Freelance really came of age in 2020 for two obvious reasons.
- Many people lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and needed a way to make money. Of course, people brought their talent into the freelance market and started building their client lists.
- By speeding up remote working, people have more time to focus on side projects and freelance work outside of their main jobs.
More people are expected to dip their toes into freelance work in 2021. In fact, 68% of remote workers said they freelanced amid the pandemic. The same Fiverr study also found that more companies are now open to doing business with freelancers than they were before the pandemic.
It’s a ripe time to start your freelance career on social media, but how do you get started? For those with little to no freelance experience, this article is for you.
Bonus: I personally interviewed some freelance professionals for this article and asked for their best tips for newbies to freelance. You can find them quoted below.
Getting started as a freelancer
To start your career, you will likely need to have some prior knowledge before looking for clients. For this reason, I strongly recommend updating your résumé, but especially your portfolio. Customers will request work samples before signing with you.
You want to see your work in action: what social media accounts you managed, what campaigns you ran, and believe it or not, what campaign management tools you used. When they hear about a new tool that saved you time and money for one of your previous clients, and see how it can affect their bottom line, you may have a head start over other freelancers they might want to hire. Your portfolio gives them this opportunity.
How do you start with a portfolio? Freelance Professional Rebecca Reynoso says, “Get active online. Your LinkedIn and Twitter are not enough. Your resume is not enough. You need a website to advertise yourself and your services and to showcase your achievements. “
Some free and freemium website builders to get you started are Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Webflow. These builders have easy-to-use templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making them great for beginners.
Where to look for freelance opportunities
When a website is created and your portfolio comes up, it’s time to start looking for work. Freelance pro Devan Ciccarelli says platforms like ProBlogger and We Work Remote are great ways to get your foot in the door. Upwork, Toptal and SimplyHired are other options that will get you up and running quickly.
An example of a freelance social media manager’s profile at UpWork
With a little work, you can start expanding your options to find new opportunities. For example, Reynoso says she found her first opportunity on Google, but after sharing her work on LinkedIn, people started messaging her and other opportunities arose.
Peak Freelance co-founder Elise Dopson came up with some tactical advice as a writer to meet new clients:
“Guest blog on the sites your target customer reads,” she said. “You do what people should hire you for. Plus, you can get some great byylines to serve as social proof. You may be more likely to hire prospects if they see editors of popular publications having published your work. “
Market yourself as a freelancer
Great freelancers are not only good at what they do, they’re good at marketing themselves and creating a flywheel with new opportunities. Of course, one of the best ways to market yourself as a freelancer on social media is to get active on social media.
“Tweet about what you do that you are good at,” Reynoso says. “But not the same generic stuff that everyone publishes. Publish your opinions, but base them on facts and experience. Get your name out and start building a personal brand. “
Dopson agreed with Reynoso. She said Twitter is great for finding and connecting with other freelancers in the industry.
You can go the informal, bolder route and market yourself with a viral advantage. For example, this man printed his resume on a cereal box and mailed it to potential employers. To his surprise, it went viral. This strategy could pay off when looking for clients to work on social media as it shows that you are not afraid to take risks.
If you want to go the more formal route, you can check out LinkedIn and connect directly with industry leaders to nurture those relationships. Many freelancers are now selling their service on Instagram DM.
Also, don’t discredit personal networking. With the pandemic, using a virtual phone system for voice and video conferencing is a great way to remove relationships from social media and personalize them. When things get back to normal, meet clients at local cafes or for lunch to discuss future projects.
Relationship building is key when it comes to freelance work. It helps potential clients discover your work, but it also helps legitimize your expertise in a particular industry. These are all simple but effective ways to get an exposure.
Tips to stay organized
You have a client list and some projects underway, but how do you manage that workload? If you’re struggling to stay organized, meeting deadlines can hurt your reputation as a freelancer.
One of the best ways to stay organized is to look at a project management tool that allows you to create dedicated project boards for each client. Asana is her tool of choice for Dopson. “Every piece I write goes through the same workflow,” she said. “In Asana, you can create a daily to-do list based on each of these subtasks. I know exactly what I work on every day and what deadlines I have to meet overall. “
An example of what a project board would look like in Asana
Ciccarelli also recommends using a time tracking tool to manage your time spent on client work and accountable for breaks. It can be used to accurately and efficiently track the time you spend working on client projects and to bill your clients for invoicing. Many of these tools offer free or low-cost options for freelancers.
Negotiating wages and writing contracts
As you progress in your freelance career on social media, you discover new clients. You have the tools to stay organized and manage your income. Speaking of income, what do you charge your customers? How do you negotiate your pay? Are these negotiations bound by contract?
A challenge for any self-employed person is negotiating payments, especially for those who only have a handful of projects in their portfolio. However, Reynoso says to aim higher than you expected to get paid.
“A good rule of thumb is to charge at least $ 10 above your current rate. So if you shoot down $ 10, you can start by accepting a rate that you’ve already shot for,” she said. “And if they try to pay you well below the market price, share outside source materials to show what the standard price is.”
Helpful tip: Think about your payment structure. Will you bill hourly, daily, monthly per project or choose a different format? Find out what works best for you and your customers.
Another challenge for the self-employed is making sure they get paid on time. In this case, you should make sure that your contracts for freelance social media contracts are airtight. If you don’t know how to write a contract, there are tons of templates available online that you can customize accordingly.
“The biggest benefit of creating your own contract is knowing exactly what each line means,” said Dopson. “You don’t need any legal language or technical jargon. I would recommend working with a legal advisor on a custom contract that is self-contained and easy to understand. “
This is a great tip as advisors know exactly what parts of the contract you are legally protecting and make sure your invoicing goes smoothly.
Helpful tip: Billing can be tricky if you are new to billing customers. I would consider using some invoice templates to make this process easier.
Whether you lost your job during the pandemic or have extra time on side projects while working from home, 2021 is a great year to start your freelance social media career. Just think of these tips:
- To start off, make sure you have your portfolio online for clients to see. Even a one-page website works in your favor.
- Then hit the freelance platforms to dip your toes into small projects.
- Don’t forget to market yourself on social media and build relationships with prospects.
- Stay organized and make sure you keep a timesheet. There are free and inexpensive tools for each of these tasks.
- Get a professional contract that holds you and your clients accountable for your work. This also ensures that you get the correct amount on time.
The post Ultimate Guide to Being a Social Media Freelancer in 2021 (+ Advice from Freelance Professionals) first appeared on Social Media Explorer.