2020 was a year of personal and professional changes for many content creators and creatives. Most of us saw our work disrupted by an unexpected pandemic that got us locked up in our homes for months and in many cases forced us to stop working while turning to the only thing that connected us with the outside world: social media.
Looking at it from the bright side, it was a year when many brands around the world realized the importance of going digital but most importantly going social. Brands saw the need of having a strong online community in order to survive a period of low or even no sales at all. This is when we see a rise in demand for social media manager roles around the world.
According to the Future of Jobs Survey 2020 by the World Economic Forum, Digital Marketing Specialist roles, which include Social Media Managers, are the number 4 most demanded roles across industries and it has seen a 33% rise in hiring growth since 2019.
So should you be turning to these new opportunities? In this blog post, I am sharing my experience as a freelance social media manager, how to become one, the pros and cons, do’s and don’ts, so make sure to read until the end!
Table of contents
What is Social Media Management?
Before diving into details, let’s go over the basics. What is social media management and what does a social media manager do?
Social Media Management is the role of managing your or someone else's social media presence in channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc
It involves everything from creating a content strategy for each channel, creating content, publishing, tracking it, engaging with online audiences to ensure there is a two-way conversation with users, and staying up to date with the latest social media trends.
A Social Media Manager is the person in charge of handling all these actions and making sure that the strategies that have been implemented are bringing the desired results like audience growth, increasing rates of engagement, brand awareness, lead generation, etc
Some of the main tasks a social media manager will cover on their day-to-day work are:
Setting up social media accounts for brands that still don’t have any social media
Creating a content calendar based on the brand’s marketing calendar, events, and any other important and relevant dates
Community management - replying to comments, private messages, and any other customer issues
Designing images or infographics for social media posts, or creating photos/videos if it has been agreed with the brand
Implementing SEO strategies that are applicable to any social media channel
Creating reports based on data such as traffic, reach, growth, etc
Creating and running ads campaigns
Moderating Facebook groups
Developing a brand identity
Ensuring there is consistent branding along the different channels
What is the difference between a Social Media Manager and a Community Manager?
The role of a Social Media Manager includes managing the online communities for each channel. In many cases, a Community Manager is in charge only of managing the communities, scheduling, and engaging. A Community Manager usually responds to a Social Media Manager.
What skills does a Social Media manager need?
Many people have reached out asking if they need any kind of degree or experience to work as a social media manager. Even though, having a degree used to help to get into the ‘typical corporate job’, nowadays being creative and having copywriting skills is more than enough.
The good news is that as content creators, we already have experience with this, managing and building our own audiences. So why not use this to help other brands achieve their goals?
These are some of the skills you already have, but you might not be aware of as a content creator:
1. Content Management
You already have experience in sharing content on your own channels. As a Social Media Manager, you should be able to manage all content being posted on your client’s social media, and work with other members of the content team to make sure all content is being promoted correctly.
2. Tracking data & analytics
I know, this might seem a bit tedious for many. I am not a fan of numbers either, but if you think about it you have probably been tracking your own data, analyzing it, and using this information to improve. The same applies to social media managers. You will be measuring data such as reach, growth, traffic generated to a specific website or campaign, and use that information to optimize your social media strategies.
You are probably already an expert when it comes to writing captions! You know how to leverage the character limit to convey a message, drive engagement, and generate conversations.
4. Customer Service
In many cases, social media channels are the first place where people come for customer support. Managing a community is something you have been doing since the moment you first started your Instagram or Pinterest account, so this is nothing new to you either. There will certainly be cases in which the customer complaint might escalate, but you can always refer these cases to the customer support team.
Guess what… we are all good at this! Remember when Instagram stories rolled out and many of us were complaining of yet a new feature? Nowadays who doesn’t do stories? Being adaptable means discovering new trends and implement them into your social media strategy. Trends in social media change quite fast, so it’s great to be able to stay ahead of the curve.
How to become a Social Media Manager in 2021?
Becoming a social media manager in 2021 is much easier than it was 7 years ago when I started my career as a social media manager. There are literally tons of tools and resources not only to educate yourself for free but to find job opportunities and projects.
These are 5 simple steps in which you can become a social media manager nowadays:
1. Start creating a personal brand.
Okay, I know what you must be thinking. A personal brand? How do I even start! Well, let me tell you something. YOU are your personal brand. All those posts you have done on Instagram, or those blogs you have created, the captions you have crafted, all define your personal brand. You might just need to give it a bit more structure.
2. Start building your own community.
Building a community on social media is more important than ever. Luckily, as a content creator you probably already have your own community. If you are just starting to build your own community, I invite you to check out my post on how to build meaningful communities on Instagram (and on any social media platform really).
3. Focus 70% of your efforts on one platform and then expand
When you’re starting to build a social media presence trying to be present on all the different social media networks can be very overwhelming. My recommendation is first to start with one social media network where you think you will be able to perform well, where your target audience is, and that is going to look good as a work ‘portfolio’. Once you have mastered this platform, you can expand to the other ones. Remember to always keep in mind if being present on all the social media platforms will really serve your goals and targets.
4. Keep up with trends
Subscribe to social media blogs and news portals so you can stay up to date with the latest trends, whilst keep learning new things. Remember these modern digital roles keep evolving at a super rapid pace. Keep polishing and improving your skills. Some blogs that you should be subscribing to are: Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Later, Buffer, and Hootsuite
5. Find your potential clients
Go look for the type of clients you want to work with. Make sure to understand where this type of client will be hanging out more often. Will it be LinkedIn? Then craft an outreach plan and search for small to medium-sized business owners. Put them all into an Excel sheet where you can keep track of who you have contacted. Is it a specific niche that you want to work with? Google all the brands in this niche and add them to your list.
6. Pitch to them
Pitching is probably the most important part when it comes to finding clients. Whether it’s for an in-house full-time position or to work as a freelance social media manager you need to understand how to properly pitch to convince that person or brand that you are their best option when it comes to doing the job. Things to keep in mind when pitching are:
State what your value proposition is and how you differentiate from others.
Whether they want social growth, new leads, or sales. Tell them how you are going to help them achieve their goals, so they can focus on other aspects of their business.
Make sure to study the brand’s vision and mission statement and mention your values as align with theirs.
Show proof of your work. This could be your own Instagram account and engaged community, or even a link to a blog post you have written related to their brand’s niche.
7. Follow up!
Sometimes business owners or HR people are very busy and the truth is that they might receive tons of emails every day. So how can you make sure to stand out? By following up! I have a 5-follow-up process with different templates each time. Many times I have gotten a response after the third email. Make sure to leave at least 2 weeks in between emails.
The difference between being an in-house and a freelance social media manager
With jobs like social media management you have the benefits of just needing your laptop and a stable internet connection, so you can work pretty much from anywhere you want! There are many companies that are now hiring full-time or in-house social media managers but allowing them to work remotely.
I have had the chance of doing both so I am going to share the pros and cons of each so you can make your own conclusions!
In-house social media manager
You have more economic stability
Depending on the company they usually give you a compensation plan
If the company allows for remote work you can work from anywhere you want
Many companies still depreciate the value of social media managers are salaries are way below average
If the company doesn’t allow for remote work you might have to go to an office every day
Working under the company’s schedules
Working on the same project over and over again might become a bit monotonous and boring
Freelance social media manager or social media consultant
You manage your own schedules and time
You set your own rates based on your expertise and knowledge
You can be a digital nomad
You can work on different projects within different industries which allows you to be more creative and have more fun
Being a freelancer is less stable than being hired by a company and you might lose clients as fast as you find them
Working on various projects at the same time can get a bit overwhelming, depending on your personality type
If you don’t set your rates properly you might end up undercharging which leads to frustration
Your income can be limited by the number of clients you can take
How much does a Social Media Manager make?
I know this is a major question for every content creator. How much would I be able to charge as a social media manager?
What is the average salary for an in-house social media manager?
If you are working for a company, you will be getting your yearly salary based on the company’s budget. You can always negotiate based on your pitching skills and your experience. And I can tell you when you try to negotiate, most of the time the company reaches an agreement with the employee.
According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for Social Media Managers in the UK is £30,922, whereas in Spain it falls around the 25,000€ mark, which is clearly not a decent salary for all the work that goes behind content creation and social media management. In the US though, the average salary for a social media manager is about $52,114 US.
So are you going to be making tons of money working as a social media manager at a company? The answer is probably not.
What are the average rates for freelance social media managers?
Freelance Social Media Managers are often known as Social Media Consultants and the story is different here.
Based on your skills, experience, and level of expertise, you can be charging different rates. There are several sites where you can find offers and projects to work as a social media manager. These are the average rates:
From 0 - 3 years of experience → $15 - $50 per hour
From 3 to 5 years of experience → $50 - $100 per hour
From 5 to 10 years of experience → $100 - $140 per hour
This will also be influenced by how well you can pitch yourself as an expert and as an achiever. Remember many times it comes down to your ability to persuade the client of your worth and create a sense of urgency for them to agree on your rates.
Social Media Management do’s and don’ts
As a social media manager you should:
Constantly be marketing yourself, but luckily you are already doing this with your own social media networks
Offer different packs or tiers so that the client can choose whatever suits their needs
Act like a business owner
Find a niche and clients you love!
Be constantly learning new skills to implement in your projects
Stay on top of all the social media trends
Get paid upfront
Have a contract and make your clients sign it before starting. Make sure to include a clause where it states that if they want to stop using your services they must tell you at least a month in advance
Communicate with your clients
Set up boundaries
Evaluate your rates on a constant basis
As a social media manager, you shouldn’t
Undercharge. Your time and experience are worth GOLD
Never stop marketing yourself
Let a client manage your schedules. You are your own boss and you should act like one.
Buy likes, followers, views, be in engagement groups and all the things you wouldn’t do on your own social media
Ever start a project without a contract
Doubt yourself, know your worth!
Let any client intimidate you
Take more clients when your plate is full
Copy someone else's content
The best platforms to find social media manager roles
So now that you know everything you need to know about becoming a social media manager in 2021, the last thing to do is start looking for clients, projects, and leads.
There are tons of platforms out there that are constantly sharing new positions, both for in-house social media managers and freelancers.
Linkedin: There tend to be hundreds of offers every day posted on Linkedin, although most of them are for full-time positions. Make sure to set up the reminders so you can receive daily offers straight to your email.
Glassdoor: Glassdoor is one of my favorites as it has a lot of added and valuable information about the company that’s hiring, comments from actual and ex-employees, and they tend to have more freelance positions.
Fiverr: Fiverr is great for finding projects per hour, per week, or per month. The only downside is that you must compete with people from countries where rates are usually lower.
Upwork: Upwork is one of the biggest platforms to find remote or freelance jobs. However, it’s a bit hard to join. Your profile needs to be approved and mine was declined over three times. If you have an ongoing project, you can tell your client to sign you up for free.
Facebook Groups: Believe it or not Facebook groups are a perfect place to market yourself and network with other business owners. There are tons of groups where they post daily offers in many different fields including social media. Make sure to look in groups for Digital Nomads, Online Entrepreneurs, Online business owners, etc.
People Per Hour: It is also a great platform to find freelance projects.
Are you ready to become a social media manager and work for your favorite brands?
As a content creator, you have the skills and talent required for social media management. In my experience, being a freelance social media manager gives you that freedom you need to be able to complement it with your other skills like photography, videography, or blogging. Furthermore, you can set your own rates and look for the projects and clients you would really enjoy working for.
Do you feel like you have everything you need to become a social media manager but you’re not still sure about how to get started? I help all kinds of content creators and creatives with my 1:1 coachings to be able to get started with their business and find their dream clients. Get in touch and let’s get started today!