With over 5 billion internet users globally, digital marketing has become incredibly important for businesses. To get their brand in front of their target audience online, brands are spending more and more money in this space to ensure they are implementing effective digital marketing strategies to grow their companies online.
This means they are more than ever seeking skilled digital marketers to grow their online presence. While this brings endless job opportunities for budding and professional digital marketers, not everyone prefers their inflexible 9-5 jobs.
Freelancing has changed the work scenario by offering greater independence, earning potential, and eliminating commuting costs.
More and more digital marketers are therefore turning to freelance work after they’ve gained some work experience from companies to reap its rewards. But what is freelance digital marketing, and how does it work? This guide will give you insight on the good, the bad, and how to start earning money as a freelance digital marketer.
What Is Freelance Digital Marketing and How Does It Work?
Digital marketing refers to advertising products and services through the internet. A digital marketer might use social media handles, search engines, paid ads, or even mobile apps to promote products or services.
Traditionally, this is achieved while working in-house for a brand. Digital marketers are usually employed full-time by companies so that they can really understand the ins and outs of the company to make sure they are representing them properly in their digital marketing efforts.
So, what is a freelance digital marketer?
A freelance digital marketer works independently and not as a company employee. They get work per task or job. For instance, a client might hire them for a project, and the freelancer gets the money after completing the task and then their contract with that company is over.
Freelance digital marketers might be responsible for promoting clients’ brands through social media, emails, paid ads and search engines. Their daily activities include communicating with clients, doing market searches, and crafting a suitable marketing plan on a contract basis.
- Freelance digital marketers can work from any part of the world (I’m currently writing this article while sitting on a beach in Panama). A stable internet connection is all they need to connect with the client and get working. So, you can work uninterrupted whether you’re traveling or sitting in your living room.
- You have the option to choose your client. This means you can work with cooperative, friendly people and drop rude, mean clients who drain you.
- You can choose to work any time of the day so long as you meet the deadlines.
- You aren’t bound to pick tools or equipment like in a traditional work environment. Instead, you can select your preferred tools.
- Receive immediate payments after completing your digital marketing projects.
- You can work with any particular client regardless of the part of the world they reside in.
- Working as a freelance digital marketer is like running your own business. This means you’ll have a lot on your plate and must be efficient enough to tackle everything like a pro.
- You only get paid when you work. So, emergencies or sick days might affect your revenue.
- You do not get the benefits of working with a company (paid time off, insurance, and more)
- Hunting clients is not a piece of cake and you’re going to have to show that you know what you’re doing and have good work experience under your belt from a company before most people will be willing to hire you.
How Much Does a Freelance Digital Marketer Make?
Now that you have a better idea of the good and the bad of becoming a freelance digital marketer, you’d naturally probably want to know their earning potential. Various factors impact the overall earnings of freelance digital marketers, from the skills you have to the amount of work experience you bring to the table.
Put simply, someone with excellent digital marketing skills and more work experience has a better earning potential than a newbie. Likewise, your per hour or project rate also determines how much you end up making each month/year. So, the more work experience you have, the more money you’ll be able to demand as a freelancer.
Lastly, your luck counts, too. The more clients you have, the higher income you can generate. So, someone struggling to get a single client would earn less than a freelancer working with 4-5 clients. However, depending on the situation, it might be better to have just 1 or 2 clients that pay you a lot vs. having to juggle 4-5 clients as you need to make sure you’re providing a great service otherwise you’ll get bad reviews which will significantly hurt your ability to get more clients in the future.
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average for a freelance digital marketing professional is $68,767 annually in the US at a $33 per hour rate. Once again though, these numbers can go MUCH MUCH higher (just like a salary position) the more work experience you have under your belt.
But again, this varies per your location, hourly pricing, and the nature of the digital marketing project.
How to Become a Freelance Digital Marketer?
Becoming a freelance digital marketer isn’t far-fetched and is actually pretty easy to do once you have a year or 2 of working experience in digital marketing role at a company. However, you must know how the industry works to find the right clients and start working on digital marketing projects.
Being able to ditch office politics and being your own boss sounds enticing, but you must be prepared to handle things like a business owner if you want to break away from working for others and be your own boss. Here are a few tips below to help:
Polish Your Skills
Digital marketing is a versatile field. You must know the basics of various areas of Digital Marketing at the beginning (Social Media, Email Marketing, PPC, and SEO Marketing) – later, you can always choose a specific area and master it.
Aside from polishing your digital marketing-related skills, you must have some soft skills as well to thrive in the freelancing industry.
- SEO. Whether writing descriptions about the services you provide, product descriptions, articles or publishing blog posts, you must have basic SEO knowledge to rank and reach a wider audience so that people can actually find your business and quickly know what you offer.
- Marketing Analytics. Every digital marketer must learn how to collect the data and perform marketing analytics regardless of whether they want to provide ad services or manage email marketing as this is an important part of understanding where your leads and clients are coming from so you can double down in those areas.
- Copywriting. Even if the client hires a professional copywriter, you must have sound copywriting skills as a digital marketer to spot a better copy and provide helpful suggestions.
- Communication skills. Almost every freelancer talks about the importance of effective communication skills. Poor skills quickly turn off clients, and they’ll choose another freelancer over you even if they decide to hire you first – given your excellent bio and extensive portfolio.
- Negotiation skills. Because you have to set your prices, a few clients may not agree with your rates. Here’s where you’ll need solid negotiation skills to convince them why a particular project costs what you are charging and why you deserve a specific rate.
Build a Website
Unfortunately, many freelancers overlook or entirely skip this step but starting a website is crucial for your freelance business in giving you legitimacy and credibility.
Your website is the best place to display your portfolio and skills and highlight your services. It should be built so the clients can use it as a medium to contact you. It doesn’t need to be anything overly fancy. It just needs to show what services you offer, your abilities, and some case studies to show how you can help others.
So, make sure it’s easy to find this info, navigable, professional-looking, and SEO optimized.
Also, you’d need to choose between building a personal website or keeping it business-oriented. If you desire to promote your name, creating a personal website would be the way to go.
However, if you plan to turn your freelance business into a marketing agency, you’ll want to create a business website.
Connect With Other Freelancers
A great way to get started on freelancing is simply by reaching out to some people who are already doing it to hear about their ups and downs so you know how to better prepare yourself for this. Once again though, you want to make sure you have some work experience under your belt first with a company so that you’re actually ready to start getting clients so that you don’t bother other freelancers before you’re even ready to make the jump to work for yourself.
Drop them a message on Linkedin or send them an email to exchange ideas. It will help you promote your content, and you may create a partnership where you can get and send referrals with others.
Due to the fact that freelancing keeps you away from meeting colleagues regularly and hanging out, having someone to talk to and share your business struggles can be worth it.
Join Freelance Platforms
Once you know the ins and outs of freelance digital marketing, it’s now time for you to join some freelance platforms so you can start getting clients and hopefully start getting some work soon after.
Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Freelancer, FlexJobs, and Toptal are some popular freelancing platforms.
However, note that finding clients aren’t restricted to these “freelance platforms.” Social media channels aren’t freelancing mediums but offer an excellent opportunity to find clients so it’s great if you gain some experience in social media as well as this will help you grow your business in that regard too.
For instance, many freelancers claim to have found clients through LinkedIn and you can do so too. Simply build your profile, share what you can deliver, and you can start building your network of clients that way too.
Further, you can also find clients through Facebook Groups and Linkedin Groups.
Pick Your Speciality
Businesses are serious about their digital marketing strategies. As such, they cannot risk investing in a freelancer who claims to know “everything.”
Ideally, clients seek specialists in a certain area of digital marketing. Therefore, it’s best to become an expert in a few areas rather than to wear several hats simultaneously.
So, do you want to become a content marketing specialist, SEO expert, email marketing specialist, or social media marketing specialist?
The key is to opt for a discipline you enjoy working on because you’ll be more confident about it. Additionally, it’ll boost the chance of nailing each project and earning a reputation of a great hire in a competitive digital marketing freelance industry.
Learn to Write a Killer Cover Letter
Freelancers often struggle to write a compelling cover letter. Note that a project-specific cover letter isn’t similar to the one you write for an in-house job. You must convince the client within some 200-250 words that you’re the right fit for the job.
The key is to focus on WHAT THE CLIENT wants and highlight how you can help them instead of merely bragging about your skills.
Your work experience and skills must be relevant to what the client is looking for. Plus, it goes without saying that your cover letter must have a creative spark to grab the client’s attention.
Once you have a year or 2 of marketing work experience under your belt and know how to write a convincing cover letter, you’ll be able to start getting clients as a freelance digital marketer.
People are dramatically turning to freelance work, and we bet you’re in the same boat if you value working for yourself and being able to work anywhere in the world. Plus, if digital marketing is of interest to you, you now know what is freelance digital marketing and how you can get started once you’ve gained a bit of work experience in the field.
So, while anyone can become a freelance digital marketer, in order to make it as easy as possible to get clients and get paid well while starting your freelance business, make sure you get some good work experience first under a company so that you don’t have to struggle getting clients and not getting paid well.
If you need any help immediately getting the Marketing Work Experience that companies and future clients want you to have, JobPrepped gives you just that (as well as training) as we’ll give you 25+ bullet points of work experience across Social Media, Email, PPC, SEO, SEM, Lead Generation, Content Marketing and more all while you get to work 1-on-1 with a former Fortune 500 Top-Level Marketing Exec.
Due to the fact that having the right marketing work experience is the #1 thing determining whether you’ll get clients and project offers when you try to branch out and start freelancing, just make sure you focus on gaining this work experience first otherwise it can be extremely tough to ever successfully branch out as a Digital Marketing freelancer.