Two Years of Running a Work From Home Agency

I really can’t believe it’s now been just over two years that Who’s Listening has been a thing. It’s been a bit of a wild journey, but a lot of fun too! In this article I’m going to cover everything from where we started, to where we are now, and even what we’ve got planned for the future!

So after relocating to the North East at the start of 2019, I started working at Guerilla Communications who are a marketing and communications agency based in Newcastle. After only being there a couple of months, we went into the dreaded lockdown and things were never really the same once it all ended.

This all started when my daughter was diagnosed with autism back in 2021. After finding out, my number 1 priority was to make sure I could be more present and available when she needed me, which is what led me to leaving my role at Guerilla and making a go of it as a freelancer.

Freelance life treated me well. I had great support from James at Guerilla and also Anne at Blue Moon Marketing, who both kept me busy with digital projects supporting their clients, but it didn’t take long for the work to start piling up. At this point, it was either turn the work away or bring in some support…

When I made the decision to move from freelance to agency, there were a few things that were non-negotiable for me. Firstly, it’s going to be a full remote, work from home agency – remember, the main reason I am doing this at all is to be more available at home. The other, micromanaging – I hate it. My approach has always been I trust you to do the job until you give me a reason not to, and my door is always open should you need any help.

Once these decisions had been made, I reached out to Elliott who had worked on a few projects with me to see if he would be interested in joining the team as part of an agency. Keen to move away from just freelancing himself, Elliott was up for it and we started the journey of creating the agency.

We got together over a few beers trying to think of names, but nothing was really sticking with us. After plenty of back-and-forth we decided that we just needed to pick something as we didn’t even know if this was going to work or be successful. That’s when we opted for Who’s Listening and whilst I set the business up, Elliott got started on throwing an initial brand and identity together, but we didn’t put too much effort in as we didn’t even know if the business would work (pretty sure it took him about 6 minutes!).

With the business launched and a few of the freelance clients I had moved over, we started the mission of trying to grow the agency. After doing a bit of outreach ourselves, we managed to start working with a local takeaway ‘Lev’s Delivery’ and ‘Saving Nemo’ – our favourite vegan food truck!

From here, things began to just snowball. We were talking at events, pushing our own social media channels and running masterclasses – all of which generated us enquiries that turned into more clients. After just 3-4 months we were working with a nationwide accountancy firm, Allard’s (who have 3 locations in the North East) and Novellus Aesthetics to name just a few.

It was at this point, we knew we needed to grow the team.

I would say that without doubt, this was the most challenging part of growing a work from home agency. There are so many elements that are made more difficult by not being in an office, such as training, guidance, motivation and communication – both from the employer and the employee. Add on top of that the challenge of building the right culture when you don’t see each other every day, it’s not easy!

This is where you start having to weigh up, what’s more important – a super-successful, smooth-sailing business or employee happiness and a better work-life balance? In reality, it’s somewhere in the middle (but in our case, definitely more towards the better work-life balance end).

What does our approach mean for the staff you may be asking? Well for starters, the team have been able to travel and work at the same time, with team members having worked from Spain, Italy, Poland, Greece and more without the need to take their annual leave.

In reality, finding new team members to work in a fully remote agency isn’t easy. Being totally in control of your own time, without an office environment, isn’t how a lot of people are used to working, so the transition can often be difficult. However, we’re lucky enough to now have a growing, but great team!

So as I’ve already mentioned, we’re now just over 2 years into our journey and things couldn’t really be better!

  • We’ve just had a brand refresh, which you can read more about here.
  • We’re now a team of 4, with an ever-growing network of trusted freelancers that support us whenever required.
  • We’ve supported over 35 clients with their social media marketing, including household names like Disaronno and Manchester City FC sponsors, Midea.
  • We’ve designed and built over 60 websites, ranging from new start-ups all the way through to businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Just introduced 2 new offerings to our suite of services.

The future is exciting. We’re confident the brand refresh and updated website is going to open some new doors for us when it comes to clients and we also have some exciting plans internally.

For starters, we are in the process of transitioning to a 4-day working week, something we hope to have in place for the back-end of the year. We’re also working on an exciting charity-led project, where we hope to be able to give something back to the local community here in the North East.

If you have any questions, have a project you need our support on or just want to pop and see us for a chat, feel free to reach out to me via shane@whoslistening.co.uk or head over to our social media channels – Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | LinkedIn – to follow our journey.

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