of agency owners get wrong. They think they can just waltz in with absolutely no knowledge, ask for thousands of dollars worth in fees, and have them say yes.

It’s not.

So if you really want to learn how to start a social media marketing agency, your first step is to get really, really good at one particular skill. It doesn’t really matter what skill, as long as it’s a core business skill that other businesses would like to outsource.

For example, PPC.

If you want to start an Amazon PPC agency, then you should first be good at Amazon PPC.

Of course, you don’t have to be world class or anything. You just need to be able to get results. Furthermore, understanding your craft will make growing an agency so much easier. You’ll know exactly who you can hire. You’ll know exactly how to sell the service. You’ll know exactly how to keep clients happy. And you’ll know exactly how to train your team.

Now, let’s say you’re fortunate enough to know multiple skills.

Great. Pick one.

The key to an efficient agency is to build it all around one single service. That doesn’t mean you don’t offer anything else. But the less you can offer, the better. This will lead to faster case studies and it’ll be easier to land clients as you can claim you specialize in it.

So pick whatever you’re best at and sell them.

Then as you pick up clients and are trying to maximize the amount of money you make from each of them, you can sell them additional services.

How To Start A Social Media Marketing Agency From Scratch

If you’ve decided that learning how to start a social media marketing agency is for you, then it’s time to get started. Below, I lay the exact steps you have to worry about to get it off the ground without you having to read the hundreds of business building books for agencies like I did.

1/ Decide what services to offer

In a social media marketing agency, you can sell whatever you want to other businesses. This can be anything from email marketing to conversion rate optimization. With that said, you’re most likely to going to spearhead your services with some form of social media marketing. In this situation, I would specialize your entire agency around advertising for one specific channel, whether that’s FB/IG, snapchat, TikTok, or Youtube.

2/ Build your agency’s assets

Once you know what services you’re selling and what makes you different, the next step is to let everyone know that by creating the actual agency brand and website. You don’t have to go too crazy because most clients will not find you through the website. But you do want to have a decent name and strong positioning statement. So if you specialize in Youtube ads for ecommerce, you want to make that the focal point of your entire site.

3/ Build your Dream 100 list

The agency business is a relationship driven business. It’s about fighting for every single client so they all stack on top of each other to turn you from a freelancer into an agency. So, you want to make a list of the top 100 clients you would love to do business with, even if they all happen to be in the same niche like beverage. In addition to that list, you want to make a Dream 100 list for every marketing channel you want to use to market your agency including blogs, podcasts, and newsletters.

4/ Start getting clients with outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is whenever you are reaching out to prospects. This includes everything from advertising and direct mail to cold email and cold calling. For the most part, you’re going to be cold emailing potential clients and then closing them on the phone. So grab your Dream 100 list and start reaching out to them. If you’re a brand new agency with no case studies, offer to work for free or cheap to get some case studies as soon as possible.

5/ Growth with inbound marketing

Once you’ve gotten a few clients through outbound, you now want to set your sites on having clients come to you. This can be done through content marketing. So grab your Dream 100 lists of blogs, podcasts, newsletters, and more. Then start asking to produce content for all of these publications. Don’t worry about building an audience. Just try to get in front of as many people as possible, within your market. 

6/ Referrals

At this point, you now have a steady stream of clients. Hopefully, you’ve made some of them really happy with your services. You now want to take advantage of this and ask everyone who’s liked working with you to refer other clients to you. To make this work even better, offer some kind of incentive. For example, paying $1,000 for every new client they send and you land.

7/ Hiring people

Agencies require people to grow if you want more clients. So hire people to replace you. You want to get to the point where you can focus on the top 5% of things that grow the agency and everything else is handled by employees. To start with though, I highly recommend hiring freelancers to get your feet wet and save money. Then transition to employees.

8/ Upsell your clients

Acquiring new clients is a hard business. However, one of the easiest ways to make more money as an agency is to offer new services to old clients. Just don’t try to offer everything under the sun. Instead, sell clients on adjacent services that are closely related to your first service. All you need is 3-4 services to really make a lot of money per client.

9/ Increase your prices

The most important part of an agency’s services is pricing. You need to both have enough to hire people to do the work and make a profit. So whenever you can increase your prices, the better. You may start out free or cheap. But once you have great case studies, portfolio, and a big client you can brag about, it’s time to become one of the more expensive agencies in your category.

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