How to become a freelance marketing consultant (and is it worth it?)

How to become a freelance marketing consultant (and is it worth it?)

Are you thinking about becoming a freelance marketing consultant?

Working as one for years, I’ve been responsible for everything from simply managing a particular marketing project with specialists implementing each task to specializing in something as specific as building audiences to target for Facebook advertisers.

There are a number of ways to approach it and in this article, you and I will talk about what it is, how you can benefit from offering marketing consulting as an existing (non marketing) freelancer and how to become one even if you don’t know marketing.

What is a freelance marketing consultant?

A freelance marketing consultant is someone who helps clients with marketing tasks like planning a strategy, when to run campaigns, and which marketing channels are a good fit for the business.

Sometimes they specialize in a certain channel or even only in branding or online marketing.

Different types of marketing consultants

There are too many to name them all here here since there are an unlimited number of combinations. Some of them are:

  • Focusing broadly as a digital marketing manager
  • Being a specialist for things like SEO, email, ads, etc.
  • Specializing in something else like the industry or audience e.g. luxury travel

A day in the life of a digital marketing consultant

After having breakfast and checking my emails, assuming there are no tasks, I’ll begin checking the status of our existing marketing campaigns. 

That might be ad campaigns like Facebook ads or email campaigns, and if everything is performing as expected, I’ll move on to preparing new campaigns. I typically prioritize two major tasks per day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

If things are not as expected, I’ll dive deeper to understand why and usually tweak things before checking back the following day. This is usually numbers based as I focus entirely on digital marketing rather than offline marketing.

With digital marketing, we are able to track a lot of things online that just aren’t possible with offline marketing.

In the afternoon I might have meetings discussing new projects or evaluating on old ones.

If not, I’ll work on another project. This week it is an analytics tracking project to ensure we are tracking our projects accurately. 

I don’t have meetings all that often which is awesome. Instead we communicate casually via messages software like Slack.

Existing freelancers: earn more by helping your clients with marketing 

If you are already working with clients to as a freelancer in another field than marketing such as writing, as a VA, graphic design, etc., you can earn more by learning marketing skills and offering them to your clients as part of your work.

As a copywriter, you might be maxed out after writing day five hours per day and simply not able to write anymore because it’s too exhausting. By offering marketing services on top, you can turn those extra dead hours into more earnings.

As a VA, you might be working with someone who has another freelancer to help with running ads or other marketing tasks, and there might even be an overlap between your tasks and that other person’s. If you can help with the same services, that may be easier for your client just to work with one person. 

As a creative/graphic designer, you might want to understand how graphics impact a marketing campaign’s performance, so you can create things that helps increase revenue through the campaign. For example what gets more people to click. 

The same goes for a video editor with e.g. YouTube videos and their thumbnails. 

A lot of business owners or marketing teams don’t want to learn new technologies, tools or marketing channels.

They already have a ton of stuff to do and just want it to work, get the results and for someone else to do it and explain how things work.

Of course the pay varies based on experience, specialization and a number of other factors but as a general rule $50-$100/h is common to charge for good marketing work.

Often it is possible to charge more because the focus is on performance and results for either increasing revenue or sales, or reducing cost like for example ad spend.

Popular marketing topics right now are (in no particular order)

  • Facebook ads
  • Email marketing
  • SEO
  • YouTube 
  • Affiliate partnerships

To get more ideas, I suggest doing a search on the freelance platform Upwork or look at what other freelancers are doing if they have a personal website.

For Upwork, you don’t need a login in order to search for freelancers and see their profiles and earnings. Insteas, you can search there via Google and access directly.

If you combine your existing skills with marketing skills, you can specialize further which usually means you can command more money. 

If you are a video editor or design you might specialize only in youtube videos and help someone grow their channel and exposure for example.

Compared to a generic freelancer, this will be attractive for the client and you’ll have less things to focus on, so you can spend more time getting better and getting better results for your clients.

Another example is a content/article writer combining it with content marketing or SEO strategy, and driving more traffic and pageviews for their clients.

If you are an email copywriter, you could also learn how to setup email funnels, analytics or how that work contributes to the bottom line.

How to become a freelance marketing consultant

freelance marketing consultant working

In order to become one we first need to know marketing.

There are courses out there that can speed up the process but we tend to learn the most by doing real projects and real work.

On this blog, I focus on digital marketing, and for that specifically, have a look at this article on how to become a digital marketing manager.

The easier process to work as a freelance marketing consultant is to learn marketing first since it’s a different skillset than freelancing altogether.

To become a freelancer, we first have to settle on a profitable freelance idea. I’ve written a comprehensive guide to find your idea via that link.

The key is to solve a problem that is important to clients. An example of a less profitable problem might be ironing clothes since people are unlikely to pay much for that.

Compare that to increasing revenue with a marketing strategy. If we help businesses earn more they are likely to pay us more as well. Not exactly rocket science.. so far so good.

When we have an idea, the next step is to get clients.

The most effective approach is to reach out to businesses you want to work with. 

Unfortunately, a lot of us have a misconception that we have to spammy because everyone else is. It doesn’t have to be done that way, in fact, the opposite has worked much better in my experience. Personalizing outreach work well.

Another, less preferable approach is to use freelance platforms like Upwork. They work but they usually don’t attract great clients.

If you are in America you do have an advantage since most of the high earners on Upwork are from there historically. Many American clients prefer American freelancers and often the platform has most clients from there.

Either way, when reaching out to businesses, no matter via Upwork or email, doing the opposite of everyone else tends to work well.

That means sending them a personal note, so they know you are serious and you could suggest some ideas or ask if you can send some over based on your experience.

Follow that with a call to deeply understand the business’ specific situation and challenges. Even if we know it, walking through it with them will make them feel understood which is just as important.

Finally, as you agree with them on a project, the final step is to put together a proposal that summarizes everything.

You can read my entire guide on freelance digital marketing and see the approach in more detail.

 I find that the biggest challenge here is not the tactics for landing freelance marketing clients but moreso how to be comfortable putting ourselves out there.

Often, we are recommended the generic advice that we already know like to go to networking events, grow our network or write a blog.

I’ve found that those can work if we have a long time to do it. Getting results now is the easiest by simply emailing businesses with ideas.

The counterintuitive part is that if they need help and we reach out, we are actually doing them a favor by helping solve a problem, provided that we can help. 

If we don’t, they are still stuck with the same problem and both parties lose.


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