Feedback needed: Building Online Assets vs. Digital Agency

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#1
My situation:
I work about 50-60 hours per week and want to start a side biz that can give me the opportunity to quit my job in the midterm and can create massive wealth in the long term.

I have some experience and skills in online marketing that I want to take advantage of in my side biz.

I have two ideas:
  1. Building Online Assets for myself
  2. Offer Web design / Digital Marketing as a service aka Digital Agency
Both have there merits but I don't have enough experience to know for sure if my opinions are right. That's why I ask you for feedback.

What's important for me:
  • decent income in the midterm (12 month)
-> My opinion: I think it's easier/faster to build a decent income selling digital services.

  • scalability/wealth creation in the long term.
-> My opinion: Once you are up and running and have got some momentum I think making $1 million / year with online assets will be easier than with a service business.

  • probability of success
-> My opinion: Selling digital services has a very high probability of success if you create a decent USP and are good at selling/cold calling/networking. I don't know about online assets.

  • passive income/fun
-> My opinion: I think I would enjoy building online assets more and it can be run more passive however finanical freedom is more important than fun for me atm

My problem: I can only work in the evening or very early in the morning. As a service business it might be a disadvantage to not be available during work hours. However I think there can be solutions for that like hiring a virtual assistant, also I would want to outsource most of the work once I got some traction/experience.

I am looking forward to get some feedback from more experienced and knowledgeable people to help me to make a better decision.

Thank you very much!
 
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Ryuzaki

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#2
If you want to go the agency route you need to not look at it as "the money" and look at it as "the people." Money comes from people.

I think the first question I'd ask if I wanted to hire you is "does this person have the skills to manage my marketing work? If he does, why is he bothering taking on my work instead of doing his own?"

There are a lot of good reasons for being an agency instead of building your own assets. But do you have one of those good reasons or are you just in it for the money? I'm not saying thing is you, but there are tons of people who can't do it themselves, so they either try to become a guru and teach it or they try to gain wins by using someone else's money, agency style.

Does your current day job relate to marketing? Do you currently have any skill sets in that arena to offer?

And if someone asks you, "show me some of your previous successes," do you have any projects of your own or previous client case studies to share with them?

That's the first batch of stuff I'd be thinking about. But to get back to "the money," you only have a limited amount of time in the evenings. If your agency starts to gain speed, are you prepared to quit your day job even if it means earning less money until it really grows?

I think the best approach would be to build your own assets using your down time, because realistically what you're talking about with the agency is having a second job, and once you start taking money for the work you'll have to get it done in the time frame specified.

Most of what I'm saying assumes you don't have a lot of previous experience in this field. If you do and are confident then maybe I'd say the opposite. I agree that the agency path is faster money and a lot easier money, easier for it to become big money too, if you can provide results.
 
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#3
@Ryuzaki thank you very much for your insides.

Here is my background:
- Had some mirco niche websites years ago (white hat)
- Had a little e-commerce store with my own imported products and used fb ads to sell it... stopped it after a while because I was only breaking even on the front end and the niche I had choosen had almost zero back end / repeated sales potential however I never tried to build seo for the site so almost no organic traffic... as the profit margins where very good one of the first projects I would (re)start is this e-commerce store with organic traffic however the niche is to small to become my main gig
- For a friend of mine who owns dancing schools I build a landing page + facebook ad campaings and got him a decent amount of new business so I have one reference

Overall I wouldn't call myself a total noob but also not a pro ether.

If I would decide to go down the agency route here would be my strategy as far as I have thought about it till now:
- I would start by just selling web design and only if I had success with it would I look to also sell other services
- I can code a little bit but not great so I would mainly use templates and modify them. Of course I would be transparent about that.
- I live in an non-englisch speaking first world country (germany) and I think there could be great opportunity in building a good team of experts from 3rd world countries. This is a lot less commen here in germany compared to english speaking countries so the prices are pretty high overall and if I get this model to work I could ether enjoy great profit margins or offer very competitive prices in my local market. As I would only do (start) with very simple projects I think this business model is feasible.

So what I would do is: sell websites to niche markets (roofing etc.) and build the agency as an expert in the niche and build a team of reliable freelancers.

Of course that's easier said than done.

If your agency starts to gain speed, are you prepared to quit your day job even if it means earning less money until it really grows?
I would be able to reduce my working hours to about 40 hours a week, so that's what I would do first. However if it starts growing and I believe 100% that I really can make it work I don't mind going all in. After all my job won't get my to the goals I have in life but being in busines for my own can.

Thank you
 
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#4
Honestly it doesn't sound like you're ready for starting an agency.

The extent of your SEO experience is micro-niche sites and an e-commerce site that broke even. The extent of your frontend design experience is you know how to install a CMS and install a theme and plugins.

I think you're far better off building your own projects for now until you've encountered enough problems that you know more and have done far more than your previous experiences.

I don't mean any of this to down play your skills. I just hate seeing people put the cart before the horse because they never get any where except burn their reputations.

I'd have a goal of starting another micro-niche site and ranking it until I could sell it. Then I'd do another one where I learned to code my own theme, and then rank and sell it. Just add on more and more complicated things you don't know and you'll be forced to learn them. You'll run into surprises along the way and before you know it you'll be a legitimate frontend expert. I'd also learn the backend of one CMS, probably Wordpress. That'll help you not have to learn any major scripting at first, and most of what you'll need to do will already be a hundred times easier with prebuilt Wordpress functions.
 
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#5
I see more guys upset with themselves they chose the agency route and eventually switch over to building their own stuff later down the road.

Do you like clients? If you don't love it --> build your own stuff.
 
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#6
Since you already admit you're less passionate about starting an agency I think the fact you only have early mornings and evenings to work makes the choice for you in favor of building your own assets. Starting a services based company where you're mostly unavailable during business hours would be a weak position to start from even if it was your life long dream.
 
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#7
With your work schedule, I would go with whatever you feel more passionate about. It will be difficult enough to add additional work hours to your schedule. And you would need to keep up pace for a long time to succeed. Whatever motivates you should be strong enough to carry you through the rough times.
 
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#8
Any chance you can negotiate a remote working agreement to get a bit of flexibility on your site (and maybe so you can outsource some of your job)?

I'll share my approach, for what it is worth.

During the full-time job phase, I was building a niche authority site with my wife... Nights, weekends, and often Alt+tab from the cubicle.

I got burnt out and we decided to relocate to a new area... Put in 2 weeks notice to my boss and he offered to keep me on at 20 hours per week remote...

After the move, I started offering WordPress and marketing services in addition to the 20 hr/week contract and continuing to put more time in our niche site.

I outsourced almost all of the 'services' I sold, then I started outsourcing the 20-hour contract work, too... And when those teammates had free time I had them help out on our niche site.

Ran this hustle for several years while I paid off $50k in student loans and got the niche info business cranking to the point we could just do that... Phased out the client work and contract work shortly thereafter.

The lifestyle freedom of not dealing with clients has been amazing for me... But it was a lot faster to replace my day job income with services.

Hope that story helps in some way.
 
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#9
Personally, I'd go with assets. Making a site for a local specific service/niche that will allow you to knock out HomeAdvisor/Porch/33 Mile Radius could be a lot of fun.

Overhead is low, barrier to entry is low, clients pay you weekly based on your ability to perform, and they get leads for their particular service/area. If you know the local game you can SLAM the first 3 pages and dominate organically. Couple that with some of CCarter's Traffic Leaks, a bit of social automation, and a call tracking platform, and BOOM, you could have a rock solid business in 30 days.

Pick 1 county and 1 niche, and start your domination strategy there. Once you've started getting viable leads via email and phone call, reach out to local businesses asking if you can partner with them to send them customers, and that you only work with 1 (business type) at a time to deliver them leads. Check HomeAdvisor for their current pricing models, or if you find your prospects via HomeAdvisor, ask them if you can chat with them about increasing qualified customers and lowering costs for them, most will be amenable to this.

Note about niches: I keep bringing up HomeAdvisor because often times, it's much quicker for a greenhorn to get a hold of the owner/DM in those types of businesses. They're family operations or growing SMBs. Ask them about how many trucks/crews they have and how many jobs per month they can comfortably take on without being spread too thin.

Note about counties: I only work in counties where the biggest city population is between 125-350k. This ensures that the lead volume I want is high enough to make 4 figures with a client, and competition is low enough that my marketing strategies will stick for a long time and keep others struggling to get the lion's share of the profits.

The beauty of this of course is passive income (I run their cards on Fridays) and a hands-off approach that will require a bit of your time every week aside from creating the assets that rank. Once you can quantify the inbound leads, start dialing and getting appointments to help these folks. Your first client might only be a couple grand every month, but it's worth it long term.

Good luck!