Becoming a freelance marketer is a great idea if you would like to work remotely, reduce the number of hours you work per week, or have greater flexibility. If you have decided that freelance marketing is your next career step, I'd like to share some tips with you.
I've been both a full time & part time freelancer over the last 7 years and have used freelancing to work remotely in Lisbon, Milan & Scotland. It's been very useful as a remote job, it's taught me how to run a small business & the skills I have now mean that I can always use them whenever I need to work remote again. For example, if I decide to start a family and go on maternity leave.
If you are considering becoming a freelancer I say go for it! Theres nothing I regret about going freelance all those years ago its a wonderful skill to have.
Difference between Freelancer Marketer and Marketing Consultant
There is a difference between a freelance marketer and a marketing consultant, if you have decided to become self-employed and want to set up your own marketing business then you'll need to understand the difference and decide which route to take.
In summary, a Freelance Marketer is more hands on. As a freelance marketer you will carry out most of the work for the client yourself. Depending on the size of the company you are working with you might still be involved in strategy, but largely, as a freelance marketer, unless you are specifically offering strategy as your service you will be carrying out the marketing activities which deliver the strategy set out by your contact at the company you are working for. Freelance Marketers also tend to be more specialised on the area they are delivering on.
So, you might be a freelancer writer, who is writing content for a company blog or the company website. You might have a role as a freelance social media manager, who is creating content & scheduling it out through Instagram, Facebook or Tik Tok. Or perhaps, you are a link builder who is pitching guest posts or building relationships with other bloggers in your niche.
As a Marketing Consultant you will be involved primarily with the strategy & implementation however you will not be executing on many of the activities. You will be finding freelancers to carry out the activities and then reporting on the results of the activity to your client. You will more likely be involved with a broad number of activities across different channels which work together to create your Marketing Plan.
A Marketing Consultant operates more like a Manager and a Marketing Freelancer more like a Marketing Executive.
Usually, Marketing Consultants get paid more than Marketing Freelancers. This is not always the case because if you specialise as a Marketing Freelancer and deliver exceptional results then you can raise your prices (more on that later). However, as a general rule of thumb Consultants, since they are managers, will get paid more than freelancers carrying out the actual work.
This article will focus on how to get work as a Marketing Freelancer NOT a Marketing Consultant.
I don't have experience as a consultant and have always preferred to stick to freelancing rather than management.
How to choose your freelance marketing specialism
Without becoming too overwhelmed with this concept & over worrying about getting it exactly right it’s worth having a little think about what your Ikigai might be.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept which means “reason for being”.
And it helps us to think about what we can do in the world by balancing some very important elements.
The more in balance these elements are in your work, the closer you are to finding your Ikigai. Work that is fulfilling, that you are good at, that pays you what you need for the lifestyle you want & work that is needed in this world.
Finding your Ikigai as a Freelance Marketer
A good place to start is looking at jobs that are currently required. Starting on jobs boards immediately solves the question, “what you can be paid for”. You will start to get a feel for the types of activities that companies need to be carried out as well as the price they are willing to pay for it & how many freelancers are willing to work for that price. Check the jobs boards every evening for 15 minutes or so for a couple of weeks.
Make notes on anything you think meets the other criteria as best as possible. At the end of the few weeks you should have a list of potential areas you could specialise in. At this point you can decide if you already have the skills required to pitch for some jobs, or if you need to develop some skills first.
At this point, it might also be worth speaking to a mentor or a coach who can help you to decide how to move forward. Finding a particular specialism can be tricky, and many people get so worked up about it that it stops them from actually starting any freelancing jobs.
Remember that just by thinking about Ikigai and choosing your specialism based off these criteria you will be heading in the right direction & that is all that counts.
Nothing is irreversible, you can always change strategy & decide to focus on something else in the future, give it your best shot & then make sure you take action and start!
As an example, I chose guest blogging & blogger outreach for my specialism. I sometimes write blog content as well, but I mostly work in blogger outreach. This suits me because I have experience in it from previous employement & I enjoy the challenge of working in this area. I like intereacting with bloggers, and I have the technical, creative & sales skills needed to carry out a campaign.
How to get the skills needed for freelance marketing
If you have chosen a freelance marketing specialism which you don’t have experience in, you will need to get some skills before you can start freelancing. Clients will quickly realise if you don’t know what you are doing and you will find your contracts ended & bad reviews on your profile which will make it difficult to get future work.
It’s totally possible to get the skills though. If you just need a brush up then you might just need to find a suitable online course to work through. Udemy is a great source to go to, you’ll find lots of Marketing courses there.
You could also apply for a marketing assistant role within the specialise you want to learn at a company first, before becoming a freelancer. If you have zero experience in Marketing then this might be necessary so that you can acquire the basic skills and learn what you need to within an organisation.
The final option is to create your own blog and learn through trial and error. Practice & implement what you have learnt through online courses & videos and see what results you are able to get for yourself, before you start selling those skills to others.
How to get the skills needed to become self employed
Usually a freelance marketer is someone who is self employed and that comes with its own set of rules. I am not going to give advice about taxes or any legal advice here but you will need to do your own research around this & perhaps contact an accountant, a tax advisor and or ask your business mentor.
It can be quite daunting at first to get your head around all of the new obligations you will have as a business owner. Once you’ve acquired this information however & are through your first and second years it will start to feel more natural and easy. You will understand the nuances of running your own business.
A business degree is not needed, just some advice from a mentor or a friend who has been down this route before.
Top Freelance Marketing Websites
Freelance websites are where you are going to be finding a lot of your work, at least that is what I have used as a freelancer and I have found it to be the easiest way to build up clients & make a steady income.
My advice is to focus on one of these sites first. I’ve tried all of these platforms apart from Toptal, and have found Upwork attracts the highest paying clients. It is really intuitive to use the platform and I’ve never had an issue finding work through there. Upwork puts a lot of emphasis on charging what the job is worth not charging really low rates which make it impossible to compete with. You’ll find lots of freelancers charging really high rates on Upwork with many clients & positive feedback.
Top Freelance Marketing Courses
Udemy is one of the top online course providers and they have fantastic deals on digital marketing courses. If you need to skill up these are the most popular and reputable courses on the site (updated 08/21)
If you are considering freelance Marketing as a career, I say go for it! It is a fantastic set of skills to have and gives the flexibility of remote work & choosing your own work schedule. Many companies are using remote workers on a more regular basis now so freelancing is only set to continue in the future.
If you've not currently got the skills, then invest in a course first and do some practice. It is important that you are able to get positive results for your clients.
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Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)
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