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March 10, 2023

How to become a freelance digital marketer

by
Hannah

Hannah is an experienced Passionfruit PR Specialist with a strong reputation for developing, delivering & managing standout campaigns for consumer brands.

How to become a freelance digital marketer
Table of contents

Introduction

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a freelance digital marketer, this blog post is for you. We’ll run you through everything you need to know to get started, including tips on how to build your personal brand, where to find the perfect clients and how to tick off all the necessary admin so you’re free to deliver top-quality work.  

Why become a freelance marketer?

There are lots of advantages to becoming a freelance marketer, the most obvious being flexibility. Not only can you choose your working hours but the digital marketing projects and clients you support. While you might initially feel compelled to accept every opportunity that comes your way as you become more established you’ll find yourself free to choose the work you take on. As a freelance marketer you also have the ability to work from anywhere whether that’s at home avoiding the commute, by the beach or in the middle of nowhere - as long as you have access to a computer and strong wireless internet connection, the world is your oyster.

Related: What is a freelance marketer?

What does a freelance digital marketer do?

A freelance digital marketer is a self-employed marketing consultant who specializes in one or more marketing channels. Their role, depending on their experience, is to devise and implement innovative marketing strategies and campaigns to help businesses reach new audiences, keep existing customers and grow their business/ revenue. Most freelancers work independently on a short-term basis, delivering client projects or campaigns within tight timelines, however, some choose to support companies and work with full-time employees to deliver long-term projects. 

Every freelance digital marketing specialists day-to-day differs due to their experience and client base. Most complete some or most of the following tasks during their working week (as well as necessary administrative tasks):

  • Analyze audience insights, sales data and engagement 
  • Monitor and review market trends 
  • Design digital marketing strategies
  • Set up and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Engage with current and potential clients 
  • Invoice for their services
  • Lead content marketing (e.g. content strategy and content creation) 
  • Review current/ previous digital marketing campaigns
  • Send monthly reports to clients including relevant marketing analytics
  • Search Engine Marketing optimizing blog content to ensure decent traffic
  • Manage social media management, leading community management, social media posts and content for affiliate marketing 
  • Create brand assets for different social media channels 
  • Optimize email marketing campaigns

Want to know more? Check out our article on What is a Freelance Marketer: Everything you need to know.

How to start digital marketing freelance

Choose your specialty

The first thing you need to do is choose your niche. That means deciding whether you want to specialize in a particular role or align yourself with a specific industry. For example, you may wish to focus on content marketing or specialise in digital marketing services for technology companies. 

Identify your target audience

Before you get started as a freelance marketer it is worth taking some time to define your audience. Thinking about the types of businesses you are looking to target can help you to tailor your networking and promotion efforts (the area/ industry you have chosen to specialize in can also help you do this). If your focus is on the food and drink sector, your likely audience will be cafes, restaurants, FMCG, etc. Just remember to take time to work out how you can offer a service that sets yourself aside from your competitors. Is there a market need you can serve?

Build a website & personal brand

Once you’ve identified your audience the next step is to design a website that allows you to showcase your expertise and achievements as well as allow potential clients to find, research and contact you. Although you might not be in a position to pay a professional to build your website, you can use platforms like Squarespace and Wix to get started. Once you are confident in your abilities as a freelance digital marketer and have the cash flow to upgrade your website you can find the right professional to support you with this. 

Alongside this you’ll need to pull together a marketing portfolio, including examples of all the digital marketing services you provide to clients (e.g. copywriting, SEO, graphic design etc.). Taking time to do this will ensure you have the best chance for winning work as it will give prospective clients a clear understanding of your capabilities and the value you will add to their company. You can also use your online presence to showcase your experience by creating an online portfolio. 

You can also create social media platforms to promote your digital marketing business or start a digital marketing blog to demonstrate your expertise to build connections with business owners. If you’re new to the world of freelance you may wish to dedicate a day for blogging and/ or content creation every month, this will help to establish you as a thought leader in your area of expertise. If one of your skills is Search Engine Marketing make sure you create a website that Google loves! 

As you grow you might find there are a lot of potential clients and fellow freelancers visiting your website to ask for your support. If that’s the case you might choose to stay in touch with them by starting an email newsletter. Creating a newsletter is one way you can share your skills and demonstrate your digital marketing knowledge with others and attract new clients. If you do decide to create a newsletter, make sure you have enough time each week to share thoughtful insights - rushing to pull it together at the end of the week may be detrimental to the growth of your business. 

The Admin

Set Up a Company

As your freelance business grows from strength to strength one of the first things you need to do is set up a company. To do this you can visit gov.uk and register as a sole trader or limited company (if you’re not from the UK all the information you need to do this will be on your Government’s website). 

Alongside registering your business you need to stay on top of your income by tracking any expenses. Keeping on top of admin like this will help to ensure you can accurately submit your Self Assessment Tax Return at the end of the financial year. Remember as a self-employed person you’ll be able to offset some costs when you complete your Tax Return (provided they’re permitted expenses). And, don’t forget you’ll also need to set aside money each month to cover overhead costs for marketing tools (e.g Canva, Roxhill etc.), as well as important things like your pension. If you need some help with all of this, Earnr, is the ultimate finance and tax app for freelancers. It helps you keep track of your incomings and outgoings, get valuable business insights and automate your tax return in just a few simple taps. Easy peasy! 

When you set up your company you’ll need to think about a name for your business. You can check the copyright for any names you think of on gov.uk and register the trademark online. If you’re struggling to find a name for your freelance business, clever AI platforms like Squad Help can help you do this.

Invoicing

Invoicing should always be top of your to-do-list. Invoicing acts as a legal agreement between yourself and your client by providing evidence of the digital marketing services rendered and payment owed. To ensure you’re paid on time make sure you complete and submit your invoices on time. Failing to do so will likely mean you’re paid late which depending on your financial situation could be problematic. Why not set aside a couple of hours each week or month and take yourself out for a coffee - sort through your finances and make sure you're on top of them. If you’ve never shared an invoice before, we’d recommend using Quickbooks

Contracts

Like invoicing contracts are extremely important. Contracts clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of each party, as well as the costs, benefits, and details regarding termination. Think of contracts as a written promise of all the work you’re going to do for the company you’re working with (although, it’s worth remembering they’re legally binding).

All contracts should include the name of your employer as well as your name, job title and start date. Alongside this they should offer a clear summary of your roles and responsibilities including important information about your working days/ hours, fee and holiday entitlement. Don’t forget as a digital marketing freelancer it's your responsibility to share any upcoming holiday with companies before you enter into a contractual agreement. 

Finding clients

Reaching out to your network

Reach out to people you have met throughout your digital marketing career to date and let them know you’ve set up as a freelancer as they might be in a position to help you find clients. If you already have connections with companies you’d like to target, get in touch - you never know when they might need you to support you with current or future projects. 

You can also use networking platforms like LinkedIn to share your work, shouting about your achievements is a great way to showcase your services to clients. And, don’t be afraid to network. If you’re a freelance PR why not connect with Brand Managers at companies you’d like to work with. And, if you’re a product developer connect with the Lead Product designers behind the aps you most admire. We’d always recommend leaning on your network as you start out as it is a great way to help you find digital marketing jobs which could lead to further work. Remember sometimes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. 

Join the conversation

Try joining online forums and groups relevant to the audience you’re looking to target. Make sure to introduce yourself and share helpful snippets of information as well as top tips - being vocal in groups like this will help to establish your credibility as a digital marketing professional whatever your audience or sector. 

Sign up to a platform

Freelance websites are a great way to find work. Checkout our blog post on the best freelancing sites for a round up of the websites most likely to help you find your dream role. Of course, we’re a little biassed but signing up to  Passionfruit is a great option - it’s free and will match you with companies whose business needs match with your skillset. However, if you’re looking for smaller one-off projects to kick-start your freelancing digital marketing career alongside a full-time job Fiverr or Upwork might be a better place to start. 

Growing your business 

Keep mastering your craft

While, you don’t need any specific qualifications to work as a freelance digital marketer, the ability to demonstrate relevant digital marketing certificates as well as digital marketing skills will help you to secure more clients (and justify higher day/ hourly rates). If you don’t have much marketing experience or a degree in marketing, you may wish to improve your skills by taking digital marketing courses to increase your knowledge on the basics of marketing. That said, all digital marketers regardless of their level of expertise should take time to continue to develop their skills and understanding of both the digital marketing industry and market trends. A great way to do this is subscribing to an email newsletter. At Passionfruit we love The Drum, The Daily CTA, Growing Viral, Demand Curve, Marketing Examples and of course, The Passionfruit Pulse

Increasing your rates

As a freelance digital marketing expert your income is likely to vary throughout your career due to the different types of clients you work with and the level of service you provide. At the start of your freelance career it’s important to remember that having clients that sit within your target audience is arguably more important than working with a client that can afford your desired fee. Building a relationship with a client you love tends to pay more over time than not pursuing a project because the person hiring you cannot afford to pay your fee. 

That said, make sure you don’t undersell yourself - change your standard rates as your experience and ability as a freelancer grows. Boosting your average rates regularly helps demonstrate to prospective clients the value of your work while allowing you to grow your business. We’d suggest raising your day/ hourly rates every 6-12 months once you’re established as a successful freelancer. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to what to charge clients to do your research - pick up with fellow digital marketing freelancers or take advantage of the many resources online to help you determine the industry standard rate for a digital marketing freelancer of your level and experience. Typically, first time freelancers charge somewhere between £220 - £290 per day.

Get Testimonials & References

Always ask for referrals from clients you have enjoyed working with. As you look to win new clients, great testimonies will play an important role in helping you win new work. If you use platforms like LinkedIn to network, a great way to do this is to ask existing clients to share recommendations for potential clients to read. Social proof is the best promotional material you can ask for! Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!  

Alternatively, you could pull together your testimonies into a neat presentation which you can then share with clients as part of a response to a specific brief or as a follow up to chemistry meeting. You may also find it helpful to have a few clients who are happy for you to share their details with prospective clients to provide a strong character reference. 

“There's that famous phrase: ‘no-one gets fired for hiring IBM’. Ultimately - rightly or wrongly - a lot of business decisions are driven by a desire to limit the downside rather than maximize the upside. Freelancers need to have demonstrable previous success and strong reviews to create a sense of trust between them and potential customers. Customers understandably want more confidence in the choice that they're making and to create that confidence as a freelancer, you need to create a brand of professionalism and quality.” — Raffi Salama, Co-Founder of Passionfruit 

Find a Mentor

As you learn the ropes of digital marketing, finding a mentor could be key to your success. Before you start to look for a digital marketing specialist who will be able to help, think about the kind of person you’d like to learn from, it might be an individual who has worked in the field you’re looking to conquer or someone who has already accomplished everything you’re looking to achieve in your own career.

Mentors have a wealth of experience to draw from, meaning they are well placed to share tips on how to succeed and offer advice on how to handle difficult situations. Successful freelancers are also great people to ask any big questions you have around pitching for new clients,  responding to briefs or where to go for up-to-date digital marketing resources. If you’re lucky they may also be willing to introduce you to new clients and expand your existing network, opening you up to new and exciting opportunities.

Conclusion

Becoming a great freelance marketer takes time so it’s important you follow the steps outlined above. Not only will setting up your freelance business properly and creating a user-friendly website which promotes your skillset help to attract and retain clients it will help you to secure a steady income which you can change up as you grow. You may even find yourself in a position to take on new talent and mentor digital marketing consultants keen to emulate your successes. 

Professor Passionfruit Illustration
Table of Contents

Introduction

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a freelance digital marketer, this blog post is for you. We’ll run you through everything you need to know to get started, including tips on how to build your personal brand, where to find the perfect clients and how to tick off all the necessary admin so you’re free to deliver top-quality work.  

Why become a freelance marketer?

There are lots of advantages to becoming a freelance marketer, the most obvious being flexibility. Not only can you choose your working hours but the digital marketing projects and clients you support. While you might initially feel compelled to accept every opportunity that comes your way as you become more established you’ll find yourself free to choose the work you take on. As a freelance marketer you also have the ability to work from anywhere whether that’s at home avoiding the commute, by the beach or in the middle of nowhere - as long as you have access to a computer and strong wireless internet connection, the world is your oyster.

Related: What is a freelance marketer?

What does a freelance digital marketer do?

A freelance digital marketer is a self-employed marketing consultant who specializes in one or more marketing channels. Their role, depending on their experience, is to devise and implement innovative marketing strategies and campaigns to help businesses reach new audiences, keep existing customers and grow their business/ revenue. Most freelancers work independently on a short-term basis, delivering client projects or campaigns within tight timelines, however, some choose to support companies and work with full-time employees to deliver long-term projects. 

Every freelance digital marketing specialists day-to-day differs due to their experience and client base. Most complete some or most of the following tasks during their working week (as well as necessary administrative tasks):

  • Analyze audience insights, sales data and engagement 
  • Monitor and review market trends 
  • Design digital marketing strategies
  • Set up and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Engage with current and potential clients 
  • Invoice for their services
  • Lead content marketing (e.g. content strategy and content creation) 
  • Review current/ previous digital marketing campaigns
  • Send monthly reports to clients including relevant marketing analytics
  • Search Engine Marketing optimizing blog content to ensure decent traffic
  • Manage social media management, leading community management, social media posts and content for affiliate marketing 
  • Create brand assets for different social media channels 
  • Optimize email marketing campaigns

Want to know more? Check out our article on What is a Freelance Marketer: Everything you need to know.

How to start digital marketing freelance

Choose your specialty

The first thing you need to do is choose your niche. That means deciding whether you want to specialize in a particular role or align yourself with a specific industry. For example, you may wish to focus on content marketing or specialise in digital marketing services for technology companies. 

Identify your target audience

Before you get started as a freelance marketer it is worth taking some time to define your audience. Thinking about the types of businesses you are looking to target can help you to tailor your networking and promotion efforts (the area/ industry you have chosen to specialize in can also help you do this). If your focus is on the food and drink sector, your likely audience will be cafes, restaurants, FMCG, etc. Just remember to take time to work out how you can offer a service that sets yourself aside from your competitors. Is there a market need you can serve?

Build a website & personal brand

Once you’ve identified your audience the next step is to design a website that allows you to showcase your expertise and achievements as well as allow potential clients to find, research and contact you. Although you might not be in a position to pay a professional to build your website, you can use platforms like Squarespace and Wix to get started. Once you are confident in your abilities as a freelance digital marketer and have the cash flow to upgrade your website you can find the right professional to support you with this. 

Alongside this you’ll need to pull together a marketing portfolio, including examples of all the digital marketing services you provide to clients (e.g. copywriting, SEO, graphic design etc.). Taking time to do this will ensure you have the best chance for winning work as it will give prospective clients a clear understanding of your capabilities and the value you will add to their company. You can also use your online presence to showcase your experience by creating an online portfolio. 

You can also create social media platforms to promote your digital marketing business or start a digital marketing blog to demonstrate your expertise to build connections with business owners. If you’re new to the world of freelance you may wish to dedicate a day for blogging and/ or content creation every month, this will help to establish you as a thought leader in your area of expertise. If one of your skills is Search Engine Marketing make sure you create a website that Google loves! 

As you grow you might find there are a lot of potential clients and fellow freelancers visiting your website to ask for your support. If that’s the case you might choose to stay in touch with them by starting an email newsletter. Creating a newsletter is one way you can share your skills and demonstrate your digital marketing knowledge with others and attract new clients. If you do decide to create a newsletter, make sure you have enough time each week to share thoughtful insights - rushing to pull it together at the end of the week may be detrimental to the growth of your business. 

The Admin

Set Up a Company

As your freelance business grows from strength to strength one of the first things you need to do is set up a company. To do this you can visit gov.uk and register as a sole trader or limited company (if you’re not from the UK all the information you need to do this will be on your Government’s website). 

Alongside registering your business you need to stay on top of your income by tracking any expenses. Keeping on top of admin like this will help to ensure you can accurately submit your Self Assessment Tax Return at the end of the financial year. Remember as a self-employed person you’ll be able to offset some costs when you complete your Tax Return (provided they’re permitted expenses). And, don’t forget you’ll also need to set aside money each month to cover overhead costs for marketing tools (e.g Canva, Roxhill etc.), as well as important things like your pension. If you need some help with all of this, Earnr, is the ultimate finance and tax app for freelancers. It helps you keep track of your incomings and outgoings, get valuable business insights and automate your tax return in just a few simple taps. Easy peasy! 

When you set up your company you’ll need to think about a name for your business. You can check the copyright for any names you think of on gov.uk and register the trademark online. If you’re struggling to find a name for your freelance business, clever AI platforms like Squad Help can help you do this.

Invoicing

Invoicing should always be top of your to-do-list. Invoicing acts as a legal agreement between yourself and your client by providing evidence of the digital marketing services rendered and payment owed. To ensure you’re paid on time make sure you complete and submit your invoices on time. Failing to do so will likely mean you’re paid late which depending on your financial situation could be problematic. Why not set aside a couple of hours each week or month and take yourself out for a coffee - sort through your finances and make sure you're on top of them. If you’ve never shared an invoice before, we’d recommend using Quickbooks

Contracts

Like invoicing contracts are extremely important. Contracts clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of each party, as well as the costs, benefits, and details regarding termination. Think of contracts as a written promise of all the work you’re going to do for the company you’re working with (although, it’s worth remembering they’re legally binding).

All contracts should include the name of your employer as well as your name, job title and start date. Alongside this they should offer a clear summary of your roles and responsibilities including important information about your working days/ hours, fee and holiday entitlement. Don’t forget as a digital marketing freelancer it's your responsibility to share any upcoming holiday with companies before you enter into a contractual agreement. 

Finding clients

Reaching out to your network

Reach out to people you have met throughout your digital marketing career to date and let them know you’ve set up as a freelancer as they might be in a position to help you find clients. If you already have connections with companies you’d like to target, get in touch - you never know when they might need you to support you with current or future projects. 

You can also use networking platforms like LinkedIn to share your work, shouting about your achievements is a great way to showcase your services to clients. And, don’t be afraid to network. If you’re a freelance PR why not connect with Brand Managers at companies you’d like to work with. And, if you’re a product developer connect with the Lead Product designers behind the aps you most admire. We’d always recommend leaning on your network as you start out as it is a great way to help you find digital marketing jobs which could lead to further work. Remember sometimes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. 

Join the conversation

Try joining online forums and groups relevant to the audience you’re looking to target. Make sure to introduce yourself and share helpful snippets of information as well as top tips - being vocal in groups like this will help to establish your credibility as a digital marketing professional whatever your audience or sector. 

Sign up to a platform

Freelance websites are a great way to find work. Checkout our blog post on the best freelancing sites for a round up of the websites most likely to help you find your dream role. Of course, we’re a little biassed but signing up to  Passionfruit is a great option - it’s free and will match you with companies whose business needs match with your skillset. However, if you’re looking for smaller one-off projects to kick-start your freelancing digital marketing career alongside a full-time job Fiverr or Upwork might be a better place to start. 

Growing your business 

Keep mastering your craft

While, you don’t need any specific qualifications to work as a freelance digital marketer, the ability to demonstrate relevant digital marketing certificates as well as digital marketing skills will help you to secure more clients (and justify higher day/ hourly rates). If you don’t have much marketing experience or a degree in marketing, you may wish to improve your skills by taking digital marketing courses to increase your knowledge on the basics of marketing. That said, all digital marketers regardless of their level of expertise should take time to continue to develop their skills and understanding of both the digital marketing industry and market trends. A great way to do this is subscribing to an email newsletter. At Passionfruit we love The Drum, The Daily CTA, Growing Viral, Demand Curve, Marketing Examples and of course, The Passionfruit Pulse

Increasing your rates

As a freelance digital marketing expert your income is likely to vary throughout your career due to the different types of clients you work with and the level of service you provide. At the start of your freelance career it’s important to remember that having clients that sit within your target audience is arguably more important than working with a client that can afford your desired fee. Building a relationship with a client you love tends to pay more over time than not pursuing a project because the person hiring you cannot afford to pay your fee. 

That said, make sure you don’t undersell yourself - change your standard rates as your experience and ability as a freelancer grows. Boosting your average rates regularly helps demonstrate to prospective clients the value of your work while allowing you to grow your business. We’d suggest raising your day/ hourly rates every 6-12 months once you’re established as a successful freelancer. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to what to charge clients to do your research - pick up with fellow digital marketing freelancers or take advantage of the many resources online to help you determine the industry standard rate for a digital marketing freelancer of your level and experience. Typically, first time freelancers charge somewhere between £220 - £290 per day.

Get Testimonials & References

Always ask for referrals from clients you have enjoyed working with. As you look to win new clients, great testimonies will play an important role in helping you win new work. If you use platforms like LinkedIn to network, a great way to do this is to ask existing clients to share recommendations for potential clients to read. Social proof is the best promotional material you can ask for! Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!  

Alternatively, you could pull together your testimonies into a neat presentation which you can then share with clients as part of a response to a specific brief or as a follow up to chemistry meeting. You may also find it helpful to have a few clients who are happy for you to share their details with prospective clients to provide a strong character reference. 

“There's that famous phrase: ‘no-one gets fired for hiring IBM’. Ultimately - rightly or wrongly - a lot of business decisions are driven by a desire to limit the downside rather than maximize the upside. Freelancers need to have demonstrable previous success and strong reviews to create a sense of trust between them and potential customers. Customers understandably want more confidence in the choice that they're making and to create that confidence as a freelancer, you need to create a brand of professionalism and quality.” — Raffi Salama, Co-Founder of Passionfruit 

Find a Mentor

As you learn the ropes of digital marketing, finding a mentor could be key to your success. Before you start to look for a digital marketing specialist who will be able to help, think about the kind of person you’d like to learn from, it might be an individual who has worked in the field you’re looking to conquer or someone who has already accomplished everything you’re looking to achieve in your own career.

Mentors have a wealth of experience to draw from, meaning they are well placed to share tips on how to succeed and offer advice on how to handle difficult situations. Successful freelancers are also great people to ask any big questions you have around pitching for new clients,  responding to briefs or where to go for up-to-date digital marketing resources. If you’re lucky they may also be willing to introduce you to new clients and expand your existing network, opening you up to new and exciting opportunities.

Conclusion

Becoming a great freelance marketer takes time so it’s important you follow the steps outlined above. Not only will setting up your freelance business properly and creating a user-friendly website which promotes your skillset help to attract and retain clients it will help you to secure a steady income which you can change up as you grow. You may even find yourself in a position to take on new talent and mentor digital marketing consultants keen to emulate your successes. 

Written by
Hannah Jackson
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Professor Passionfruit Illustration

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