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How to become a freelance social media manager

A social media manager job can be done remotely and in your own time making it perfect for flexible work. 

Being a social media manager means you look after the social media channels of your client – which may be a brand, company or an individual.

Freelance social media manager working from home on a laptop

Social media managers create the content for those social media channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and post the content for the client either directly or using a scheduling tool. 

I have had several social media clients over the last three years. I’ve found it a really fun, flexible option for making money from home

Although there are always targets and deadlines to be met, thanks to scheduling tools you can do a lot of the work at any time of day that suits you. This makes it perfect if you work from home with your children around and need to do most of your work in anti-social hours. 

It helps a lot if the client you are working for does something that’s really interesting to you. Writing content every day about products or services you find incredibly dull may become quite tricky as time goes on!

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What do social media managers do?

The to-do list of a social media manager can be long and varied. It’s about more than just writing witty tweets all day! 

Being a social media manager may involve evening and weekend work if you need to monitor social media channels for comments so you can respond in good time. 

However using scheduling tools such as Hootsuite means you can time content to go out throughout the day so you do not need to be present online at all times. 

The main tasks of a social media manager may include: 

  • Writing social media content . This may include content for all social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, TikTok and more. It depends what your social media client needs you to do.  
  • Sourcing pictures for social media content. These could be graphics made with a photo editing app such as Canva or photographs. 
  • Recording and editing video for social media content. This could be for a YouTube channel, to post as a reel or IGTV video on Instagram or to share on Twitter or Facebook. 
  • Scheduling social media content. 
  • Replying to comments on social media posts. 
  • Recording engagement statistics on posts and reporting back to the client. 

As you can see from this list there’s a lot involved in being a social media manager. 

Some social media jobs will purely focus on writing the social content and scheduling it. 

However it really depends on the client and some may ask you to also get involved with video creation and recording their statistics so they can see progress being made on their social media channels. 

What skills or qualifications to do you need to be a social media manager 

There’s no official formal training you need to become a social media manager. However it’s not a role you can step into without some kind of previous experience showing you can fulfil the role. 

There are courses you can take to give you the required skills, but many people also come into the job through being successful through their own social media channels as a blogger or individual. You may also gain a lot of social media experience through a prior job. 

There are a few key skills you will need to do the job and that prospective clients will expect: 

  • Organisation
  • Good grasp of spelling and grammar 
  • Excellent understanding of the different social media platforms – some social media managers are specialists in just one platform but many provide services across several social media channels. 
  • Experience at using scheduling tools such as Hootsuite (they are very easy to use however so this is not an essential). 
  • Experience of using software such as Excel to record statistics. 
  • Experience at producing graphics in apps such as Canva (may not be essential but many brands like to share quotes or branded content images made using apps such as Canva). 
  • Ability to understand a brand’s values and voice so you can produce content that reflects this.
  • Understanding of how to generate engagement on social media posts. 

How much do social media managers earn?

Social media managers can expect to be paid between £10 and £40 an hour depending on experience. 

Some social media managers may charge a fee per channel per month. For example they may charge £400 a month to manage Instagram and an additional £400 a month to manage Facebook. 

The number of hours a client will need you to do really depends on what they want and how big their channel and audience is. 

If they want daily posts and interaction on at least three social media platforms then this will likely take you seven to 10 hours per week. 

Tips for becoming a freelance social media manager

When it comes to how you become a freelance social media manager in the UK there are a number of routes people take. 

I was a journalist and then blogger who used social media for work in both of those roles. 

I had contacts who asked me to help them out with their social media for clients and it just grew from there. Sometimes it’s about connecting with the right people at the right time!  

Establish yourself as an expert

Become an expert in at least one social media channel, preferably several. 

You need to understand the type of content that does well on particular channels – for example funny content that gets a lot of shares does well on Facebook. 

A social media manager also needs to understand analytics and insights from social media posts (there are a few key statistics that clients will be interested in). It’s pretty easy to collect the data on insights for posts from the various social media channels but interpreting what these insights mean is another skill. 

A post may not necessarily get a ton of likes, but still be shared and viewed by a lot of people. You will need to have an understanding of what the data means for likes, shares and reach. 

Set up your own social media channels and post regularly. You could also establish a blog and work to grow your own social media following as this may get attention from potential clients too. 

Take a course 

There are various courses out there that equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to work as a social media manager. 

Digital Mums provides courses aimed at helping mothers looking to do flexible social media work from home get the skills they need. I haven’t taken the course but do have friends who have done the course and they do now work as freelance social media managers. 

Alternatively the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is well respected in the industry and provides various courses on marketing and social media. 

Both courses mentioned above do cost money and of course time, so you will need to factor this in to your budget and make sure you can allocate time for study. 

Volunteer your services 

In order to show prospective clients you have the skills needed to deliver what they need you can volunteer to do social media. 

If you have a friend or relative with a business then try offering to help out with their social media content. If there is a local charity then try offering to do some voluntary work for them so you can build up a portfolio of clients. 

You need to be able to demonstrate to a prospective client that you can do the job. 

Network 

Nearly every one of my social media clients has come from networking and knowing the right people. These people knew who I was and about my skills, so came to me to either refer a client to me or asked me to be involved. 

Become a member of local Facebook groups and keep an eye on posts to see if any local businesses are looking for social media help.

Be prepared to pitch for clients as well either by promoting your services on local business social media groups or writing directly to potential clients.

You may decide you want to niche down to a particular type of business or individual (for example clients in the health and fitness niche) or only specialise in one social media channels.

Many people make a living purely from expertise in one particular area, but it may be sensible to give yourself a grounding in all the social media channels so that you can offer broad help to clients. This is especially so when you’re starting out. As time goes on you may find it easier to specialise.

Check jobs boards 

You can also find roles for freelance social media managers on the usual job boards such as Indeed and LinkedIn.

Be sure to have your LinkedIn profile fully updated and polished to include all of your experience and skills related to social media management.

Set clear expectations

Be sure to be very clear with the client exactly what channels they want you to look after and how many times they expect you to post each week on each channel. 

It helps to have a schedule agreed ahead of time so you are both clear on the expectations and so you can agree your fee.

This schedule could simply show the number of posts per day and per channel, or it could be more detailed and show what type of posts the client wants to see posted and when.

For example I looked after the social media for a local music festival. I would alternate between promoting bands who were due to perform and sharing links to articles written by local media about the event. This kept the social media feed varied.

Freelance social media manager working from home

Equipment and tools for social media managers

There are a few key items you may need to be a freelance social media manager.

These are:

  • Laptop or computer. You won’t be able to do all of the work efficiently from just a smartphone.
  • Decent smartphone. You may need to check in on social media channels to reply to messages and comments when out and about.
  • Scheduling tool. Tools use to schedule social media posts such as Hootsuite have an annual charge associated with using them. In every freelance role I have had the company already had Hootsuite and simply provided me with the access logins so I could use it. If you do end up needing to pay for Hootsuite to do work for a client then I recommend you make sure you factor the monthly cost of this into your bill and be upfront with the client about this cost.
  • Spellchecker. Spelling mistakes will not go down well with a client, so do be sure to double check the spelling of your posts before any go live.
  • Canva. I use the free version of Canva as a blogger and social media manager and it’s absolutely fine for all my needs. I use this to create graphics and pins. It’s very easy to use and I recommend if you haven’t ever used it that you go and check it out.

How to find genuine work at home social media manger jobs

Get your own social media channels going

Be sure to promote your services on your own social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

You don’t have to grow your social media channels based on finding social media manager jobs.

Use it as a way to grow your blog like I did or to share your experiences of a particular hobby. If you can grow your own social media channels this will show prospective clients that you know how to use the platforms.

Set up a website

A website can be a great place to showcase your portfolio and draw in clients.

You can use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to make the website appear on Google searches and land you new clients. SEO is a long-term game and doesn’t always see immediate results.

But having a website makes you appear more official and so is a good idea to set up even a basic one with a few pages about you and what you offer.

Look for jobs online

You will find genuine social media jobs on jobs sites such as:

  • Indeed
  • Bark – with this website you have to pay to gain access to job “leads” on the site but we have had some success with getting clients from it for our PR business.
  • LinkedIn
  • Reed
  • Guardian Jobs

Becoming a social media manager UK

There is no exact path to follow to become a freelance social media manager.

However once you get there pay is good and it’s brilliant flexible work you can fit in around your family.

You will need to prove experience with social media beyond just having a Facebook account, so get to work on sharpening your skills and knowledge across all of the platforms.

You don’t have to hit 10,000 followers to prove you are skilled with social media, but you will need some kind of portfolio of experience showing you know how to look after social media channels.

Best of luck!

How to become a freelance social media manager UK