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The Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Freelance Social Media Manager

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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 a social media manager.

What does a social media manager do?

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance social media manager, you need to understand what your days will involve and how to get results for clients.

Spoiler alert: working in social media isn’t as simple as putting a few reels on Instagram from a sunlounger in Dubai 😉

Let’s start with the content side of your role as a social media manager…

Each month you’ll be:

  • Planning your content based on the strategy you created when you took on the client.
  • Creating and scheduling the content using tools like Canva, Agorapulse and Metricool.
  • Copywriting and social media SEO.
  • Analysing the data from past content so you can strategically test new ideas.

But it’s not just about the content itself… you’ll probably also be dealing with:

  • Customer service and queries from potential customers.
  • Social listening (to identify brand mentions and other opportunities).
  • Crisis management (to secure the business’ reputation).
  • Social networking (aka engaging to reach more people).

And you can’t do any of that without first:

  • Writing a social media strategy
  • Which means you’ll be researching the business, target audience, competition etc.
  • Understanding the brand voice.
  • Carrying out a social media audit.

And you might also be involved in:

  • Planning and implementing launch campaigns (also known as promotional or sales campaigns)
  • Managing Meta, TikTok or LinkedIn ads (but never attempt it without knowing exactly what you’re doing)

Pssst.. you can charge a premium for these services!

And every month you’ll also:

  • Analyse the data.
  • Create reports for your clients.
  • Strategise with your clients for future content and campaigns.
  • Learn and test the latest platform functionalities.
  • Stay on top of trends and timely topics that could affect your strategy and tactics.
  • Roll your eyes a billion times when someone thinks being a social media manager is easy!

If you’re a freelancer, you’ll also need to:

  • Invoice so you get paid (in advance)
  • Market your own business (doing most of the above!)
  • Keep track of your finances and taxes.
  • Drink copious amounts of caffeine!

Grab our social media managers' glossary to learn the 48 social media and marketing terms you need to know to look and sound like a pro… even if you don't feel like one!

As you can imagine, to do social media management well, you'll need to develop many skills. But you can get started with a few core skills under your belt.

The essential skills required to be a social media manager are:


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

  1. Get an in-depth understanding of social media strategy.
  2. Decide which social media platforms you want to manage.
  3. Identify the brands you want to work with
  4. Decide the services you will offer
  5. Set your prices
  6. Market yourself as a freelance social media manager.
  7. 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?

It 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

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.

You can also offer a social media strategy as a standalone service, which is a great way to increase your income and help more businesses. Take a look at the Social Media Managers Toolkit for a full guide to social media strategy and a fill-in-the-gaps template you can use with your clients – loved by thousands of freelancers (and their clients!).

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.

The Social Media Managers Toolkit takes your marketing skills to the next level and helps you 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:

  • Location
  • Platform
  • Objective
  • Deliverables
  • Experience
  • 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.

Pricing is what many freelancers find hugely challenging, which is why we break it down AND provide a calculator in the Social Media Managers toolkit, which takes away the guesswork and gives you confidence in your prices.

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, grab The Client Attraction Kit

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!

Other frequently asked questions:

What qualifications do you need to be a social media manager?

You do not need any formal qualifications to be a social media manager. You will need to understand how to build and implement social media strategy and create content in alignment with the strategy and with the business goals in mind. You will also need customer service skills and an understanding of how to interpret the data to create monthly reports for your clients.

You can learn all the skills needed to generate results as a social media manager in our The Social Media Managers Toolkit.

How much do freelance social media managers make?

Freelance social media managers can make from 1k to 10k a month, or more, dependent on the services offered and the businesses you work with. Social media managers should never charge by the hour, and instead should create a bespoke price for each potential client.

The most common question in regard to pricing is ‘am I charging enough?' which we answer here and we also discuss it on our podcast here: “how much can you make as a freelance social media manager.”

How do I start freelancing as a social media manager?

To start freelancing as a social media manager, you should first work on your own social media marketing strategy. Prospective clients will expect you to have a social media presence, and you can treat your own social media platform as a portfolio.

Your first paying client as a freelance social media manager is unlikely to be a full management client. So with that in mind, you should ensure you have other ‘entry-level' services on offer for potential clients who might be willing to pay for your expertise on a one-off project.

A social media strategy or audit is a great way to boost your confidence and get your foot in the door with a client. Services like this can often lead to more opportunities with the business and their connections.

How much can you make as a freelance social media manager?

How much you can make as a freelance social media manager will depend on a variety of factors, including the sector and platform you work on. Organic social media managers can charge anywhere from £500 to £5000 a month (or more), and if you offer paid social media, you could charge even more.

WARNING: Be wary of taking pricing advice for your social media management packages from people who do not offer these services.

Do you need a degree to be a freelance social media manager?

NO! Formal qualifications in social media marketing are relatively new. While employed roles may require them, freelancers do not need to be qualified to offer a service as a social media manager. Experience, drive and a willingness to continue testing and learning are far more important and useful than a formal qualification or degree.

How do I become a freelance social media manager UK?

Follow these steps to become a freelance social media manager in the UK or worldwide.

  1. Learn how to drive results on your chosen platform
  2. Set up your business and register with HMRC
  3. Start your social media channels and begin marketing your business
  4. Ask friends and connections for referrals
  5. Pre-qualify your leads to avoid wasting time with people who cannot afford your services
  6. Learn to host a discovery call
  7. Set up your business systems to submit a proposal and onboard a new client

➾ The Social Media Managers Toolkit has all the systems you need to start and grow your business as a freelance social media manager.

How do I get my first social media management client?

Follow these steps to get your first social media management client

  1. Treat your business like a client and start marketing
  2. Reach out to friends and connections and ask for a referral
  3. Tell everyone what you are doing and who you are hoping to work with
  4. Provide great value on your social media channels to position yourself well
  5. Promote your services to your audience
  6. Attend networking events to make connections with your dream clients
  7. Join directories like Meet The Social Pro
  8. Track your prospects and check in regularly

How much should I charge for managing an Instagram account?

How much you charge for managing an Instagram account will depend on the account size, the business goals and the amount of work involved. If the account is busy and requires a lot of management to respond to comments and messages, your fee will be more than if it is a small account. However, if you need to proactively engage to build the account, spend time creating Reels and graphics and carry out influencer marketing or managing Instagram ads, you should ensure your fees cover that. Most Instagram managers will charge a minimum of £800 a month for one account, and many will charge significantly more.

More resources to help you become a freelance social media manager

➾ The Social Media Managers Guide To Finding Your First Clients

The Social Media Managers Toolkit This is the ULTIMATE Social Media Managers Toolkit, which our users describe as a ‘BUSINESS IN A BOX'! We are giving you absolutely everything you need to become a profitable social media manager.


Before you rush off...

We love watching you succeed more than we love binge watching Love Island, which is a lot #confession.

We’ve been where you are today... we launched (and still run) two successful social media freelance businesses and joined forces to help you do the same.

Hi, we are The Two Lauras

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