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What sort of considerations go into getting a freelance project in digital marketing?

What is freelance digital marketing 

A freelance digital marketer is someone who works as an independent contractor with a business to encourage that business’ customers to take certain desired actions. Oftentimes, marketing activities will be done in-house, but many freelancers are hired to take on particular projects or bring an outside perspective to the business. Usually, a business is looking for a freelancer to decrease their costs, improve their revenues, or boost customer engagement. 

The pros & cons of freelance

Depending on your perspective, working in freelance could be daunting or a dream-job.  While there are countless nuances that create the day-to-day in a freelance role, there is a consistent baseline of pros and cons to keep in mind: 

PROS

  • You have the power of setting your own schedule.  Not a morning person? Not a problem.  Set the hours and days that best suit your productivity needs (keeping the client’s schedule in mind, of course). 
  • As you’re not bound to an office, you have the freedom of working wherever best suits you.  Perhaps that’s your home office, a coworking space, or you take up a life as a digital nomad - traveling around the world with your laptop. As long as you log in and get your work done, it’s up to you. 
  • You’ll have the freedom to choose which projects you want to take on.  If a client seems unreasonable or their project is unappealing to you, there’s no requirement for you to take it on.  You can focus on the opportunities which excite you and continue to develop a portfolio that reflects the type of work you like to do. 
  •  As you’re managing your own business, you get to set the rates at which you're paid. You don’t have to work a role that underpays you or that devalues the quality of your work; you know what your work is worth and you can set that expectation with your clients. Read more about setting your pay rate and the freelance business model here

CONS 

  • As you’re sourcing all of your projects, you won’t have a fixed income to fall back on.  There is no guarantee of a consistent paycheck or a paid vacation.  Before embracing a freelance lifestyle, be sure that you can handle this level of instability. 
  • Self-motivation is an absolute necessity.  As you’ll be sourcing your own projects, you’ll need to be hungry for marketing yourself to prospective clients. You’ll have to manage all of the components of your business (business taxes, marketing your business, lead generation) and ensure that you’re staying productive. 
  • Without a larger business to tie yourself to, there’s less of a brand name to illustrate your legitimacy to prospective clients.  The competition is steep, so you’ll need to set yourself apart from the pack by staying on top of the newest digital marketing trends.  You can’t allow yourself to be complacent and hope your existing knowledge will carry you into the years to come.

Common freelance marketer jobs 

So you’re interested in digital marketing in a freelance space- but what kind of digital marketing? The field of digital marketing is so exciting because there are so many different niches for your skill sets and each business has its own channels that uniquely benefit them. So what niche best suits you? Here are some of the most common types of freelance marketing roles: 

Digital Marketing Consultant

This position would be more of a generalist, jack-of-all-trades sort of role. It relies on a familiarity with more than one type of marketing so that you can spearhead their unique project requirements. You might be running PPC, developing marketing campaigns, or increasing general brand awareness.  Being up-to-date on new technologies and marketing trends will be key to your success. Ultimately, you’re bringing your strong marketing background to their business to solve their unique marketing problems. 

Email marketing 

Email marketing is the practice of distributing promotional content through the medium of email. Typically, this might look like invitations, advertisements, newsletters, interactive emails, but it can be whatever format you like that best suits your goals. Organizations need to use email for connecting with customers so they can a) encourage engagement with prospective clients b) nurture their relationships with existing clients to increase the likelihood of further investment.  

Content Marketing 

Content marketing is a great place to start your career in digital marketing! Your day-to-day might include writing up blog posts, developing webinars, putting together case studies, generating marketing visuals, or keeping subscribers informed via newsletter. You’ll need to have a strong familiarity with writing and visual elements, as well as a strength for search engine optimization - you want people to see the fruit of your labors!

Search Engine Optimization

While not all companies may use paid marketing tools like SEM or paid display, everyone can benefit from search engine optimization (SEO). This is the practice of using content strategically for increasing your searchability and your visibility in google searches. Using keywords and keyword topics can increase the traffic to your website (and the likelihood of a customer performing a key action), benefitting the business, Google, and the customers equally. 

Affiliate Marketing 

The internet is rife with opportunities to network and utilize connections to highlight your brand.  Affiliate marketers facilitate these connections, taking a blogger or business and having them market your client’s brand. For each sale (or other KPI) that comes in via their referral, the affiliate partner will be paid, ensuring a mutually beneficial relationship. Affiliate marketers source viable and relevant affiliate marketers and nurture these relationships. 

Community Manager or Social Media Manager 

A community manager and a social media manager have a strong degree of overlap. Essentially, they are both tasked with maintaining an online presence that can interact with the customer and generate online connections directly with the brand. A community manager will be more of a ‘culture generator,’ for an online group or organization, and will serve as a resource to participants.  A social media manager will manage online social media platforms for increasing the perception of a brand personality, highlight key news, and increase direct engagement with a brand.

Once you’ve decided your niche and your comfort with the unknown, you’ll have the building blocks for getting started in the freelance digital marketing space.  Read my other article, Making Sense of the Freelance Business Model, to learn more about next steps. 

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