How To Become a Freelance Social Media Consultant in 11 Steps: Is This Business Model Right for You?

March 13, 2024

How to become a freelance social media consultant in 11 steps:

  1. Is freelance social media consulting right for you
  2. Learn social media marketing skills
  3. Decide on a business niche to target
  4. Establish a social media presence
  5. Accumulate social media marketing experience
  6. Create a website portfolio
  7. Set pricing for your social media marketing services
  8. Set up a legal business entity
  9. Network with social media freelancers and businesses
  10. Pitch and land clients
  11. Incorporate testimonials as you complete successful client work

77% of businesses use social media to reach customers, according to Forbes. As such, there is considerable demand for digital marketing professionals with advanced knowledge of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, and the social media marketing skills to generate profitable marketing results through them. While a social media manager can make just over $30/hour on average in the United States to assist brands with their social media marketing initiatives, a social media consultant can make substantially more at upwards of $120/hour for their social media marketing expertise. 

A freelance social media consultant is a type of freelance digital marketer that serves businesses by advising them with high level social media marketing expertise. A social media consultant does many things, including helping businesses to understand the potential of social media marketing, crafting social media marketing campaigns, finding the right social media marketing professionals to complete tasks, and assessing social media marketing results. In the following article, you’ll discover the exact steps to become a freelance social media consultant and some incredibly effective social media marketing tools that you can use to generate impressive results for your clients.

1. Is freelance social media consulting right for you?

Freelance social media consulting can be a great online income opportunity for those who have expertise in or a passion for creating and sharing content on social media, but it’s certainly not for everybody. Freelance social media marketers are tasked with keeping pace with the rapid changes in social media trends and technologies. For example, learning about Snapchat’s artificial reality try-on features to assist brands in adjusting their Ecommerce strategies to include AR Shopping Lenses on Snapchat Ads. Freelance social media consultants also need to remain vigilant in a highly competitive industry, where generating results through social media is only becoming harder as social media platforms become more saturated. For instance, engagement rates on Instagram dropped a whopping 30% in just one year between 2021 and 2022, according to Search Engine Land. There’s pressure to generate results for clients in a short period in order to validate your work. If you can’t, you’ll quickly find yourself without paying clients. 

Not to mention, operating as a freelancer means you don’t get any PTO, an employer sponsored health insurance plan, or an employer sponsored 401(k) retirement account. Therefore, you’ll need to take on the additional load of handling these tasks yourself. Even so, freelance social media consulting is a preferred method of generating money online for many because of the extensive flexibility and creative ability it enables. 

Who can become a freelance social media consultant?

Anyone can become a freelance social media consultant. Social media marketing is relatively easy to get into, especially for those with some key traits. You do not need a degree to be a social media consultant. You just need a high level of expertise in social media marketing and a portfolio of successful client work to back it up. The traits of a social media consultant are:

  • Time management
  • Customer service
  • Aesthetic awareness
  • Writing ability
  • Technologically adept

2. Learn social media marketing skills

If you want to freelance as a social media consultant, you first need to learn social media marketing skills and acquire expertise of social media platforms. You can learn social media skills from a marketing program at an accredited university, through paid online courses on E-learning platforms like Udemy, or for free with YouTube videos and marketing blogs. Some social media platform options even offer free courses for digital marketing professionals. For example, TikTok has the TikTok Academy program which leverages TikTok marketing experts to teach learners how to create effective TikTok marketing campaigns. 

Top 10 skills that a freelance social media consultant should learn

1. Social media strategizing

A social media strategy is the game plan for how a brand will use social media to accomplish its marketing objectives. Considering that a consultant primarily guides and advises a brand on high level tasks, the ability to come up with a social media strategy is an essential skill for any freelance marketing consultant.

2. Managing content calendars

Content calendar management is coordinating when social media content should be created, reviewed, and posted. This is a useful skill for a social media consultant because it directly impacts how much visibility a brand will get on a social media platform as social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are powered by algorithms that take into account factors like posting frequency and content relevance. 

3. Copywriting

Copywriting is the ability to write persuasively to get potential customers to take action, such as deciding to buy a product. Social media post captions or a brand’s profile page require high-quality copywriting so customers perform the intended action. 

4. Digital design

Digital design is using software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects to create engaging content in a visual format. Most social media platforms rely heavily on visual media, like pictures, videos, and graphics, to attract user attention.

5. Social media search engine optimization (SEO)

Social media SEO is optimizing profiles and posts with the right keywords and settings so that they are more discoverable by a relevant audience online. A freelance social media consultant should know how to properly set up a brand's social media profile and how to structure post content to get the most out of a social media channel. 

6. Community management

Community management is using a social media platform with a community aspect, such as a Facebook group, to build and manage a community of potential customers and partners that interact with a brand. Managing a community can allow a brand to learn about their audience's pain points and discover new ways their products and services can alleviate them to generate more business.

7. Analytics and reporting

Social media analytics and reporting is gathering and analyzing social media metrics across a brand’s social media accounts to assess the effectiveness of social media campaigns. A social media consultant should be able to analyze this data and recommend areas of improvement, such as strategies to increase a brand’s reach and impressions on Instagram.

8. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is working with relevant social media influencers to promote products on behalf of a brand. You can see this in action by looking at the Instagram account of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who promotes the cryptocurrency platform Binance through the platform. The ability to form and manage influencer partnerships enables a social media consultant to increase brand awareness to a much larger audience than is organically available. 

9. Social listening

Social listening is the monitoring and analyzing of social media content related to a brand or a brand’s industry to obtain useful insights. For example, a freelance social media consultant could notice a trend of a brand’s product being mentioned in a negative way on Reddit and help the brand make an adjustment to their product to avoid continued negative mentions over the internet.

10. Paid advertising

Paid advertising is paying to get a brand’s ads in front of a relevant audience. Social media platforms are one of the most popular paid advertising channels on the internet, with options like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Snapchat Ads, and Pinterest Ads. By knowing how to profitably run a social media paid advertising campaign, a social media consultant can assist a brand in increasing their profit potential.

3. Decide on a business niche to target

As a freelance consultant offering social media marketing services, it’s best to target your services at a specific business niche. This allows you to develop expertise around a specific industry so that you can become the go-to social media consultant for businesses in that niche. You can develop a deep understanding of your niche’s target audience, including their pain points and tendencies, so that you can have a competitive advantage compared to other social media consultants in helping your clients address their customers' needs. Some freelance social media consultant niche ideas include:

  • Remodeling companies
  • Car customization companies
  • Spiritual retreats
  • Real estate agents
  • Local gyms
  • Personal trainers
  • Restaurants
  • Elderly care and senior services
  • Ecommerce companies
  • Alternative medicine, like chiropractors and acupuncturists 

4. Establish a social media presence

A freelance social media consultant should have some kind of presence on social media because it can help you attract potential clients and show your level of expertise, including the quality of the services that you offer. You can start by researching which social media platform is most important for your specific niche and create a social media account on that platform to promote your freelancing services with content marketing. For example, if your niche is personal trainers in the fitness niche, you’ll probably want to create an Instagram account. Instagram is the platform of choice for many personal trainers because its visual content base is great for showcasing client exercise results and testimonials in image and video format.

As a freelance social media consultant, your social media content could incorporate various post types, such as social media tips for your specific audience, creating example posts, and highlighting testimonials from current and previous clients. Depending on the social media platform, your posting frequency should be between 2 and 7 times per week, according to leading marketing software developer HubSpot. Based on their data, daily posting can optimize your reach on TikTok, while Instagram may only require 2 posts during the week. 

5. Accumulate social media marketing experience

In order to acquire the necessary expertise to become a social media consultant, you first need to accumulate social media marketing experience. Typically, this experience is going to come with hands-on social media marketing tasks as opposed to consulting roles because direct experience is how you obtain a deep understanding of the industry and its intricacies. You can obtain this experience through a variety of opportunities, including:

  • Freelance digital marketing roles from freelancing platforms like Upwork in Fiverr
  • Employment in a social media marketing role with a company
  • Performing social media marketing for your own business and side projects

According to the editorial team at job search platform Indeed, accumulating enough experience and expertise to guide businesses as a consultant can take upwards of 10 years or more. However, it really depends on how quickly you can master the specific social media marketing services you wish to provide consulting services on and how you market yourself to potential customers.  

6. Create a website portfolio

Even though you’ll primarily be focusing on social media marketing as a freelance social media consultant, it’s still beneficial to set up your own website with a portfolio of work for potential clients to reference. Having your own freelance consulting website allows you extended flexibility in how you present yourself to your clients. Unlike relying on a social media platform or freelancing platform, where you’re limited to the structure already provided, a website allows you to present your skills and experience in the style and order that best suits you. For example, you can highlight your greatest accomplishments as a social media marketer at the beginning of your website to generate immediate interest in your social media marketing services. 

Furthermore, a website extends the marketing channels you have at your disposal. You can create social media-related blog posts to attract organic traffic through search engines like Google and Bing. Additionally, you can run Google Ads to your website portfolio to get even more leads through paid traffic. 

7. Set pricing for your social media marketing services

Setting your pricing and displaying it for potential clients to see increases the likelihood you will get work with social media consulting. According to a September 2002 publication in the Harvard Business Review by John T. Gourville and Dilip Soman titled, “Pricing and the Psychology of Consumption”, people are more likely to make a purchase when they are aware of the costs. Therefore, you should present your social media consulting services with their associated costs in a place that is easy for potential clients to find, including your website portfolio.

How much should you charge for social media consulting?

You should charge between $15/hour to $120+/hour for social media consulting, depending on your experience, according to HubSpot. With 0 to 3 years of experience, you can expect to earn between $15 and $50 from social media consulting, while at least 3 years of experience can earn you $50 to $100. Once you reach an advanced level of expertise in social media marketing and your niche, you could generate as much as $120+ from your social media consulting services.

8. Set up a legal business entity

A legal business entity, like an LLC or corporation, is a separate legal entity from the individual consultant that offers enhanced protections compared to operating as a sole proprietor. You can set up a legal business entity by:

  • Choosing a business structure 
  • Deciding on a business name
  • Applying for an EIN through the IRS
  • Applying for a business license (if applicable)

An LLC is an increasingly popular business entity option for freelancers because it provides enhanced protection of personal assets in case you face any legal issues without the more complex filing requirements of a corporation. Furthermore, it enables you to open a business bank account and keep your business finances separate from your personal finances for easier tax reporting.

9. Network with social media freelancers and businesses

Networking with other social media freelancers and businesses in your niche allows you to increase your chances of finding consulting opportunities. In fact, 85% of job opportunities are filled by networking connections, according to Zippia. Some of the best places to find networking opportunities as a freelance social media consultant include:

  • Professional social platforms like LinkedIn, Reddit, or Alumni networks
  • Niche and industry specific conferences and seminars 
  • Professional workshops
  • Job fairs
  • Digital marketing meetup groups

10. Pitch and land clients

Pitch and land clients to start generating income as a freelance social media consultant. Whether you find prospective client opportunities by direct messaging them through a social media channel like LinkedIn or running Google Ads or Facebook Ads for your services, the most important step is convincing them that they should pay you for your expertise. 

How to pitch potential clients as a freelance social media consultant?

  1. 1
    Research each potential client to identify their unique pain points and issues
  2. 2
    Tailor your pitch to showcase how you can address the specific needs of each client
  3. 3
    Review costs and expected deliverables
  4. 4
    Set expectations so commitments and timelines are understood ahead of time

11. Incorporate testimonials as you complete successful client work

Incorporating successful testimonials into your portfolio provides social proof that other clients are satisfied with your freelance consulting services. If a potential client sees that you have already had successful experiences with multiple clients, they are more likely to contract your services. In fact, 88% of online consumers say that they trust testimonials and reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family, according to BigCommerce. You can incorporate testimonials by adding them to your:

  • Website portfolio
  • Social media account content
  • Freelancing platform profile page 

5 Effective social media marketing tools for social media consultants

1. Canva

Canva is an online graphic design tool that can be used to make a variety of social media posts, including images and videos. The software offers a variety of readymade templates and interactive design tools, many of which are provided for free.

2. CoSchedule

CoSchedule is an AI marketing calendar to assist with creating, scheduling, publishing, and measuring social media content. This social media management tool provides the ability to coordinate social media marketing efforts across teams, and can even help with optimization of content. 

3. Buffer

Buffer is a social media marketing toolkit that allows you to automate social media post publishing, analytics tracking, and engagement monitoring. Buffer even comes with an AI assistant to help you quickly rewrite post copy, reformat posts for new channels, and generate new post ideas.

4. Mention

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that tracks online mentions of brands, names, and keywords to help understand consumer sentiment. Mention allows for improved planning of social media content by providing real audience insights to craft campaigns around.

5. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a content marketing tool that allows users to discover social media post content ideas, find relevant influencers to work with, and keep track of the latest online happenings. BuzzSumo aggregates data from articles and social engagements across the web into a single search app to help understand recent trends in order to optimize content creation. 

What are some courses to learn social media marketing skills?

Online Revenue System

Online Revenue System by Nick Ponte and Tom Gaddis is a social media marketing course that teaches how to make money online as a social media manager. The course teaches both valuable social media marketing skills, like running Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, as well as business skills like how to pitch clients on your services. Online Revenue System also teaches you how to automate social media work to other digital marketing freelancers. 

Social Media Ads That Work

Social Media Ads That Work is a social media ads course by Jeremiah Krakowski. The course teaches you how to optimize social media paid advertising campaigns to increase the profitability of social media marketing campaigns. Social Media Ads That Work teaches essential social media marketing skills like split testing ads, retargeting ads, and discovering ad types that generate the highest conversion rates. 

What is the difference between a freelance social media consultant and a freelance social media manager?

The difference between a freelance social media consultant and a freelance social media manager is that a freelance social media manager typically takes a more hands on approach in assisting clients with implementing social media marketing initiatives. Freelance social media managers usually work with a company long term and directly oversee social media activities, while social media consultants work with multiple clients temporarily and support their social media activities through guidance and recommendations. Social media consultants are not present for day-to-day operations like social media management professionals are. 

Conclusion: Is becoming a freelance social media consultant the best way to make money online?

Becoming a freelance social media consultant is not the best way to make money online for most people because it takes years to acquire the right experience and there are likely to be periods of income instability, as freelance marketing projects are typically temporary and short-term. Although operating a successful social media consulting business as a freelancer is possible, it requires an individual that has a proven background of social media marketing experience over an extended timeframe. 

An alternative online business model to consider that is still within the realm of digital marketing is local lead generation. Local lead generation can generate stable, long-term income even as a beginner, so you don’t need to constantly worry about finding new clients to keep making money online. A local lead generation agency builds websites to attract customers for local service businesses. You build these websites before pitching a business on your services, so it’s a readymade marketing channel they can implement into their business straightaway. You don’t need to accumulate tons of testimonials and case studies in order to land clients like you would as a freelance consultant. You can just let potential clients experience the abilities of your website and sell them on your services that way. 

Each local lead generation website can generate between $500 and $3,000/month, depending on the location of the businesses you target and the industry. Operating websites typically require little overhead outside of web hosting and a domain, so you can keep the majority of your earnings as profits. Furthermore, the websites require minimal maintenance to keep operational and local lead generation clients tend to stick for the long term because the organic traffic they receive through a local lead generation website is a more efficient form of marketing than they likely have available through their own means. As such, your local lead generation websites can generate passive income online. You can learn more about starting your own online passive income machine through this local lead gen training program

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

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