The illusive career dream for many of us has always been the idea of being our own boss. Be accountable to no one, make your own hours…essentially do what you want, right?
Well, half true maybe.
Perhaps no one is going to chastise you for being 10 minutes late in the morning or for wearing your favorite, not-so-work-appropriate t-shirt. But at the end of the day you’re always accountable to that client of yours, and also to yourself, for finding the next customer.
Here at SumAll we’re all about making what you do easier. So we’ve distilled our top tips for getting started as a social media freelancer.
1. Don’t Hold Yourself Back
For many people the biggest barrier to entry can be themselves. They worry about how they’ll find their second, third, and fourth clients even before they’ve signed their first. They stress over how they’ll manage their reputation, how they’ll manage their business and how they’ll stay on top of the fast-moving industry.
Cast aside all the questions that are holding you back, because if you can’t jump in then the next few points of advice won’t be particularly helpful anyway. Start small, do one thing at a time, and don’t be afraid!
2. Know Who You Are
Deciding what kind of freelancer you want to be is crucial. Many people who talk about social media assume it’s a narrow focus, but in reality it is an incredibly broad discipline. Find your specialty and concentrate on building upon those skills. If you rock at refining LinkedIn profiles but Twitter gives you a headache, then own LinkedIn. If your services are all about using images to engage an audience, then finding the customer who is equally picture-happy will be easier. The more you uniquely distinguish yourself for the things you’re great at, the more obvious a choice you’ll become for your clients.
3. Create a Strategy
Not all clients are created equal. Just because you have five clients who all sell identical widgets does not mean that their goals – and therefore their strategy for success – should be identical.
The key to creating a strategy is understanding your client’s four C’s: Customer, Company, Channel, and Category.
Customer – Know your client’s audience, where they hang out, who they listen to, and what excites them.
Category – Focus on content that is relevant for your client’s business. Do they sell shoes? Don’t bother retweeting that picture of that red velvet cupcake, as delicious as you think it might look.
Company – Provide content and commentary that is unique to your client’s perspective and in their voice.
Channel – Not every social platform is right for every business. If your client is B2B you’re probably going to find LinkedIn to be a more useful channel than Instagram, and if you’re client is B2C, Twitter might be a great place to address any customer complaints.
4. Use Good Tools
From bookkeeping, to client communication, using good tools can save you a lot of time and effort.
For managing your business: GoDaddy Bookkeeping allows you to track cash flow, generates your 1099 tax forms, categorizes your expenses, and more.
For publishing content: Hootsuite makes it really easy to automatically schedule and publish the right content to the right platforms, minimizing you hassle.
For automating activities: IFTTT lets you automate different social media and business management tasks. So anytime you do a purchase for one client, it goes to a specific spreadsheet so you can keep track of what you’re doing for who and when.
For managing your content: Google Sheets is a great tool for managing and sharing your content plans. You can keep track of your conversation calendar vs. your editorial calendar and store strategic planning documents that you can use depending on style and client. Plan the content that not only works for you, but your client can understand and easily access.
For communicating with your client: We’ll give ourselves a shameless plug here. Social media freelancers swear by SumAll Reports. ROI on social can be really hard to prove, so wrapping it up in reports along with the metrics that matter most to your clients.
For creating visual content: With Canva you can either utilize your own graphic design skills or use their different templates sized for varying social media channels. Piktochart is another tool that is really useful for creating the ever-popular infographic.
5. Be Transparent with Your Clients
A happy client is an informed client. They don’t want to be a thorn in your side, (though sometimes it may feel that way) but they do want communication and transparency. Set their expectation early for what they’re going to see from you, and how regularly. Likewise, make it sure it is mutually clear what your clients’ goals are and how you plan to get there. You can then automate your reports and activities so your client is trained to get what they expect at regular intervals.
6. Get Third Party Certification
Many freelancers or wannabe-freelancers sometimes wonder how they can convey their knowledgeability and expertise in the social media space. Oftentimes clients will ask for a case study or ask for a reference, but what if you lack some of the broader experience and proficiency a client wants from you?
Certification courses are a great way to both gain some insight and some credibility and there are a number of them which are available at reasonable prices. Universities like NYU offer certifications with suite of courses available that cover an array of digital marketing topics. There are also the General Assemblies and Courseras of the world, which give you a quick education.
Then there are certifications like our own SumAll Partners Program and Hootsuite, which provide materials on how to become expert in specific social media tools as well as general best practices and widely useful information. Additionally, these programs, once completed, provide you a marketing channel through their directories where customers can discover your business for themselves.
7. Stay Engaged in the Social Media Space
Leads often come to you based on your social media presence so make sure you are very engaged in the space. You don’t need to have an opinion on every trending story or use every popular hashtag, but own your voice and share your thoughts on the subjects that matter most to you and your clients.
Industry events can also be a great place to find leads, since many attract small businesses who need guidance or bigger brands who need more support for their team.
Conferences like Social Media Week can be a great place to participate in pertinent conversations.
Updated November 22, 2017.