How to Start a Freelance Digital Marketing Business

Freelance digital marketing professionals help businesses drive more traffic and conversions using a combination of search engine optimization (SEO), A/B testing, social media marketing, and content marketing strategies.

There has never been a better time than now to start a freelance digital marketing business. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about becoming a freelance digital marketer.

What skills do digital marketers need?

Becoming a digital marketer can be a lucrative career opportunity, but be prepared to invest a lot of time in learning, networking, and improving your technical and soft skills.

Technical Skills

Data Analytics
You need to have basic knowledge of statistics and data analytics best practices.

Paid advertising
You need to know how to use ad platforms such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

HTML & CSS
You need to have basic HTML & CSS skills so you can make changes to your landing pages.

SEO & SEM
You need to know how to use SEO and SEM to increase visibility in search engines.

Soft Skills

Creativity
You need to be able to brainstorm new marketing ideas and put them into action.

Adaptability
Marketing is fast-paced and things are always changing. You must adapt to survive.

Tech Savviness
You need to know about the latest tools and how to use them effectively.

Teamwork
You need to be able to work with other people, whether it’s your client’s team or your own.

Step 01. Learn the basics

The first step to becoming a freelance digital marketer is to have a thorough understanding of marketing best practices. It’s not enough to know a few buzzwords, you have to understand how several concepts fit together.

Digital marketing terms such as time on page, bounce rate, ROAS and backlinks, should make sense to you. You should also get a few certifications and read books about digital marketing. The more you know, the more you’ll earn.

Certificates You Need

Google Ads
Shows your proficiency and mastery of basic and advanced advertising concepts.

Google Analytics IQ
Allows you to demonstrate your proficiency in using Google Analytics tools and features.

Hubspot Inbound
Teaches you how to attract website traffic to your site and convert users into leads.

Hootsuite Social Marketing
Demonstrates your expertise with the essential elements of social marketing to clients.

Books To Read

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
Hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition.

Non-Obvious: 2018 Edition
Develop solutions to critical problems using proven methods from top brands.

SEO 2019
Discover search engine optimization techniques used to grow companies online.

Epic Content Marketing
Learn how to attract prospects and customers using highly engaging content.

Step 02. Get hands-on experience

Just like most lessons, you can read all you want, but the best teacher is experience. Once you’ve dipped your toes in the water, it’s time to dive right in and learn the concepts yourself.

Starting your own website is still the best way to learn. Every new visitor you bring to your website will teach you a new lesson about digital marketing.

Tools you need to start your website

Bluehost
A hosting solution with all the tools you need to manage your website’s performance.

Google Tag Manager
A tool to manage JavaScript and HTML tags used for site tracking and analytics.

WordPress
A free content management system you can use to build your own website.

SEMRush
A powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing.

Step 03. Pick your speciality

After some time, you’ll find that maintaining a website requires a lot more work than you have the time or experience for.

You can try to be a jack of all trades, but you’ll only end up with half-realized concepts. Better to find others who can collaborate with you. Until then, focus on a single area of digital marketing and be great at it.

Ask yourself which area you’re best at, or more importantly, which one you’re most curious to learn.

Areas of specialization

Copywriting
Write words on web pages, ads, and promotional materials to get people to take action.

SEO
Optimize online content so that it shows up as a top result on search engine keywords.

Social Media Marketing
Use social media platforms and websites to promote a product or service.

Content Marketing
Create and share online content such as blog posts to build brand awareness.

Step 04. Find clients

At first, freelance digital marketing will seem like an uphill battle. With not many others to rely on and a lack of experience, clients may turn to other professionals. You may have to accept lower rates to build your portfolio. But stick with it.

If you’re comfortable having an online persona, build your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other relevant channels to point towards your skills, and maybe even your website. Over time you’ll start to develop a reputation, and others will be happy to refer you.

Where to find clients

Upwork
A global freelancing platform where businesses and freelancers can work together.

Remote.co
Provides expert insight, best practices, and job listings for freelancers working remotely.

PeoplePerHour
An online platform giving freelancers access to thousands of businesses.

Working Nomads
A curated list of the most interesting remote digital marketing jobs.

Step 05. Build your portfolio

Remember that website you had? After you finish enough projects, it’s time to turn it into a cash cow. Instead of just having a blog, post a gallery or showcase of your previous work (just remember to ask your clients for permission!).

The next time a lead or prospect lands on your page, they’ll be able to gauge how serious you are in your work. Make sure you put only the best work, work you are proud of displaying on your page.

Portfolio Templates

How much can you earn?

Use the rate calculator to get an idea of how much you can make as a freelance digital marketer. Rates are based on average earnings of freelance digital marketing professionals in the United States and Canada.

CALCULATE YOUR RATE