Ryan Waggoner (Twitter) doesn’t run a big agency. Instead, he intentionally stays solo, but that doesn’t stop him from earning a salary that most agency owners would be envious of. For each of the past 4 years, Ryan has had annual profits of more than $250,000. Impressive, huh?

Instead of focusing on even more tactics and hacks to apply to your agency, Ryan and I take a step back to look at the mindset it takes to grow a successful agency, and whether or not building an agency is actually the best path for you.

Today he shares the mindset that helps him earn over a quarter of a million dollars a year, the routines he builds into his day to ensure productivity, and the questions every agency owner needs to ask themselves before they make their next hire.

Learn how @ryanwaggoner earns more than $250K a year as a freelancer (podcast) Click To Tweet

If running an agency didn’t lead you to skyrocketing earnings like you expected, then this episode is sure to set you straight.

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Key Takeaways

Overcoming struggles early in his career [3:00 – 9:30]

Like many freelancers, Ryan struggled when he first started freelancing. He went through the all too familiar feast or famine for a few years, but finally got over that hump when he made a few realizations.

He realized that what separated the freelancers who were earning great money from those just scraping by wasn’t their technical skills, instead, it was a lack of sales skills, client management, and self-management. By focusing on improving in those areas, he was able to quickly increase his rates and stop charging hourly.

Above all else he hustled every single day. As an employee, the default for tomorrow is that you can show up and get paid. For a freelancer, you can’t just show up, you need to actively go out there and hunt for new business.

Stop growing by default [29:15 – 36:00]

Most agency owners that I talk to didn’t start out with the idea of building an agency. In fact, it usually happens by accident. As a freelancer does more jobs and does them well, the referrals start coming in and soon they have more work than they can handle, so they instinctively hire somebody else to help deliver the work.

The problem is most small agency owners aren’t actually making more money than they would if they stayed small, and they have a hell of a lot more stress. The burden of needing to close $50k in deals every month in order to make payroll so your employees can put food on the table is huge.

Instead of immediately expanding your team when you get more work than you can handle, you can also just charge more. In fact, Ryan suggests raising your prices after every project until you can’t find anybody to pay it.

.@ryanwaggoner suggests raising your prices after every project until you can’t find anybody to pay it Click To Tweet

By staying small, Ryan was forced to focus on ways to grow his income other than working more hours. Agencies often skip this because it is easier to hire somebody than to do the hard work, instead of finding out how they can offer their clients more value and charge for it.

Deciding whether to go big or stay small [47:00 – 50:45]

Being a freelancer or having an agency aren’t your only options. You could also get a job. As much as many of us detest the idea of a job, there are plenty of options out there that give you the flexibility of schedule, good pay, and a steady paycheck without forcing you to do your own sales. Hubstaff is one of those places 🙂

If you can’t stomach the idea of a job, then you need to figure out your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you want to actually spend your time on. If you have dreams of building a real team and enjoy developing processes, managing people, and closing deals, then building an agency could be a great option. Don’t build an agency just for money, build it because you truly want a team and everything that comes along with it, because often you’ll get that but not the money.

Don’t build an agency just for money, build it because you truly want a team and everything that comes along with it Click To Tweet

If you are comfortable with some amount of sales and marketing, but really just want to focus on your craft, then staying solo can be a great option. Remember though, if you want to truly be successful with this and charge the rates that you deserve, you are going to need to put in the hard work of providing real value for you clients.

Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about Ryan’s story, head over to LetsMakeApps.io/AgencyAdvantage and you can get a detailed guide covering the lessons he learned earning his first million dollars from freelancing, as well as a 30% discount on his service that gives you hot leads.

Resources Mentioned

Pomodoro Technique
Nate McGuire
Jason Swenk
Alan Weiss

Thanks for listening!

If you like the show you can find all previous episodes on the homepage of the Agency Advantage Podcast. Or you can subscribe with your email to receive all new episodes: