What Is Freelance Digital Marketing? Definition, Common Jobs, & Pros and Cons

October 7, 2023

What is freelance digital marketing?

Freelance digital marketing is performing internet-based marketing services, like SEO, as an independent contractor instead of through traditional employment. Freelance digital marketing entails finding clients who need digital marketing solutions for their business and providing digital marketing services on a per-task or per-project basis to fulfill some or all of those needs. Digital freelance marketing is typically performed on a short-term basis, but project contracts can also be for a longer term as well, such as for ongoing management of a social media page.

What is freelancing in simple terms?

Freelancing in simple terms is a type of self employment where you perform work on a contractual basis for multiple clients rather than being committed to a single company. Freelancing enables individuals and businesses more freedom and flexibility in the working arrangement. According to the World Bank, approximately 47% of the global workforce operates as freelancers. 

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a type of marketing that leverages digital channels like websites, mobile devices, search engines, and social media platforms to reach target audiences and drive business goals like increased brand awareness and sales. As of 2022, the global digital marketing size was $322.2 billion, and it's expected to reach $689.8 billion by 2028, according to global market research firm the IMARC Group.

What is a freelance digital marketer? 

A freelance digital marketer is a marketing professional that specializes in internet marketing channels, such as paid ads, and performs their work on a contractual basis for multiple clients. Freelance digital marketers can offer businesses a flexible, and oftentimes more cost effective solution, than hiring a full-time marketing team in-house. A freelance digital marketing professional can specialize in offering businesses a single marketing service, such as web design, or develop expertise across a broader range of digital marketing skills and provide businesses with a comprehensive marketing solution that spans beyond one single marketing channel.

What does a freelance digital marketer do?

A freelance digital marketer does internet-based marketing activities for companies on a contractual basis. For example, a freelance digital marketer could do a one-time copywriting project for a client's website. A digital marketing freelancer can have a range of various responsibilities depending on the specific skills and experience they have. However, there are some general responsibilities all freelance digital marketers owe their clients. The responsibilities of a freelance digital marketer are to:

  • Keep brand's internal information private (typically through signing NDA)
  • Adhere to operational guidelines of brand's established policies and procedures
  • Maintain the proper branding guidelines, like brand voice, throughout any produced digital marketing content
  • Clearly communicate all project costs to client 

What are common freelance digital marketing jobs?

Content marketing

Content marketing is creating and sharing digital media like blogs, videos, podcasts, and social media posts to stimulate interest online. The purpose of content marketing is to attract a relevant online audience through published content in order to generate brand awareness, establish credibility, improve SEO efforts, and help spur leads and sales. Content creation can play a major role in a business's success. In fact, in a recent survey of consumer preferences around content marketing by DemandGen, 44% of respondents disclosed that they typically consume at least three to five pieces of content before engaging with a brand. Some common specialized roles within the content marketing segment of freelance digital marketing include copywriter, graphic designer, and video editor. 

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization are the processes and tactics used to improve a brand’s visibility on the search engines, such as Google or Bing. SEO is so important because 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, according to Ahrefs. Although an SEO digital marketing freelancer can provide comprehensive SEO services to a business, there are many that specialize in one of the three primary categories of SEO. The 3 primary categories of SEO are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. 

On-page SEO refers to everything you can optimize on a web page, including the content and meta descriptions. Content writer is a common freelance digital marketing role for on-page SEO. Off-page SEO is everything that optimizes a web page that occurs outside of the website, including backlinks and mentions of the brand around the web. Therefore, backlinking specialist is a common freelance digital marketing from home job that deals with off-page SEO. Finally, technical SEO is the technical aspects of a website, like how easy a website is to crawl for Google and the site's loading speed. Roles like web designer and web developer are common freelance digital marketing jobs that focus on technical SEO aspects.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to generate awareness for a brand and help establish an online identity. Social media marketing can be an effective marketing channel for businesses because it reaches people where they spend a substantial portion of their day. In fact, the average internet user spends 2.5 hours per day on social media, according to DataReportal. A social media marketing freelancer can perform tasks like:

  • Content creation
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social monitoring
  • Paid social media campaigns
  • Community management
  • Direct messaging

Although there are many digital marketing freelancers that provide general or comprehensive social media management services, you can also specialize in a particular area of social media marketing.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)

Pay-per-click advertising is a type of digital marketing where an advertiser pays a fee each time their ad is clicked. A digital marketing freelancer who specializes in PPC advertising is responsible for targeting a brand’s intended target audience with paid ads and maximizing profitability by using data to efficiently scale paid advertising campaigns with the parameters that are most effective. Pay-per-click is the model all major advertising platforms use, including Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Instagram Ads, and even Amazon Ads, so a PPC marketing specialist has multiple digital channels at their disposal. The average small to mid-sized business spends around $10,000 per month on PPC advertising, according to WebFX.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a component of digital marketing that entails reaching audiences through email campaigns. Email marketing is useful to businesses to reach a targeted list of customers, promote new products and promotions, and keep audiences informed about the business's latest happenings. A freelance email marketing specialist can serve businesses by writing effective email copy, managing contact lists, analyzing customer data, and automating email sequences. Email marketing is very common, with 64% of small businesses using email marketing to reach customers, according to Campaign Monitor.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing job where a freelance marketer promotes brands to earn commissions when they drive beneficial actions like sales, app downloads, or subscription sign-ups. Affiliate marketing works by signing up for brand's affiliate programs to obtain a custom affiliate link, which is then placed throughout the affiliates promotional materials. When a customer clicks on the affiliate's link and performs a beneficial action, the brand awards the affiliate with a commission.

An affiliate marketer has more flexibility than the typical digital marketer freelance career because they don't work directly for clients on projects. Instead, they can create their own marketing campaign for a brand and get paid for their performance. Because affiliate marketing is such an efficient form of marketing that only rewards marketers when they make the business money, over 80% of modern brands are using the strategy, according to a study by Rakuten & Forrester Research. 

What is a freelance digital marketing specialist?

A freelance digital marketing specialist is a freelance professional with digital marketing expertise that takes an active role in performing internet marketing tasks for businesses. For example, if a business needs to optimize the technical SEO of their website, a freelance digital marketing specialist can make the necessary adjustments on the backend of their website. Freelance digital marketing specialists typically don't perform a broad range of digital marketing-related tasks. They usually specialize in one area and achieve a high level of expertise. 

What is a freelance digital marketing consultant?

A freelance digital marketing consultant is a freelance professional that uses their expertise to advise and guide businesses on courses of action related to their digital marketing goals. A freelance digital marketing consultant is valued for the information they provide to help businesses with their digital marketing strategy. 

What is a freelance digital marketing manager?

A freelance digital marketing manager is a freelance professional that specializes in managing teams of digital marketers in order to drive marketing initiatives for brands. Freelance digital marketing managers typically don’t perform any digital marketing tasks themselves, but instead leverage the digital marketing personnel available to them through the business to execute tasks in order to coordinate effective digital marketing campaigns. 

Where can you find freelance digital marketing jobs?

  • Freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr
  • Your own digital marketing agency
  • A social media platform, like LinkedIn or Facebook
  • Directly from company websites
  • Networking events
  • Referrals from current clients

Freelance digital marketers have many options for finding new clients. There are prospective clients all over the internet and in-person. The precise place where you should look for your next potential client just depends on what specific digital marketing area you specialize in and which niche you primarily serve. For example, a digital marketing freelancer that specializes in PPC advertising for dentist offices could find work by pitching their services through a Facebook groups dedicated to dental professionals. 

What skills are required for freelance digital marketing?

  • Computer skills - Freelance digital marketers perform all their tasks online, so the ability to navigate a computer is absolutely essential. 
  • Organization skills - A digital marketing freelancer needs to be able to stay organized themself without oversight from a boss. This includes properly storing digital files, keeping track of billing, and maintaining tax documents. 
  • Interpersonal skills - Digital marketing freelancers need to have the capacity to effectively communicate with clients and understand their needs. 
  • Sales skills - As a digital marketing freelancer, you are solely responsible for selling clients on your services, so the ability to sell is critical for success. 
  • Research skills - Research enables a digital marketing freelancer to stay updated on the latest strategies as well as learn and develop expertise in the specific industries of the clients they serve.

How much does a freelance digital marketer make?

A freelance digital marketer makes $78,000/year on average, according to Talent. However, a freelance digital marketer's potential earnings are based on which skills they specialize in and how many hours they spend using those skills, because freelancers are paid based on their direct output and not on a set salary like traditional employees. For example, an SEO specialist in the United States makes $31/hour on average while a social media marketing specialist makes just $26/hour, according to ZipRecruiter. If both the SEO specialist and social media marketing specialist work the same amount of hours in a given year, the freelance digital marketer who does SEO will make more money than the one that does social media marketing. 

Pros and cons of freelance digital marketing


Flexible work schedule

Uncapped earnings potential

Location independence

Any business expenses are tax deductible

You receive full credit for your work instead of a boss

You keep all your business profits


Income is unpredictable

You do everything for your business, like client outreach and billing

No benefits, like health insurance, 401K, or PTO

Work-life balance can be more difficult to establish

Lack of human connection and potential to pick up skills from co-workers

Distractions can make it difficult to focus and commit to work

How to become a freelance digital marketer?

1. Decide on a service

Freelance digital marketing encompasses many services, like SEO, social media marketing, and PPC advertising. Although there are some freelance digital marketers that can perform a range of digital marketing tasks well, beginners are recommended to specialize in one skill to get started. By becoming a master at one skill first, a freelance digital marketer can establish expertise much faster and optimize the rate they charge for their services. 

2. Obtain the right training

Once you know which digital marketing freelance service you will offer to clients, you need to learn how to perform those services effectively before you can start taking on clients with confidence. Fortunately, digital marketing is one of the most popular skill sets on the internet, and there are many courses available to teach you the skills. Although you can learn freelance digital marketing skills from a college or university, many elect for more affordable and convenient learning options online from e-learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy. Many basic digital marketing skills can even be obtained for free from YouTube and blogs.

3. Gain relevant experience

Once equipped with the necessary skills to perform your chosen freelance digital marketing service, you need to put those skills to the test. You can do this by taking on an entry level digital marketing role with a company, working for free, or offering your freelancing services at a low rate to attract your first clients. 

4. Build a portfolio

Each successful digital marketing experience you accumulate becomes a valuable piece of information to add to your portfolio of freelance digital marketing work to help new potential clients determine whether they should contract your services. Although it’s not essential, Indeed recommends that freelance digital marketers host their portfolio on their own website because it allows you to better optimize your portfolio for client viewing and improve your marketing ability later on, such as by running paid ads leading to your website portfolio to attract more clients. Make sure to include testimonials in your portfolio from previous clients. According to research by Wyzowl, people say that reviews heavily influence their decisions online.

5. Set your pricing

Now that you have some experience under your belt, you can accurately set your pricing and display it on your portfolio. You can check the current going market rate for your particular skill set by researching competitor websites, freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, or digital marketing-specific forums and social groups. As your skills and results improve over time, you can raise your pricing to reflect your expertise.

6. Set up a legal business entity (optional)

Although not absolutely necessary, setting up a legal business entity like an LLC to separate yourself from your business has many benefits. It allows you to efficiently separate personal finances from business finances, it protects your personal assets, and it can make your business operations look more legitimate. Setting up an LLC can be low maintenance and affordable as well, costing as little as a few hundred dollars a year in legal fees.

7. Network with other digital marketing freelancers

Networking is extremely beneficial for digital marketing freelancers. It enables the exchange of information and ideas, as well as increases your potential to find new opportunities through other digital marketing freelancers who need your skill for their business or project. 

8. Promote your freelancing services

Promote your freelancing services to start scaling up your freelance digital marketing business. Many freelance digital marketers elect to promote their business using the precise digital marketing services they are selling. For example, an SEO freelancer digital marketer is likely to use SEO on their website to help potential clients find them, while a social media marketing freelance digital marketer is likely to post content to a social media platform like Instagram to find their clients. By effectively promoting your freelance digital marketing services through the marketing channel you offer, you showcase your skills to clients and give them confidence to pay for your services.

9. Land clients

Setting up a marketing funnel is just the beginning, you need to actually convince clients to work with you once they engage with you regarding the freelance digital marketing service that you offer. You can improve your chances of landing a client by showing them specifically why your services can improve their business, if they legitimately can. Although this exchange can take place through chat or email messaging, it’s often best to set up a call with your potential client to make the process go faster and enable a more solid relationship to be built.

What are some of the best resources for freelance digital marketing?

  • Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course by Google - Google is one of the primary channels where digital marketing takes place, so this free freelance digital marketing course is a great resource for getting started in the industry. 
  • Canva - This online graphic design platform provides the templates and tools to create a range of visual media needed for digital marketing, such as social media posts, YouTube thumbnails, and videos.
  • Zapier - Zapier is a workflow automation tool that allows you to integrate various applications. For example, a freelance digital marketer could automatically receive a message in Slack when they get a new lead through Facebook. 
  • Freelance marketplaces - Freelance marketplaces, like Upwork and Fiverr, are great places for digital marketing freelancers to showcase their services and land new clients looking for those services. 
  • Email marketing tool - Email marketing tools, like Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign, allow freelance digital marketers to build email lists and automate outreach initiatives for themselves and their clients. 
  • SEO tool suite - SEO tool suites, like Ahrefs or Semrush, provide freelance digital marketers with the actionable insights required to rank on the first page of search engines like Google and Bing. 
  • Grammar checker writing assistant - Grammar checking tools, like Grammarly and ProwritingAid, enable freelance digital marketers to check over their copy before publishing to the internet to ensure work uses proper grammar and is free of spelling errors. 

Conclusion: Is freelance digital marketing right for you?

Freelance digital marketing may be right for you if you value flexibility and autonomy above stable income and job security, and you enjoy working with a computer in a virtual setting. Freelance digital marketers need to take initiative to complete their work and learn new skills, so it’s best for those that have the discipline to operate on their own terms. Those who do not enjoy working with and learning new technologies should not consider freelance digital marketing as a career path because everything a freelance digital marketer does takes place in the digital world and the digital work is constantly being enhanced and updated. Freelance digital marketing is not easy. It is a rapidly evolving industry that requires you to actively respond to algorithm updates and technological changes, such as Google’s September 2023 helpful content update that changed the verbiage for how the search engine would respond to AI-generated content. 

If digital marketing sounds like an interesting career path for you but you’re not sure about freelancing specifically, local lead generation is a digital marketing online business model worth considering. Unlike freelancing, where you only earn money when you actively complete work for clients, a local lead generation business enables you to generate passive income online. Local lead generation uses the digital marketing skill of SEO to rank websites on Google that target customers for local service businesses in specific locations. It typically takes between 6 weeks and 6 months to rank a website on Google using local SEO. Once you rank a local lead generation website, you show an actual local service business how your website can enhance their digital marketing and increase their revenue, and partner with them to receive the leads each month for a fee. 

Typically, a local lead generation website can earn anywhere from $500 to $3,000/month. This revenue is mostly passive income because once you rank a local lead generation website and partner with a local business, the website requires little maintenance. Most of the minor tasks that do need to be completed to maintain the website can be outsourced to freelancers or automated through available software tools like AI. If you want to use digital marketing to make passive income online, you can learn the entire process through this lead gen training program

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

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