How to Start a Digital Marketing Business and Immediately Win Clients [2024 Guide]

Brand Strategy & Identity
Team Slam
Helping you win online

Like, share, comment, subscribe. What once may have been associated with early Y2K Youtube videos and MySpace accounts have now become the foundation for the marketing world. If you’re reading this article, you probably know this already, which is why you are trying to learn how to start a digital marketing business. But how do you even start, let alone scale, a digital marketing business? 

That’s where we come in. We’re Slam Media Lab, an award-winning digital agency founded in San Francisco that started during the pandemic, grew to $2M+ in revenue and have had dozens of clients within three years. 

The good news? We know our stuff. 

The even better news? We’ve made a full How to Start an Agency course for you to take, with 100+ hours of research condensed into 10+ hours of videos, 20+ templates, and invaluable insights that will take your business from a cool idea to a full-fledged company. 

In this article, you’ll get a glimpse of what kinds of things we cover in the course, including: 

  1. Why it’s a good idea to start a digital marketing business
  2. The different types of marketing agencies and real examples
  3. How to find your niche
  4. How to price your services 
  5. How to find the right clientele
  6. Legal methods, tools, and best practices
  7. Finding the right team
  8. And scaling your marketing agency

Why is it a Good Idea To Start a Business in Digital Marketing?

To put it simply, businesses need digital marketing. There are 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S., which makes up 99.9% of all businesses. Most small business owners start their businesses from scratch (just like you!) and your digital marketing business could step in to help fill any marketing gaps these businesses might have.

Agencies offer skills that businesses depend on such as:

Businesses understand the value of your digital marketing skills. In 2021, businesses increased their spending on digital ads by a whopping 29.8%, and digital ad spending worldwide is expected to surpass 600 billion dollars this year. If you’ve ever thought about diving into digital marketing, there’s no time like the present.

Digital Marketing Agencies Take Many Forms

Digital marketing businesses offer a wide variety of services, have you thought about your own skill sets and which skills you may want to learn or improve? If you want your digital marketing business to take off, think about focusing on mastering a few key skills instead of trying to offer every service out there. It may be tempting to be a jack of all trades, but this way, you can focus on perfecting one or two skills and offering top-quality services to your clients.

Here are some types of digital marketing agencies that you can pursue: 

  • Public Relations: Manage the client’s public image, assist with branding, and help them handle any crisis that may come their way.
  • Creative Agency: Use creative strategies such as design, social media assets, and creative branding to help clients with their brand presence. 
  • Content Marketing Agency: Help clients create video content, blogs, and infographics to connect with their target audience.
  • Influencer Marketing Agency: Cultivate connections between brands and social media influencers who can promote their products and services.
  • SEO Agency: Improve the visibility of client websites with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by employing services such as link building, keyword research, and content creation.
  • Web Design Agency: Help clients design stylish and user-friendly websites that capture their brand identity.

At Slam, we’ve chosen to focus on four main services: SEO, Webflow Design & Development, Content Writing & Strategy, and Brand Strategy & Identity. You can see that we haven’t confined ourselves to a singular niche, all the while maintaining clear definitions of what we offer for our clients. As you figure out what you want to provide and why, remember that you don’t necessarily have to fit into a predetermined mold! 

7 Steps to Finding Your Digital Marketing Niche

When learning how to start an online digital marketing business, you’ve got to dig deep into your skill sets. Show off a diverse portfolio featuring a mix of talents to stand out from the crowd. Everyone is after success, but showing off what makes you unique is key to setting yourself apart from the sea of digital marketing agencies out there.

  1. List Potential Niches: Begin brainstorming some ideas for niches that pique your interest. Don’t be afraid to create a long list to give yourself a lot of potential options.
  2. Get Specific: Narrow down the broader categories into more specific niches. If your broader category was healthcare, consider an area in healthcare such as Nutrition or Optometry.
  3. Shortlist Niches: From your list, choose 5-10 niches you’re most interested in. Your interest will serve as motivation to provide services and in-depth research.
  4. Market Research: Conduct market research on your chosen niches to understand the current demands, pain points, and whether there’s a market worth getting into. Talk to businesses and ask questions, snoop through reviews, and size-up the competition. It’s all about getting the lay of the land before you make your decision.
  5. Evaluate Problems and Solutions: Identify the problems within your respective niche and consider whether your industry can provide the solutions. What are the pain points and goals in your chosen industry? 
  6. Understand the Business Impact: Determine whether solving these problems will have a measurable impact. 
  7. Make a Decision: Once you're done with your research, pick a niche that lines up with what you're good at, what sparks your interest, and what the market is craving. There’s no pressure in this decision. Remember, you can always switch to a different niche if the one you chose doesn’t work for you.

If you are a more visual learner, you can use our Notion Vision Board to map out your goals, target audience, and mission statement, so that you have a synced and central hub to brainstorm and create the blueprint for your digital marketing business. 

Image of our Notion Vision Board template, which you can use to help start a digital marketing business.

Examples of Digital Marketing Business Niches 

After making the list, you still may be worried that your niche will not generate enough profit, or you are still lost on what you want to choose. Here are some ideas to get your juices flowing: 

  1. E-commerce: Ordering products online has now become the norm. As a digital marketer, you can help E-commerce businesses stand out from the crowd through delightful visual design and strategic copy. 
  2. Health and Wellness: Health centers often offer services most people aren’t even aware of. Your business can help promote these services, help user experience as they navigate appointment portals, and more. 
  3. Real Estate: From marketing homes to having listings rank higher on search engines, your expertise could be instrumental to a real estate agency’s success. 
  4. Financial Services: The financial services industry is also highly competitive and your business could provide the solution to this problem.
  5. Education: Schools and educational programs may want to promote their institutions to prospective students, provide easy access to resources, create greater connections with alumni, and more. 

Your business is your (corporate) baby: make sure that, at the end of the day, you are choosing an industry that you are actually passionate about, and can see yourself working in that industry for quite some time. You wouldn’t want to be a year in and realize that the work that you’re doing doesn’t bring you joy! 

How to Price Your Digital Marketing Business

When starting a digital marketing business, one of the obstacles you’ll face is figuring out how to price your services. It’s important to find a pricing model that works for you. So first things first, outline the core services that your agency offers and consider a pricing model based on your client’s budget, how much experience you bring to the table, and how much your niche relies on your expertise.

Which Pricing Model Speaks To You and Your Client’s Needs?

Every client and each project will be unique. Your pricing strategy should be tailored to fit each one just right.

  • Hourly Rate Pricing Model: The client pays based on how many hours it takes for the project to be completed.
  • Project-Based Pricing Model: The client pays based on the estimated price of a project multiplied by the hourly rates of employees.
  • Value-Based Pricing Model: The client pays based on the value they place into the result.
  • Performance-Based Pricing Model: The client pays based on the agreements you make as the project unfolds.

In our How to Start an Agency course, you’ll find specific modules on how to get your first clients and setting up your services and pricing, so that you can have a clear and comprehensive walkthrough on how to build your digital marketing business on financially solid and successful grounds. 

How to Find the Right Clientele When Starting Your Own Digital Marketing Business

After you’ve chosen your niche, set up your website, and determined your pricing model, you may be asking yourself: how do I go about finding potential clients? 

When considering clients, keep an eye out for businesses that are looking to level up and invest in their growth. If you see them using ads on Google and social media, it may be a good opportunity for your agency to swoop in and take things to the next level.

Starting a Digital Marketing Business Involves Some Vouching

Or rather, it involves having some people who will back you up on your claims of success. Displaying some testimonials and work from past projects will make your business look attractive to clients. 

Take a look at our site as an example. On our homepage, you’ll find that we’ve added a testimonials section to make sure that prospective clients know we are legit and have provided positive experiences for companies across industries. 

Image of Slam Media Lab's homepage testimonials section, where quotes from clients appear. As you start a digital marketing business, you'll want to get feedback and reviews to gain traction and are seen as a trusted source.

Another way we immediately build trust with those who visit our site is through our case studies. By highlighting how we have worked with clients like Symphonic Capital and Peer Health Exchange, we show how we are both qualified in the field and skilled in providing our services to a wide variety of clientele.  

In order to get these first case studies and testimonials on your site, you should start with your own close network. Whether it is through a LinkedIn post or an email, make sure your network is aware that you are starting a digital marketing business, and ask previous employers for a review. Your network may also know people who need your services and will send them your way. 

Prepare Your Proposals 

As you begin to have conversations with your network and are preparing to launch your business, it’s important to have a general idea of how you want your proposals to look and what content you would like to include. You can use our templates as a starting point, so that you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch and you have guidance on what proposals should typically include: 

Tools To Show You How To Start Digital Marketing Business 

An image of our Notion Content Calendar Template, which you can use to start your digital marketing business.

One of the easiest secrets to success is using the right tools. Here is a list of tools that Slam recommends for running a successful digital marketing business.

  • Webflow: A website builder that allows users to create websites without code.
  • Slack: A messaging app that serves as a team communication platform.
  • Gusto: A Human Resources platform used for payroll, benefits, and more.
  • Calendly: A scheduling automation platform that allows employees to schedule meetings and appointments with ease. You can sync it with your Google calendar, set available times, and send them to clients.
  • Notion: A productivity and note-taking application that allows users to consolidate writing, task management, to-do lists, and more.

Once you get a hold of the right tools for your business, you’ll be all set to plan out smooth and efficient projects for clients.

To get you started, we’ve also created a ton of Notion resources, so that you don’t have to spend precious hours building Notion pages and instead focus on winning clients: 

How To Start a Digital Marketing Business Legally

Starting your own digital marketing business is a hustle, and it takes a lot of planning and care. It’s totally understandable to experience nerves about jumping through all of the legal hoops. If you’re having trouble, you can begin by getting a registered agent. A registered agent is a person or company that serves as a point of contact for a business and stands ready during regular business hours to handle legal services on your behalf. 

Typically, agencies will benefit from selecting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or S-Corporation (S-Corp), depending on their earnings and preferences.

Using a reliable payment service is an additional benefit. Tools like Stripe can help you  make payments and automate financial processes.

Still need more advice on best practices and legal methods? Our How to Start an Agency course has a specific module dedicated to legal and operational setup, so you can feel prepared as you build your business. 

How to Start a Digital Marketing Business With The Right Team

An image of our Notion Wiki template, which you can use to start your digital marketing business.

Many people who run businesses agree that it’s a challenge to find quality candidates for hire, especially when you are just starting out. This is where your network comes in again: ask your friends, acquaintances, and former colleagues if they know anyone who is looking for work. That way, you know someone has already vetted the candidate before you have a conversation with them. 

When you’re a new agency, you won't have rewards or a multitude of testimonials under your arsenal. However, you can build a cool work vibe that aligns with the values of your business. Employees appreciate when their employers care about them and aim to make their work environment as pleasant and streamlined as possible. 

With our Notion Wiki template, you’ll be able to create a centralized hub for your employees, so that you and your coworkers' workflows can be productive and a breeze. 

How To Start a Digital Marketing Business That Will Blossom

So you’ve launched your digital marketing agency, how do you make it grow? Scaling and growing your digital marketing agency is a whole new venture. 

Everyone wants to know the secret to helping your business grow, but the truth is that there isn’t a singular method for kickstarting your success. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re headed in the right direction to attract the clients and candidates you need for your business to thrive.

If You’re Looking to Nurture Your Business, Do Your Homework

One of the best things you can do is open your mind to new information and changes in the industry. Change is constant, and you always want to make sure that your business is trendy and cool. Make sure to do your homework and research what’s hot in the business, not only in the digital marketing sphere as a whole but also in your area of expertise. 

You may be a pro at running ads on Instagram or Facebook, but potential clients want to be hip with all of the latest trends. They look for businesses that are familiar with newer platforms that they can use to their advantage. Get familiar with new platforms like TikTok, take advantage of the recent memes and trends, and find creative ways to incorporate them into your services.

If TikTok dances and trends feel daunting, we have a TikTok script template and TikTok Content Planner, in order to make social media feel easier and more organized as you scale your digital marketing business. 

How Are Your Competitors Running Their Digital Marketing Businesses?

It’s also crucial to keep an constant eye on competitors to see what’s working for them and what isn’t. If you’ve ever looked at an agency’s website and line of work and wondered how they became so successful, let yourself find inspiration for growth in that thought process. 

Check out what they’re offering, look at their reviews, and discover what sets them apart from the rest. Who is their target audience? What gives them their edge? Finding answers to these questions will give you some neat ideas to incorporate in your own work.

If You Haven’t Used AI To Your Benefit, It’s Time To Get Started

We’re sure you’ve been hearing a lot about AI and how businesses are incorporating it into their standards. In fact, a report found that 31% of business leaders believe their industry will be transformed by Generative AI in less than one year. 

In our How to Start an Agency course, we have a bonus module dedicated to using ChatGPT to boost your workflow efficiency across content creation, customer support, research, and more. From crafting compelling copy to analyzing data and pitching clients, you can learn how to leverage ChatGPT's capabilities for streamlined processes and improved productivity.

Slam is Here to Help You Run a Successful Digital Marketing Business

As you begin your journey to starting a digital marketing business, there are two things you should know:

  1. Starting a digital marketing business can be one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do for your career.
  2. You’re not alone, and have a community (us included!) to support you as you start this journey. 

If you want more information on how to start your digital marketing business, you can check out our How to Start an Agency course and peruse our additional products that are meant for founders like you to thrive.

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