When scaling up a digital marketing agency, should I use in-house retainers or outsourcing?

Hi everyone! I opened a digital marketing agency a year ago in the UK. It has been profitable so far with a good steady turnover. However, it is dependent on ad-hoc projects. I mostly do the work myself when it comes to PPC, social media, content marketing and Facebook ads. Everything else, such as website development and graphic design, I outsource to freelancers. I want to scale up the agency. I was thinking of selling retainers - defined packages paid every month. Maybe come up with one starter retainer for small businesses, one retainer for growing businesses and one bespoke retainer package. I was also looking into the possibility of buying packages from a company which is based in the Philippines. They offer various packages, including SEO, which I can sell and just add my margin on top. My questions is - what do you think - in-house created packages fulfilled by freelancers or re-selling ready-made marketing retainers as bought from a resellers abroad? Does anyone have experience with scaling up a digital agency? Thank you! Slava


Hey Slava! I actually have a ton of experience with this. For the last year myself and my partners have built out Rocketlaunch ( to a growth agency focused on marketing and sales for Startups.

We work on core items internally and outsource when possible.

My caveat on outsourcing would be to ensure the work is good. We have worked with outsourcers in the Phillipines and Colombia and had some great successes. We have also had issues where we have passed work across to a client where we didn't do enough QA and it was poor quality. If you can find partners that deliver good work, consistently, nurture them and reward them as much as possible. We have been working with an agency in Colombia to great success, but we've also cycled through a few that didn't work out.

QA is king, and if you can ensure the work is quality, reselling can be highly profitable (just ask any retailer).

Feel free to PM me if you want to have a more direct conversation!

Answered 8 years ago


I have grown a digital marketing agency. I was homeless. I was able to get one client for 1500 ecommerce deal. I used that to lease an office and buy parts to build my own computer. After 1st month, last month and security, I had $300. Just enough to pay $150 for that week and then again the next week for my small efficiency apartment. If I didn't make money fast, I would be homeless again AND lose the office.

I grew that business from 0 (just me) to 10 in-house employees in 2 years and a million dollar firm the 3rd year.

I encourage you to continue to focus on ways to drive revenue as you are, but also your business systems and processes. That is what set me apart. I was able to deliver quality service more consistently and more rapidly than any competitors.

1) Replace yourself from doing all the work. This way you can work ON the business (growth hacking) rather than working IN the business (tasks)

2) Do retainers. There are also about a dozen different residual/recurring/continuity products/services you can sell to your clients.

3) Maintain quality control. Your leadership and management skills will determine how well it works out with freelancers. I would caution against selling the packages of others as you begin to lose control quickly. Growth hacking requires flexibility and quality control.

4) prepare to get people in house as soon as you can. Take the leap. You will get more done, have better collaboration, perform faster, provide higher creativity and quality and maintain efficient and secure data.

5) Control the service of your clients. You don't want providers doing an end run around you and stealing your customers.

I would love to get on a call with you and help you map out a strategy and create growth systems.

Answered 8 years ago

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