Guide to Being a Successful Freelance Digital Marketing Expert

by Mahabub Alam
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The Definitive Guide to Freelance Digital Marketing 2024

Embark on a dynamic journey through freelance digital marketing, where innovation meets expertise. Discover the unparalleled impact of harnessing independent professionals to elevate your online presence & propel your business to new heights. Unleash the power of freelance digital marketing and transform how you connect, engage, and thrive in the digital landscape.

What is freelance digital marketing?

Freelance digital marketing involves offering online services, such as SEO, as an independent contractor rather than a regular employee. In this field, freelancers seek out clients seeking digital marketing solutions for their businesses and deliver services on a task-by-task or project basis to meet specific needs. While freelance digital marketing is usually done in the short term, some contracts, like ongoing social media page management, may extend longer.

Freelance digital marketing statistics:

Freelance digital marketing statistics

If you’re unsure about diving into freelancing, take a look at these essential freelance statistics. You’ll quickly see that freelancing has become a widely embraced and practical means of earning a living, regardless of your location. (Source)

Are you wondering about the income potential in freelance digital marketing?

Are you wondering about the income potential in freelance digital marketing

As of November 14, 2023, the average yearly salary for a Freelance Digital Marketing Manager in the United States is $87,280. This equates to approximately $41.96 per hour, $1,678 per week, or $7,273 monthly. While salaries range from $35,000 to $136,000, most fall between $69,500 (25th percentile) and $100,500 (75th percentile). Top earners (90th percentile) make $121,500 annually. The significant pay range, up to $31,000, suggests numerous opportunities for career advancement and increased pay based on skills, location, and experience. 

ZipRecruiter continuously analyzes its extensive database of local job postings for the most accurate estimates in the dynamic Freelance Digital Marketing Manager job market across America. (Source)

How to become a freelance digital marketer:

Embarking on a freelance digital marketer career requires various actions, such as honing your skills, promoting your services, and securing clients. To delve deeper, if you aspire to pursue a freelance digital marketing path, consider the following five steps:

1. Freelance digital marketing roles:

Freelance digital marketing roles

Digital marketing encompasses various niches. To thrive, narrow your freelance services to one or two specific areas that align with your most vital skills. For instance, if you excel in creating and strategizing ads, you might specialize in social media advertising.  Here are some prevalent roles in freelance digital marketing:

Market Analytics

Market Analytics:

Market analytics involves a thorough evaluation of the target market for your business and the competitive dynamics within a particular industry. This assessment enables you to forecast the success anticipated upon introducing your brand and its products to consumers in the market.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing:

Inbound marketing is a digital approach designed to draw customers to your business by creating valuable content and engaging experiences connecting with your target audience. This strategy emphasizes the importance of producing content and sharing information to reach customers rather than depending solely on advertisements.

Build brand awareness

Build brand awareness:

Brand awareness is how consumers recognize a specific product or service. A campaign for brand awareness aims to acquaint the public with a new or updated product and highlight its distinctions from competitors. Social media has become an essential tool in marketing strategies to build brand awareness.

Social media management and paid promotion

Social media management and paid promotion:

Paid social media involves showcasing sponsored advertising content on external social networking platforms, intending to reach and target specific customers. Marketing leaders frequently employ paid social strategies to enhance marketing efficiency and attract new subsets of customers.

Digital content creation

Digital content creation:

Digital content creation involves brainstorming appealing topic ideas for your audience and crafting written or visual content based on those topics. The goal is to present information and demonstrate your expertise to anyone engaging with your content.

Search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization (SEO):

SEO involves arranging and optimizing content to ensure that Google, search engines, Bing, and Ecosia identify its value and rank it in search results.

Freelance digital marketers who specialize in SEO often collaborate closely with the content team, employing industry best use to optimize content for search engines.

Search engine marketing (SEM)

Search engine marketing (SEM):

While they may sound similar, SEM differs from SEO. In SEM, freelance digital marketers craft, place, and oversee ads within search engine results to market a business.

Their tasks involve researching keywords and assessing the effectiveness of pay-per-click (PPC) ads.

Email marketing

Email marketing:

Freelance digital marketers start email marketing by defining goals and understanding the target audience. They create compelling content, design visually appealing emails, and utilize personalized strategies. They optimize campaigns for effectiveness by implementing segmentation, testing, and analytics, fostering engagement and measuring success through fundamental metrics like open and click-through rates.

2. Develop your skill set:

Enhance your skills through online courses, video tutorials, or local workshops. Take the Google Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Professional Certificate on Coursera, a quick way to acquire job-ready skills in under six months.

Certificates reassure clients about your capabilities and show your commitment to ongoing education and staying abreast of industry trends.

Explore online certifications and boot camps or pursue a degree in digital marketing. For a bachelor’s, consider majors like marketing, advertising, marketing management, or business administration focusing on digital or social media management. Many universities offer digital marketing degrees online with similar concentrations.(Source)

3. Build an online presence with a portfolio:

To thrive as a freelance digital marketer, effective self-promotion is critical. Consider crafting a website featuring your bio, work samples, and contact details for potential clients.

In your “About Me” section, provide a concise work history, relevant degrees or certifications, and insights into your personality and hobbies. Keep it professional and brief.

Create a portfolio showcasing your work to give clients a glimpse of your capabilities. Ensure it’s visually appealing with clear formatting and regularly updated.

Make it easy for clients to reach you by including a visible contact page on your website. Provide an email, phone number, and links to your professional social media, such as LinkedIn. (Source)

4. Set your pricing:

To establish your pricing as a self-employed digital marketer, consider various structures such as hourly, project-based, daily, retainer, or a combination. Many freelancers opt for hourly rates. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set your rate:

  • Determine your annual income goal. You aim for $60,000 a year and plan to work 40 hours a week for 49 weeks, allowing for three weeks of vacation.
  • Multiply your weekly hours by the number of weeks: 40 hours x 49 weeks = 1,960 working hours.
  • Calculate your initial hourly rate by dividing your target income by the total working hours: $60,000 / 1,960 hours = $30.61/hour.

Note: Not all hours are billable. About 60 to 85 percent of your time is billable, with the rest devoted to non-billable tasks like emails and marketing.

  • Adjust for a non-billable time by removing 40 percent of your total hours: 1,960 hours x 0.40 = 784 non-billable hours.
  • Deduct non-billable hours from your total, resulting in 1,176 billable hours. Recalculate your hourly rate based on billable hours: $60,000 / 1,176 billable hours = $51.02/hour. Adjusting for non-billable tasks provides a more accurate hourly rate to meet your income goal. (Source)

5. Find clients:

Explore popular freelance platforms such as FlexJobs and Upwork to discover new clients. Apply for relevant jobs on these platforms to build your portfolio.

Reach out to local businesses, including those owned by family or friends, to discuss their marketing needs.

Enhance your website by incorporating a lead magnet, such as offering an ebook in exchange for an email address. Utilize collected contacts to send personalized emails, initiating conversations about marketing and your services. (Source)

Referencing research from Statista [3], freelancers often find work through various sources:

  • Previous clients
  • Friends and family
  • Social media
  • Professional contacts
  • Online ads
  • Online job boards
  • Previous employers
  • Sharing economy (peer-to-peer) websites or apps
  • Local newspapers
  • Employment agencies

What tools or technology are essential for an aspiring freelance digital marketer?

What tools or technology are essential for an aspiring freelance digital marketer

Throughout your journey in digital marketing, you’ll encounter a variety of tools. Clients may request specific tools within their company, or you may choose your tools to manage your freelance business efficiently. Here’s an overview of tools you’re likely to encounter:

  • Communication tools: Google Workspace, Slack
  • Scheduling tools: Calendly, MeetFox
  • Project management tools: Trello, Asana, Airtable
  • Financial software: Quickbooks, Wave
  • Time management software: Toggl, Clockify
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms: Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho
  • Writing tools: Grammarly, Hemingway App, Evernote
  • SEO tools: Semrush, Ubersuggest, Spyfu, Ahrefs

Popular Websites of Digital Marketing Freelancers:

Popular Websites of Digital Marketing Freelancers

Pros and cons of freelance digital marketing:

Pros and cons of freelance digital marketing

Freelance digital marketing tips:

1. Treat it like a business:

You’re not just a freelancer; you’re a business proprietor.

To approach your freelance career as a business, consider establishing a dedicated bank account, ensuring fair compensation by setting competitive rates, and maintaining a consistent work routine regardless of your current motivation levels, as long as you’re in good mental and physical health.

2. Keep learning:

Invest in professional development by staying informed about your industry and consistently updating your skills.

While it might be tempting to prioritize securing one gig after another, it’s crucial to allocate time to invest in yourself.

Creativity is essential in digital marketing & you can’t tap into inspiration from an empty well.

3. Establish clear boundaries:

While being your boss offers the flexibility to work from 9 to 5, it also comes with the risk of overworking and being available around the clock without colleagues to share the load.

Avoid overbooking and being constantly tied to your inbox, responding to client requests around the clock.

Define firm boundaries regarding your work hours and allocate specific times for your hobbies and spending time with loved ones.

4. Increase your rates consistently.

Act as a supportive manager for yourself by regularly raising your rates. This practice reflects the value you place on your work and the services you provide to clients. Additionally, it enables business growth, as maintaining the same rates for an extended period hinders scalability.

Consider adjusting your rates every six months. During my early career, I raised them with each new client. The frequency of rate adjustments is a personal choice.

5. Prioritize regular breaks:

Ultimately, prioritize self-care. The sustainability of your freelance career heavily relies on how well you take care of yourself since you are the driving force behind your business.

Pushing yourself to the point of burnout is the fastest route to undermining all your diligent efforts. Therefore, schedule breaks regularly, whether it’s every quarter or even every week. I adhere to a six-day workweek and aim to take a week off every quarter. The investment in self-care always pays off. 

Reasons to choose digital marketing as a career:

Reasons to choose digital marketing as a career

Factors to Contemplate Before Embarking on a Digital Marketing Career:

Factors to Contemplate Before Embarking on a Digital Marketing Career

Before taking the plunge into the industry and submitting your resignation, assess whether a career in digital marketing aligns with your interests and capabilities. Pose these questions to yourself:

  • Marketing Knowledge: Obviously, you need enough marketing knowledge like consumer behavior, market analysis, understanding of customer journeys, and market trends. 
  • Creativity: Do I possess the creativity needed to formulate marketing strategies across various platforms and media?
  • Writing and Editing Skills: How strong are my writing and editing skills?
  • Analytical Abilities: Do I enjoy analyzing campaign results and refining strategies until I find the optimal fit?
  • SEO Knowledge: How well do I understand SEO, and am I willing to enhance my knowledge in this area?
  • Tech-Savviness: Am I tech-savvy?
  • Design Acumen: Do I have an eye for design?
  • Community-Building Skills: How adept am I at building and nurturing communities?

These inquiries shed light on some essential skills required to excel in digital marketing. While not every skill is universally necessary for all facets of digital marketing, a foundational understanding of them is vital, given their significance to the overall digital marketing strategy and endeavors.

If you remain convinced that this career suits you, exploring the potential earnings as a freelance digital marketer might solidify your decision.

Freelance digital marketing FAQs

1. What is the role of a freelance digital marketer? 

A freelance digital marketer is an independent professional who utilizes various marketing channels to assist businesses in promoting their products and services. Typically, freelancers specialize in specific digital marketing channels.

2. How much can you earn as a freelance digital marketer?

Earnings for freelance digital marketers vary widely based on industry and experience. Annual revenue is influenced by specialization and niche within the chosen field.

3. Is freelancing in digital marketing a viable option?

Absolutely! Freelance digital marketing is a sustainable career choice. The adaptable nature of the work allows for a flexible freelance schedule. Select a specialization that resonates with your interests!

4. Can I pursue digital marketing freelancing without prior experience?

Certainly! Begin by taking introductory courses in the field and then apply your knowledge to real-world scenarios. For instance, if interested in SEO, start a blog focusing on SEO and refine your skills through practical experience, even by assisting a friend in optimizing their blog.

5. What qualifications are necessary for digital marketing?

Digital marketing doesn’t mandate specific educational qualifications. While a degree in marketing or journalism can be beneficial, it’s not essential. Consider upskilling through digital marketing programs and prioritize gaining practical experience, as it holds more weight. The necessity of a degree for a career in digital marketing is explored further in this discussion.

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