Want to start your own agency? Now’s the time to do it.

By John Ashton, Founder of Write Arm and KitchenTable Community on

There’s never been a better time to start your own content marketing agency – or indeed any type of creative agency.

Yes you read that correctly. And yes the world is on the verge of a major economic crisis in which the marketing industry will be hit hard.
But, no, I’m not mad. Here’s why.

Firstly, and most importantly, setting up an agency needn’t be scary or expensive. When I founded my content agency Write Arm in 2012, I lacked the money, the nerve and the knowhow to run a business with staff and offices. So, I opted to work from home and employ only freelancers. It’s what I call the KitchenTable Method. It eliminates costly overheads and spares you an awful lot of administrative hassle. If you are a bit business phobic – and let’s face it most creatives are – then it also diminishes the fear factor.

Competition time

And those low overheads not only help you to sleep easier at night. They’ll also give you a major commercial advantage during the difficult economic times ahead, because they allow you compete on price. As marketing budgets are slashed, you’ll become an attractive option to companies that would previously have hired larger agencies.

By the way, don’t think of those larger agencies as your enemy. They’re anything but. In fact they could be some of your best clients, as they often need to outsource content production and other marketing tasks. At Write Arm we have many wonderful agency clients and we love working with them.  

When I set up the agency I liked to give the impression that it was grander than it actually was. I was careful never to lie, but I figured that I’d be showing myself in the foot if I broadcast the fact that I worked from my kitchen table and was the sole staff member. 

Father working from home

Keep it flexible

How times have changed. Now that home working is the new normal, the KitchenTable Method looks less like a low-rent version of the conventional agency model and more like a smart, future-facing model alternative. 

Now, here’s the really important bit – the kitchen table agencies’ magic ingredient. Have you ever noticed that you do your best work when you’re happy? Well, you’re not alone because just about everyone does. And just about everyone is happier when they’re able to shape their working life around their personal priorities. 

By eschewing the office nine-to-five and promoting flexible working, kitchen table agency founders are able to both raise their own game and get the very best out of their freelance employees. As a result they can punch well above their weight and successfully compete with much larger competitors.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

No one illustrates this better than healthcare comms agency Skin and Blister. Founded four years ago by sisters Fi Edwards and Katie Langdon, it has pioneered what the sisters call ‘deadline driven working’. Put simply, this model empowers their freelance team to work whenever and wherever they like, providing they deliver on time and to the required high standards. 

As Fi points out, by working in this way kitchen table agencies can tap in to a huge well of talent that is excluded from the office nine-to-five. “What has been amazing is the number of people in our team who are working parents who have come back to the industry who had left,” she says. “The talent is just fantastic. And I think because people are so motivated to make work fit around their lives, you get an amazing output, and a fantastically loyal team.

Come and join The KitchenTable Community

My personal conviction that kitchen table agencies are the future for the creative industries drove me to found The KitchenTable Community, which is a peer-to-peer support network, marketplace and content portal for small agencies. Members range from been-there-done-it veterans like Fi and Katie to freelancers taking their first tentative steps towards starting agencies. 

Of course, running a small business has its challenges, but so to does flying solo as a freelancer or in a staff role. I was frankly clueless when I set up Write Arm, but I learned on the job. 

So, if you still find the idea of having your own agency intimidating, let me leave you with this thought: if this idiot can do it, then so can you. There’s really no better time to make the leap.

We’d love CMA members to join us, so we’re giving you eight months free full membership of the KitchenTable Community. Full members get:

  • Loads of how-to content
  • Access to a members’ marketplace where they can trade services with all sorts of other agencies
  • Peer-to-peer support via our Slack group
  • Exclusive deals on products and services 

Sign up here and enter the code 1D6J23AOIN in the ‘Have a coupon?’ field. 

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