How I Went From Freelancer To Making $5M In 3 Years With My Growth Agency

Published: October 15th, 2022
Chris Anthony
Wealth Ideas Agency
from Benin City, Nigeria
started December 2015
Discover what tools Chris recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Chris recommends to grow your business!
Want more updates on Wealth Ideas Agency? Check out these stories:

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, Chris Anthony here, am the Founder/ Head Of Growth of Wealth Ideas Agency, a digital marketing agency specializing in helping business owners accelerate growth and scale online fast through a combination of effective digital marketing strategies.

Our success comes from following scientifically tested and proven systems and strategies for continuously scaling digital marketing campaigns, optimized to reduce customer acquisition costs and significantly increase ROI.

Wealth Ideas Agency initially took its roots in the digital marketing space as a Facebook advertising agency working with eCommerce & corporate brands such as Coca-Cola, Jumia, Vodafone, and Honda.

Struggling to maintain stable revenues and generate enough leads through traditional means of prospecting (cold calling, networking, etc), we set about automating the agency’s lead generation to build more consistency across the agency.

Within a year Wealth Ideas Agency went from a one-man band to a team of ten.

Three years later, we cracked $5M in revenue.

It became clear that the traditional means of the lead generation just weren’t going to cut it and that if I wanted more time and revenue I would need to automate my lead generation much like how I was building processes around every other part of my business.

In 2018 Wealth Ideas Agency took a pivot to start working with agencies, helping them to implement the same processes and systems we developed.

300+ agencies and freelancers later, it’s fair to say we know a thing or two about how to successfully grow an agency in today’s market.

Below is what our automated lead generation funnel looks like from the backend:


Initially, I was offering all kinds of services – from social media content to blogging and email marketing, and Facebook ads. This led to burnout and I quickly realized this wasn’t going to work so I refined our core offer.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I first started as a freelancer offering digital marketing and web design services back in 2012, there was virtually nothing online about the topic. I did what most freelancers do back then, go online and plaster their services on one or more of the big freelance sites with a professional bio and a snazzy profile, thinking it's only a matter of time before the offers start rolling in and that barely worked for me.

It hit me when I learned that many of the freelancers bid at the bottom dollar for projects, just so that they can be seen and considered. Even if they do manage to win the bidding war and get selected for a project, the site often requires outrageous service fees, demanding as much as 20% from projects!

And I thought to myself there has to be a better way, not until 2015 that I discovered the agency model, and 1 month later I launched my digital marketing agency.

After launching my agency in 2015 I had to figure everything out on my own and this meant I made some pretty epic and expensive blunders along the way. Was I meant to hire before cash flow could sustain it or wait till I had enough clients and then hire quickly? How did the big boys land the million-dollar contracts and what sort of margins should I be working towards? I didn't know any of these things back then and I was just winging it.

With the boom of the internet and pure online markets, it’s been a gold rush for agencies and now the opposite can be said – there is almost too much information online about how to grow this type of business that it can be overwhelming. Not surprisingly, most of this information comes from “gurus” who have never actually built or managed agencies themselves – leading many down a costly road of misguided advice.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Initially, I was offering all kinds of services – from social media content to blogging and email marketing, and Facebook ads. This led to burnout and I quickly realized this wasn’t going to work so I refined our core offer toward Facebook ads. Through the years we have changed our niche from coaches to ecom and now specialize in building out marketing systems for other agencies.

Another big mistake I made at the beginning was to fall prey to the desire of having a big team and office for the sake of having a big team and office – call it ego and pride. I quickly realized this was going to make me bankrupt and – in light of the pandemic and current economic conditions – many agencies have come to appreciate that running a small and lean startup is far less stressful than having massive overheads. This, of course, is only possible if you refine your service offer and positioning.

It took me a little over 4 weeks to build and design our website which runs on WordPress. From the domain name, web hosting, and paid plugins to business registration everything cost a little over $850.

The fun thing about starting an agency is that you don’t need investors or large startup capital to make this work (although disclaimer, a growing business will always require an investment of either time or money, the benefit of a service-based business is that you only really need $1K-$5K to get yourself going as long as you’re willing to reinvest profits back into your business) and you don’t need inside connections or a huge audience.

Your agency can be a gateway to other ventures. For example, if you start working with eCommerce clients it will probably make sense for you to invest in your ecom shop and use your own strengths and internal resources to grow another income stream for yourself.

After running lead generation campaigns for clients I began to realize that I too could automate my marketing. Instead of having to attend conference after conference or have to cold call or harass people on LinkedIn and Facebook groups, I figured out a way to drive interested prospects straight into my calendar using paid ads to drive leads into an online funnel.

First version of our website

Describe the process of launching the business.

After building out my website and it was live I knew its was time time to start marketing and start getting clients. Initially, I had no launch strategy and no marketing budget. Trying to grow your agency or freelance business can sometimes feel like the most isolating and frustrating of experiences. There's a lot of fear involved too.

Am I good enough for this? Can I actually do this? Are these clients going to realize I'm an imposter? How am I gonna pay the bills this month?

Maybe you already know the drill.

Back when I was building up my agency, it felt like the industry held its cards close to its chest. I had to figure everything out alone and this cost me a lot of money and time.

When I first launched my agency back in 2015 there was no one to hold my hand and show me the ropes. Like many, I was attracted to the agency model as it offered a low barrier to entry and meant that I could be my own boss with little to no setup cost – something many other industries can’t boast.

What I didn’t realize at the time, and what I have since come to realize is that the hard knocks often come with incredible growth. My other failed business led to me developing my online marketing skills and a few people around me took notice. Next thing I knew I was being asked to help grow Facebook pages for businesses and had my first client.

And, much like my first failed attempted business, I was head in the clouds around what it took to actually succeed in this space. Get some clients, hire some people, and pay myself a handsome salary. Easy, right?

In the first year of business I was generating about $5K/mth. I managed to scale this to $10K in year two and – while I was excited about this, the reality was that I was wearing a million hats in my business and there was no way I could take a weekend off, let alone take a holiday. Plus. at the end of the month – after taxes and expenses – I was often left with just $4K for myself.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

The most important part of any business is arguably its ability to generate new business. Your leads and clients are the lifeblood of your business and if you’re like most agencies out there you’re likely completely dependent on referrals or word of mouth and this is essentially stunting your ability to grow at the rate that you would like to.

After running lead generation campaigns for clients in my agency I began to realize that I too could automate my marketing. Instead of having to attend conference after conference or have to cold call or harass people on LinkedIn and Facebook groups, I figured out a way to drive interested prospects straight into my calendar using paid ads to drive leads into an online funnel.

These would be highly qualified and vetted leads in the market for the services we offered.

What I never expected was just how quickly and effectively this strategy would be for growth. Within two months of automating the agency’s lead generation, we had scaled from $10K revenues to $80K/mths.

To this day, this continues to be our main and most reliable source of lead generation for the agency.

Now, cracking one of these funnels isn’t as easy as it sounds – and maybe you yourself have experienced the frustration of spending thousands with little to nothing to show for it.

The key comes down to your positioning and messaging as well as the UX of your funnel and the quality of the traffic you’re buying. If any one of these parts is of the whole thing is broken.

Another big issue we encounter when agencies try to run their own funnels and fail is that they are often too close to the source. When it’s your client ads and campaigns you crush it, and yet, when it’s your own it’s like nothing works. This is really common and is the same phenomenon of a writer trying to edit their own copy – they are too close to see the spelling mistakes and their brain fills in the gaps.


How our lead generations funnel looks from the backend

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I went from being a freelancer doing $10K/mth to turning over $80K/mth in two months and then hitting $100K/mth revenues in the third month. My team had grown to 10 people and I almost lost it all during this phase when the lack of processes blew up in my face (but that’s a story for another time).

Long story short, peers started to take notice and I started to help out fellow agency owners to implement the same system.

Between 2018-2022 I worked with over 300 agency owners and established myself – somewhat inadvertently – as an “agency” mentor.

We currently turn around $120K/mth in revenue and work with about 20 clients max at any one time.

Surprisingly, we only have THREE core offers in the agency: a done-for-you funnel and lead generation ad campaign management. We offer additional bolt-on services such as promotional video creations and email nurture sequences but these only represent a small fraction of our revenues and some of this is outsourced externally. We also work with brands (usually a lead generation or awareness campaigns) but this is only 5% of our client base.

Although we are based in Benin City – local clients only represent 2-3% of our client base. Most of our clientele is overseas and the average lifetime value of a client is about $9,000. We are getting international clients and deals from even the most remote place on earth. So the thought of – “my town or city is too small” is no longer a viable excuse.

We have five key team members behind the agency: an account manager, a business developer (sales), a funnel builder, a media buyer, and a copywriter. As we grow and if sales are up we have trained account managers and copywriters we bring on to support as required on a client-per-client basis. This keeps our overheads low.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Looking back now it’s clear that there were some missing elements in my business.

For starters, I lacked processes – let me rephrase that – I didn’t know what processes were or how they should be set up, and therefore I had zilch in my business.

Secondly, I lacked a consistent and reliable lead generation pipeline. I was dependent almost entirely on word of mouth and referrals, which were so sparing that when I did get a lead I was so desperate for the cash (cause I didn’t know how long the lead drought would last) that I would take on clients that were just not a great fit.

I was also so afraid of losing that lead that I’d start discounting my prices.

The “ah-ha” moment really came when I started to think “hold up, if I can help my clients get leads and customers through Facebook ads (this was the service I was offering), then why can’t I do it for my own business!”

Easier said than done.

I spent almost seven months and tens of thousands of dollars (money I really didn’t have), trying to crack a system to generate leads. My failure to achieve this started to manifest itself into imposter syndrome – for who was I to offer Facebook advertising services if I couldn’t even do it for myself!!

It was on my final attempt (thanks universe) when things “cracked”. I woke up the next morning with three leads booked into my calendar and nearly choked!

What soon followed was an insane period in my life where I would be on about 6-8 sales calls per day, closing clients left and right.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We try to keep it simple so that our business is not too complicated to maintain.

We use WordPress for our website, Mailchimp as our CRM, HighLevel for funnels and marketing automation, Google docs for documents, and Canva for our design needs.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The books Seven Figure Agency Roadmap, $100M Offers & Ca$hvertising were really important to me. The Seven Figure Agency Roadmap is the must-have resource for digital marketing agency owners, I discovered more than 100 secrets of ad-agency psychology to make big money selling my services from Ca$hvertising.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

From my experience, here are the three essential parts of growing a seven-figure agency:

  1. Having the right team and organizational structure

  2. Positioning yourself around a core offer(s) and building processes around these

  3. Having a reliable and consistent way to generate leads

With these three things in place, growing to seven figures no longer becomes rocket science or luck of the draw and you’ll be able to:

  • Increase your profit margins, reduce your workload, AND pay yourself more
  • Retain clients for longer and generate more testimonials and happy customers
  • No longer need to rely on word of mouth and be able to put a plan in place for growth

If you’ve made it this far hopefully it's because all of this is making sense to you and resonates. Likewise, it’s probably because you yourself are hungry to grow your business and ready to start implementing systems that are actually proven and tested by agencies.

Over the years, my team and I have helped over 300 agencies and freelancers implement the exact same system above by:

  • Refining your core offer(s) and pricing these correctly
  • Building processes to guarantee quality for each and every client (without you needing to micro-manage everything)
  • Nailing your messaging and positioning
  • Closing your leads and sales calls scripts & processes
  • Your lead generation pipeline and automating your marketing with paid ads and funnels

All of this for less than the cost of building your own agency website!

So instead of trying to continue to trial and error everything on your own, spending thousands on recruiting the wrong staff or team members, and tanking thousands on lead generation efforts get a structure and marketing system in place for your growth to take you into the future!

On my website, I talked more about our lead generation funnel system and how to implement it in your own agency.

Where can we go to learn more?

Personal links:

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!