How to Sell SMM: Why A Freelancer Needs It

Alla Bogdan
Digital marketer and content creator with love to technology, self-education and new opportunities. Biblio and linguaphile.
≈ 8 min read
Upd. on: 2 Aug 2021


  1. Social Media and Business
  2. The Benefits of SMM to a Freelancer
  3. How to Sell Social Media Marketing Services

Freelance marketers really have to have a diversified set of skills to rise above the competition. One of the most important skills, these days, is to know the ins and outs of social media marketing. While it is important to be a good writer, decent designer (or to have contacts who can write and design), social media is an animal that combines copywriting, design, brand messaging and strategy all in one place. And, to top it off, not all social media is alike. You have to think about character count on Twitter, text-to-visual ratio on Facebook, better-than-average pictures on Instagram and smarter-than-the-next guy information on LinkedIn. But, as more and more businesses jump on the social media bandwagon, you can’t exclude it from your freelance marketing offerings. We know freelancers who have tried, and just like Godfather III – just when they thought they were out…

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at some powerful statistics about social media marketing for business, then we’ll find out why SMM presents such a great opportunity for freelancers. Finally, we’ll dive into how to sell the service, based on all the information we learn. Let’s get started.

Social Media and Business

Social Users Statistics

Businesses from almost every industry have some sort of social presence. As a freelancer, you may focus on certain industries, but it’s likely that you’ll accept clients from several different industries. Either way, it’s likely that your clients and potential clients either have an existing presence on social media, or they want to. And if they don’t want to? It’s your job to convince them. The argument for social, both for the freelancer’s offerings and for the company’s investment, is supported by some pretty convincing data.

As of March 2016, Brandwatch reported that there are 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide. Think about it.

  • 7.45 billion people in the world
  • 3.42 billion internet users (about 46% of the world population)
  • 2.34 billion active social media users (68% of worldwide internet users, 31% of all the people in the whole world)

31% might not seem like a lot, but when you think about the people in the world that don’t have access to internet (54%), and children under the age of 14 (26.3%), and the fact that some of those children under the age of 14 are online and on social media, you see that the worldwide social audience is huge. Not only is it huge, but it’s growing. The Statistics Portal projects that the total number of social media choosers will reach 2.95 billion by the year 2020.

Social network users statistics 2010 to 2020

Breakdown by Channel

Statista did a study to determine the leading social networks in April of 2016. Not surprisingly, Facebook is still the clear leader. They offer statistics on every possible social channel, but we’ll just give you the highlights of the channels you’ll likely be using most.

  • Facebook – 1.79 billion monthly active users
  • Instagram – 500 million monthly active users
  • LinkedIn – 467 million monthly active users
  • Twitter – 317 million monthly active users

With that many people active on social media (and 1 million mobile social users joining up every day), why wouldn’t a business want a social presence? And, why wouldn’t you, as a freelancer, want to know how to reach those billions of social users?

The State of Social in Business

Businesses are catching on. While not every industry, business or executive is convinced of the potential ROI involved with social, they know they have to be where their customers or potential customers are. If for no other reason than the fact that their competitors are already there. Adweek tells us that 91% of retail brands are active on 2 or more social channels. Other sources tell us 83% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter presence. TechCrunch tells us that there are 40 million small business pages on Facebook. Businesses are present on social, and a great freelancer knows how to elevate a brand’s social presence, and create valuable and meaningful content that will give great results.

Social Media Marketing Benefits

There are great business benefits to using social media. Social media marketing results in:

  • Increased exposure
  • More web traffic
  • Marketplace intelligence
  • Business partnerships
  • Perception of thought leadership
  • Better sales
  • Decreased marketing expenses

So, naturally, you might think that if social media marketing is so important, why would businesses hire a freelancer? Why wouldn’t they get in-house people to do it, or hire a big agency? The answers are pretty obvious, but we’ll delve into them in the next section anyway.

The Benefits of SMM to a Freelancer

Many freelancers use social media to promote themselves. That is a great way to learn the ropes, and you can prove to yourself the power of social – especially when you land a new client. We told you, in the section above, why a business needs social. Now we’ll tell you why a freelancer needs social. The short answer is simply because businesses need social, and freelancers need business. Another reason is that freelancers have a great opportunity with social. Many small and medium-sized businesses choose to hire freelancers to manage social because they don’t have the budget for a large agency, and because they don’t want the overhead of a full time employee. That creates a special niche for freelancers in the social space that might not exist in other marketing functions. For instance, a company might write their email marketing in-house, but outsource their social.

Freelancer vs. Agency

  • Agencies charge agency prices, which can be up to $20,000 per month per channel
  • Agencies will traditionally try to upsell you and overspend on social advertising
  • Agencies may not take a personalized approach to a business’s social marketing
  • Agencies might put pressure on businesses to handle other marketing tasks, like media buying, email marketing, blog writing and more

Freelancer vs. In-House Employee

  • Employees require benefits
  • Employees require sick and vacation leave
  • Employees cause businesses to pay more taxes
  • Depending on the size of the business, it might not make financial sense to hire a full-time employee

Benefits of Hiring a Freelancer for Social Marketing

  • Freelancers are responsible for their own taxes, leave and benefits
  • Freelancers charge less than agencies
  • Freelancers traditionally fall within a certain niche – they won’t do a hard upsell
  • Freelancers can take a personalized approach to promoting a business’s brand on social media
  • Freelancers are flexible

What does this mean for you? You’re a shoo-in! This information is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the benefit of SMM for freelancers.

Benefits to Taking Social Media Work AS a Freelancer

As a freelancer, you can set your own hours, your rates, and how you’re paid – be it hourly or per project. You have to be conscious to compete with all those people on the freelancing sites, but you can still charge a fair rate that will fall far below an agency rate. Here are some suggested rates. Remember, this is per client, and if you are motivated, you can do SMM for multiple clients. The lower range below is for standard freelancers. The higher end is for freelancers with proven success.

0 – 4 years experience: $15 – $40 per hour

4.5 – 5 years experience: $45 – $75 per hour

More than 5 years experience: $80 – $100 per hour

Depending on your experience and success rate, along with the number of clients you get, you can make a substantial amount of money as a freelance social media marketer. And, if you’re in the 0-4 year band, just know that every social project you take on gives you the opportunity for success and growth, and brings you one step closer to the next band and more money hourly.

So now that you know you need to offer social media marketing as one of your freelance services, how do you build a case? It shouldn’t be too hard, considering we’ve already established how much businesses need social, but you might need a few more pointers.

How to Sell Social Media Marketing Services

Not all businesses are convinced that they need social. This is a good thing. Many of the businesses that have been on social for a while already have their freelancer in place. It’s a competitive market. While we don’t discourage you from pursuing clients that already have a social presence, it is also good to start new with businesses that have resisted the social movement.

Building a Business Case for Social – Non-adopters

When approaching a business that has no social presence (more on how to find them in the next post), you are faced with a challenge. These business owners don’t think there is value in social media marketing. It’s your job, in order to get the job, to convince them. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Show them social proof – find out their key customer demographic and show them how many in that demographic are on different social channels. Make a chart. Draw a picture. Show them how many clients they’re missing by not being where their clients are.

Facebook usage demographics

  • Show them the benefit of social listening – where better to hear a person’s real opinion of a product or brand than on social media. Show the naysayer that social media can give them real insight into the customer mind.
  • Show them what their competitors are doing – few things are as motivating as competition. By showing the likes and engagement their main competitors are getting on social, you could well convince the naysayer to get on board
  • Show them the cost of other forms of marketing media and compare it to the cost of social media. Nothing speaks louder than money.
  • Show them the statistics we talked about in the beginning of this post.

Building a Case for Social – Businesses That Already Have a Strategy in Place

The only way to win social media marketing business from a brand that already has a strategy in place is to offer a better strategy. That’s not easy, but the rewards can be huge. Now, we’re not saying you should go out and steal other people’s clients, but if you have your eye on a brand that you think could benefit from your expertise, why not show them what you’ve got? Here are a few ways to win this type of business:

  • Pay attention to their social media marketing – note when opportunities are missed and build a business case from there
  • Gather as much information as you can about their social efforts, so you can walk through the door with a plan
  • Make sure you like them, follow them and engage with their social accounts – don’t be a stalker but do be present
  • Present them with a comprehensive, detailed plan that will yield more results than their current efforts – make sure it’s awesome
  • Show them some of your successful social campaigns – nothing speaks louder than social content that works

Once you’ve won the business, you have to work hard to keep it. Tools like PromoRepublic can make post creation a breeze, saving you time, which allows you to take on more clients.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. We’ll be talking about how to find social media clients.


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