Businesses worldwide are leaning increasingly on social media to reach their target customers, which has led to a growing need for social media managers. With freelancers' benefits growing, now is a great time to become a freelance social media manager.
This article will teach you the core steps to becoming a freelance social media manager, or transitioning from being a virtual assistant to social media manager.
What does a social media manager do?
Before you become a freelance social media manager, you must understand what the role involves and how to get results for clients.
Social media managers have a wide range of responsibilities, including:
- Building a social media strategy
- Content creation
- Data analysis and reporting
- Customer service
- Social listening
- Crisis management
- Social networking
- Managing launch strategies & social selling
- Building and nurturing leads and community
Social media managers create content using tools such as Canva and Adobe Spark every day and schedule content using tools like Agorapulse. And a crucial part of their role includes proactive and reactive engagement strategies.
What skills do you need to become a social media manager?
To do social media management well, you'll develop many skills. But you can get started with a few core skills under your belt. The essential skills required to do this job well include:
Social media managers write a lot of copy to share their client's message with the target audience. So you must be able to write copy that grabs your audience's attention and gets the reader to take action.
Not all businesses will provide images or videos for the social media manager.
And even if they do, they'll need guidance to ensure what they provide is effective.
Good social media managers understand how to get the target audience to stop scrolling and have a creative mind to turn that into content for their clients.
Social media marketing is about being social. So it stands to reason that an excellent social media manager can communicate well. You'll be responding to comments, questions and sometimes even complaints, so your customer service skills should be strong.
Patience is one of the most essential skills of a social media manager for many reasons. Social media marketing is a long game; it can take months to see consistent results, so if you want a quick result, this might not be the best position for you.
Working as a freelancer also requires patience and resilience while dealing with clients. Many business owners do not understand the role of social media, and you might find yourself dealing with annoying questions and unrealistic expectations.
How to Become a Freelance Social Media Manager
- Get an in-depth understanding of social media strategy
- Decide which social media platforms you want to manage
- Identify the brands you want to work with
- Decide the services you will offer
- Set your prices
- Market yourself as a freelance social media manager
- Set up your business systems
Learn about social media strategy.
Social media management is not simply posting content to your preferred platform. If it were that easy to market a business on social media, companies wouldn't need social media managers!
Businesses hiring a freelance social media manager are looking for results, typically generating leads or sales or managing customer service. So your role as a social media manager starts with creating an in-depth strategy which outlines the key business objectives and a plan to work towards those goals strategically.
In-depth knowledge of social media strategy sets social media managers apart from virtual assistants who will focus on the administrative side of the role.
A social media strategy outlines all the moving parts you'll consider while creating content and managing a client's social media pages.
The strategy will outline essential information such as:
- Why does the business want to be on social media?
- Who are they trying to reach and connect with?
- What content will they be sharing, and when?
And will provide in-depth information on ten key areas, including:
- In-depth audience personas (also known as customer avatars) containing both psychographic and demographic information about the audience you are trying to reach on social media.
- The brand voice and content strategy
- Proactive and reactive engagement strategy
- Influencer strategy
- In-depth competitor analysis
- The social listening strategy
- Key metrics to track the success of the strategy
Unsure where to start with a social media strategy?
Get The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Social Media Strategy
Not all businesses are at the same stage in terms of their social media marketing. Their goals and objectives will differ, and they don't all need the same things.
Recognising this and providing a bespoke service – meeting your clients where they are – will set you apart.
What you do for a client at the beginning of their marketing pathway will differ from the deliverables of a more established brand. And you can adapt your pricing structure based on the level of support they need
Do you need to take a social media management course?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of courses teaching social media management. The vast majority focus on content creation and how each platform works.
And if you know the ins and outs of the platform you plan to work with, you are already one step ahead. Successful social media managers require more than knowing which buttons to press and how to create pretty graphics.
When you can get consistent results for your clients and help them to sell more of whatever they sell, you can charge a premium for your services.
So when choosing a course, look for ones that focus on getting your audience to take action rather than understanding the algorithm. Look for programmes that include social selling so you can deliver results to your clients.
We are somewhat biased, of course, but if you consider investing in your professional development, we highly recommend our unique, psychology-driven social media marketing programme.
Social prf takes your marketing skills to the next level and helps you to develop a strategic launch strategy to sell anything on social media.
Decide which social media platforms to work on.
Gone are the days when social media managers need to know everything about every platform, which is a blessing as they change so frequently that it is almost impossible to keep up.
Each social media platform has its merits. So choosing to specialise in Twitter marketing, TikTok creation, Instagram management, community management, or any other platform will be down to personal preference. We'd recommend you choose a platform that matches your skillset and knowledge.
If you're creative, you might lean more towards Instagram or TikTok. You might be drawn to Twitter or Facebook groups if you love conversations or customer service.
The key to being a successful social media manager is less about the platform you specialise in and more about the strategy you implement on your chosen platform. These days every social media platform requires an individual approach, so the most successful social media managers are those who specialise in one platform and position themselves as such.
Whichever platform you choose to specialise in, it's essential to have a presence on the platform. You can be discovered as a specialist by marketing your own business there and testing new features and strategies on your account.
Identify who you want to work with
The best thing about being a freelance social media manager is choosing who you work with.
People think that social media management is a saturated market; we disagree. There are over 25 million businesses on Instagram alone, so there are plenty of opportunities, particularly when considering how many clients you could realistically work with.
And the truth is that great social media managers are few and far between.
When you hone your skills, position yourself well and attract the clients you want to work with, you can afford to be slightly picky and turn away people who don't fit your definition of a dream client.
What services will you offer as a social media manager?
That sounds like a trick question, but deciding what you will be willing to do and what parts of the strategy you'll expect a client to manage or wish to outsource is essential.
Will you create content or only work with clients who provide it? Will you take responsibility for responding to complaints or inbound queries?
And remember, Social media managers don't just offer social media management! You might wish to diversify your income streams, and we'd recommend you do! Diversifying helps reduce the risk of relying on a handful of management clients.
Other services you may wish to consider include consultancy, training or even a membership in the future. There is no harm in thinking about those things now so you can plan for them moving forwards.
Set your social media management prices
How much should I charge for social media management?
Ah, that old chestnut! This type of question gets asked in our community all the time. And it's complicated to give you a straight answer because your fees will depend on several factors, including:
- Income goals
The first step in setting your fees is to consider your income goals. Once you know how much you want and need to earn, you can work backwards, weighing your available time, expenses and taxes.
We often see freelance social media managers wasting time creating pricing packages. Which we think is a mistake. Pricing packages can limit your income, attract the wrong clients and restrict your earning potential.
Instead, you should offer all potential clients a bespoke proposal based on the business's individual needs. Learn more about this in the Dream Client Workshop.
To find out how much freelance social media managers charge, we surveyed more than 300 global freelance and in-house social media managers and ad strategists. Read the results of the social media managers' prices survey on our website.
Find your first social media management clients.
Those first clients can be tough to get when you first go freelance, and it can be disheartening if you don't get leads straight away.
To help make it easier for you to win your first client, download The Social Media Managers Guide To Finding Your First Clients for free.
The first step is to treat your business as your best paying client by marketing it with a solid social media strategy. Show up on your favourite social media platform and connect with people who will hire, refer or help you in other ways. Remember the laws of reciprocity and be generous with your knowledge.
Set up your business systems
Deciding to become a freelance social media manager is just the first step to building a successful business. Your business needs systems to win, onboard, and work with clients professionally and efficiently.
Creating business systems sounds very formal and grown-up, but your future self will thank you for thinking about this early on.
Start by creating systems to help you:
- Turn leads into clients
- Onboard a client
- Get paid
- Manage content
From there, you can build more systems as you grow.
When we started working as freelancers, we wanted a plug-and-play system to help us quickly set up our business systems. But back then, nothing like that existed. So over the years, we developed and refined our business systems until they were perfect for our needs. And to help you to set up your business systems, we put everything we use into The Social Media Managers Toolkit.
The Social Media Managers Toolkit is everything we were looking for all those years ago. And it's used by thousands of freelance social media managers worldwide & gets rave reviews every day!
More resources to help you become a freelance social media manager
➾ The Content Bank – over 100 content ideas to help freelance social media managers market their business.
➾ The Dream Client Workshop – an introductory training to help you understand how to turn a lead into a client.
➾ The Social Media Managers Toolkit – all the systems you need to start and grow your business as a freelance social media manager.