Is it the right time to expand your business and start scaling upwards?
Most WordPress agencies (including our own) have a similar origin story:
First, you’re working as a freelance designer or web developer. You spend a few years gaining experience, taking any project you can get your hands on. After a time, you end up with more work than you can handle – but you spend most of your time and energy just keeping up.
Eventually, you start to narrow your focus. You find a client or a group of clients whose industry you know well. You start to specialize in that niche. Before you know it, you need to hire extra help just to keep everything running smoothly. You’re an agency now.
It’s a natural process. If you’re a freelancer or a small agency owner, you should be on the lookout for signs your business is ready to expand.
The moment you transform the freelance approach into a scalable, sustainable business is the moment you become a full-fledged agency owner. But it’s all-too-common to overlook those signs – sometimes for years.
We’re going to cover some of these signs and what they mean for freelancers who are looking to expand. If any of these things apply to you, the time may be ripe for your web development hustle to transform into a complete full-service agency.
What Defines a Full-Service WordPress Agency?
The main difference between a full-service WordPress agency and a freelancer or a small team is the earning potential. A full-service agency isn’t limited to designing and developing WordPress websites. They also offer specialized services that help their customers achieve long-term strategic goals.
These services can vary, depending on the type of customers you serve. If your agency niche involves catering to e-commerce customers, it might include technical development for platforms like WooCommerce or Magento. It might include marketing or promotional services unique to e-commerce retailers.
Ultimately, the defining characteristic of a full-service WordPress agency is the ability to use WordPress to deliver on customer goals. In these cases, WordPress is just a means to an end – a useful tool for getting certain jobs done.
To achieve this, full-service agencies typically employ a team. It takes more than 6 people working together to achieve these kinds of results. You might have a developer, a designer, and a marketer working alongside an operations manager and a full-time project manager, plus yourself. That’s a lot of overhead, but the profits make it worthwhile.
This is because a full-service WordPress agency earns a recurring base of big-budget clients alongside a steady number of new ones. Having a larger team means the agency can work more efficiently.
4 Signs It’s Time to Make the Transition
Making the transition from freelancing to full-service agency work can be difficult. There is a certain amount of risk involved, so you want to be sure you can keep up with your new responsibilities successfully.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- You’ve Reached Capacity and Cannot Grow Further
As a freelancer or a small agency, you have limited resources at your disposal. Developing a successful WordPress website and offering monthly maintenance takes up a great deal of time. Every hour you spend doing that kind of work is an hour you don’t get to spend growing your business.
If you find yourself spending most of your time performing tasks that don’t generate revenue on their own, you might have a productivity limit. This is the maximum capacity your current business structure can provide.
From that point onwards, changing your business structure is the only way to grow. This means delegating tasks to others so that you can spend more time doing what you do best. For some people, that means hiring new employees. For others, it means turning towards a white label WordPress development agency.
- Your Clients Rely on Others to Achieve Strategic Goals
WordPress is not a marketing plan. It isn’t a lead generation strategy. It can help organizations achieve these goals, but not without being part of a bigger picture.
If your projects frequently revolve around performing one part in that bigger picture, that might mean there’s an opportunity to expand. Offering secondary services is one way you can build towards becoming a full-service agency.
For example, every WordPress website needs content. If your clients frequently turn towards other freelancers or agencies for website content, that’s a potential revenue stream you’re missing out on. Expanding your services to include content writing (or plugin customization, or social media marketing, or anything) is the first step towards expanding your agency.
Once you have enough staff to meet clients’ needs, you can start upselling additional services like WP Care Plans, and earning more revenue from every client.
- You Want to Raise Your Prices
If you’re working a lot but still struggling to make ends meet, getting more for the work you do simply makes sense. However, raising your price is a delicate task and it doesn’t come easy.
In order to justifiably raise your prices, you should be able to offer more to your clients than you currently do. For most WordPress freelancers, that means branching out into some of the other services that your clients need. The more work you can perform for your clients, the higher the overall price you can charge becomes.
This is where scaling your capabilities begins to produce major results. Instead of finishing a WordPress site and sending it off for your client to run and operate, you can provide your client with a full-service solution that includes website development, maintenance, and operation, alongside multiple other services they need to generate value on their end. If your business is at this stage, then transforming to a full-service agency is right around the corner.
- You’re Ready to Start Investing in Marketing
Scaling from freelancing to full-service WordPress development means taking on additional overhead. In order to compensate for the increased costs of doing business, you will have to implement a reliable marketing engine. This will reduce the time it takes to complete the scaling transition phase.
Freelancers do not generally enjoy a steady source of leads and sales. More often, you have to invest a great deal of time and energy into closing every deal. Robust marketing strategies help to qualify leads on every step of the sales funnel, meaning you spend less time talking to people who are unlikely to actually become a client.
The ability to achieve reliable, reproducible marketing results becomes more important as your monthly overhead increases. Without a steady source of leads, you’ll end up with tons of work – but not enough resources to effectively delegate or expand. Then you end up doing everything by yourself, which stalls growth. If this is happening to you, it might be time to change things.
How to Complete the Transformation
Many freelancers and small agency owners assume they have to start hiring full-time employees in order to grow. This is definitely one way to do it, but it’s not the only way. For many growing agencies, hiring a white label WordPress development partner is a more risk-friendly approach. It enables you to use the productivity of an entire team for less than the cost of a single new hire.
Find out how UnlimitedWP can help you manage agency growth. Assign unlimited tasks to our white label WordPress experts so you can focus on the work you do best.