Freelance digital marketing can be a very lucrative career. Being able to help businesses grow their online presence is likely a skill set that will continue to be vitally important long into the future. So, how do you become a freelance digital marketer?
The 6 steps to becoming a freelance digital marketer are:
- Develop your skills
- Identify your niche
- Create a portfolio
- Build your online presence
- Set your rates
- Start pitching clients
- Network and collaborate
I’ll dive into more detail on each of these steps below. I’ll also go through the roles and responsibilities of a digital marketing freelancer to help you understand if it’s the right choice for you. Stick around to the end as I’ll discuss how much you can make with this career path!
What Is A Freelance Digital Marketer?
A freelance digital marketer is a professional who specializes in promoting products, services, or brands through various online channels and platforms. Unlike traditional in-house marketers who work for a single company, freelance digital marketers operate independently, offering their expertise to multiple clients on a project-by-project basis.
Freelance digital marketing roles might involve things like search engine optimization (SEO), paid ad campaigns, content creation, social media management, and a variety of other digital-focused tasks.
Key Traits Of Freelance Digital Marketers
Here are some key aspects that define a freelance digital marketer:
1. Independence: Freelancers have the freedom to choose their clients and projects, allowing them to diversify their experience and work on a wide range of marketing campaigns.
2. Flexibility: Freelancers set their own schedules and work from anywhere with an internet connection. This flexibility is one of the main attractions of freelance work in general.
3. Specialization: Many freelance digital marketers focus on specific areas of digital marketing, such as social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, SEO, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, or web analytics. This means you can really nail down a particular skill set – and charge high rates for it.
4. Continuous Learning: The digital marketing landscape is constantly evolving (and fast), and successful freelance digital marketers must stay up to date with the latest industry trends, tools, and algorithms to provide effective services.
How To Start Freelance Digital Marketing
1. Develop Your Skills
Before you can offer your services as a freelance digital marketer, you need to acquire the necessary skills. Familiarize yourself with various aspects of digital marketing, such as SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising. There are many online courses, tutorials, and certifications available to help you gain expertise in these areas.
However, if you’re interested in this career path, you probably already have some knowledge in one of these areas. You can of course specialize as I mentioned above. But having some knowledge of a variety of different aspects of digital marketing can make you more employable as a freelancer.
This is because many potential clients will have wide ranging digital marketing needs. And you’ll probably be working with a wide range of people and departments. So having foundational knowledge in these key areas is a good idea.
2. Identify Your Niche
Digital marketing is a vast field, so it might be a good idea to specialize in a niche that interests you and aligns with your skills. Whether you’re passionate about ecommerce, healthcare, technology, or any other industry, focusing on a specific niche can make you a sought-after expert.
I recommend finding something you are at least somewhat interested in. Digital marketing is all about selling something – whether directly or indirectly. It’s going to be tough to turn up every day and sell something you don’t like or care about!
3. Build Your Online Presence
This is normally where I would suggest creating a portfolio – but that’ll be tough if you don’t have any digital marketing experience under your belt. If you do, create a website that showcases the results you’ve got in past roles. This could be traffic increases, revenue growth, or subscriber engagement.
If you don’t have any past work to point to, you can still market yourself with an effective online presence. Consider creating a website to showcase your services, and get active on social media (especially LinkedIn).
4. Set Your Rates
Knowing what to charge as a freelancer can be tough – but by researching your competitors and industry standards, you can get a rough idea of how to price your services.
You won’t be able to charge top dollar for your services as a beginner, but by providing consistently high-quality work and getting great reviews and testimonials, you can gradually increase your rates over time.
5. Start Pitching Clients
Once you have the skills, online presence, and pricing strategy in place, start pitching your services to potential clients. Use job boards, freelancing platforms, and your network to find opportunities (more on that in the next section). Tailor your proposals to each client’s needs and goals, showcasing how you can solve their specific marketing challenges.
6. Network And Collaborate
Networking is key to sustainably finding clients and building your reputation in the industry. Attend industry events, join relevant online communities, and connect with fellow marketers and potential clients on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
Collaborating with other freelancers or agencies on projects can also help you gain experience and expand your network. This can definitely be daunting at first. However, the relationships you can build can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
How To Find Freelance Digital Marketing Jobs
Freelancing websites like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, or Guru are great places to start your search for freelance digital marketing jobs. These platforms provide a wide range of job listings in various digital marketing niches.
To get started, create a comprehensive profile that showcases your skills and what you have to offer. Regularly browse and apply for relevant job postings to jumpstart your freelancing career. The specific processes vary between the platforms, with Fiverr focused on creating gigs and letting buyers come to you, while Upwork functions more like a platform where you bid on potential jobs.
As I said above, building a strong professional network is crucial in the freelance digital marketing world. Attend industry events, conferences, and local meetups to connect with potential clients and fellow marketers.
Engage in conversations and showcase your expertise, as personal connections often play a pivotal role in securing freelance projects. Referrals from your network can open doors to exciting opportunities, and you never know who you might meet!
Social Media Presence
Social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, can be very useful for finding freelance work. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to reflect your skills and experience in digital marketing.
Share valuable content related to the industry, engage in relevant discussions, and join groups or communities where businesses often seek freelancers. A strong social media presence can help potential clients discover your expertise and reach out to you for projects.
Can You Become A Freelance Digital Marketer With No Experience?
You can become a freelance digital marketer with no prior experience, but it will be more challenging. There are lots of useful resources out there that’ll help you learn the basics, but ideally you’ll have some form of experience with the kind of marketing you plan to offer as a service.
Firstly, invest time in learning the fundamentals of digital marketing through online courses, tutorials, and self-study. Gain a solid understanding of concepts like SEO, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising (or whatever areas you want to specialize in).
Next, consider offering your services at a lower rate initially to build your portfolio and gain valuable experience. As you accumulate projects and positive results, you can gradually increase your rates. You can offer to do some pro bono work in exchange for testimonials and feedback, but this clearly isn’t sustainable in the long run.
You Have To Start Somewhere
Basically, don’t be too disheartened going into the world of freelance digital marketing with limited (or zero) experience. We all have to start somewhere. If you put in the work and persevere, you can definitely make a career out of it. But is it hard to do?
Is It Hard To Be A Freelance Digital Marketer?
Becoming a freelance digital marketer can be both rewarding and challenging (boring answer, I know). While it offers flexibility, independence, and the potential for a lucrative income, it also comes with its own set of difficulties.
One of the main challenges is competition. The digital marketing field is highly competitive, with many freelancers and agencies competing for clients. Standing out and securing projects can be a tough task.
Continuous learning is another hurdle. Digital marketing is ever-evolving, and staying updated with the latest trends, algorithms, and technologies is essential.
Getting clients is another challenge you’ll face, especially at the start of your freelancing career. You also need to cope with variable income as a result, and you need to be highly motivated to stick to your own schedules and avoid burning out.
But it can be incredibly rewarding – which leads me on to the question of how much you can make as a freelance digital marketer.
How Much Do Freelance Digital Marketers Make?
Freelance digital marketers can make anywhere from a few thousand dollars a month to $100,000+ per year. The sky really is the limit in the realm of digital marketing, but there are some key factors that will determine how much you should expect to make.
Experience & Expertise: Experienced digital marketers who have a proven track record and specialized skills typically command higher rates than beginners, which should go without saying. Clients are willing to pay more for professionals with a history of delivering results.
Niche & Specialization: Freelancers who specialize in a particular niche, such as ecommerce or healthcare, may earn more because their expertise is in high demand. High-value industries also typically come with higher pay, such as finance and tech. This is because clients in these industries stand to gain a lot if their digital marketing campaigns are successful.
Type Of Projects: The complexity and scope of digital marketing projects can vary significantly. Larger, more intricate projects often come with higher fees. Freelancers may charge differently for services like SEO, content creation, social media management, and paid advertising. I suggest looking into the average rates for the kinds of projects you’d like to work on to get an idea of your earning potential.
As a rough estimate, freelance digital marketers can earn anywhere from $25 to $150 or more per hour, depending on the factors I’ve discussed above. Some sources estimate the average earnings at about $78,000 per year.
But ultimately how much you make will determine how hard you work and the kinds of clients you work with.
Freelance Digital Marketing Resources
Online Learning Platforms
- Coursera: Offers a wide range of courses in digital marketing, including specializations in SEO, social media, and content marketing.
- Udemy: Features affordable digital marketing courses on topics like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and SEO.
Blogs & Websites
- Moz: Offers comprehensive resources on SEO, including guides, blog posts, and tools.
- HubSpot Blog: Covers inbound marketing, content marketing, and sales with in-depth articles and guides.
Social Media & Online Communities
- LinkedIn: Join digital marketing groups and follow industry leaders to stay updated and network with peers.
- Reddit: Explore subreddits like r/DigitalMarketing and r/PPC for discussions and insights from others in the field.
- Online Marketing Made Easy (by Amy Porterfield): Offers actionable insights and strategies for online marketing.
- The Smart Passive Income Podcast (by Pat Flynn): Covers online business and marketing strategies (my personal favorite while I was walking to and from lectures at uni!).
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini: Offers insights into the psychology of marketing and persuasion.
- Digital Marketing for Dummies by Ryan Deiss and Russ Henneberry: A comprehensive guide for beginners.
- Upwork: A popular platform for finding freelance digital marketing projects.
- Freelancer: Connects freelancers with clients seeking digital marketing services.
- Fiverr: Allows freelancers to offer specialized digital marketing gigs.
Should You Become A Freelance Digital Marketer?
If you love persuading others, have a knack for selling, or just enjoy making great content, a career in freelance digital marketing could be an ideal choice for you. The field is vast, and pretty much every business on Earth could benefit from a solid digital marketing strategy.
This means the market – while competitive – is always expanding. If you want to learn more about what it takes to get into a field like this, I have a full guide on becoming a freelancer.