66% of millennials want to start their own business.
We want to take control of their finances, schedule and location. And have the freedom to achieve whatever we want in life…
Whether that’s travel, spend more time with family or to simply stop commuting.
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever.
You don’t need to rent a business space, pay for stock, staff or amenities. Simply set up a website and get going.
By the end of this guide you will be ready to make money online as a freelance social media manager, and set up your first client.
You’ll learn about social media goals, driving sales for your clients, content creation and curation, scheduling, reporting, contracts, outsourcing and more.
And if you want to start earning right away…
Grab the free social media management toolbox below.
Inside you’ll find a step-by-step guide for setting up your business, a proven system for choosing social media platforms, and templates for contracts and monthly reports.
Get it here:
Social Media 101The first step to becoming a successful social media manager is understanding social media platforms and where they sit in the buying process.
Every single time you’ve bought a product or service you’ve gone through this thought process.
Aware of a problem
Take action & buy
Different platforms are better suited to different stages, and when done properly, they can help shift your client’s customers onto the next stage.
Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter are best designed for the awareness stage. They’re great for clients who want to reach the masses and increase their exposure and fan base.
When someone is in the awareness stage the absolute best thing a marketer can do is entertain and inspire them. They’re not ready for product details or even brand details, they still need convincing that they have a problem and it’s worth resolving.
Facebook, YouTube and Google+ best designed for the trust stage. They’re great for clients who want to connect with their fan base and improve their branding.
At this stage the best thing a marketer can do is stand out from the crowd. Convince consumers why their brand is worth buying from. But of course, they still need entertaining! A blatant sales pitch will break their trust.
Pinterest and LinkedIn are best designed for the action stage. They’re great for clients who want to increase their sales and web traffic.
At the action stage customers are no longer identifying the problem or searching for the solution. They’re finally ready to buy. So you can post ‘make and model’ information about your products and services without scaring people away.
When choosing platforms you need to take more into account than just the buying process and your client’s social media goals. You also need to consider their product and/or services, the type of business they run and their target market.
For example Snapchat is a great platform for personal brand businesses. Beauty technicians or personal trainers can use Snapchat to build a rapport with customers, make them smile and remind them that the service is available. This could be short clips showing new types of nail designs or work out techniques, playing around with filters, promote sales or even offer Snapchat exclusive sale codes.
Of course, as a social media manager you can’t run this on their behalf. But you can still learn the tricks of the trade as pass them on to suitable clients as a bonus.
A few important tips to remember when match making clients & platforms:
- 3 accounts per client is ideal.
- The 80/20 rule applies. Focus primarily on whichever account gets the best results.
- Don’t change platforms often, and when you do allow 3 months for the new one to take off.
Each platform prefers a certain type of content. Once you understand that preference you can create content that won’t only excel on that platform. It will actually add value for consumers, rather than annoy them…
Pinterest prefers tall images that are informative or inspiring, for example:
- Product photos
- Blog links
Instagram prefers square photography, short videos and short stories, for example:
- Flat lays
Snapchat prefers videos and photos that are fun and silly, for example:
- Quick snaps
- Behind the scenes
- Filters & playing around
Facebook prefers updates with a video or photo attached, for example:
- Informative or funny videos
- Blog posts
- Behind the scenes
- Business updates or sales
Twitter prefers updates with GIFs or images. But as long as it’s under 140 characters, anything goes:
- Lighthearted dad jokes and puns
- Serious updates and topics
- Relevant topics
- Don’t forget your #hashtags
More than any other platform Tumblr has it’s own culture and language. Tread carefully here, and focus on mastering your company ‘voice’. A couple of content options to consider:
- Fun product images
- Blog posts
LinkedIn prefers blog posts and statuses with an image attached. You could also include:
- Informative videos
Google+ is very unrestricted, there’s no real preference. Some content options are:
- Blog posts or articles
- Status updates
YouTube is, of course, videos only. A couple of options to consider:
- Product demonstrations/ unboxing
- Customer testimonials
- Quick tips
- How to…
- Industry news
For each post you can either use created content or curated content.
Created content is literally created by you. This is great because you can create content that’s perfectly designed with your client in mind. Use their logo, target their market and funnel traffic to wherever you need it to go. Created content is cheap, but it’s also time consuming.
Curated content is content created by others. It could be content created by another business, or content you’ve outsourced to an outside party to complete for you. Neither of these require much time to find or organise.
Curated content is hugely beneficial. When you share another business’s relevant content you’re providing genuine value for the end user. It builds trust and shows you’re there to serve them, not constantly sell. However the other business receives the greater benefits. You’ve introduced their logo and message to a new audience, and they can then funnel this audience to wherever they want them.
You can find examples of business’s created and curated content in our Udemy course. Some of these examples absolutely smash the platform’s preferences. Other examples show how easy it is for businesses to miss the mark and fail miserably.
Finding Curated Content
Each platform has its own curating etiquette.
On Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+ sharing posts is easy and encouraged.
When you’re looking for curated content on these sites, don’t just sit on your timeline waiting for things to pop up. Go and find it!
For Facebook I would recommend putting together a list of popular pages that are relevant to each of your clients that you can always turn to for content.
You can use the same trick for Tumblr, Twitter and Google+, but it might be easier to just search the relevant hashtags.
And when you’re looking for relevant posts and articles to share, take advantage of curation websites like Feedly and Digg.
On Instagram it’s a little more complicated and time consuming. You can build a relationship with fellow businesses by messaging them, complimenting their images and asking permission to repost them with credit. Or you can build a relationship with your followers by starting a hashtag in your bio and offering features. Note this will only work if you have a large and engaged following!
On YouTube and Snapchat curating other people’s work isn’t an option. Unless you’re hiring a freelancer to create your client’s YouTube videos.
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a freelance social media manager is time management. Especially when it comes to creating content.
There are plenty of amazing resources out there for creating images. Some, like Photoshop, are very in-depth and can create endless different images.
But there are also resources out there that are far more simple and efficient. Yet can create equally stunning images, for free!
Canva is my go to. It’s incredibly diverse. You can create an image for almost any online need. It also has great pre-designed layouts you can customise to suit each clients needs.
Pablo by Buffer is another resource you need to try. It can create hundreds of quote images in almost no time at all, perfect for platforms like Twitter!
Scheduling ContentHow you schedule content is almost as important as the content itself. You have to figure out the right amount to post, the right time to post, and the right tool to use.
There is no set answer to any of these questions. It completely depends on your client, their product or service, their social media goals and most importantly, their end users.
For deciding the best time to post online, here are some questions to consider…
- Do you post in working hours and give the illusion someone has sent it from the company, or take advantage of down time web traffic?
- Where are the majority of their customers based? Is it 50/50 between two countries? If so when do their time zones overlap?
- Picture your clients target customer. Where do they live? What do they do for work? What do they do in their down time? What is their commute? How old are they?
Use all your answers to guess when end users are most likely to be scrolling through social media. And then experiment with those times to maximise the organic reach.
How many times you should be posting to each platform also depends primarily on your client and their audience. Here are some starting guidelines to experiment with:
Less than 10k followers: 1-5 times a month
More than 10k followers: twice a day
(Based on maximum clicks per post)
For maximum engagement per tweet: 1-5 a day
For maximum engagement over all: unlimited
LinkedIn: 20 per month, or 1 per weekday
Snapchat: 1-5 posts a day
Google+: up to 5 times a day
Tumblr: 1-3 times a day
Instagram: consistency is more important than frequency. Choose an amount that works for you and stick with it. 1-3 times a week is a nice starting point.
YouTube: consistency is more important than frequency. Set a strict schedule and stick to it.
|Pricing||Free forever option.
Paid plans within a range of $10-$99.99/mo.
|Free forever option.
Paid plans within a range of $10-$399/mo.
|Greatest Pro||Hootsuite offers unlimited scheduling and community management for free. That’s a great bargain and you can pretty much do your entire job via one website.||Because it’s such a simple scheduler it saves you a lot of time and brainpower. You can upload all your content in batches and then simply shuffle it.|
|Worst Con||It takes a little bit longer to get to grips with how it all works, and there’s no shuffle button. So you have to plan everything out elsewhere and then upload it all according to the plan.||The free forever option is only a taster, limited 10 scheduled posts per account. Buffer becomes useable once you upgrade for $10 a month, but still limited to only 100 scheduled posts per account.|
|Best for…||All of your clients! It’s such a great bargain you should absolutely start off all your clients with their own Hootsuite account.||Social media managers with a lot on their plate. As your client list grows your time and brainpower becomes more valuable. Buffer is a great way to lighten the load, especially for clients with a simple social media strategy.|
The best options for scheduling pins on Pinterest are BoardBooster and Tailwind.
BoardBooster is my personal favourite because it builds the repin count, but a lot of other social media managers swear by Tailwind. I would recommend trying them both with a free trial and then deciding which one to use based on the results.
And if you follow our Tailwind link you’ll get $15 free credit! ?
Freelance Business Building 101
Finding & Setting up Clients
Getting your first client is one of he largest hurdles you will face.
It’s tempting to take a scattergun approach and reach out to hundreds of companies…
With the hope that SOMEBODY will reply and take you on.
Don’t do this.
Instead, take a laser gun approach.
Make a list of ten or less companies that you would absolutely love to work for – and focus on delivering a ton of value.
Send them a free social media audit. Film a short video for them. Reach out to them on multiple platforms.
This strategy is covered in great detail inside our Udemy course.
Then, once you find your first client, it’s time to shift to setup mode.
I’ll be honest, the first time you set up clients it can be pretty daunting!
Imposter syndrome is real, especially in the self employed industry. But you are not a fraud! Everything you need to know to do this job is laid out right here and in the free cheatsheet. So relax, you’ve got this!
The first meeting with clients is really important. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a serious presentation or anything even remotely like that. A casual chat over coffee or Skype is absolutely fine.
Here’s what you need to discover:
- What’s their primary SM goal?
- Web traffic, leads and sales or branding and exposure? (Make it clear that for SM to be effective they can only focus on one. And if they don’t understand the jargon give some examples).
- What platforms they are on now, and how successful have they been?
- Other than achieving their primary goal, is there anything else they are expecting from your business?
After the meeting you need to send them a contract. Clearly explaining what they should expect of you and your payment terms. This puts everything out in the open so any misunderstands can be sorted out now rather than in the future.
If you have absolutely no idea how to write a contract, don’t worry! We’ve included an example contract in the free social media management toolbox, you can even copy it word for word.
It’s so important to measure your client’s developing social media accounts. If you have clients who don’t truly get social media, monthly reports can help break it all down and show them the benefits.
It’s also a great way to show your worth and remind all your clients why they hired you rather than anyone else. Taking the time each month to put these together is beneficial for you too. You can examine the data and get some insight to why some content got results while others didn’t. All of this can improve your future decisions and your confidence as a social media manager.
However you create your reports is up to you. An easy way is to go into each of their platform’s analytics section and screenshot the relevant data. Make sure your report highlights the social media goals your client has chosen and the steps your taking achieve them.
If you’re looking for an even easier way to create reports, use our free template! Included in the free social media management toolbox.
Buffer and Hootsuite both include inbuilt monthly reports, but you will need to upgrade to access them.
Outsourcing is optional. Some social media managers outsource right from the get go. Some wait until their work load is unmanageable before taking the plunge. And others decide to stop taking on new clients before that cut off point so they never have to outsource at all. The decision is completely up to you.
Outsourcing can give you more time, more clients and freedom from work you’re not particularly good at or simply don’t enjoy. However it also gives you the headache of finding reputable contractors that produce great work without letting you down. And of course, it will cost you!
You can also take outsourcing to the next level and hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) or employee to cover the admin side too. For example curating content, scheduling, invoicing and writing the monthly reports. At this point your role switches to management, overseeing campaigns and finding new clients to fund the operation!
Being let down by contractors is almost inevitable. So here’s some tips for covering your back:
- Make sure you have far more contractors on file than you need, this way you always have another one to fall back on.
- Set contractors deadlines much earlier than the actual deadline, this gives you time to find a replacement.
- Keep checking in with them and asking if they need anything extra to get the job done. This serves as a reminder and gives them a chance to ask little questions they otherwise might not.
- If you can afford it, hire two separate contractors for each task. When the results come in you can choose a favourite, cherry pick the best from both, or use them both seperately. And if one lets you down, there’s no stress or rush to hire another one in time.
If you come from an employed background where you’ve always had a manager, managing your own time can be a bit tricky to get used to. Especially as your clientele and work load grows.
The best thing to do is sit down and schedule your tasks based around a monthly cycle. Each month you put in the ground work for the next months content.
At the start of the cycle you create all your content, starting early on the bigger tasks like blog writing and video making. Working down to the easier tasks like curating content.
Towards the end of the month schedule all of your created and curated content to start going out at the beginning of the next cycle. (Don’t schedule this at right at the end of the cycle, give yourself breathing room for when things don’t go as planned).
Create the reports and send invoices for the content that was scheduled in the previous cycle and has been going out during the current one.
All clients invoices are sent out at the same time and are due at the same time. When the payment comes in the next cycle begins.
If this all sounds a little daunting don’t worry! We’ve included 3 example monthly cycles templates for you to build on and make your own. They’re included in the free social media management toolbox!
Get it here: