5 lessons I’ve learned since starting my new social media agency 🚀
This one’s going to be a bit more of a stream-of-consciousness piece. Less optimized for open rates and click-throughs. More raw thoughts on life as a new founder and what it takes to make clients happy.
Lesson #1: Your website literally does not matter.
I publicly launched Clark Media 1 week ago today. But I’ve been building in the background for the past 7-8 months.
I built up a full client roster without:
→ Sending a shitty cold DM (outbound can be done well, but you know what I’m talking about lol)
→ Coming up with a name or cool branding for my agency
→ Setting up a website
What did I focus on? What does matter?
Getting really damn good at a skill that there was a clear demand for.
First, it was for Triple Whale. Then, as TW was rapidly gaining traction in our corner of the internet, I started to get inbound from other B2B companies wondering:
“Do you know anyone else who does this?”
“Are you working with anyone else right now?”
I’d take on clients. Get them results. They talk to their other founder friends. They come to me. Cycle repeats until I’m fully booked out and physically cannot handle more work.
Unprompted. No cold DMs. I wasn’t even posting about my client work at the time. These companies just saw the results and wanted a piece of it.
I’m going to butcher the exact quote, but I was listening to the Real AF Podcast by Andy Frisella and he said something along the lines of:
If you’re truly great at what you do, you’ll have people lining up to work with you
This approach takes a lot more work upfront (I’ve been creating content nonstop for like 6 years before getting the TW job and launching the agency), but it makes your life a hell of a lot easier when you see the effects of it start to compound.
And it’s not just about clients. When you’re doing dope shit, other people doing dope shit that are a few steps ahead of you want to help you out.
I don’t want to namedrop here. But it’s been sick to see people I’ve looked up to reach out to me and offer advice, want to partner, etc. People I used to look up to from afar have become homies. It’s crazy — but it wasn’t by accident.
That said. I will have to build a website. I should probably get some branding in place. I do need to craft a sales deck.
But that stuff should come after you have proof of concept. Not before.
Order of operations (think of it like PEMDAS for building a business).
Lesson #2: Creating great content and building a business are 2 entirely different skills
The transition from social media manager to agency owner meant that my responsibilities were no longer just crafting banger memes and writing beautiful copy for LinkedIn posts.
Now I get to:
→ Hire a team
→ Build SOPs and train said team
→ Deal with finances and understanding wtf that means
Honestly? I gravitate toward content creation and social strategy over the ‘manager stuff.’
It’s where I’m most comfortable and “at home.”
But I also realize that management and ‘running a business’ are skills that:
- I need to pick up to make this agency thing successful
- I’m fully capable of picking up.
One approach that has helped me balance the two types of work is doing them at different times. They require 2 distinct states of being.
I make my best social content for myself and clients when I’m in a creative flow, slightly unhinged, and cracked out on caffeine.
I do my best managerial tasks when I’m a bit more calm and methodical (but still caffeinated).
Trying to flip back and forth between the two tasks (and the mental states required for each) is a nightmare.
Sometimes there’s a client fire to put out when you wanted to be writing Twitter content, and it is what it is. But if you can help it — have a degree of separation between the more creative and analytical tasks.
In my own day-to-day, this is where time-blocking helps a lot. I dedicate time each week to build out my Google Calendar and allot time for each type of task.
Does it ever go according to plan? Lol. Of course not.
But it will go better than if you just wing it.
Lesson #3: It’s gonna be a grind. Don’t fight it.
This one might be a bit controversial on today’s internet…
But this shit is hard.
I didn’t quite have the best work-life balance during the 7-8 month period where I was navigating full-time work, client work, and growing a newsletter.
Most days included me waking up at 6am to crank out 3-4 hours of work before going into the office and getting my full-time work done (and done well).
Some involved late nights — like when I cranked out this viral thread at 1am on a Saturday night lmao.
It felt like I had multiple plates spinning all at once, and there was always one that was about to fall over and break.
Triple Whale content on fire? Shit. Newsletter growth has stalled.
Viral thread for Social Files? Uh oh. I need to get a million different client deliverables done, yesterday.
There were several moments when I thought about not doing the agency thing. Not trying to go out on my own.
Dude. Even the past week has been an emotional rollercoaster.
[Pro-tip: launching an agency to the public the same week you’re traveling is not the move LOL]
All of that said. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s been an insanely fun emotional rollercoaster — and honestly, I think that’s what it takes. You have the enjoy the grind.
It feels similar to when I was riding the bench on my JV basketball team in high school and got myself in the gym at 5am 6-7 days per week that entire offseason.
Shit sucked. There were plenty of days when I didn’t wanna get in the gym. I probably ‘overtrained’ myself.
But it felt damn good when I started on varsity the next year and got to play in college for a bit.
Another thought here on work-life balance I want to make clear. I also believe you can build a successful business for yourself while being a bit more balance — it just comes at the cost of time.
I don’t want to wait 15 years to get where I could have gotten in 2-3 had I just put my head down and sprinted.
Idk. That’s just how I think about it.
Also — and this is an important one — I just enjoy it. I’ve tried the whole ‘chilling out’ thing for a few weeks at a time, and it just doesn’t work for me. If you also feel like that, it’s a good thing. Lean into it.
And on the other hand, there’s absolutely zero judgment if you don’t enjoy that.
Starting a business isn’t the ideal life path for everyone, and that’s totally okay.
But I think it’s important to know what you’re signing up for when you decide to go down this path (and I have plenty to learn over the next 5, 10 15 years).
Lesson #4: Lesson #3 is true — but also don’t be stupid. Hire some help.
Yeah. You need to ‘grind.’
But, like, also don’t be an idiot (I have been an idiot).
See, you can only increase your workload so much — and you quickly realize that time and energy are your most valuable assets.
And at a certain point, you need to hire a team and delegate. I’m at this point right now.
I kinda took this approach where I’d take on a client, feel overwhelmed for a few weeks, get comfortable with the workload, and then add a new client. And I repeated this until I was fully booked out.
I viewed it like ‘progressive overload’ in weight training.
But I literally can’t do that anymore.
There isn’t enough time in the day — and it also doesn’t leave me time to work on the business like we talked about before.
So now my focus has shifted to making my first 1-2 hires.
The two roles I’m hiring for:
- Social Copywriter (part-time)
- Project Manager (part-time); JD coming soon but if you are interested please reach out
If you read Social Files, I know you’re serious about what you do and would love to chat if you’re interested in either of those two roles.
I’m approaching this as carefully as I possibly can. Quality of client work is the top priority for me — and I see too many agencies mess this up as they scale. I never want to be known as an agency that overpromises and underdelivers.
Two ways I’m making sure that doesn’t happen:
- Hiring slowly and training them to be absolute killers
- Capping my client roster and opening a waitlist
Shit will break. That’s fine.
But my #1 focus will always be making sure my clients are properly taken care of, even if it means less MRR (monthly recurring revenue) in the short term.
Also along the lines of not being stupid:
You can 100% maintain relationships with your friends and family as you work to launch your business. Yeah, it’s a grind. But using that as an excuse to ‘cut everyone off’ and be antisocial is just cope for poor social skills lmao.
I hang with my friends every week. I call my parents every day. I travel to see friends and family I haven’t seen in a while. It’s all possible.
I think what you do need to cut out are the relationships that drain your energy and detract from your end goal (but that’s a topic for a different conversation).
Anyway. That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope this was helpful for you.