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How To Make A Career in Freelance Digital Marketing – A Guide
for Beginners

What do your favorite TV shows, websites, and music have in common? They all make use of digital marketing techniques that make people like us fall in love with them. 
The market for digital marketing experienced an exceptional surge during the pandemic, especially because more than half of the global businesses went completely online. 
And now as we enter the early post-pandemic era, and the scaling opportunities businesses have noticed online, we can definitely comment that digital marketing techniques will only mature and the demand for digital marketers (freelancers and remote workers) will grow exponentially. 
Apart from that, becoming a freelance digital marketing professional is a profitable bet since you get to work with and market global brands without relocating. 
According to Statista, global businesses spent an average of 378 billion USD on digital advertising - the biggest part of digital marketing. The amount is further projected to cross 600 billion USD by 2024. This figure represents the money spent on digital marketing tools and most importantly the salaries paid to digital marketing professionals, freelance and remote employees, and marketing agencies. 
So, what does it have for you? A rewarding career as a freelance digital marketer!
There are boatloads of options for digital marketers to choose from. 
You can become a part of your favorite brand, start your own agency, become a consultant, and work your own hours. Freelancers represent around 1.1 billion of the 3.5 billion workforces around the world. Out of those 1.1 billion, 75% claim that they wouldn’t trade their job for any other work, which speaks volumes in favor of freelancing. 
If you love experiencing new paths and need an outlet for your creativity, then becoming a freelance digital marketer is right up your alley. To help you on the subject, here is a detailed guide for aspiring digital marketers and beginners in the field.  

Who is a Freelance Digital Marketer?

There is no curtailment as to who can be a freelance digital marketer. It could be a 40-year old coming from fintech or an 18-year old just starting his career. That’s because digital marketing, unlike other technical professions (e.g. development) does not involve a steep learning curve but a combination of theoretical knowledge, practical activities and understanding of metrics. 

The scope of freelance digital marketing is broad and digital marketers wear many hats. You can either choose to become a full-service digital marketer (with considerable knowledge and experience in all marketing realms) or pick specific domains like SEO, PPC or social media. 

12 most common tasks of digital marketers include: 

  1. Writing or producing content for websites, social media handles and third-party online marketing platforms  
  2. Managing social media accounts and improving social presence
  3. Managing the online reputation of a brand
  4. Marketing via visual content including images, infographics, gifs and videos
  5. Creating and running online ad campaigns
  6. Hosting podcasts, webinars and enrolling in PR and networking events
  7. Evaluating former and current digital marketing strategies
  8. Developing overall digital marketing strategies
  9. Maintaining ad budgets 
  10. Managing email marketing campaigns 
  11. Generating, nurturing and converting leads into sales
  12. Ensure brand messaging and customer success 

As a freelance digital marketer, your day-to-day work can differ greatly. Some days you may be focused on creating brand strategies, while on others, you may be working with an in-house team to create ads that form a part of those campaigns. 
Apart from the technical tasks, you should also have knowledge about creating work proposals for clients, manage invoices, reporting, and project management. 
Digital marketers sometimes have to communicate with the brands’ clients to understand the buyer persona. However, if you have a specialization in niche areas—like content and brand, the interactions will be limited. 
The effort that goes in becoming a freelance digital marketing expert may seem daunting, but that’s nothing compared to the benefits it brings you. You get to keep your own hours, be your own boss, have no chance of monotony since every project is different, and you get to decide how much you earn.  

How To Become A Freelance Digital Marketer?

Freelancing is prone to making you run amok, and multitasking like you have never done before. The best thing to do here is to set your expectations realistically. 
By becoming an ace in all parts of digital marketing or gaining expertise in some specific skills, you can make sure every digital marketing activity under your job KPIs is up to the mark. 
Keep your fingers on the pulse of marketing trends so that you can learn or polish the much-needed skills. Listed below are the top 4 skills that can help you get a grip on your freelance digital marketing career. 

Email Marketing 

As a freelance digital marketer, you need to learn the witchcraft behind the perfect onboarding emails, newsletters, product updates, or outreach messages. Your copywriting skills will improve as an email marketing freelancer, which can prove beneficial in other aspects of your job. 
Some of the basics to ace in email marketing include:

  • Finding and using a tool perfectly suited e.g. MailChimp, NinjaOutreach or Snov, etc
  • Writing an attractive copy for the email
  • Mastering the perfect subject headlines
  • Running email A/B tests
  • Following up with email queries
  • learning to evaluate and improve email marketing metrics and growth ratios

For full service digital marketing consultants, the part of writing is often handled by content writers or copywriters, so you don’t have to worry if your copywriting skills aren’t that great.  

SEO and Content Marketing

93% of every product research starts with the search engine. 

This statistics is more than enough to emphasize the need for SEO skills. Alongside SEO, another solid backbone of digital marketing is content marketing. Many freelance digital marketers start their careers as content writers. As a content marketing hotshot, you will be creating content that aligns with the marketing plan to amp up traffic and Google ranking. 
As an SEO and/or content marketing professional, you’ll have to:

  • optimize written website content for better search engine performance
  • create content pieces like ebooks, white papers, social media posts, newsletters, press releases and case studies 
  • ensure content reaches the target audience - better than the brands’ competitors

Success with SEO and content marketing requires a clear understanding of Google ranking algorithms and content distribution platforms. The use of relevant keywords is crucial, which is why you need to stay updated about the changing trends and best practices that enhance search results. 

Google Analytics

As a freelance digital marketer, you’ll often be required to understand the Google Analytics metrics of the company’s website and make suggestions for improvement. You’ll have to audit websites, recommend measures for page speed and find reasons behind low conversions and bounce rates. Know that data has an important role to play In the field of digital marketing. You will have to gather data and analyze it. Plus, using that data to make decisions is a key duty of every marketer. 
Google Analytics Academy offers free online courses where you can learn about measurement tools and grow your client’s business through intuitive data collection and analysis. This is one skill that shouldn’t be taken lightly since the success of all digital marketing campaigns hinges on interpreting the website performance results accurately. 

PPC

Pay-per-click is another important skill in digital marketing. When websites are new, they leverage paid searches and ads to get leads and convert them. As a professional digital marketer or PPC specialist, you’ll have to run successful Google ad campaigns and ensure leads conversion. 

Social Media Ads 

Many brands can create social media posts, but they find running ad campaigns quite complicated. This is where you come in and sell your skills. Facebook Ads Manager is pretty straightforward and is not a full-time job. It’s about making sure that the ads are optimized and how sentiment analysis works for more optimization.
Social media specialists strive to make sure their clients’ brand stays relevant on a constantly changing terrain. This involves regularly posting content, collecting reviews and testimonials, running contests, analyzing data, and creating content. Many tools like Buffer and MailChimp can help you get started with becoming a social media specialist. 

How To Find Freelance Digital Marketing Jobs

Becoming a freelancer means that you don’t look for or land jobs in the traditional sense. You can choose from a variety of clients depending on the type and length of project and budget. As a digital freelancer, you can find your next client on any one of the following platforms:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Freelancer
  • MarketerHire
  • Link-able
  • FlexJobs
  • PeoplePerHour
  • SimplyHired

These platforms list a wide range of jobs that you can select from and get in touch with the client. You can find companies of all sizes that are looking to outsource a project for specific skills. 
On all of these platforms, you can create your own standard pricing packages, set hourly or project rates or propose different project prices for different clients. The platforms have messaging and calling features so you don’t really have to find another means of communication. 

How Much Salary Can You Earn As A Freelance Digital Marketer?

The salary of a freelance digital marketer varies according to the level of skills they bring to the table. The more specialized you become, the higher you can charge. Independent professionals in the US earn between $22,500 and $127,000 annually, according to ZipRecruiter.  
On Upwork, you can see entry-level marketers charging around $10 -$20 per hour. At the same time, mid-level marketers between $30-$ and 70more experienced digital freelancers can make up to $80 an hour. 
Top professionals can charge as much as $150 per hour while others charge $300 an hour for doing a specialized task such as creating ClickFunnels campaigns from scratch. 
Some of the digital marketing salary estimates from Glassdoor are as follows:

  • Digital marketing specialist: $67K per year
  • Online marketing: $37K per year
  • Digital Marketing Manager: $77K per year
  • SEO: $57K per year 

Transform Your Freelance Gig Into A Business

How you turn your skills into a business depends on how well you market yourself and your services. Leveling up from a freelancer to a business doesn’t happen overnight. 
It requires a strong portfolio and certain change in mindset from one source of labor to that of an entrepreneur. Some of the steps to get your digital business started include: 

  • Creating a portfolio of your work
  • Identifying target clients
  • Marketing yourself
  • Creating social proof and gathering reviews for your work 
  • Setting strategic prices for your services that meet your expense levels and income goals
  • Building a professional website where clients can window shop for your services
  • Selecting clients carefully based on a portfolio-building and financial standpoint

5 Tips for Freelance Digital Marketers

1. Be more productive

Handling more and more clients could lead to inefficiencies that will waste time. Focus on the operational side of things so that you can be more productive. Make use of tools such as Planable and jot down an hour that you will spend going through client feedback. This is how the rest of your day stays organized, and you keep on schedule. With the right workflow, your business can boom in a short time and change your entire success trajectory. 

2. Take good care of your LinkedIn profile and keep it updated

LinkedIn is a great place to find new clients. Ensure your profile is updated and optimized with the necessary details to get the exact type of clients suited to your expertise. Some tips that you may find practical are:

  • Don’t leave any section unfilled.
  • A professional headshot improves the chances of your profile being viewed by 14X.
  • Stick an inspirational cover photo. 
  • Create a vanity URL.
  • Get friends and other connections to endorse your skills.
  • Optimize your profile with keywords matching your description so that you show up higher in search results. 

3. Join Facebook groups, Slack channels and give feedback and help the community

The popularity of Facebook groups has skyrocketed in the last few years. Place yourself as a freelance digital marketing expert and share the latest news in groups you’re already a part of. This way, you are seen more often than others—engage, comment, and follow up with people to establish a meaningful connection. 

4. Create a portfolio

The first words that will come out of any new client are, “can we see some examples of your previous work?” You should be well-prepped for this question. 
Your skills don’t matter if you don’t have anything to show for them. Previous work is required to gain the trust of all new clients as proof that you are really as good as you claim. This is why a freelance digital marketing specialist must have a portfolio ready to be shown as a reference. 

5. Develop a crystal clear schedule

Initially, when starting freelancing, things will be exciting, but you will soon reach a point where there won’t be enough hours to last the day. As your portfolio grows, there will be more emails to answer, more clients to meet, more invoices to handle, which can be overwhelming if time management is not done. 

  • Develop a schedule based on priority and stick to it. 
  • Spend more time on billable tasks that generate more revenue rather than on non-billable tasks. 
  • Do high-priority tasks in the morning and administrative ones later in the day. 
  • Develop a to-do list for each client with a deadline so that you’re always aware of where you are with each one. 

Don’t forget to pencil in time for resting and relaxing. Burning out is real and will turn out to be a major downer for your newly established freelancing business.  

Wrapping Up...

If becoming a freelance digital marketing expert is aspiring, then you have your work cut out for you. There are a ton of freelance marketers out there, but as long as you bring value to your clients and set a competitive edge by niching down, there’s no holding you back. 

Rayed Chaudhry

Rayed is passionate about marketing and interested in learning new ways to hack (legally) marketing platforms to help businesses achieve growth using unconventional methods. Prior to starting Orion, Rayed has worked in various marketing positions and spent millions of dollars across different ad platforms.