7 tips for succeeding as a freelance digital marketer

If you want to succeed as a freelance digital marketer, then you need to read these 7 tips that will help you stand out from your competition.
7 tips for succeeding as a freelance digital marketer

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Despite decreases in other industries, digital marketing is a career path that has only seen colossal growth. Companies are increasingly turning to digital methods for marketing their business. Now is the time to get into freelance digital marketing! 

Nearly all companies require an online presence, which means all companies can benefit from digital marketing. That’s where you come in! Because the demand is so high, you’ll get your pick of projects and have greater flexibility as a freelancer than with traditional employment.

Now that you’re convinced and excited about your new career path or side hustle, how do you get started? By following our steps, you’ll be securing your first digital marketing contract in no time.  

1. Determine your specialty

In its most basic form, digital marketing is just regular marketing but targeted online. Instead of billboards and mail campaigns, you use email, Google ads, and social media to get the brand out there. 

Because there are a lot of ways to market on the internet, there are a lot of skill sets you can capitalize on in freelance digital marketing. Some in-demand digital marketing skills include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media management
  • Blog writing
  • Digital ads
  • Data analysis

Any one of these skills can be used in your freelance digital marketing career. For even more lucrative contracts, try combining a few, like SEO and blog writing. 

After you’ve determined your specialty, you will likely find that the path forward becomes far more clear-cut. Plus having a niche will only make it easier for you to market yourself to exactly the right clients (more on that in step 4).

2. Establish your rates

One of the most common mistakes that freelancers in this particular industry make is failing to establish consistent rates for their projects. Without an established rate, digital marketers could find themselves negotiating rates with each new client that they interact with.

Not only does this waste a considerable amount of time, but it can also result in you getting compensated for less than your services are worth.

Instead, it’s far more efficient to map out a pay scale for different types of products. In practice, freelance digital marketers typically divide their services up into different tiers or packages, each with varying price points.

In the event that you encounter a situation that does not fall into one of the established categories, you can then negotiate a rate.

Having established rates will also help you cut through the clutter when it comes to finding different clients. For example, let’s assume that you don’t have different rates listed on your website. This means that you might have an inquiry from an individual who has a budget for less than what you charge.

Eventually, they will discover this information and then become disinterested. Having your rates listed will ensure that each individual you come in contact with has the potential to become a client.

3. Put together a portfolio

Give your prospective clients a taste of what you can do. Creating a killer portfolio is one of the most important steps you can take as a freelance digital marketer.

Make sure your work is easy to access and formatted correctly. You’ll be sending these in a lot, so make a good first impression. 

To really make a statement with the person reviewing your work, add a few lines of context to each portfolio piece. Include the goals of each piece and the results it achieved. This will go a long way in building trust in your work. 

If you are just starting your freelance digital marketing business and don’t have work to showcase, you can still create a winning portfolio.

Choose a brand and create a fictional campaign for them to illustrate that you are able to provide high-quality results that align with the brand itself. You should strive to achieve results that are as professional as possible. Make sure to provide a disclaimer for projects that are mockups.

4. Market yourself effectively

No matter how talented you are as a freelancer, marketing yourself effectively can often mean the difference between whether or not you are able to secure new clients. This means that you need to become highly proficient at pitching yourself.

A great pitch can balance the need to be both comprehensive and brief. Not everyone you contact has the time to listen to your life story, and you risk missing out on potential work by keeping your pitch full of fluff. Briefly introduce yourself, illustrate your credentials, and then provide them with a way to learn more (such as a link to your website).

Every freelancer you talk to will have a different origin story, so go with what works for you. Some places to start looking for freelance jobs include:

  • In-person networking. Maybe a friend or a family member just started a business or wants to overhaul the marketing on their existing business. 
  • LinkedIn—a great place to connect with business owners. 
  • Freelancer marketplaces. Places like UpWork or Fiverr may take a cut of your profit, but they provide enormous job boards designed for freelancers.

5. Consistently refine your skills

To truly be successful as a freelance digital marketer, you will need to consistently refine your skills as time goes on. This is absolutely vital within the digital marketing industry since trends are constantly changing.

For example, even a minor adjustment that Google makes to its algorithm could have a significant impact on the current strategies that you use as a digital marketer (don’t even get us started on Instagram’s updates). If you aren’t aware of these changes and are unable to adjust, your performance could become drastically worse overnight.

Additionally, it’s worthwhile to invest in books, courses, and networking events that can help you develop as a digital marketing professional. Learning more can only sharpen your skills and help you become a leader in your industry.

6. Establish a powerful online presence

Chances are, your prospective clients will turn to the Internet in order to learn more about you before making the decision to work with you.

Unfortunately, a lack of an internet presence could leave them in a position where they feel as though they are rolling the dice by hiring you. In contrast, a strong online presence could easily help you secure clients throughout your freelance career.

Social media is an invaluable tool to use as a freelancer. It allows you to quickly network with others, establish who you are as a brand, and even get in touch with other freelancers.

To help put this into perspective, let’s assume that a potential client Googles your name. In one scenario, they find that you have no social media presence and a barebones website.

In the other scenario, you have a curated Instagram with your branding, a professional and maintained LinkedIn profile, and a website with a comprehensive portfolio. As you might guess, it is far more likely that they work with you in the latter scenario.

7. Optimize your client experience

How you treat your current clients will play a large role in how easy it is for you to secure future clients. To elaborate, you should take every step necessary in order to make their lives as easy as possible.

This means they should have a clear understanding of what they can expect to pay, the results they can expect to receive, and how you plan to stay communicative with them.

We believe you should never work without a contract. We’re partial to Hectic’s proposals and contracts, but it’s most important that you have something in place that protects you and provides clear expectations.

When you’re ready to level up your client experience, we are also partial to Hectic’s client portal for deliverable approval, quick access to invoices, and automatic nudges for anything that needs your client’s attention.

Succeeding as a freelance digital marketer isn’t impossible

Starting something never feels easy at first. Take these practical steps to set up a solid foundation for your digital marketing business and one day you’ll look back and wonder why it took you so long to get started. 

And when that happens, we’d love to hear and share your story on The Hectic Podcast (or anytime along your journey that you’re ready to talk about who you are and what you do). 

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Our team of career freelancers writes about best invoice practices, what makes a great client, and repeats the mantra, "never work without a contract." We're opinionated about the future of work and will always be on the side of freelancers.
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