Building Your Business

How Freelancers Can Break Into Social Media Management

By Susan Johnston November 17th, 2014

When you think of freelance writers, journalism and blogging often comes to mind. But there’s another lucrative field that’s easy to overlook: social media management.

Companies realize they need a strong social media presence to stand out from the competition, and some brands are now asking freelancers to keep their feeds updated with relevant, interesting content to engage with potential customers.

Managing social accounts not only helps diversify your workload, but instead of writing a one-off article and worrying about the next pitch, freelancers can work with social media clients on a consistent basis. We talked to several freelance writers who’ve broken into social media management about what they do to identify and woo clients.

Target clients in your niche

Lisa Collier Cool, a veteran health writer from New York, finds clients by looking for doctors and other experts who have new books coming out. “My reasoning is that experts with a book to pitch are likely to need social media help and have the resources to pay a reasonable rate for this service,” she said.

Cool also gets referrals from literary agent and publicists for clients who need social media help. If a client balks at her rates, she’ll point out that “just as a parent wouldn’t select a babysitter solely by looking for the lowest bidder, who might be a 12-year-old with little or no experience with babies; similarly, I believe that it’s crucial to have someone with maturity, judgment, and experience that you’d trust to take great care of your prestigious brand.” (Just ask any brand that’s had an inexperienced employee post an embarrassing photo or tweet on a company social feed.)

Dawn Allcot, a New York freelancer, has turned blogging jobs into social media work by emphasizing she already knows and understands a particular brand. “Why not have the same person doing all your inbound marketing for you?” she explained. “I know your company, I know your unique selling proposition. Why start over with another social media firm?”

Specify what your rate covers

When writing an article, the freelancer and the client typically agree on an approximate word count and the fee in advance. With social media management or consulting, it’s sometimes harder to define the scope. Are you committing to a certain number of tweets or Facebook posts per week? Or does the client prefer to pay based on a certain number of hours per month? What happens when the client wants to add other networks to the mix? Will you add more hours or subtract some from another platform? It’s important to spell out these expectations in advance.

Michelle Seitzer, a freelance writer in Pennsylvania who specializes in elder care issues, said, “Because social media is something that people do for fun, people tend to forget when you’re being paid to do it on behalf of a business you have to be specific about the details.” For one client, she commits to a certain number of hours per month, which covers all updates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. She also co-moderates Twitter chats for the client and offers one-on-one advice to followers via Google Helpouts.

Be professional on your personal accounts

Prospective clients will check your personal social media accounts when evaluating your experience, so Allcot recommends staying active on all the major networks relevant to your clients—especially LinkedIn, regardless of whether or not you plan to run LinkedIn pages for brands. “Be active,” she said. “Post frequently (but not too frequently). Be professional. And be positive. The best thing you can do is showcase yourself as someone others will want on their team and want to work with.”

While you may have more leeway for humor and criticism on a personal account than a corporate account, don’t be too brash or extreme. According to Seitzer: “Being a responsible user—not over-sharing personal information; posting stories, images, and status updates that are uplifting, fun, funny, kind, informative, and positive; and responding to likes, shares, and comments promptly—demonstrates that the individual would be able to do the same for a company.”

Image by Smit
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