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How to Know If You’re Working with a Shady Agency and Break Up With Them

I estimate that 80-90% of the people who become Content Journey clients come to us because another agency has burned them. It makes me sad that they have these experiences. I don’t want that for anyone. That’s why I want you to understand how to know if you’re working with a shady agency and how to break up with them.

3 Red Flags that You’re Working with a Shady Agency

I’m always surprised by the similarities in people’s stories about working with shady agencies. I notice trends in the way these agencies do things. They’re indicators that something isn’t quite right. Recognizing these three red flags can give you a pretty good indication that something is wrong in your agency relationship.

1. No Data Access

If you don’t have access to your data, that’s a huge problem. Your data on your accounts belongs to you and your business, no matter who you’re bringing in to manage it for a short time. You need to be the owner or super admin of those accounts. If that’s not the case, you should change that immediately. Even if you’re happy with your agency, you need to own what’s yours. 

2. No Admin Access

Just because you’ve paid someone else to create a website, or you contract with someone else to add to the website, doesn’t mean the site doesn’t belong to you. You need to have admin access to your website. It’s your property. 

I understand why some companies may be reluctant to provide clients with admin access. It’s not because they don’t want them to own their site. The clients don’t know how to change or update the site. But just because you have admin access doesn’t mean you should be pushing all of the buttons. It’s ok to have the access, own the site, and let someone else change and manage it for you.

3. Making Promises and Guarantees

SEO when done correctly and consistently should always increase your traffic over time. But anyone who guarantees a certain amount of increased traffic within a specific timeframe is misleading you. Yes, there are best practices that we perform, but there aren’t any guarantees. Guarantees are just not how organic search works.

How to Break Up With a Shady Agency

So now that you know how to spot the red flags that indicate you may be working with a shady agency, what do you do next? Even if you just suspect that your agency may not be on the up and up, here’s my advice.

Have a Tough Conversation

Being an adult and a professional means you’re going to have difficult conversations sometimes. Have a conversation with your agency contact about what’s going wrong or which expectations they aren’t meeting. Sometimes you may feel like you’re headed for a breakup, then you have a difficult conversation and find that your agency is the right fit after all. Sometimes the challenging discussion may result in a mutual parting of ways. Regardless, a discussion is the right and professional thing to do.

Review Your Contract

Yes, I know contracts are an extra headache, but you need to have one with your agency. Having a contract protects booths sides in the relationship. It creates clear expectations of deliverables. Also, a contract will tell you how to break up, if necessary. It tells you things like how much notice is required and how to go about severing the relationship.

Review your contract if you’re ready to break up with your shady agency. It should tell you what to do. 

If you don’t have a contract with your agency, now’s the time to put things in writing.

Make the Decision

It’s up to you whether you want to give your agency a chance to redeem itself or if you think that opportunity has passed. Either way, once you decide to break up with your agency, do it. Have the conversation, review the contract, and break up the right way. But for your sake and theirs, don’t drag out a relationship that isn’t working well. And don’t let them talk you out of a decision you know is right.

Don’t Work With a Shady Agency

If you’re looking to hire a content marketing agency, I don’t want yours to be a horror story I hear about later. Book a call, and let’s talk about whether Content Journey is right for your business.

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