17 minutes to read this post
Ever thought about becoming a digital marketing freelancer? Scratch that, have you ever not started your day with thinking – “What’s next?”. Don’t worry about it, questioning your career is absolutely normal, we’re all constantly looking for something better. And for marketers, there are a lot of options to choose from. We can become head of a marketing department at a cool brand, be part of an agency, join a startup, start our own agency, become a marketing consultant or get into freelance digital marketing. All of them have pros and cons, which we’ll possibly discuss in a future post because for now, we’re focusing on the latter.
I’ll tell you more about freelance digital marketing as an amazing choice for you to grow professionally, develop new skills, expand your network, and fall in love with the job you do.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this piece.
What does it mean to be a digital marketing freelancer?
What’s the day-to-day of a freelance digital marketer?
What skillset is needed?
What are the income expectations?
How can anyone become a better freelancer?
What is a freelance digital marketer?
You might be surprised when I tell you that it can be anyone from anywhere. It can be an 18-year-old at the start of his career or a 40-year old that comes from technical engineering. Freelancing in itself is a lifestyle that anyone can adopt at any point in their life and career and it matters how and where you do it, not your past, school, jobs, or companies. I’m a big believer that anyone can do marketing. And please don’t take any offense to that. What I mean is that when I dropped out of college, I barely knew a thing or two about the world of marketing. But I’ve learned everything by myself googling, reading blogs, talking to experts from online communities, influencers, podcasters, social media managers working in agencies, CEOs and employees – EVERYONE. Yes, I really embraced the wonders of the internet.
I talked with all the people I could learn from.
I started to share my experience with them. And started taking courses – because again, internet comes to the rescue with dozens of courses on marketing and social media, like these ones.
And that’s the best part of it.
A freelance digital marketer is a professional with multiple ranges of skills from content and copywriting to social media, search engine optimization, ad creation, building websites, strategy building, and design. Digital marketers are all over the internet – they’re engaged in the online communities, join conversations on LinkedIn, share great content on Facebook and try to do anything they can to make sure their clients reach their goals (sales, generating leads, meetings, calls).
When thinking about the pros and cons of digital freelance marketing
Digital marketers love that they can sometimes work for themselves, travel around the world, save on commute, and unnecessary meetings that you can do via an online conference calls platform. At the same time, sometimes they’re struggling to work alone.
What are the pros of working in digital freelance marketing?
Live wherever you want (Bali, Hong Kong or Sydney)
Get to create your own schedule and be your own boss!
Save time & money on daily commuting
Enjoy a different office every day – choose any coffee shops or co-working space or just space that resembles an office
Choose the clients and projects you’ll spend your time on
Why would you not be in freelance digital marketing?
No fixed salary – you have to be crunch the numbers and make sure you’re earning enough
No company benefits, such as health insurance, 401k, free gym membership, etc.
You’re a one-man (woman) show – account, writer, designer, and analyst, sometimes it might get overwhelming
Distractions everywhere! Netflix, bed, food.
What’s the digital freelancer day-to-day?
When working as a digital marketing freelancer – learning becomes a daily thing, because as I mentioned earlier – it’s a one-man (woman) show. There are multiple responsibilities and tasks to do, and they vary every day, depending on clients.
A digital freelancer can learn anything from Photoshop to web design or HTML. Which is quite exciting for some of us.
Now, let’s think of how the day to day looks like in this profession:
1. Create a digital marketing strategy
2. Send monthly reports to the clients by using free marketing templates
3. Set up KPIs
4. Write blog posts
5. Create PDFs, eBooks, presentations, or any other promotional materials
6. Design case studies
7. Start a podcast (here’s a list for inspiration) or webinar
8. Design an infographic
9. Write newsletters
10. Copywriting for the website
11. Build the marketing funnel
13. Improve conversions and CTAs
14. Create social media calendars
15. Hold a webinar
16. Design a website (and monetize it)
17. Stay active in relevant online communities
18. Have a client meeting to discuss the next steps
19. Make Facebook or Google Ads
20. Search Engine Optimisation
21. Build backlinks for the website authority
22. Improve website speed
23. Sales calls
24. Onboard meeting for new clients
I know it might sound overwhelming, but there are dozens of productivity tools for better results. In case you’re looking for a digital marketing freelancer, you can use the list above to quickly build the perfect job description and help guide you through the requirements of your ideal candidate.
Did I miss anything? Let me know by tweeting this article and tag me on Twitter (@vladcalus)
What skills should a digital marketing freelancer have?
Firstly, set your expectations right. Freelancers sometimes run in circles doing lots of stuff and multitasking like never before. It sometimes gets to situations where everything is chaos – there’s a half-written tweet, a few paragraphs of an article, some pieces of design left in the trash, a client meeting starting in 10min and there’s always something catch up on. There’s a lot to learn in freelance marketing. You can become an expert in marketing by learning all types of skills or choose something to specialize in. Also, always keep an eye on marketing trends.
Some of us really hate e-mails, eblasts, and newsletters. And that’s why marketers have to learn the witchcraft of building the perfect newsletter, onboarding e-mails, outreach messages, or product updates. It’s a much-required skill. As an email marketing freelancer, you’ll highly improve your copywriting skills that will prove to be useful in other areas of your freelance job.
Some of the basics you need to learn are the following:
Ask for willingness to receive emails (remember GDPR?)
Find your perfect tool to work with (NinjaOutreach, Mailchimp, EmailOctopus, etc.)
Master the perfect headline (few tips here)
Write great copy for the email
Make sure you have powerful CTA
Always follow up (even up to 5 times, when doing outreach)
Clean your list, if people are inactive
I also found these email newsletter examples to be highly useful if you’re looking for inspiration.
Pro Tip: Even the best-written marketing email can only go so far if it doesn’t reach the recipient’s inbox. Fortunately, free spam checker tools like MailGenius help make sure your marketing emails get delivered (and opened) instead of getting lost in the spam folder.
Content Marketing & SEO
If you’re a Jedi with words and you type with speed of light, then skip this part. Content marketing is everywhere. From billboards to Amazon products, articles, websites. It’s one of the most useful skills for any digital marketing freelancer in my opinion, as any of them should be able to create a great copy. Did you know that Welcome Emails have an 82.57% Open Rate? That’s your perfect chance to charm your users with the perfect sales pitch.
I recommend checking out this piece by Inc. to learn more about Content Marketing. If you want to go more in-depth, I suggest signing up for Planable Academy. Upgrade Your Content Marketing OS. You’ll learn from 20 experts who are on the frontlines of content creation and workflow management. In each of the 6 chapters, you’ll deep-dive into every step of the modern content workflow. In the end, you’ll get clear guidelines on what to do next. The best part? It’s free.
Also, you can use some SEO tools that could help you in this process such as Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, Linkio.
You’ll also have to master what SEO means, how to build links with other blogs, rank on the first page of Google, optimize your website speed, and constantly outreach the website. It’s a hard and constant work but pays a lot- min. 500$ / month.
I’m not a data geek myself, but in the world of digital marketing, you should measure everything. It’s one of the greatest things about this industry – data is everything. Ideally, your analytics approach should be divided into three steps – capture data, analyze, and interpret it. Taking data-driven decisions should be one of the most important pillars and values of each marketer.
With Google Analytics Academy you can learn analytics with free online courses, learn about Google’s measurement tools so that you can grow your clients’ business through intelligent data collection and analysis.
Additionally here’s a great piece by Link Humans – The Complete Guide to Analytics in Digital Marketing.
Facebook, Google Ads & Social Media
Facebook Ads Manager is amazing, but a lot of small businesses and brands find it very complicated. And that’s exactly where you come into the game. There are A LOT of brands looking for someone to manage their Ads and this is definitely not a full-time job.
I’d say it’s more about monitoring the Ads and making sure you constantly optimize them. Also, learn more about sentiment analysis to understand how to better optimize your ads.
I totally understand the fear of facing the dragon. The first time I looked at Ads Manager I saw it as a complicated puzzle, and I just started poking holes. After a bit of research, I understood where to start from, found the best tips, and then chose it as one of the main platforms for my marketing strategy.
You don’t have to pay for Udemy courses to learn how to do Ads – it’s all online. Creating good ads is actually the trick. In the learning process, I suggest you create a fake page, you put some cents into it and play around with all the ad formats available. There’s nothing like practice when developing a new skill.
You’ll have to master both the arts of design and copywriting, to understand who exactly is the audience you’re targeting, their desires, needs, problems, and how you solve them. You’ll have to learn to convert your audience to website visitors and then to paying customers. Facebook Blueprint is one of the best resources if you want to learn how to do ads. In case you’re looking to learn more about Google Ads, here’s a great resource.
Where you can find the best freelance digital marketing jobs
Freelancer is not a typical employee in a company. They can easily choose from any variety of clients, depending on the budget and job required. Digital marketers working as freelancers provide their own conditions and consultancy on an independent basis. And a lot of them find their next client on one of the following platforms:
Make sure you have a great description on your profile, good profile picture, and a personalized message when looking to apply for a job. It will highly increase your chances. I’d also recommend you to read this piece. Oh, and don’t worry about the logistics for payment – there are tools such as Bonsai to help you with that.
What’s the salary of a freelance marketer?
LinkedIn recently introduced a new way to help its users and companies with their recruiting processes by showing salaries across countries, positions, and cities. It shows estimated data and salary ranges for open roles available on LinkedIn jobs. Numbers are either provided by employers or are estimated ranges from data submitted by members. The tool can be adjusted to reflect a professional’s experience, skills, education level, company size, industry, and location.
We can see that based on 1205 responses submitted by LinkedIn members who have this title in the United States, the average salary for a digital marketing manager is $72,000/year, in a range between $45K and $102k.
Digital Marketing Specialist – $51,000/yr
Online Marketing Manager – $77,000/yr
Digital Marketing Director – $110,000/yr
Digital Marketing Consultant – $70,000/yr
Social Media Manager – $53,500/yr
From these numbers, you can figure out some desirable hourly / monthly rate for you.
Let’s see what Glassdoor says:
5 tips to find your next client as a digital marketer
1. View profile → Connect → E-mail outreach → Follow up
It’s one of my favorite hacks. So, what’s the story? You can find your next client on Linkedin, as it’s a growing platform meant exclusively for professionals and it has over 300M users worldwide.
What should you do?
Step 1: Install a software, such as Dux Soup/Meet Leonard
Step 2: Choose the people you want to reach using LinkedIn Search
Step 3: Automate View Profile using the tools above
Step 4: Automate Connect Profile with the people from Step 3 (with a personalized message)
Step 5: Scrap their e-mails using Hunter.io or FindThatLead
Step 6: Send them a personalized email (take care of GDPR! If they’re in Europe, don’t do it)
Step 7: Follow up on Linkedin and email
Step 8: Set up a meeting
2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile with the best keywords and description
As I’ve mentioned, Linkedin is an amazing place to look for new clients, besides dozens of other marketplaces. Make sure you optimize your Linkedin profile with all the necessary details to target exactly the types of clients you’re looking for.
Some tips on optimizing your profile
Fill in every section
Make sure you have a professional headshot – it improves your chances to get your profile viewed with 14x
Add an inspirational cover photo (you speaking at an event, guiding someone or working)
Ask friends and connections to endorse your skills
Create a vanity URL
Get recommendations from past clients
Optimize your profile for search engines with keywords matching your description, for example – Digital Marketing Freelancer, Expert in SEO
Showcase your past work, clients, results, and numbers!
If you’re lucky enough, people will view your profile, check out your headshot, cover photo, and headline. Now they’re reading your bio, checking your website, and looking to connect. Bam! Great job.
LinkedIn is your main landing page to get new clients.
Be specific in describing what you do, and how you can help other people!
3. Bring value for free
Another secret for rocking the freelance digital marketing world is being generous. It takes time, but it’s beneficial without a doubt. Go to several Facebook/LinkedIn Groups (or your profile) and offer people your help in any marketing related problem (that you know). Here’s an example of a message
“Hey, awesome community!
I’m John, a digital marketing expert with more than 5 years of experience and I’m here to help. I’d like to offer to anyone interested a free 20 min consultancy on how to optimize your website and social media marketing strategy.
Interested? Drop a comment below.”
After that, you already have lots of leads and tons of people that can recommend you or intro to other companies needing a professional like you.
4. Engage in conversation
Give feedback to the people you think can improve their Facebook company page or Instagram profile. Just go right there, and write them a personalized message with a few things they can easily improve directly to get better reach and conversion on their product. There are a lot of rookie mistakes multiple brands still do such as:
Bad profile description
No CTA on the page
Low-quality profile picture
No engaging photo
Lack of links