In today’s digital age, social media consultants play an essential role in this industry. You are the ears, eyes, and voice of clients across social platforms. You advise them in running digital campaigns, improving audience engagement, establishing a loyal customer base, engaging with followers, and driving conversions and sales. Plus, you create business strategies, do social media audits, and train marketers and specialists – all geared towards clients’ business growth.
As a social media consultant, you can set your own work schedule and decide on how big of a workload to take on. You’re able to choose who to work with and potentially create your own global virtual team. Most importantly, you can work anywhere and anytime you want.
But this doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. Becoming a social media consultant entails hard work, determination, and a lot of grit and passion to be successful. You need to stay up-to-date with the latest in the industry to ensure that you provide the best services to your clients. You will make mistakes, learn things as you go, and have to be ready to adapt with no notice at all.
Bear in mind that as a consultant, you wear many hats – from accounting and paying taxes to sales pitches and networking – all while you’re still building your business.
It’s a balance that every social media consultant will have to learn to master.
If you’re looking to step up your game as a social media consultant, you’ve come to the right place. Here are eight simple steps you can practice today.
A Guide to Growing as a Social Media Consultant
1. Research the Industry, Your Leads, and Competitors
As with everything in business, the road to becoming a successful social media consultant begins with doing relevant and comprehensive research.
Be sure to learn about the industry’s current state and trends to get an idea of how things are going and where they may be headed.
Similarly, you have to study your potential clients – from their products or services and target market to campaigns and marketing strategies. This will help you determine what value you can bring to their business or how you can address their needs.
It’s also important that you research who your possible competitors are, so you can identify what they’re not yet offering and what can set your consultancy apart.
Doing research and creating an initial plan can help you build a solid foundation when becoming a social media consultant, so be sure to spend adequate time on this stage. It’ll be better to learn as much as you can this early, rather than missing some crucial matters that may impact your career in the long run.
2. Hone Your Knowledge and Skills
Even if you have a strong social media presence with thousands (or tens of thousands) of followers, you still need to show your future clients that you’re knowledgeable and credible in what you’re doing.
As a social media consultant, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your clients’ business and target market. You should also be able to improve or maintain their brand voice, develop audience engagement, increase qualified leads, boost social media traffic, and drive conversions and sales. You must know how to create effective content, run different social campaigns, understand data and analytics, and optimize social media efforts as needed.
To ensure that you’re adequately equipped and ready to take on clients, it might be smart to invest in courses that will develop your knowledge, skills, and credentials. LinkedIn, Skillshare, and Udemy are all excellent platforms that offer online courses applicable to social media consultants. You can also check out your local colleges or universities for programs that may offer relevant certificate courses or degrees. Additionally, stay up to date with blogs like e-clincher’s for plenty of industry news, how-tos, guides, and more.
3. Start With Small, Local Clients to Build Your Portfolio
Once you’re ready to take on clients, you might be tempted to go straight for the big names. That’s all well and good; however, it also pays to start small.
Check out the local businesses in your area to see which of them might be interested in your services. Most often, these businesses are on a budget or will have very simple requirements. For example, they may need you to create their social media pages, schedule posts, or engage with their customers. Some consultants consider offering their services at a discounted cost — at least while they’re building their portfolio as a social media professional.
If you’re finding it difficult to land your first clients, check out online job platforms like Outsourcely or Upwork, and begin pitching your services to brands. This can be a springboard to lead you to bigger things.
Before hiring, many clients will want to see what kind of work you’ve previously done and how successful these efforts were, so it’s useful to have a portfolio of case studies.
Bonus tip: If you have your own personal or professional blog, you can share content that shows you’re an expert in social media or digital marketing. You may even want to contribute or guest post on outside channels for added value to your credentials.
4. Choose Your Niche
When you have a few clients under your belt, you can gradually decide what specialization you want to focus on. There are a couple of ways to go about this.
You can choose to focus on a certain aspect of social media, such as:
- Paid ads management
- Data and analytics
- A specific platform
Or, you could focus on a specific industry, like:
Whatever niche (or niches) you decide to focus on, be sure that it’s something that you enjoy and know a lot about (or are willing to learn about). This ensures that you offer your clients as much value as possible. True, having a variety of services can help you diversify your business, but having too many of these may hinder you from being an effective and successful social media consultant.
5. Set Up Your Rates and Scope of Work
By this time, you hopefully have learned a lot from the first few clients you started working with. So, before completely growing your customer base, it’s important to establish a solid financial foundation for your business. This should include your policies on standard rates, payment schedules, modes of payment, early payer discounts, and late payment charges.
On average, social media consultants earn around $25-40/hour, depending on the level of their skills and expertise. (Note: This doesn’t mean that you can’t make more!) If you’re unsure of how much to charge, research how much other consultants within your area are earning. You can also use freelance rate calculators like Your Rate and Clockify to help you determine your rates.
Along with rates, you also have to clarify your scope of work per client. They will have different business objectives, so your tasks will vary depending on their requirements. Be specific on what you will be doing for them and how it will be delivered. Keep it clear on both ends and set boundaries to ensure that you maintain a healthy, long-term relationship.
More importantly, make sure you get all your agreements with clients into writing. This is the best way to protect yourself, contracts, and business.
6. Get Your Name Out There
This is one of the most important steps to becoming a successful social media consultant – letting people know who you are.
Begin by networking with people in your industry and sharing your skills or services with others. Building relationships with your clients can take time, so be sure to connect with business owners, industry peers, and professionals with the same interests. You might be surprised by how much this can help your consulting business in the long run – whether through word-of-mouth recommendations or by sending you leads and clients.
Not sure how to get your name out there? Here are some ways to get you started:
- Participate in social media conversations about digital marketing topics
- Attend industry networking events, conferences, or seminars
- Guest blog for business pages or digital marketing brands
- Join Facebook or LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry, clients, or chosen niche
7. Don’t Forget to Walk the Walk
Clients will want to know that you’re practicing your own advice. They may even research your personal social media pages. That’s why it’s important to spend time developing your personal brand and online presence.
Make sure your profiles are up-to-date and contain content that highlights your knowledge and industry-related interests. Focus on establishing a solid following by sharing relevant and valuable content on your social media profiles. Use your platforms to connect with other industry professionals and engage with your community.
Similarly, consider building your own professional website where you can tell people who you are, showcase what you’ve done, and promote what you can do. You can also start writing blogs that highlight your skills as a professional and establish yourself as an expert in the field.
8. Know When to Scale
Once your business is up and running, you will have to focus on the bigger picture – creating campaign strategies, analyzing data and making recommendations, acquiring more clients, and generally growing your social media consulting business. With all these tasks at hand, you will need people to help keep things running well.
Consider hiring someone to handle daily tasks that don’t directly and immediately contribute to the growth of your business (not that these things aren’t important!). This way, you can focus your energy on the things that do contribute to your growth.
Along with growing your team, it’s important to invest in resources like social media management tools, payment processing tools, and other apps and software that will help streamline your business processes.
Remember, investing in the right people and resources will eventually work wonders for your business.
Lastly, over time, you’ll want to consider raising your rates. This is a natural step for every consultant. As you grow in knowledge and expertise, so does what you charge. This is yet another way to scale your business.
It’s Time to Step up Your Game
Being a social media consultant is a highly rewarding role that comes with a lot of hard work, patience, and persistence. Keep in mind that even if it might not be easy, with time and experience, you can (and will) become successful in this career.
Make sure you know by heart your clients, customers, competitors, and the industry as a whole. Take time to learn and develop the skills that will help you stand out among other social media consultants. Don’t forget to build a portfolio that will showcase your successful campaigns, and to get specific with your rates and tasks per client. Be sure to get your name out there by networking and connecting with other professionals. Above all, remember to practice what you preach and know when it’s time to grow your business.
If you take into account these eight steps, you’re well on your way to step up your game as a social media consultant and build the business you want.