Is SMMA Hard? | 5 Reasons Why Starting an SMMA is Not Easy in 2024

April 5, 2024

Yes, SMMA is hard because of tough competition, high client expectations, and volatile social media algorithms. The hardest part of SMMA is building your reputation. In the US, those starting in SMMA will have to compete with over 42,396 digital marketing specialists, per Zippia's data. The nature of social media also develops constantly as technology advances.

SMMA or social media marketing agency requires you to study social media marketing business constantly, understand algorithms, and be updated on the latest trends. In a Forbes article, Sai Karra, co-founder of BuiltGen, says you must adapt to new technologies to be a successful social media entrepreneur. In addition, Jordan Platten of advises that you must differentiate yourself from the mass market to succeed in SMMA.

However, SMMA remains a viable business model even in 2024 because there is a growing demand for social media to reach clients. Sprout Social's 2023 State of Social Media shows that 80% of business leaders will likely increase their social media budget in the next 3 years. This allows SMMA owners to offer services to companies outsourcing social media management.

If you want to venture into SMMA this year, this article will discuss the top 5 reasons why starting an SMMA is not easy in 2024. We've collected the top comments on why SMMA is hard from SMMA owners and comments posted on Quora and Reddit. At the end of the article, you'll learn about local lead generation and why it's way easier to start and scale than SMMA.

5 Reasons Why Starting an SMMA is Not Easy in 2024

1. Social Media Market Saturation

Social media market saturation presents a challenge for newcomers starting an SMMA in 2024 because the increasing demand for social media management and marketing brings tough competition. The Global Industry Analysts Inc. report (GIA) shows that the market for global digital advertising and marketing will reach $786.2 billion by 2026. Statista added that social media advertising spending will grow significantly in 2028, with a value of $255.77 billion. Compare it with 2023’s $207.08 billion. 


When starting as an SMMA owner, go beyond following a proven blueprint for success designed by course gurus or a popular marketing agency. You should be able to identify market gaps and position yourself as a leader in a specific niche or domain. Choose effective platforms depending on your target market. Also, build your social media presence and go for a less saturated SMMA niche.

2. High Competition for Social Media Audience Engagement

High competition for social media audience engagement is a real challenge for SMMA owners in 2024. As an SMMA owner, you compete against about 52,542 social media specialists in the US (Zippia’s data). Hum, a data platform for content-driven organizations, and Silverchair, an independent platform partner for publishers, released the 2023 Publishing Tech Trends report. It contained insights from industry experts who shared challenges in engaging their target audience. Among the challenges they found were information overload and uncertainty and the difficulty of getting a reader’s time or attention. You must engage with consumers on social media to boost brand awareness and reputation. The 2023 Sprout Social Index™ Report revealed that 71% of consumers want brands to engage with them on social media. 


Use social listening. It is a way to engage with an audience without selling them anything. You can also keep them on your website longer by offering smart recommendations. Maximize plugins and website tools to help you automate boosting blog engagement.

3. High Client Expectations

High client expectation can make it hard for beginners to start SMMA in 2024. Clients have diverse needs and expect tailored solutions. Meeting these expectations requires a lot of time and effort from beginners in the SMMA business model. A HubSpot report highlights that 68% of consumers expect personalized experiences from brands. Also, in 2021, Gartner released the results of their survey among 350 marketing leaders. Gartner’s study found that nearly ⅔ or 63% of digital marketing leaders struggle to provide their customers with personalized experiences. Failure to deliver customized strategies and achieve desired results can lead to client churn, negative reviews, and reputational damage.


Collect customer feedback about your social media agency regularly. You can send them customer satisfaction surveys or questions about their experience. You also need to nurture a customer-centric culture in your SMMA.

4. Excessive Social Media Skill Requirement

Excessive social media skill requirements may put beginners at a disadvantage in starting an SMMA in 2024. High client expectations can be overwhelming. These expectations usually translate to a demand for increasingly complex and technical skill sets, such as data analysis, content creation, or ads optimization. In September 2023, the Digital Marketer cited a survey by The Social Club in its article. The survey found that 81% of social media marketers have difficulty keeping up with the latest trends and technologies.


 Specialize in a niche. Mastering a niche can reduce the skill set you need and allow you to concentrate on specific and relevant skills or tools. Also, this can help you deliver effective strategies for your customers. 

5. Volatile Social Media Algorithms

Volatile social media algorithms also make SMMA hard for beginners in 2024 because it constantly develops, making successful strategies obsolete overnight. As mentioned above, keeping up with the latest trends is a struggle for 81% of social media marketers. Add to this that trends and algorithms ranked second among the top social media challenges in 2023 for social media experts. asked 88 social media experts about their top challenges, and 21.8% said they struggle with the changing individual platform trends and algorithms.


Research the current algorithms and determine what works for others. Evaluate your analytics and see your top-performing posts. Know what works and what doesn’t.

Is SMMA Hard for Beginners?

SMMA is hard for beginners because they would need to compete with over 42,396 digital marketing specialists employed in the United States, per data from Zippia. Beginners need to work double time to keep up with the established SMMA. For instance, 23-year-old Evan Vance, an SMMA owner based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, shared that he works 65 hours weekly or about 13-14 hours daily. Vance said beginners would also find it hard to attract highly skilled professionals who might prefer to set up their businesses. David Schlais, co-creator of The SMMA Blueprint, adds that the top challenge that makes SMMA hard for beginners is staying well-informed and prepared through self-education.

What SMMA Skills are Hard To Learn?

Learning skills, business skills, and consistency are hard to learn for SMMA owners. According to Dorrian Casey, founder of Staq Agency from Navarre, Florida, the learning phase is the hardest part of SMMA. Learning is a skill, and finding the most effective way of learning may take time. Dorrian said that in SMMA, the learning phase includes learning how to start a business, do sales, and acquire service delivery skills. You must sift through courses constantly and find the most relevant information. Dorrian added that learning is difficult because it could be boring, tedious, and overwhelming for people starting in SMMA. Digital marketing consultant, SEO trainer, and author Alex Chris believes learning social media marketing is easy. Alex says most people already use social media platforms, making it easy to understand the concepts that relate to social marketing.

What SMMA Niches are Hard To Break Into?

Veterinary practice, law firms, and dental practice are SMMA niches that are hard to break into. Charlie Morgan, co-founder of Imperium Acquisition, a firm that helps agency owners, coaches, consultants, and course creators, adds that e-commerce and freelance pay-per-hour niches are also challenging. Here’s why these SMMA niches are difficult to break into:

  • Veterinary practice. Veterinary practice is a difficult niche to break into because veterinarians don’t need more customers. Charlie Morgan shared an incident during a cold calling where the vet would tell them they needed more vets, not customers. Precedence Research also reported that the market size for global veterinary services was estimated at $118 billion in 2022. This value is expected to reach around $208.34 billion by 2032. Charlie added that SMMA owners want a niche with “significant amounts of pain.” He said, “If pain does not exist, there is nothing to alleviate.”
  • Law firms. Law firms are a hard niche to break into because lawyers often have no time to respond to sales pitches or cold outreach, according to Charlie Morgan. Charlie shared that one of their clients tapped the law firm niche. Charlie said they believe lawyers have no time to check their emails or business proposals. Peter Boyd, a lawyer and CEO of PaperStreet, shared that “most attorneys are not trained in sales.” This might explain the lack of interest when SMMA owners like Charlie’s client try to book an appointment. Charlie said his client is talented and could book 15 appointments daily with a 25 to 30 conversion rate. But with the law firm, he would struggle to book 1-2 appointments daily, and the conversion rate is only 5-10 percent.

    Charlie clarified that this is only their observation. You could still try to enter the law firm's niche as an SMMA owner because most law firms use social media to market their law practices. In 2022, a survey by the American Bar Association revealed that only 11% of respondents had no online presence. Hootsuite's 2023 Guide to Social Media for Law Firms and Lawyers also reported that 71% of lawyers get clients from social media, although 43% of the firms have no marketing budget.
  • Dental niche. Dental niche is a hard niche to break into for SMMA owners because of the so-called gatekeeper barrier, according to Charlie. The gatekeepers are often the receptionists who make contacting dentists through cold methods challenging. However, you can still tap into the dental niche if it's your expertise or interest. A study titled "Use of Social Media to View and Post Dentistry-related Information in Bahrain: A Cross-Sectional Study" showed that 94.2% of dentists in Bahrain used social media to post dentistry-related content.

    PubMed also published a survey on US dental practices' use of social media. The survey involved 22,682 dentists in the United States, yielding 573 responses. The survey found that 52% of dental practices use social media, and Facebook was the most commonly used. It added that 91% of the use of social media was for marketing. Younger dentists (below 45 years old) were more likely to maximize social media than older dentists. According to DATA USA, there were 149,727 dentists in 2021. The dentist's age ranges from 30 to 34 (20,897), 35-39 (20,333), and 40-44 (19,255). However, the median age of dentists in the US is 47.4, which might affect their interest in social media marketing.
  • E-commerce. The E-commerce niche is hard to break into because of its nature as a highly competitive market. Charlie Morgan says a harsh reality in e-commerce is that once agency owners can scale the e-commerce, they will take their marketing in-house. "This is what these big brands do. They don't like working with agencies at and having to pay massive retainers when they can just hire someone do it in-house for them and have that person full time," Charlie adds.

    In 2022, there were 9.1 million etailers companies in the e-commerce space, per E-commerce also faces a unique challenge requiring a different solution than hiring an SMMA. For instance, Statista’s 2023 report showed that shipments delayed in customs (42.6%) are a leading challenge in cross-border e-commerce for supply chain professionals. The other challenges in cross-border e-commerce include customs regulatory compliance, supply chain costs, added tariffs and duties, delivery costs, accurate calculation of international duties and taxes, and cost of returns.

Business News Daily also published an article on Top E-Commerce Challenges Facing SMBs (updated in October 2023). The article listed the following as among the top challenges in e-commerce:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Competition
  • Order fulfillment
  • Customer experience
  • Quality website traffic and visitor conversion
  • Visibility
  • Return and refund policies
  • Finding the right market
  • Making and increasing sales
  • Borderless e-commerce
  • Augmented reality
  • IoT commerce

The list shows a window of opportunity for SMMA owners to break into the e-commerce niche. But note that e-commerce is a competitive space and might not be best for SMMA beginners unless you have many successful case studies to show your potential clients.

  • Freelance pay-per-hour niches. Freelance pay-per-hour niches involve helping people and not companies. These include freelancers charging per hour for their services, like the coaches in meditation or personal trainers. Charlie Morgan says freelance pay-per-hour niches are among the “no-no niches” because they are limited by the number of hours the coaches or trainers put in, making it difficult to scale. Data from the 2016 International Coaching Federation (ICF) Global Coaching Study, cited by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows about 17,500 coach practitioners in North America in 2015. These coaches reported an average annual income from coaching of about $61,900. The ICF report also revealed that life coaches may prefer flexible work or part-time arrangements. 

Top Comments on Why SMMA is Hard

Why SMMA is Hard: Top Comments From SMMA Owners

SMMA is hard because it's oversaturated with agencies. Kyrill Krystallis, founder and CEO of digital growth agency Inside Insight, said it's hard to scale in SMMA because the more sales you close, the more the delivery bottleneck you have. Once you close sales, you must find the right people to help you with the delivery. Kyrill also believes the industry is "excessively oversaturated with agencies" because of its low barrier to entry. 

SMMA is hard because you need to work hard for long hours. According to Evan Vance, a young SMMA owner from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, it’s hard to get a lot of sales calls. Evan says he works 65 hours weekly or about 13-14 hours daily. Evan regularly checks YouTube comments, runs through CRM, and tracks how many leads came in and where they were from. He also manages paid ads and attends daily coaching, client, or sales calls. Plus, he handles the training of his appointment setters. However, Evan believes it’s normal to experience failures in many areas as a beginner. You don’t need to be perfect. But you need to focus on your goals and change your habits if you must. 

SMMA is hard because it is stressful. Tom Ford, a co-founder of the Digital Culture Academy, shares that SMMA is stressful because you are accountable for everything you do. Initially, you have to get clients and do all the work by yourself unless you hire staff. Tom also shared that there is no sick leave in SMMA, and luckily, his business partner, Harry Kirk, could pick up his work when he got sick for 10 days.

Why SMMA is Hard: Top Comments on Quora

The top comments on Quora will show different opinions on why SMMA can be hard, especially for beginners. According to Declan Dunn, SMMA can be hard because you'll need experience and you need to look for clients. He adds that those starting a social media marketing agency may tell clients to pay if there are results. This can be hard because you might have worked hard and end up not getting paid when you cannot meet your client's expectations.

For B.J. Mendelson, SMMA can be hard and a bad venture because of saturation. He said many SMMA owners are "quite bad at it," making it hard for credible ones to succeed.  

For Ansub Durrani, SMMA is not hard. However, he adds that you must have good sales skills or be willing to learn. In the previous section, we also discussed the challenges in learning SMMA. But once you get past these hurdles, SMMA can be a viable business. 

Why SMMA is Hard: Top Comments on Reddit

The top comments on Reddit show different views on why SMMA is hard. Jason Yormark, owner of Socialistics, a social media marketing agency, says it won't be easy, whether it is SMMA or another business. Jason adds that you need to be good at what you do and deliver actual results. 

Redditor AvgAlbot also believes SMMA is hard because it's "extremely hard to get organic results" and it is oversaturated. This Redditor adds that course creators or gurus push for SMMA courses because "it's already dead," and they make money from selling courses and software.

Meanwhile, Redditor Both-Gap3534 agrees that the SMMA industry is very saturated but adds that it is still viable. You need a good offer to potential clients from a "not very well known niche." Once you succeed, the Redditor says you can share your results on YouTube.

Is It Hard To Earn Money in SMMA?

Yes, it is hard to earn money in SMMA, especially if you are still a beginner, because there will be tough competition and high client turnover. Beginners need to contend with more established SMMA agencies. Earning money would be hard because you would have to make arrangements at first where clients would not have to pay unless they see results. Some refer to this method as pay per performance. As for client turnover rate, Karl Sakas, agency consultant, and executive coach at Sakas and Company, believes a rate higher than 20% should be a cause for concern for a retainer-oriented agency. Karl says the annual client turnover rate for a project-based agency should be close to 30-50%.

Is It Hard To Succeed in SMMA?

Yes, it is hard to succeed in SMMA because of the tough competition and the amount of learning you need to commit to. Zippia’s data shows that the number of employed marketing/social media managers in the US is over 61,443. Meanwhile, there are over 52,542 currently employed social media specialists. If you’re starting and don’t have any portfolio to show potential clients, you’re competing with many other SMMA business owners. You can succeed in SMMA with consistent hard work. Shae Lamond, the chief editor of Scaling With System, says new SMMA owners might have to work an average of 60 hours weekly. 

Is SMMA Worth It?

Yes, SMMA is worth it because businesses will continue to use social media to aid them in marketing, and some businesses opt to outsource social media marketing to freelancers and agencies to save on operational expenses. Sprout Social’s survey revealed that agency owners can earn $500-$5,000 monthly. In September 2023, Statista reported that the social media market’s value will grow to $385 billion in 2027. 2022, there was a notable increase of 12% compared to the third quarter of 2021 and 2022. ZipRecruiter also recorded that the salary of a job in the SMMA is between $8.89 and $61.78 hourly. These data confirm the relevance of social media marketing agencies (SMMA) to assist businesses in maximizing social media.  


What is SMMA?

SMMA, or social media marketing agency, is a business model where a social media marketing expert offers professional services to a company. The role of the SMMA owner is to help businesses or brands develop a marketing strategy using social media that aligns with their target or business plans. Specifically, if you’re an SMMA owner, you help clients identify target audiences, create effective content, evaluate campaign results, and improve practices until goals are achieved.

How To Start SMMA?

To start SMMA, you need to learn social media marketing skills, such as Facebook ads, Google ads, Instagram ads, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Some Redditors believe you need to get experience by joining an agency, preferably mid-sized. Starting a hobby in social media accounts can also provide you with results to show your potential clients. This practice can help you get your first client. 

Barath Kumar, a freelance marketer, shared on Quora that your location as a beginner in SMMA business does not matter. Some steps you could take, according to Barath, are: 

  • Watch 30-50 SMMA YouTube videos and take notes.
  • Build a plan
  • Start a website, social media account, and some content. 
  • Learn strategies for customer acquisition.
  • Reach out to 100 audience/potential clients daily.
  • Build sales and product teams.
  • Value customer satisfaction above all else

Note that, like starting other businesses, you have to get started and learn from your mistakes.

Is Social Media Marketing Agency Profitable?

Yes, social media marketing agency is profitable for those who can find the right niche, consistently learn about social media marketing trends, and satisfy clients. SMMA has a low overhead cost because you only need the essentials, such as a computer or a laptop. Internet connection and business registration. You only need $10-$50 to reserve your business name, depending on your location, according to a report by USA Today. In Florida, it’s about $25, Texas - $40, Michigan - $25, and Arizona - between $10 to $45.

A 2023 article by Melody Sinclair-Brooks, the Content Marketing Manager at Agency Analytics, revealed that businesses will increase their social media marketing from up to 50% to over 100%. 

Why Local Lead Generation is Way Easier To Start and Scale Than SMMA

Local lead generation is way easier to start and scale than SMMA because you have more control as the owner of the digital assets. You need the right entrepreneurial mindset and understand the basic marketing principles in SMMA and local lead generation. However, starting SMMA is harder than local lead generation because you need to compete with thousands of social media specialists in the US, numbering about 42,396.

SMMA is also more competitive than local lead generation because the former has a lower barrier to entry, making it prone to oversaturation. With local lead generation, you develop highly technical skills related to rank and rent that not everybody does, which helps lower the competition. Citing Hubspot’s data, Startup Bonsai’s latest report shows that 61% of marketers find generating traffic and leads their biggest marketing challenge. 

SMMA is also harder than local lead generation because it involves active selling. A young agency owner, Evan Vance, says he would do cold outreach or cold emails besides managing paid ads and training appointment setters. But, with local lead generation, once you rank the website, you don’t need to do cold outreach and get rejected. Your website’s ranking on Google will tell your potential client that they should rent your site. You can leverage your website’s performance and get a predictable monthly passive income.

In addition, SMMA is a service-based business where your client owns the social media accounts and the leads you generate. Since your client owns the business, job security can be a problem. Your clients can replace you with another SMMA. In local lead generation, you are the business owner. You build and control your digital portfolio. You rank the sites using Google’s organic traffic and rent it to a local business. You can choose who to rent it to and dictate the price.

With more control over the business, local lead generation is easier to scale than SMMA. You are not limited by client capacity. In addition, optimizing your systems attracts more leads that help you increase your revenue. If you want a predictable income stream, and a business that's easier to scale, start your local lead gen biz today. 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

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