SOCIAL MEDIA / AUG. 28, 2014
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How to Succeed as a Freelance Social Media Expert

So why should you take the leap and become a social media expert? Well, now that social media is ubiquitous, experts who can help companies make the most of social media to sell their products and services and keep customers brand loyal are in demand. If you’re already familiar with Facebook and Twitter, it doesn’t take years of study to polish up your skills and freelance as a social media expert. Another plus is that social media is a flexible industry and you don’t have to work for a company. As a freelancer, you can be your own boss. It means you can work in your spare time or fit your work around your family’s needs. Basically, with enough research anyone can build up their skills and become a social media expert- but how to actually succeed at doing it? Here’s a few tips.

Familiarise yourself with social media sites 

Sounds obvious, right? Get to know the platforms. Go on Twitter, experiment with different apps for scheduling tweets, checking stats and auto-responding. Play about with TweetDeck. Find out all about the different options and services LinkedIn provides, from anonymous profile viewing to sending messages and creating groups. Fiddle with your Facebook settings and find out what services they offer businesses, such as targeted advertising.

Concise Training offers the ITQ Social Media Qualification, the first City & Guilds-accredited social media course. It usually takes four to eight months to complete. By all means go down this route if it’s best for you, but watching tutorials and experimenting may teach you all that you need to know, and without the price tag. So read as much as you can about social media- books, blogs, nifty little guides and articles. Watch YouTube videos, follow social media gurus on Facebook and Twitter. Learn about ’relationship marketing’ and check out these top 10 social media blogs.

Freelance one step at a time

You don’t have to leave your job right away. Your boss might well appreciate you for sticking around for a little while, because it’ll give the company more time to hire your replacement. This way, you’ll have a guaranteed paycheck while you get your site up and running, your portfolio polished and- eventually- your first couple of freelance jobs. Also, use common sense- save up a bit before you freelance. Networking and portfolio building while you move away from your employer is always a good idea.

Polish your own social media

Spend time on your own social media- this is where you’ll showcase your social media skills. Don’t worry about gathering thousands of followers or "likes", this will take time (though if you’re really worried you can buy thousands of ’bots’ which will appear as Twitter followers very cheaply). Just ensure that all of your social media profiles are organised, regularly updated, industry-relevant and engaging. Don’t get too personal or overshare, and don’t just talk about yourself- retweet or share others’ posts, too. Connect with potential clients and others in your industry. Join groups and discussions about social media, content creation and marketing. Participating in discussions about related fields such as blogging and SEO is good, too.

Social media marketing is all about getting found online, so work on your ’personal brand’. Get someone to design a website for you so that it’ll look professional. There are plenty of free website options, but to get a custom domain and a truly personalised website, you’ll probably have to spend money- but only a little.

Building a social media portfolio  

Do free jobs for your current employer, your colleagues and friends. Offer a social media ’health check’ to other businesses. Charities, nonprofit organisations and blogs may be only too happy to give you these opportunities. 

Getting your first customers as a social media expert

A great idea is to get in touch with PR, marketing, SEO, Media Buying and Web design companies. (Any media-related or content providing companies are good as well). These companies already have clients who require social media experts. All you’ve got to do is offer to provide your social media management services on a “White Label” basis (doing business under the name of the company, rather than as your own brand).

Marketing

When you start out, your first few jobs will come from people you know or have done business with. Work will also come from referrals. Make sure everyone you know- colleagues, friends’ friends, previous colleagues, Facebook friends- knows that you’re available for social media management. Get emailing and market your availability on your social media. For face to face networking, Eventbrite and Meetup are useful for checking out relevant social media, marketing or PR events in your locality. Put on free events yourself and use the opportunity to market your business, pass out some business cards and sell tickets to your future paid events. Invite local businesses and show them why they should outsource their social media management to you: efficiency, cheaper rates, greater expertise, more experience- pick one or all!

Succeeding as a social media expert is easier than succeeding in some other fields, as social media management is currently in great demand. If you spread the word and do some free work to build up a portfolio, you could be getting referrals to more work in no time. With a professional website and social media presence you’ll attract plenty of new customers.

 

Image source: emilyahay.com

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