Your Ultimate Guide To Freelance Digital Marketing
October 13, 2021 (Updated: March 15, 2023)
Whether you’ve been in marketing for years or you’ve just graduated from school, working in freelance digital marketing could be an option for you. Those who work in digital marketing have a lot of options for what they can do in their careers. Those who like the benefits of setting their own hours and work location might take a special interest in freelancing. Understanding the requirements for working in this type of role can help you decide if it’s right for you.
What Is Freelance Digital Marketing?
Freelance digital marketing helps companies and clients promote their products and services to online customers and communities. “Freelancing” is the word that makes this different from other digital marketing pursuits. As a freelancer, you’re not tied to or associated with a marketing firm or agency. You are the person in charge, which allows you to choose your clients and do all the work. While you may still offer the same services someone could get from a marketing company, you may offer them at lower rates or provide other benefits like more personalized meetings and campaign creation.
What Are the Different Types of Digital Marketing?
There are multiple specialties and processes within the larger category of digital marketing. Some include:
- Analytics: This specialty focuses on collecting and analyzing data that relates to different aspects of digital marketing, like content and email, to determine the performance, returns, and improvements for strategy.
- Content marketing: This segment includes writing copy for websites, blogs, publications, social media, and anywhere else you can display written copy that relates to a business.
- Email marketing: This specialty includes learning how to write email newsletters and related copy to connect directly with subscribers and customers.
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: These types of ads go out around the internet to websites, search engines, and social media outlets. They target specific audiences to increase traffic and awareness for a site or brand.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): This area deals with how to get a company’s content ranking as high as possible in the search engine results pages (SERPs) with organic tactics like keyword research and site optimization.
- Social media: People in this specialty know all about social media platforms, including which platforms are most popular with a specific audience and the type of content that’s preferred for each one.
What Is a Freelance Digital Marketer?
A freelance digital marketer is an advertising professional with a wide range of skills. They may know copywriting, social media, SEO, website creation, and online strategy. A freelance digital marketer may also have a background in sales, lead generation, and connecting with clients and followers. Anyone at any age who has experience and education in digital marketing can start a freelance career. Most people in this industry deliver specialized services to each client they work with.
Is Freelance Digital Marketing for You?
Freelance marketing can be a fun and exciting career if you’re passionate about it. To determine if this role might be for you, consider the pros and cons:
Some pros associated with freelance digital marketing include:
- Being the boss: You’re in charge of your business. While you work to please clients, you still choose which ones to accept, which types of projects interest you, and the tone and brand image of your company.
- Choosing your own schedule: Freelancers can decide when to work. Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl, you can determine which time to set aside to complete your projects.
- Choosing your work location: You can decide if you’d like to work from your house or rent office space. You can also take work with you if you want to travel, go on vacation, or visit family and friends.
- Setting your own prices: You can set your own rates for services and decide how much you make based on how many clients you accept.
- Experiencing variety: Because you may offer a variety of services, you may never have to do the same project twice unless you enjoy it.
- Saving time and money: By taking phone or video meetings, you may save time that you would otherwise spend commuting to an office. You can also save money that you may have to spend as a traditional employee, such as paying for gas or business lunches.
Some cons of freelance digital marketing include:
- Feeling competitive: Because of the perks, many people enjoy freelance digital marketing as a career. This may make the market for finding jobs more competitive.
- Earning a stable income: Earning a stable income can take time and work. If you take jobs on a project or hourly basis, some months may be more prosperous than others.
- Engaging in constant studying: Trends in digital marketing can change frequently. To provide clients with the best services, you must review and become familiar with all updates in your spare time.
- Relying on yourself: You’re in charge of everything. As the boss of a one-person company, you do all the work, from budgeting to lead generation to administration.
- Isolating from others: If you work alone, you may only converse with clients, and maybe not every day. You may miss the experience of working in an office with a team.
- Lacking additional benefits: Unlike at big companies, you probably can’t offer yourself benefits like a 401(k) or a free gym membership. You also pay the full cost for your insurance coverage.
What Does a Day in the Life of a Digital Freelancer Look Like?
Each day might look a little different for a freelance digital marketer, especially if you have many unique skills and services to offer. Some responsibilities that could appear in your daily and weekly schedules may include:
- Building backlinks for websites
- Building marketing funnels
- Building online courses
- Creating digital marketing strategies
- Creating PPC ads for sites like Facebook and Google
- Creating QR codes
- Creating social media calendars
- Creating web copy
- Creating written or digital materials like presentations, flyers, PDFs, and eBooks
- Designing case studies
- Designing infographics
- Designing websites
- Filming ads or social media content
- Improving conversions with calls to action
- Improving website speed
- Making sales calls
- Proofreading written content
- Sending analytics reports to clients
- Setting key performance indicators (KPIs) for different campaigns
- Starting, hosting, or writing scripts for a podcast or webinar
- Staying active in online communities
- Writing blog posts
- Writing newsletters
What Skills Should a Digital Marketing Freelancer Have?
Digital marketing freelancers can benefit from having skills like:
- Adaptability: When working with different people and projects, sometimes the unexpected—both good and bad—can happen. Being prepared to be flexible and adjust to changing situations can be beneficial when working in this role.
- Creativity: Much of marketing relies on the ability to be creative. Coming up with new or innovative ideas or ways to share and display content can help attract customers and enhance your portfolio.
- Design: Many aspects of digital marketing rely on visual appeal. Whether it’s framing the right photo, capturing the right video, or getting an appealing layout for a website, having an eye for design can help.
- Leadership: You’re in charge, so acting like a leader can demonstrate your confidence to your clients and make you seem credible and knowledgeable about your work.
- Organization: As a freelancer, you handle everything from clients to administrative tasks. Staying organized can help you balance all your projects and stay calm while doing it.
- Persuasion: You’re selling yourself and your services as a marketer. Being persuasive can help you not only sell clients’ products or services, but attract new customers to your freelance business as well.
- Problem solving: Clients may come to you with issues they’re having with their digital marketing and expect you to fix them. Having keen problem-solving abilities can help.
- Self-motivation: Especially when starting your freelance business, it’s important to push through the tricky parts to get to the good stuff, like the fun work and the loyal clients.
- Storytelling: Marketing focuses heavily on telling stories about why the public needs a product or what it can do for them. Understanding how to tell an excellent story can help you when designing campaigns.
- Time management: Understanding deadlines and your schedule can be important in freelancing so that you complete the right projects on time and keep your customers satisfied.
How Much Does a Freelance Digital Marketer Make?
How much you make as a freelance digital marketer may depend on the type of work you can do, how much experience you have, and the quality of your work. As a freelancer, it’s tricky to determine what you can charge for your services and what people may pay. It’s useful to compare the prices of established professionals who have similar skills, experience, education, and niche knowledge. See what they’re charging, then consider setting your prices in the middle of the range. You may also consider looking at the rates for freelance digital marketers in your geographic area and basing your rates on that information.
According to the Digital Marketing Institute, freelance digital marketers can make an average of $66,206 per year. This number may be cumulative for all the services you offer and is probably a more accurate figure for a freelancer with many years of experience. Entrepreneur suggests retainer contracts may start around $251 per month, and per-project fees may start at $5,000. The publication suggests acceptable hourly rates range between $50 and $100. Consider charging smaller fees to attract your first customers, then increase your prices as you build a client base.
Is Freelance Digital Marketing a Good Career?
Freelance digital marketing can be a fun career if you’re willing to put in the initial work to get your business started. A few tips to help make this career even better include:
- Taking breaks: Even when you’re starting out, you don’t have to work 24/7. Be sure to take breaks from work to let your mind recharge so you can be fully present when working with clients.
- Using a calendar: Set specific times throughout the day or week to dedicate to different parts of your work. For example, you may block a few hours in the morning to contact leads or an hour in the afternoon to answer emails.
- Hiring an assistant: Starting a new business can be a lot of work, and starting as a freelancer is no different. Consider hiring an assistant to help you with administrative tasks, budgeting, or any area where you might need extra guidance.
- Saying no: You don’t have to accept every project or client that comes your way. Understand what you can do, what interests you, and what you have time for to set a precedent when choosing future jobs.
How Do I Get Started in Freelance Digital Marketing?
Use these steps to help you get started as a freelance digital marketer:
1. Develop Your Skills
We’ve already discussed the skills for a digital marketing role, but knowing the skills and perfecting them are two different things. To develop these skills, you can:
- Attend digital marketing conferences, seminars, workshops, and webinars
- Listen to digital marketing podcasts
- Review digital marketing tutorials or sign up for online courses
- Join social media groups that focus on digital marketing education
- Read blogs from experts and industry leaders
- Get a coach or mentor to help you get started
2. Get Credibility
As a freelancer, one of the first and most difficult steps is to build a client base. How do you do it? By increasing your credibility. A few ways to do that include:
- Building your online presence through social media profiles, your LinkedIn account, and a professional website
- Taking volunteer work in digital marketing to build a network of clients and referrals who you can then use as testimonials and endorsements of your services
- Getting an email address with a professional domain name, possibly one that links to your professional website
- Writing content marketing blog posts, articles, and pieces for your own website and sharing them across channels to get more recognition
3. Set Your Rates
After you determine how much you can realistically charge for your services based on experience, skills, and location, you can choose the best method for charging clients. Some options include:
- Hourly: This option allows you to charge the client a rate for each hour you work on the project. For example, if you charge $15 per hour and work on a project for 10 hours, you’d earn $150.
- Flat rate: This option charges the client based on the project or project segment for longer commitments. The rate doesn’t change, no matter how long you take to complete the whole thing.
- Retainer: This type of payment is common in longer partnerships among freelancers and clients. The customer pays you a set amount each month for work on any projects they ask you to complete in that time.
- Commission: With this payment type, you get paid if you meet a certain number of conditions, usually defined in your contract. For example, if your contract states you must get five new leads each month, you get paid if you reach that goal.
4. Learn a Sales Pitch
The freelance field is competitive, so learning how to pitch your skills and services can help attract new clients. Some things you can do to make this practice easier include:
- Getting comfortable talking about what you can do and how it benefits the client
- Including a legal section in your contracts to look professional and ensure you get paid
- Explaining why you charge the prices you do, with breakdowns of your services on your website
Where Can You Find Freelance Marketing Jobs?
You may find freelance marketing jobs and clients both on- and offline. Offline, you may offer to do volunteer work for clients that may eventually hire you to do larger projects. You can also seek referrals from friends or colleagues, send cold emails, or make cold calls to startups and small businesses. Networking in person and online is another way to find clients. Online, you may take advantage of job boards and gig sites where people post their needs, and you can accept or bid on projects that interest you. Some of these sites include:
7 Popular Freelance Marketing Roles
Here is a list of seven popular freelance marketing positions to consider if you want to work in the industry:
1. Digital Marketer
A digital marketer does many jobs in all the niches and specialties. You may write newsletters, find influencers and partnership opportunities, or run PPC ad campaigns. The goal of this role is to improve brand recognition and increase sales and revenue for a company through digital efforts.
2. Content Marketing Specialist
Content marketing is a more specific type of digital marketing role. Here, you focus on writing and strategy for a company. You may work on projects like blog posts, eBooks, white papers, social media posts, and newsletters. Besides writing, you may also design project layouts and track metrics to determine if each piece performs how you expect.
3. SEO Specialist
SEO specialists focus on research and analyzing best practices to get web copy, websites, and other digital materials to rank as high as possible on SERPs. Your primary goal is to increase traffic to a website. You can do this by studying keywords and learning how to incorporate them into all materials to improve user experience and adhere to search engine guidelines.
4. Community Marketing Manager
Community marketing managers focus on how to build a group of followers and customers around a brand. They may search for influencers and find better ways to talk to customers that lead to conversions. Some may create spaces online that allow followers to interact and learn more about the brand.
5. Social Media Specialist
These digital marketers know all about social media, which platforms are most popular, and how to keep a brand relevant on each one. Some of their duties include creating and curating content for each channel and researching new platforms. Other responsibilities include running contests, interacting with followers, and analyzing performance data.
6. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Specialist
A SEM specialist focuses on how to use SEO best practices to affect paid searches. Your job includes researching and purchasing ad space on search engines. You also track how these ads perform to enhance your paid marketing strategies.
7. Partner Marketing Manager
Partner marketing relies on finding one or more organizations to connect with your company. The work you do together benefits consumers and increases sales for both entities. In this role, you’re responsible for finding viable collaborations, contacting the other companies, meeting with representatives, and planning events.
Freelance digital marketing can be a rewarding career if you like working closely with clients and setting your own rules. If you enjoy writing, creativity, and strategy, this role could help you earn a living and feel satisfied when doing your work.
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