Earning as a freelancer has become more than just a side hustle now. It is how a lot of people pay their bills. And one of the most sought-after freelance jobs is that of a freelance social media manager. If you’re interested in a career as a successful freelance social media specialist, this short guide will tell you all that you need to know.
Simply put, a freelance social media manager is anyone with the skills to offer certain specific, on-demand social media services. The skills needed remain the same, whether you are employed as a social media manager by a company or whether you do it as a freelancer
These skills include writing ad copy, managing content on social media platforms, devising a social media marketing strategy, creating content for these platforms, maintaining a social media calendar, using analytics tools, and more.
Being a freelance social media specialist may be lucrative, but it takes a lot of hard work and effort to get there. Here are some of the challenges you ought to expect along the way.
Straight off the bat, you are not going to find anyone who wants to hire freelance social media managers they don’t know of. And they won’t hear of you unless you approach them with a strong LinkedIn profile.
As with all freelance work, there may be periods of time when you are absolutely slammed with work, and then lean periods where you have nothing to do for weeks on end. This is a lesson in networking for all freelancers.
As a freelance social media analyst or manager, you will be answerable only to yourself, even though you may be running campaigns or projects for others. Your time management and multitasking skills will be put to the test.
Clients tend to get temperamental and extremely demanding. A lot of freelance social media managers find it difficult to keep up with clients’ constant need for changes to campaigns.
Another pain point for freelancers is getting paid on time, or in some cases, getting paid at all. Some clients tend to ignore phone calls, delay payments, or even abscond after a project is done. Knowing how to deal with these situations without burning bridges is of utmost importance for a freelance social media manager.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the challenges you can expect to face as a freelance social media expert, let’s look at how to go about achieving financial success.
Before you start approaching prospective clients, there is a certain amount of groundwork you will need to do, especially if you are new to the world of social media management.
Start off with creating a business plan for yourself. While it does not have to be a complex document, it ought to serve as a blueprint that defines why you’re doing what you’re doing, and to what end.
For example, define what you want to do as a part of your plan. Is it to land your first client? Or do you know how many clients you want to service within your first year? Irrespective of what your goals are, clearly define how to plan on achieving them
Your business plan should also include a SWOT analysis: an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will give you an idea about how you stack up against your competitors, and what sets you apart.
An impressive portfolio is what will get your foot in the door and help you convert prospects into clients. But what should your portfolio have? A good place to start would be describing what experience you bring to the table in terms of social media marketing. Was it part of your job responsibilities with a previous employer? Have you been managing social media pages and content for yourself? How successful have you been in these endeavors?
There are some ethics you ought to follow as well. If you want to include something you’ve done for a previous client in your portfolio, you ought to take permission from them first. While the work may be yours, it was paid for by their brand.
Another thing to keep in mind is that data speaks a lot more convincingly than words do. Examples include data about an increase in engagement, thanks to a campaign, advertising reports, sales data directly linked to a promotional campaign, and analytical graphs.
And all of this does not have to be a boring text document. You could make a video portfolio or even an engaging presentation with the data mentioned above.
The only way to get noticed by prospective clients is to market yourself, and there is no better place to start than social media.
Create business profiles on social networking sites and post fresh content regularly. As the number of people following you increases, so should the quality of your content, thereby increasing engagement.
Proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If you can show your prospective customers you know how to market yourself successfully on social media, they will trust you to do the same for their business.
A great and inexpensive way to increase your following, as well as engagement, is by blogging. Website hosting is quite affordable now, so starting a blog and talking about insights, approaches, and breakthroughs in social media marketing is sure to get you noticed.
Once you have your groundwork ready, it is time to start bringing in clients. However, not all small and medium businesses have taken the plunge into social media marketing yet. And those that do have some sort of social media presence may not have adequate knowledge about how to leverage these platforms to increase customer engagement and sales.
A lot of these businesses are your future clients. So, network with them and demonstrate what a sound social media marketing strategy can do for their business. Before you know it, you will have your first few clients.
Social media platforms themselves also throw opportunities for freelancers. A lot of freelance social media work can be found on local business communities on Facebook and LinkedIn. Another thing to remember is that the more people you reach out to, and the more pitches you make, the higher your chances of actually getting hired.
Keep in mind that even though you may not land a lot of projects initially, making a good first impression will mean the door is always open for you. Networking does not stop with bringing in clients. Keeping your clients happy and getting them to refer new clients to you is an equally important factor. In fact, repeat business is often what keeps freelancers going during the lean months.
As a freelance social media manager, you are an entrepreneur. This means you are answerable to yourself. This also means for you to be successful, you need to organize yourself.
Keep in mind that running successful social media campaigns means being able to generate channel-specific content, managing promotions on different social media channels, adjusting spending budgets based on performance on different platforms, and more. In addition, you are likely to have more than one client to work with at a time. This is why creating a schedule and sticking to it is so important. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction.
● Make a list of everything you need to do on a daily basis, and tick them off as you progress. That way, the chances of you forgetting a task are greatly reduced.
● Schedule your day in a way that addresses everything in the order of priority. Make sure you keep time aside to respond to emails since communication is one of the keys to success.
● Be realistic about what you can deliver in a given window of time. While it may mean a client chooses not to work with you right now, it is a lot better than taking up work and not being able to deliver on time. It also shows that you are a person of integrity, and that is an admirable quality.
● Make time for yourself. While working and sticking to timelines is extremely important, it is equally crucial to make time for yourself. Be sure to do something you love every day, be it playing a sport, exercising, going for a walk, spending time with loved ones, and more. What you want to do is build consistency, not push yourself until you burn out.
The one thing that impresses clients the most is intelligent data. Data about how their social media campaigns are doing, whether they are affecting the number of subscribers or followers they have or the number of sales that happened.
Ideally, a good freelance social media manager ought to present clients with data and statistics in the form of a detailed report at least once a month. Here’s what your report should show.
● Begin the report with a brief outline of the strategy you employed.
● Define the goals that were set.
● Validate the goals using data generated from the campaign. This could be the number of new subscriptions or followers, new leads generated based on the CTA, closed sales, return on investment, community reactions, and more.
● Break down the results into an analysis of the campaign performance on each platform. For example, what was the reach on Instagram? Did Reels perform better than Stories? What demographic was engaged? What was the engagement rate as compared to the number of posts?
● Point out what worked during the tenure that has passed and what did not. This is also the correct time to suggest changes based on the data you just presented.
● You can also suggest changes based on social listening and what learnings have come through interactions with customers online.
● End the report with a summary of everything you mentioned, as well as the way forward before the next report is due.
There are tools you can use to automate a lot of the reporting, such as Meta’s Business Suite. Some social networking platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, offer analytical reports themselves. All you need to do is download these reports and add them to your presentation.
We know that some clients can be dodgy, to say the least. This is especially true when it is time for you to get paid. However, there are some ways to protect your interests, and always get paid.
Make sure you never start working on any project until you have an iron-clad agreement in writing. This should include the complete scope of work, what your charges are, by when you will get paid, how you will get paid, how many free consultations are part of the agreement, and more.
Always send an invoice when it is time for you to get paid. Not only is this a gentle, professional way of reminding the client you need to be paid, but it also makes it easy for you and your CA to track your earnings for taxation purposes.
Social media marketing is still in a nascent stage globally but is growing at a stupendous rate. Every major business in the world is currently finding new, innovative ways to engage with customers on social media platforms. From Reels and Stories with hyperlinks to interactive product galleries, businesses are trying to enhance their customers’ overall social media experience.
This trend brings with it a lot of opportunities as well as competition. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources, both paid and free, on the internet to guide anyone who wants to learn how to become a freelance social media manager. Considering the rapid pace at which online marketplaces are growing, jumping onto the social media marketing bandwagon seems to be the prudent way to step into the future.
● Freelance social media management is a new and lucrative opportunity in the online world.
● Freelance social media managers face various challenges, including finding clients, working independently, appeasing tough clients, and getting paid on time.
● Groundwork in the form of building a credible profile, planning how to achieve your goals, and marketing oneself is important to start a career in social media marketing.
● Networking is the key to landing clients and to keeping them.
● Being organized makes it easier to achieve targets and still have time for yourself.
● Intelligent and data-driven reports are what clients expect from social media managers.
There are a few approaches that help land freelance social media manager jobs
● Contacting local businesses that do not have a prominent presence on social media
● Networking with and pitching to prospective clients
● Through word of mouth from existing or past clients and contacts
While the actual responsibilities may differ based on client specifications and the kind of social media campaign, here are some of the responsibilities of a social media manager.
● Creating content specific to different social media platforms
● Maintaining a schedule for posting on social media platforms
● Communicating consistently with the online community
● Periodic reporting
A client wants access to data on how big of an impact a particular social media campaign had. In order to gauge the effectiveness of the current social media strategy, it is essential to provide them with periodic reports.