Some of my former colleagues have been asking questions on how to get started as a freelance digital marketing manager. I would usually respond with a question: “What would you like to know? And they would respond with: “You know social media posting, online ads and SEO, what should I do first?”
The conversation could go forever but it wouldn’t feel like they’ve learnt something solid from the ambush Q&A. Sure, they would know that the first step is to have freelancer goals before reaching out to clients.
But still, the whole process of becoming a freelance digital marketing manager feels like a huge undertaking that only those who have gone through extensive training and corporate background can muster.
So, let’s go back to five years ago, revisit those wins and losses, appreciate and learn from them. And then develop a new plan on the best way to move forward in this competitive landscape of freelance digital marketing.
Here’s what we’ll cover today.
- How your previous job relates to freelance digital marketing
- How did your previous job propel your freelance digital marketing career
- What are the next steps you should take?
- Prepare for many ups and downs as a digital marketing manager
- What were the steps I took to solve my team’s challenges?
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How your previous job relates to freelance digital marketing
You may say your previous employment is way too different from your freelance digital marketing role, and that’s fine! There are ways to relate your old job to digital marketing since most industries require digital integration, communications, problem-solving, and strategy.
For instance, I was a Regional Account Associate at a TV broadcasting company in the Philippines when I decided to venture out. So, my role somehow positioned me as a resource person seen as a consultant that can also execute plans.
I was not exactly part of the marketing strategy team, but most marketing communications requests I’ve handled had both traditional and digital marketing requirements.
However, I knew that I still had a lot to learn, and I took it as my stepping stone to fully immerse myself in digital marketing management. It was the perfect time to pursue my digital marketing dream because of my background in various fields of marketing.
Without any capital, I jump-started my career as an online freelancer hunting for digital marketing projects through on-demand job marketplaces. I bid, pitched, and sent cold emails and proposals to at least 100 different businesses until I landed my first batch of projects.
Within two months after I left my regular employment, I earned more than my salary from my previous job.
How did your previous job propel your freelance digital marketing career
The skill set you need as a digital marketing manager may not be the same as in your previous job, but there might be aspects that can help you propel into your new career. As a regional account associate, I handled multiple accounts from several regions in our company. I managed marketing communications projects from Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and the Asia Pacific. And it meant taking creative and marketing job orders from countries where the flagship international broadcasting network was available.
Those long hours of managing different projects provided the training to manage client projects independently. I wore many hats to make things work. I divided my time among many functions. I hunted for new projects early in the morning, worked on existing projects until lunch, and held client meetings in the evening. And my routine lasted for about two months until things started picking up. My hustle boosted my project management, design, and digital marketing analytics skills. I learned to create a marketing plan, design social media posts and stay on top of my invoices to get paid. But I didn’t know everything about creating a marketing plan and graphic design. I had to learn those skill sets to work on many projects. Fortunately for you, there are many great resources to learn a new skill or enhance what you already know. Check out Scribd, my favorite ebook and audiobook subscription service, and learn about any topic.
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What should be your next steps to become a freelance digital marketing manger?
Today, working from home or remotely is common that many employers are more accepting that fewer employees would accept on-site work setup. And this transformation has opened unimaginable freelance opportunities to a vast digital work opportunities.
The work force situation was far from when I started freelancing back in 2014. It was seen as “not legit” to work-from-home and it required major adjustments to transition from office to off-site. But, fortunately, It didn’t take me long to adapt to my new work setup.
Our family home became a makeshift office Our dining table was my meeting room in the evening, and my bedroom was where I bid-range on projects. After a few months, I was ready to take more projects under my wing. But, I also recognized the challenge of having a lot on my plate.
This is where my account management skills came in handy. With the help of an external team, I recruited other freelancers to share the nitty-gritty work demands of freelance digital marketing professionals.
But I saved them from the admin work and client meetings because I know it isn’t everyone’s dream job anyway. Everyone gets to work on the tasks that they are good at; everybody wins!
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Prepare for many ups and downs as a digital marketing manager
It didn’t take long until I was able to get help from fellow freelancers. Having a team speed up our productivity rate. We were producing work on time which allowed our team to get a few more clients. As we expand our digital marketing services, I realized the importance of upskilling to meet the needs of our growing portfolio. However, payments from clients have become unpredictable, which was typical to all small businesses. There were late payments for more than two months. And while I was okay with late payments as a solo freelancer, having a small team was a different situation. I could not afford late payments early into the business. And late fees were unfair to any team. I compensated by paying my team first, which worked for a short while but was not sustainable unless I make the necessary changes.
What were the steps I took to solve challenges?
The most obvious solution was to get to the bottom of the issue as to why late payments were happening in the first place. In the beginning, I suspected that clients weren’t getting the ROI from the marketing initiative.
And so I offered to optimize our services to meet the needs of their business without extra charges. It appeared that the issue was on the system level, which, unfortunately, I had no control.
Slowly, I started looking for other opportunities to support my small team to avoid suffering from the consequences of putting all of the eggs in one basket.
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