The social media industry is worth billions, with many agencies and social media consultants making a great living in the field. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a social media consultant in New York is $60,000 (and some earn much more than that). Achieving success as a social media consultant requires a unique mix of skills, including copywriting, graphic design, and technical skills.
Is Social Media Consulting Right For You?
To succeed in social media consulting, it is essential to know what this career entails. There are a few ways to earn income in this profession. You can work in-house at a company, working in the marketing department at Microsoft. Alternatively, you can join a marketing agency as an employee and serve clients. This guide will focus on those who want to earn a freelance or consulting income serving their clients.
To help you decide if this field is right for you, explore the following questions.
What Does A Social Media Consultant Do?
The specific activities you do will vary depending on the platforms you use, the services you offer, and your clients. That said, most social media professionals focus most of their time on the following activities.
- Business Development
Until you have clients, you don’t’ have a consulting business. That’s why it is essential to spend time and effort each day on business development. You can use different techniques, including outreach, content marketing, and using social media, to market yourself.
- Content Creation
Your content creation efforts will probably include a mix of creating content for your business to promote yourself and client work. For example, a YouTube consultant might help clients with scripts, shoot videos, and edit videos. In addition, the content creation process includes writing titles, captions, and more to drive views and engagement.
Most major social media platforms offer advertising options such as YouTube ads or Facebook Ads. As a result, many social media consultants spend some of their time designing, running, and optimizing advertising campaigns. This work requires a combination of analytical, technical, and creative skills.
- Business Administration
To keep your business running smoothly, you also need to make room for administrative tasks. For example, you might use CheckYa to send invoices to clients. In addition, you might decide to dedicate a few hours each week to review your company’s revenue and costs. For more tips on managing your finances as a freelancer, see our post: A-Z Guide to Managing your Finances as a Freelancer.
What Skills Do You Need As A Social Media Consultant?
The skills you need to succeed as a social media consultant fall into a few broad areas. First, you need sales skills. Without the ability to find, close, and retain clients, you do not have a business. Second, you need marketing skills like copywriting to create posts, videos, and images for yourself and your clients. Finally, basic business administration skills help you to stay organized. In the getting started section below, you will find specific resources to help you develop the required skills.
How Much Can You Earn In Social Media Consulting?
It’s difficult to answer this question because there are multiple variables. For example, you might decide to work with a handful of small business clients and earn a few thousand dollars per month. Or you might decide to create a marketing agency and serve Fortune 500 companies for millions of dollars per year.
The overall annual average annual pay for a social media consultant is $42,855, according to ZipRecruiter. However, some top earners earn over $80,000 in the profession. Self-employed consultants may earn much more income based on their pricing strategy and track record of success.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Social Media Consulting?
Consider these pros and cons of social media consulting before deciding whether to pursue this service offering.
- Easy to learn
Social media platforms are designed to be easy to learn. In addition, several Internet companies like Facebook and Google have created free training courses to make it easier to get started.
- High growth potential
The social media industry is growing significantly over time. As a result, more and more businesses want to find success on these platforms, which creates demand for social media consultants.
- Public results
When you win on social media, that success is visible to everybody! Therefore, it is easier to create a portfolio of successful campaigns which you can leverage to win additional clients.
There are a few downsides to working as a social media consultant – make sure you understand these points before you get into the business.
Since social media is so easy to use as a consumer, many people assume it will be easy to work as a social media consultant. Unfortunately, this means that many beginner social media consultants face a lot of competition from others getting started in the field. In addition, you also face competition from established marketing agencies.
- Platform Changes
Social media platforms regularly change their rules and technology. A campaign that worked yesterday might not work today when Facebook or YouTube changes the rules. To stay competitive as a social media consultant, you will need to study the platforms regularly. If you ignore these changes, your campaigns may be less successful.
- High Skill Level
Achieving success on social media is getting more complex over time. For example, more and more content creators are using professional-level cameras and video editing applications. Without these skills, you may find it challenging to earn high fees on your own. Instead, you may need to look at either additional learning skills or working with others to deliver results to a client.
Nine Steps to Become a Social Media Consultant
To start your social media consulting business, use the following steps. We will begin at ground zero. If you have significant social media consulting experience, skip ahead to step 5.
Step 1: Build your social media marketing skills
Your skills and ability to generate results in social media form the foundation of your social media consulting business. To get started, use the following resources.
1.1 Earn any relevant free certifications
While you may be familiar with social media platforms like Facebook or YouTube as an end-user, consulting is different. Therefore, it is wise to take some time to understand the business features of these platforms. The best starting point is to take the free courses and certifications offered by some major platforms.
Meta Certifications (i.e., Facebook). The company offers multiple online certifications in various languages. The 100-101 certification exam (“Meta Certified Digital Marketing Associate”) tests you on advertising fundamentals on Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.
YouTube Certified Program. In contrast to Meta, the YouTube program has eligibility requirements. If you already have a YouTube channel or work on one, you may be eligible for the program.
1.2 Learn how to sell with your words
Copywriting is the art and science of prompting action through words. Social media consulting is ultimately focused on driving action – encouraging consumers to buy, click, like or take another action. Therefore, learning copywriting is essential. As a starting point, learn the art of writing headlines through How to Write Magnetic Headlines. Once comfortable with headlines, consider going deeper with other recommended resources like Great Leads.
Almost all social media consulting projects involve working with images or audio. Therefore, it is wise to learn basic graphic design skills. For example, you should know where to find high-quality stock images (e.g., 123RF.com) and how to resize images. If you are interested in developing your expertise further, take a course like CreativeLive’s Graphic Design Fundamentals: Getting Started.
Step 2: Work on your social media profiles
As an aspiring social media consultant, potential clients will evaluate you partly based on the quality of your personal social media profiles. Use these tips to put your best foot forward on social media.
2.1 Make a list of all of your social media profiles
Start by making a list of all of your social media accounts. You may be surprised by how many accounts you have set up over the years. At a bare minimum, check to see if you have accounts on the most powerful platforms: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok.
2.2 Delete unprofessional content
Delete content that presents you negatively or is controversial, especially photos and videos.
2.3 Add new professional photos
To present yourself as a social media consultant, you need a professional-quality headshot. The photo should clearly show your face and demonstrate good grooming. It is worth paying a photographer to take a good headshot. Once you have that headshot, use the same photo across every social media site you use.
2.4 Write your social media consulting tagline
Update your bio on each profile to state that you offer social media consulting and which platforms you focus on. For example: I help real estate agents get leads through YouTube.
Step 3: Gain hands-on experience
Now that you have cleaned up your profiles, it is time to gain experience. Use the following tips to get started.
3.1 Focus on one platform
Choose one major social media platform as your area of focus.
3.2 Start an account and focus on growing it
Start by working for yourself to build a business brand on social media. If your prior experience in social media has been for entertainment or personal use, you might want to create a new account focused on business. For instance, you might review products and earn a commission through an affiliate marketing program.
3.3 Develop a posting habit
Achieving success on social media rarely happens in days or weeks. Instead, you will probably need to dedicate weeks or months to build your following. In the short term, focus your attention on regularly posting new content, such as one video per week or one tweet per day.
Step 4: Build a social media portfolio
Based on the prior step, you may have earned a few wins on social media, such as generating a lot of traffic or views. Once you have two or three wins on social media, you can create a portfolio. Use the following tips to create your portfolio.
Start by carefully selecting portfolio samples. Your samples show have impressive business results like driving sales, traffic, or leads.
Once you have selected your samples, write up the sample into a case study. For example, you could write a blog post on your business blog describing your sample. Make sure you describe your goal (e.g., the goal of this video was to generate revenue through affiliate commissions) and show numbers to back it up.
Step 5: Decide on services and specialty and price them
At this stage, you can decide on your services and pricing. As a general rule, it is best to start with a few services that you know well. For instance, if you are skilled at running an Instagram account for a company, focus your effort on that service even if you know how to do more.
When you first get started, keep your pricing competitive and straightforward. For example, consider using a flat hourly rate like $50 to $100 per hour. For additional ideas on how to develop your freelance pricing, see our prior post: How to Charge Your Freelance Clients?.
Step 6: Get involved in the social media community
Networking with others in the social media community is an excellent way to raise your portfolio. In particular, you should aim to follow and connect with two communities on social media.
6.1 Follow potential clients on social media
Following potential clients on social media is a great way to deepen your expertise. For example, you might be interested in working with high-end real estate firms. As a starting point, aim to follow at least ten social media accounts that could be potential clients for your business. Following potential clients will also help you to understand the market better.
6.2 Follow social media industry news and thought leaders
In addition to potential clients, it is valuable to follow other social media experts. For example, you might follow Social Media Examiner or the Content Marketing Institute to learn about the latest developments. Take your time to follow, like, and comment on the content created by other social media experts.
Tip: You don’t have to create content by yourself. You can also create great social media content through collaborations. For more insights on this opportunity, read “Content-Based Networking” by James Carbary.
Step 7: Publish content about social media topics
Publishing content that shares social media tips, advice, and case studies is an excellent way to noticed by potential clients. To help you create content, use the following tips.
7.1 Review existing social media topics
Search for existing content about your preferred social media platform. For example, you might search for content on generating real estate leads through YouTube. If you see a large number of results, focus on the most recent content or that has the most engagement (i.e., comments, views, or likes).
7.2 Evaluate existing social media content for quality
As you review existing social media content, look for ways to improve it. For example, can you stand out by offering data? Or add more detailed examples? There is almost always an opportunity to create better content and impress potential clients.
7.3 Publish and promote your new social media content
After you publish your new content on social media, apply yourself to promote the content. For example, you might email friends and colleagues and ask them to like, comment and share the post. If the social media platform you choose has advertising capabilities like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and others, you may want to pay for advertising to expose your content more broadly.
Creating content to attract clients is helpful, yet it is not the only way to attract clients. For tips on using Facebook ads to generate leads, see our post: How To Best Use Facebook Ads As A Freelancer.
Step 8: Build your social media team (optional)
You will eventually reach your work capacity as you sign up more clients. At that point, there are a few ways to keep growing your social media consulting business. You may decide to increase your prices to reflect your higher skill levels. For additional tips on how to raise your prices, see the following post: How To Justify “More Than Market” Freelance Rates.
Alternatively, you can build a marketing agency by recruiting employees and contractors. Training and managing a team of employees to provide social media consulting takes additional skills. In general, it is wise to hire slowly and only when you have sufficient work and resources to pay your staff.
Step 9: Keep your business organized and funded with CheckYa
Whether you run your social media consulting business independently or with others, it is vital to stay organized. Whether you offer paid consultation services or offer social media marketing services, you need a reliable way to get paid that is convenient and cost effective. Use Peach Pay to send unlimited invoices to your clients with no fees. When you get paid through CheckYa, you can receive funds directly into your bank account. You can also choose to split your transaction fee with your client. Click here to sign up for CheckYa.