Agencies and freelancers share their proudest moments of 2021

Mailchimp & Co’s latest Benchmark Report for freelancers and agencies is live—here are a few of our community’s proudest moments and successes of the past year.

This year, we launched the second edition of our Mailchimp & Co Benchmark Report for agencies and freelancers in partnership with BenchPress and The Agency Collective.

For this one-of-a-kind report, we surveyed over 2,000 marketing professionals from around the world about their revenue, overhead, staffing, client acquisition, working hours, and more. This year’s report is an invaluable resource for understanding how the agencies and freelancers we surveyed stack up against their peers—and what top performers do differently to stand out.

As we compiled the report, a key theme kept emerging: Pride. Over and over again, respondents told us that no matter what challenges they faced over the last year, they remained immensely proud of their work, their businesses—and themselves, too.

You can take in some of these responses, along with valuable data, actionable insights, and stories from creative professionals by downloading the report. (And if you’re not already a member, we’d love for you to join Mailchimp & Co. Signing up is easy, fast, and free.)

For now, we’re celebrating the people behind the numbers by sharing some of our community’s proudest moments and biggest successes of 2021.

We hope these insights and quotes help you find inspiration this year and beyond.

Personal and professional growth

In light of the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, many respondents said they were proud that they were able to further develop their client base, their business networks, and—through Mailchimp certification—their professional credentials, too. Hear what Emily Ryan, Vicky Glass, Claire Witz, and Sequoia Mulgrave shared:

“This year, we worked with 2 different sparkling beverage brands on email projects, and also a university client (how cool is that?)—all thanks to the Mailchimp Experts Directory. If you’re a freelancer or agency, make sure you join Mailchimp & Co, and then work to become a partner.”

—Emily Ryan, Mailchimp pro partner and co-founder of Westfield Creative

“We did a Mailchimp Instagram takeover—this really improved my video confidence. We also collaborated with a few small business owners and companies, which has raised my profile and led to more projects.”

—Vicky Glass, Mailchimp partner and founder of Coded Vector

“This year, I became a Mailchimp pro partner, working with incredible clients and improving my skills.”

—Claire Witz, certified Mailchimp pro partner and business consultant

“I’m really proud of growing our networks and rolling out partnerships with other business owners, like the International Women’s Day event we launched.”

—Sequoia Mulgrave, Mailchimp partner, founder and CEO of DailyMode Studio

Improved work culture and leadership

It’s no secret that the pandemic ushered in a new world of remote work. The number of agencies that said they’re going fully remote in last year’s report jumped from 23% to 32% from 2020 to 2021, while the adoption of flexible work models jumped from 9% to 20% from 2020 to 2021.

“We are most proud of the fact that our agency allows our 10 team members the freedom to earn a living while working from wherever they want to, as long as they have internet access,” said Tricia Allenson, Mailchimp pro partner and founder of Limelight Marketing Systems.

Danielle Martel, Mailchimp pro partner and Managing Director at Keetrax, has also benefited from allowing her team to work remotely early on. “We had a remote office before it was cool,” she said. “What’s changed is our focus on forming stronger bonds with teammates across departments and continents—we’ve become a stronger team throughout this journey, and I’m very proud of them.”

Looking to take your leadership skills to the next level? We asked partners in Mailchimp & Co to share a few leadership tips—and remote work played a key role. “In a remote world, leading is no longer about managing or controlling; it’s about improving those connected to you,” said Santiago Melluso, Mailchimp pro partner and Director at DuckDuckChimp.

“Give your team room to play, break things, challenge themselves, learn, create, suggest, discuss, and speak candidly.”

- Santiago Melluso, Mailchimp pro partner and Director at DuckDuckChimp

For Santiago, more workplace freedom facilitates better relationships between managers and staff, improving morale all around. “Give your team room to play, break things, challenge themselves, learn, create, suggest, discuss, and speak candidly. And in exchange, ask for 4 simple things: Quality, commitment, honesty, and communication. If the conditions are met, you’ll find that revenue is a byproduct of amazing people just doing their best.”

Vicky Smith, Mailchimp pro partner and email strategist at Flic Email shared her thoughts on the importance of cultivating leadership skills. “I’ve been freelancing for almost 5 years. I initially thought that leadership wasn’t something that I needed to learn or develop,” she said. “But I have to steer my business, inspire myself, and offer advice and opinions to industry colleagues, just like a leader does. We’re all leaders to some degree, whatever the size of our businesses.”

“For more than 10 years, the Okisam working women have been leaders in the company,” said Carmen Carcel, Mailchimp pro partner and Account Director at Okisam. “Our main advantage is understanding and defending all our clients’ points of view.”

Financial gains and staffing wins

By launching our annual Benchmark Report, we set out to gather insights from marketing pros to help bridge the gap between general business performance analytics and agency- and freelancer-specific data. In terms of revenue gains and staffing wins, respondents can be proud of the following accomplishments:

In 2021,

66%

of responding agencies said they increased their revenue, while 49% said they grew their teams. Compare that to 2020, when only 50% said they increased revenue—and a scant 22% said they added staff.

54%

of responding freelancers, too, said they increased their year-over-year revenue, when in last year’s report, only 45% reported the same.

As one shining example of this trend, Paige Slaughter, Mailchimp partner and founder of Fruition Studio—specializing in email marketing, social media content creation, and blog writing—said she felt proudest of expanding her staff. And by doing so, she’s helping prepare her business to reach new heights.

“In the past 12 months, our team has grown from 2 people to 10,” said Paige. “We are more able than ever to provide strategic marketing and creative services to small businesses. There are growing pains, but we are shaping a company culture together and working to grow into the next phase of Fruition.”

While 2021 was a thorny year for the broader business community, some surveyed agencies and freelancers said they hit their stride and overcame challenges posed by a global pandemic. Overall, agencies reported keeping slightly more cash in reserve than the year prior, and we couldn’t be prouder of our community for this noteworthy accomplishment.

Meanwhile,

46%

of responding agencies said they’re holding more than 4 months in cash reserves, compared to 40% last year. That’s a great buffer against any economic uncertainty that might still lie ahead.

17%

of responding freelancers said that their biggest challenge when deciding whether they want to launch an agency and find new business is cash flow. If you find yourself in this camp, it could be a good idea to maintain a steady cash buffer in the bank. Taking a leap toward something new can be easier to manage when you’ve got your current financial situation well in hand.

A proud community

As you can tell from these quotes, our community is proud of the many business wins they achieved in 2021. After surviving another challenging year, agencies and freelancers across the globe still found ways to thrive, build new business partnerships, and feel more prepared than ever to tackle whatever the future brings.

Download our 2022 Benchmark Report to discover what else our participants achieved over the last 12 months, along with tips, resources, and insights that have the power to help you transform your business and grow your own way.


And don’t forget to join Mailchimp & Co, our global community of agencies and freelance professionals. By signing up, you’ll get access to exclusive resources and tools that can help you make amazing things happen for your clients—accomplishments you can really feel proud of.

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