Learn how to become a freelance digital marketer with our 30 day plan of action to get up and running pitches for new work and new clients.
Freelancing is a popular alternative for professionals who can’t – or won’t – fulfil their career dreams as employees.
Whether you want to work for yourself, need more freedom in your work-life arrangements, or simply struggle to find your next digital marketing position, pursuing a freelance digital marketing career can be the right answer for you.
Switching to a freelance career to be a full-time or part-time marketing freelancer doesn’t happen overnight.
Unlike applying for a job, you can’t just submit your CV and hope for the best.
You need to adjust to the requirement of an independent freelance business.
Unsure where to start with freelance digital marketing?
Take a look at our 30 day plan to launch your career as a freelance digital marketer:
Marketable and profitable skills
Freelancers are changing the job market. With over 2 million freelancers in the UK, companies have had to adapt to the new talent demographics.
As such, freelancers who are digital marketing specialists are not only valuable members of the workforce, but they also contribute heavily to the national economy.
Their flexibility is advantageous to businesses that need to hire ad-hoc skills for a fixed period.
Alternatively, freelancers can also be kept on a retainer basis for specialist tasks that would not be cost-effective if performed in-house.
As such, becoming a freelance digital marketer could be a valuable and income-generation career path.
How can you be sure there will be work for you?
The first thing to consider is to define whether businesses are ready to pay for your digital marketing advice and skills.
A recent MoneySuperMarket 2020 study of the most popular freelancing sectors in the UK can highlight the digital marketing skills that record the highest demand relate to:
- Sales and marketing in general (22%)
- Design (20%)
- Writing and translation (17%)
- Video, photo, audio (9%)
- Web development (9%)
- Social media marketing (4%)
Additionally, if you can also check current contracts for digital marketing roles and rates on our job board.
A fixed contract with a digital agency or small business can help newcomers to ease their way into the digital freelancing life.
You can use it as a networking base to meet potential future clients and set up a fair rate for your skills.
Alternatively, temporary and part-time marketing jobs also allow budding digital marketers to develop their freelance career at their own pace.
A digital marketer employed by a company knows exactly what their income will be, month after month.
The advantage of a regular payslip is that you don’t have to worry about cashflow for your professional activities.
For a freelancer digital marketing specialist, however, juggling your earnings and your expenses to reach a stable financial situation is another kettle of fish.
As a freelancer, you are in charge of bringing enough income to cover your outgoings.
If money comes out too quickly or comes in too slow, your cash flow can become negative, which, as you can guess, is not a sustainable financial situation.
Here are the most important things you need to keep in mind as you launch your freelancing journey:
Freelancers’ taxes are deducted from their direct income.
You have to fill in your Self Assessment tax return at the end of each tax year, in April.
Therefore, you need to keep proof of invoicing, business-related expenses, and relevant payments.
More importantly, digital marketing freelancers also have to stay on top of their invoicing system to manage cash flow.
You wouldn’t want to forget to bill a client, for instance.
You can speak to an accountant to keep your financial activities under control and sort out your tax return.
Alternatively, freelancers who are comfortable with number crunching can opt for an online invoicing system that manages their finances, or use a simple spreadsheet.
There is no right or wrong.
However, bear in mind that if you are worried about return mistakes or keeping your freelancing business afloat, an accountant is your best option.
Figuring out how much to bill your clients each month is a balancing act that combines your skills’ value and how much you need to sustain our lifestyle.
For a freelance digital marketer, the calculation to test your rates needs to include the cost of your business expenses, the cost of living, and sufficient financial padding.
This financial padding is what accountants refer to as cash flow.
Who is your target audience?
When you apply for a job, your target market is your potential employer.
When you become a digital marketing freelancer, your target audience is any online business that could benefit from your skills.
With approximately 5.9 million UK private sector businesses, the question new freelancers are asking is: where do I start?
Do you target eCommerce businesses with an online store, retail businesses, sole traders or a particular sector in the tech industry?
If you are unsure of how to pitch your services yet, you can rely on conventional methods.
Indeed, recruitment agencies and job boards regularly publish contracts for self-employed professionals.
It is an excellent place to start as you can leave it to the recruiting agent to do the hard work while you only need to submit your CV and portfolio.
Additionally, maintaining a good relationship with small, independent businesses as a savvy freelance contractor puts you in an advantageous position for a future project with the same company.
If you have a unique skill set, your former employers may be interested in hiring you on an ad hoc basis for fixed-term projects and missions.
Alternatively, a company that has worked with you before may prefer to keep you on a retainer basis as part of their talent pool for long-term support.
It’s worth reaching out to your former business contacts to offer your services when you embark on a digital marketing freelancing journey.
Finding new clients can be tricky
But freelance digital marketers need to think outside the box and expand their online presence.
A simple Google search can turn up prospective clients eg: dentists in Brighton.
After all, it’s part of your job to present yourself online.
LinkedIn is an excellent platform to build a professional network for your freelancing activities.
Additionally, the job search on LinkedIn allows members to post freelance positions, making the application process smooth and hyper-relevant.
Networking is essential to your business growth.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential leads via social media.
Twitter and Instagram have highly visible #hashtags content for freelancers, making it easier to spot future clients.
Finally, networking events can transform your personal brand awareness.
Digital events, such as virtual coffee meetings on Zoom, can encourage freelancers to share tips, ideas, and even partner on joint projects.
Keep a look at meeting sites such as Event Brite for networking updates.
Craft your pitch and offering
Many freelancers think of the pitch as a combination of their CV and cover letter.
In reality, your pitch acts as both an introduction to your freelance digital marketing business and a valuable incentive for the client to get in touch.
In other words, if you’re still writing cover letters that showcase your professional background without giving your potential client proof of your skills and interest, chances are you’ll be searching the market for a long time before getting a catch.
Pitching and freelancing go hand-in-hand.
Therefore, digital marketing freelancers need to understand the key to an effective pitch:
Make it personal by doing some research on the business and the person you’re contacting.
If they’ve recently published an article, why not refer to it?
If you’ve spotted a post they’ve shared on social media, make sure to mention it.
Ultimately, you are not the only freelancer around.
Therefore, standing out from the crowd with a personal touch can go a long way.
Establish your understanding of the client’s needs.
This is the part of the pitch letter where you explain which gap you’ve identified in their organisation and how you propose to fill it.
- Show off your best work with work samples, a portfolio (more on this below) and testimonials from other clients.
- This will serve as a reference board for your skills and professionalism.
- New freelancers can share their achievements with their former employer.
- Give a freebie.
- A suggestion or a free sample at the end of your pitch showcases your skills.
- Besides, it’s a nice touch that also sets your profile apart from other freelancers.
- Add a call to action.
- In the marketing world, a compelling call to action can earn you more leads.
- Consequently, including a thoughtful incentive to act rapidly, such as a limited time offer or a link to your online portfolio.
Your portfolio is an essential tool of your freelancing business.
It displays your previous work and showcases samples and studies when relevant.
Depending on your set of skills, your portfolio will differ in format and content.
However, before going more into detail, here’s a famous example of a portfolio that demonstrates the author’s set of skills and also includes a fantastic pitching idea.
Nina4Airbnb is the happy mixture of personalisation, showing Nina’s understanding of the business, offering a free suggestion, and introducing a perfect call to action for getting in touch.
Additionally, the website also provides a great deal of information about Nina’s marketing and business skills.
What does the perfect digital marketing portfolio need?
- Sales and marketing professionals: Share case studies and achievements.
- Design, creative freelancers: Display samples of your work or examples of what you would do for the client.
- Content writer : Share published writings, engagement figures, and areas of expertise.
- Video, photo, audio experts: Your online portfolio should contain media files of your previous works and other samples.
- Web development freelancers: Share a list of known platforms and technologies you use as well as samples for clients to check.
- Social media experts: You can display content creation and campaign and success stories on clients’ campaigns, and profit generated.
- Search engine marketing freelancers: Your portfolio should showcase your achievements, and the growth delivered.
Your digital marketing plan
As a digital marketing freelancer, you are expected to set up your brand recognition online.
As such, the first step of your business marketing plan is to find your freelancing business name.
Most freelancers work under their name.
However, you can also create a limited company, in which case you can trade under a company name.
Something to bear in mind is that this will ultimately become the domain name of your website.
In other words, do make sure that your chosen name is available to purchase as a domain.
Creating a freelance website to promote your activities is the extension of an online portfolio.
Your website should answer all the questions of web visitors and enable them to book your services easily.
You will need six essential sections:
- A brief about me page
- Professional credentials and qualifications
- Contact page
- Optional but valuable: Blog
Your marketing strategy focuses on client acquisition and retention.
Therefore, you need to use a variety of channels to get noticed and find future clients.
First of all, keeping in touch with recruitment agencies for temporary, part-time and contract roles can help to reach new clients through a traditional recruiting approach.
But you also need to network on relevant social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to keep track of the market needs and latest business developments.
It’s easy to start a conversation with potential clients on social channels.
Ideally, relying on professional referrals to introduce your work to new clients is your primary source of work.
Cold pitching, on the other hand, is a tricky task that requires both a compelling pitch and a list of contacts.
Former clients and employers can be part of your list.
You can also use networking events to meet new people and expand your contact list.
Emailing campaigns are a preferred cold pitching strategy for digital marketers.
MailChimp offers a free email marketing service plan.
But paid emailing tools such as ConvertKit and Drip can provide valuable personalisation and sales funnels options.
Improve your craft and skills
The freelancing world is constantly growing. For a freelance digital marketer, staying relevant is all about continually improving your skills.
Here’s a brief and non-exhaustive list of helpful resources and online certifications for digital marketing freelancers:
- Analytics skills, useful for SEM experts, digital designers, developers, and content creators: Google Analytics Academy
- General digital marketing skills, useful as a credential: Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Certification
- PPC and display advertising: Google Ads and Display ads certification via Skillshop
- Dedicated PPC performance courses: Wordstream PPC University
- Content marketing skills and tips: Hubspot content marketing certification
- Free web design resources from Skillcrush
- The Online Marketing Institute offers a variety of digital marketing knowledge and certifications including social media marketing
Register for a free membership and start your freelancing business with one of our digital marketing contracts
or Search for Digital Marketing Jobs