Content marketing has been around for a long time. Recently, thanks to the rise of social media and its ability to amplify content across several platforms, its potential as a growth driver for businesses is finally being realized.
Savvy companies like yours know that nurturing leads and generating sales with quality content takes more than traditional advertising methods. It takes a strategic approach to building traffic and trust from targeted consumers through blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, webinars, email campaigns, and other forms of content.
In addition to appealing to customers’ changing expectations around how they engage with brands online, successful content marketing requires thorough planning, including professional content production and appropriate distribution platforms, so your efforts are worthwhile.
That’s where content marketing agencies come in.
What is a Content Marketing Agency?
A content marketing agency is an organization that creates, produces, and distributes relevant online content to attract and convert prospects into customers for their clients.
Like other professional service-oriented businesses, they need to execute projects with high-quality standards without making costly mistakes, particularly when it comes to finding the right talent.
Content marketing agencies are similar to public relations (PR) firms. They manage all aspects of their client’s online presence, including setting up social media profiles, creating campaigns across different web properties or platforms like Facebook or Pinterest, updating websites or optimizing existing page search engines, etc.
How to Start a Content Marketing Agency?
So, here’s how to start a content marketing agency.
Developing a Plan
Content marketing cannot succeed unless you have specific goals in mind, including the kind of content you want to create and its distribution and promotion across different platforms and devices.
Proper planning is crucial so your agency can produce valuable content that attracts customers rather than waste their time with “fluff” or sales pitches disguised as blog posts. So start by creating an outline of your intended strategy.
That means determining what target audience you aim to attract and the kinds of topics that interest them, which will help determine which types of content you need to produce. For example, several blogs per week/month, whether you want to create videos, podcasts, etc. For videos, create several versions using different aspect ratios and dimensions so they will appear native to your platform of choice.
It’s equally important to allocate enough time and resources for proper research. You need to know what content you should be created to meet your goals and how your target audience will behave when they see it (i.e., where they go online and the best ways of reaching them there).
Of course, this is just an example. You may have different objectives based on your industry or business model.
Calculating Your Costs
Once you have a solid outline for your plan, you need to calculate how much all that brilliant content creation will cost and then develop a way to get it funded.
In addition to or instead of commissioning your own content, you might consider syndicating articles to other websites.
That’s because while this type of content marketing won’t do much for your agency brand, it will generate traffic that may lead to conversions through a different channel while also saving on time and resources that can be spent creating original content.
Syndication is also useful when you get stuck and need a topic idea for another piece of quality content. It’s less risky than relying entirely on guest blogging since editors will not allow irrelevant or poorly written pieces from unknown contributors meaning the potential reach is still high even if you don’t have an extensive network.
Pricing Your Services
Once you’ve figured out how much your content marketing agency will cost, you’ll need to determine what that price includes.
Typically, most agencies charge by the hour for their services which might not be ideal for a relatively small budget. But if you are too aggressive with your quote, it may limit the number of projects you can take on and hamper profitability.
Establishing Your Agency’s Legal Identity
Register your business with your state as soon as possible to protect yourself from potential lawsuits. If setting up an LLC sounds too complicated or expensive, consider organizing as an S-Corporation.
However, this route does come with its own set of restrictions which will require hiring additional attorneys to ensure compliance with local and federal laws. And unless you’re a one-person business, you will need a secretary of state filing to do business under an assumed name (i.e., the “doing business as” DBA form ).
Investing in the Right Tools
If your content marketing agency attracts customers, you must invest in the right agency management tools.
You also need to make sure you use marketing tools that help present your work online in a way that automatically increases its chances of being seen, shared and commented on by potential clients as well as partners, influencers, and opinion leaders who may be able to help build up your agency brand through referrals or additional endorsements.
Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to manage your multiple channels and schedules more effectively.
Meanwhile, tools like IFTTT and Zapier can help automate processes such as finding guest blogging opportunities or notifying you when someone in your niche posts a new article, which means more time spent engaging with audience members and less time managing routine tasks.
These tools are designed to simplify complex processes across different platforms, which helps cut costs further by reducing the number of hours that need to be devoted to each project.
For example, if you’re using ContentMarketer.io, it will notify you via email whenever one of the authors on their network publishes an article, ensuring that there are no missed opportunities for featuring your content to a captive audience.
Investing in the Right People
The staff you invest in will be one of the most critical factors in determining whether or not your agency succeeds. That means investing in people who can help build up your agency brand: writers, graphic designers, and other content marketers should all have solid portfolios that clearly illustrate their abilities and how they apply to projects.
You also need people who can bring a unique perspective to blogging, so it’s critical to hire only those candidates who understand how search engines work and what makes compelling content.
Creating a System of Processes
Although each client project will have its own set of requirements, it’s a good idea to set up a system of processes for how your content marketing agency will serve each client. This can help you manage workflow and ensure that the agreed-upon rules are undertaking all projects.
For example, one process might require clients to provide a complete list of product features and any verbiage they’d like to include and then direct them to approve final drafts once your team has completed them. Or your agency may decide that it is more efficient to paraphrase existing content than write from scratch whenever possible.
In either case, having a system in place helps ensure that all clients receive similar services without too much additional oversight on your part.
Establishing Your Agency’s Brand Online
Your online presence needs to showcase the services you offer, the value of your content marketing agency, and a preview of what it feels like to work with you. That means ensuring at least three well-written bios for all employees working with your agency, including yourself.
However, if possible, you should also create a separate bio page for each person, which can be used both as a convenient way to make significant contact information accessible to potential clients and as a quick reference guide in case anyone has any questions about how they might have already worked together.
Each page should include everything from introducing who you are to links that allow visitors to reach out directly through channels like Skype or iMessage. A separate page or landing page can also be created that highlights the creative process behind each piece of work, which makes for great content marketing in its own right.
Developing an Impressive Portfolio
You should also ensure that all creative work produced by your agency is linked directly through your portfolio page, so it’s easily accessible to anyone who might want to take a closer look at what you have done before.
That means linking up both social media profiles and accounts on other platforms like Behance, Dribble, and Clarity, as well as any other places where your agency or individual employees may have their content available online.
Lastly, don’t forget to educate about basic business do’s and don’ts. That means understanding the importance of contracts, invoices, and how to look out for your own best interests.
Although some content marketing agencies may be able to get away with assigning employees from their networks, recruiting solely from social media channels can bring a lot of risks that you might not have thought about.
To minimize those risks, it is always better if you or someone on your team has at least a basic understanding of contract law. Because you are likely only going to be growing in one direction (up), you should also take time to research sales tax laws to ensure that all taxes are being paid where necessary.
There is a lot to consider when starting your content marketing agency. However, if you’ve done the research and put in some time thinking about how this will work for you and not just on paper, it can be a gratifying endeavor. Good luck!
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