Before we get started, give yourself pat on the back. Whether you are just looking to make some extra cash outside of normal work hours, or you’re going all out to full-time freelance, the digital marketing industry is full of possibility.
We are only witnessing the beginning of the digital marketing industry’s potential. Recent research shows that in the US alone, only 53% of small businesses are online. This opening leaves room for huge growth for all industries attached to SMB website development and expansion–programming, design, and in particular, digital marketing.
There has never been a better time to evolve your career, so let’s get you going with these 5 easy steps to becoming a freelance digital marketer.
1: Do your Research
Before diving into a new career, it’s important to take a look around at the industry and see how you fit. Digital marketing is an exciting field with plenty of opportunity, but as with all industries there is stiff competition.
Take an objective look at your skills–what are you best at? In what areas can you help an online business RIGHT NOW? Your top skills will represent you in the early going, and establish your reputation.
Be sure to make as much headway as possible before making serious time commitments for your new occupation. In a word, network. Network like crazy. Email, LinkedIn, and Facebook will be your best friends for this task. Message previous employers and colleagues. Let them know you are taking on this new endeavor and that you are available to take on their extra work. These initial contacts trust you and your work, so take the extra step to ask for referrals.
2: Start Small
Unless your previous job established you as an influencer in the digital marketing community, do not expect to command top salaries in your first freelance digital marketing jobs. Best to keep your expectations modest at the beginning.
If you want to go full time, perhaps try part time first. Get your first jobs from a place of stability. Have some funds saved to cushion you during this period of transition.
3: Expand your Repertoire
Once you have your feet under you, it’s time to make yourself more valuable! A good (cheap) way to do this is take online courses. There are a wealth of digital marketing courses available across the internet that provide top-rate education. Coursera lists classes from universities like Stanford and UPenn, all for free. If you’re looking for something more specific, try Online Marketing Institute’s offerings.
Whatever you decide to learn, it’s hard to go wrong. Every class you take makes you a better marketer for your clients. Even if the classes don’t come with a certification, your added knowledge can go a long way. Long live the Internet!
The more knowledge you have under your belt, the more you can charge for your services. Not bad, right?
4: Be Your Own Advocate
All right, you’ve talked to the right people, you’ve gained the proper skills, now you need to get your message out to a larger audience. Especially in the beginning phases when you don’t have a consistent client base, you should create more avenues for employers to find you.
There are some large freelance service sites such as oDesk or Freelancer, but they require competitive bidding, applications–a lot of your valuable time with no guaranteed return. On the other hand, there exist match-making services that bring businesses to you. Just by creating a free profile you are significantly increasing your chances of getting hired.
5: Showcase Your Expertise
There are times when it’s best to be modest, but this is not one of them. To gain notoriety in the freelance digital marketing industry don’t just trumpet your successes–use an entire orchestra! Show off your work to future clients with informative case studies or articles. Here is where the clever title of this blog comes in; you’re writing is what sets you apart from your competition.
One option is to create a blog with all your bright ideas as the centerpiece. WordPress and Joomla are two popular, reliable hosts. The more expert content you publish on your behalf, the better.
But unfortunately creating a successful blog isn’t just about the blogging. You need to build your reader base entirely from scratch. This includes social media marketing, promotion, design–on and on. An endeavor into your own blog can be fruitful, but be ready for the challenges.
Some sites like Grow or even LinkedIn also allow you to publish your own content next to your professional profile. Putting your writing next to your name here boosts your SEO within the specific platform, and across the internet. As opposed to maintaining your own blog, at these content management sites you don’t have to worry about designs, networks, servers–just your profile. Your audience is already on the site–all they need now are your ideas.