As a freelancer with a freelancing business, you only have a limited amount of hours you can sell to clients. We can't always work more hours to bring in more income and to get new freelancing jobs. If you want comfort, security and wealth you'll want to raise your prices throughout your career.
Competition is tough, there are so many of us working as professional freelance social media managers, and plenty are very cheap. How can you position yourself as a high-value social media manager, without scaring away clients and pricing yourself out?
There's a lot of advice online about ‘charging your worth', but the truth is you can't just charge whatever you want.
Yes, many people do undercharge for their social media marketing services. But what if I told you that a lot of people in marketing are overcharging based on the value they're currently providing? What if that ‘imposter syndrome' is actually for real?
How can you become a social media manager who is not just well paid, but feels totally comfortable and confident with that and doesn't feel like they're going to get ‘found out' as a fraud?
In this article, we will go over 7 ways you can raise your value as a social media manager and make yourself so desirable that the people ready to hire a social media manager, aka YOU, won't ever consider getting somebody cheaper!
1. Be a Social Media Creator, Not Just an Admin
It's a common skill to be able to regurgitate web content and schedule it in a social media poster. If you're doing this kind of work for people, you're at risk of being replaced by the company's admin assistant or PA. Almost anyone can learn how to use Instagram, or LinkedIn or Facebook. These social media platforms are designed to be as user friendly as possible!
What businesses are looking for is a marketer. Someone who understands their customer base and knows what that audience wants to hear. Someone who understands what social media should be used for, within that company, and what the business result will be of having a social media presence.
This is easy enough for e-commerce B2C (business to customer) businesses. Most people can probably work out how to sell beautiful jewelry (especially if the models are attractive and the product photographs are amazing). But what about your local law firm or manufacturer? They want social media too, selling those services is a little bit more complicated. These types of businesses are prepared to pay more because they understand that marketing them is not something just anyone can do. This requires creating written marketing plans built upon the existing business plans.
2. Train Up: Never stop Learning
When you know you're doing the best you can, but you still aren't achieving the level of service you want to be providing in order to command higher prices, take a look at what needs work.
Is it your graphics, your writing, your sales process, your strategy? Learn search engine optimization, graphic design, web development or take a web design course.
What could do with some improvement? I'm always training and increasing my skill set.
3. Set Up (Better) Business Systems
The more time you put into things like sales, client onboarding, contracts, invoicing, post scheduling and admin the lower your hourly salary will be. This is because you don't get paid for these things.
You want to be spending your time doing the stuff that is high value to your client. Shop around for some software and see if there's a system that can take the pain and time out of your unpaid tasks. There are so many SaaS tools out there that can reduce the time you spend on admin significantly. That could free up enough time for you to start working with an additional client.
4. Outsource Work As Soon as You Can
If someone can do something to the same level or better than you can, but they work with a cheaper hourly rate than you do – why are you doing it yourself?
More time = more money for freelancers. If you need to hire someone cheap to schedule your posts, do your admin or, whether you work from home or not, do your house cleaning – then go for it! You aren't ‘saving money' by doing it yourself, you are taking time away from your business that you could have spent earning (your free time is valuable too).
5. Add Components to Your Current Offering
If you've ever bought a luxury item, you'll understand what I'm talking about when I say that luxury businesses put a lot of thought into every component of their product.
When you open a luxury handbag, every detail is perfect. It comes in a beautiful box, with a gorgeous dust bag to protect it. Not only is the product well designed and high quality. The lining in the pocket is thick. The zips aren't the same ones used on most high street items.
When you go to a luxury restaurant, go to the bathroom and they'll have little cotton towels pressed and ready for you to use fresh. Not just a regular hand dryer or paper towels.
When people are buying expensive things, this is what they expect – the details.
How are you adding these details to your packages? Do they get a consultation? A welcome pack? Do you send them gifts now and again? Take them for a nice lunch? Do they get a special members-only pass to some of your content?
Or are you rushing through and cutting corners wherever possible – like the high street bag? The high street bag has its place, but if you want to charge more for your services, people will expect more than what the next guy is offering.
6. Lead the Client
Juniors and people new to the industry don't get paid as much as seniors. One reason for this is experience, but some people stay in junior positions their entire careers. Some of us will never get past an assistant, or managerial level while others move to become company directors by the time they are 30. Why is this?
Leadership. The senior person is willing to put their suggestions out, make decisions, and deal with the responsibility that if it goes wrong, it's on their head.
I started doing digital marketing as a freelancer when I was only 27. Before then I answered to a managing director. As a young woman, it didn't feel natural for me to say to men twice my age ‘this is what we are going to do….' Everything about my upbringing had taught me to always defer to men, or senior people. But I realized that my clients were hiring me to advise them and make decisions. I wasn't providing value by asking them ‘well, what do you want me to do?'
The thing is, people don't get very far in business unless they're willing to delegate and seek advice from people who are more knowledgeable than they are.
Small business owners know they can't do the marketing themselves and they're usually hiring someone who will design and implement a campaign, not just do whatever they're told. The bigger the business, the more leadership the clients want. If they're honest, they don't need the hassle of trying to micromanage your social media campaign and answer all your questions when they have much bigger fish to fry.
Marketing is just one part of their business. They also have staff to manage (and their dramas), suppliers to negotiate with, political policy to worry about, their financial advisor, their accountant, underperforming sales staff. And on top of all that – they're probably getting pressure from their wife and kids that they need to be more engaged in family life.
So coming in and saying ‘here's what I think we should do, if it doesn't go well, you can fire me' makes you much more appealing, and therefore more expensive, than the person who is calling them every day asking what needs to go on their social media accounts.
I offer monthly meetings with my clients but guess what? They don't take them 90% of the time and prefer me to just go ahead without consulting them on anything. You just can not develop that level of trust in responsibility with some cheap, unknown hire off Fiver or Upwork.
7. Work on Your Mental Health
For any business owner or freelancer, your own mental health needs to be as good as it can be.
If you're constantly stressed and anxious, you won't be able to serve your clients to a high standard and continue as a full time freelancer.
So if you have a client who is causing you a lot of pain? Fire them. I realised I was providing lower value to my good clients because my time was being taken up by the bad ones.
I believe that getting out in nature, good sleep and a healthy diet are the most important things for my own mental health. Unplug!
I know if I've had a bad night's sleep – I run a risk of making mistakes and my creativity is reduced. I don't work on bad days where I know I will produce shoddy work. Sometimes the most valuable thing I can do is recover. Going for a walk every day and sleeping in if I have a bad night is something that agency staff don't have the luxury of and I believe it's this difference that is key to why my clients often go with freelancers over agency staff.
We are working with our clients because we want to, and we're approaching each project with a fresh and healthy mind. We aren't forced into a horrible work environment, and a client whom we'd really rather not work with. I'm not sat at a desk on my kids birthday, wishing I was really with them but working on your project instead. I take the time I need and when I come to work it's because it's my choice and I'm on my terms. Own that!
Own the fact that you can live a life you truly love and serve clients who you love working with, that's a detail that agencies really struggle to compete with.