I‘m a freelance writer, and I enjoy my work, but I often wonder what it would be like to perform different services in my space. One online side hustle that seems interesting to me is social media consulting.
I know of several people who are making significant part-time money by being a social media consultant for businesses and blogs. And some have even turned their social media gigs into full-time jobs.
To make money as a social media consultant you need to be able to perform the typical duties required of the role (increase brand awareness, drive web traffic, and develop relationships with customers), be proficient with social media software tools, and successfully pitch your services to businesses/brands that need your help.
You can work as an employee but if you freelance, or build a social media agency, your income is unlimited!
If you’re thinking to yourself right now, “People actually make money by being on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?”
I don’t blame you for being surprised. For most of us, our time on social media is a time sink, not a money maker. That’s why I was curious about what these social media jobs consisted of and how one would get started.
I decided to do some research online and I reached out to some people who I knew were currently making money via social media work. Here’s what I found.
Table of Contents
What is a Social Media Consultant’s Job?
If there’s one thing that I learned throughout my research for this article it’s that there is a broad array of social media professional titles and job descriptions. There are social media “specialists,” social media “marketers,” social media “managers,” social media…I think you get the point.
If you’re going to be able to make money in this space, you’re going to need to be flexible and adept at morphing into whatever each client needs you to be.
But while the specifics of each job may be different, overall a social media consultant’s main goal is to create brand awareness for the client. The social media specialist does this by sharing content on social channels and engaging in conversations with followers to build community.
Typical Duties of a Social Media Consultant
To get a good idea of what specific duties companies are looking for social media specialists to accomplish, check out some listings on job search sites.
I did this myself and below you’ll see the duties that one company was expecting a social media marketer to accomplish. Keep in mind this is a pretty serious workload and you may not be asked to do this much.
But this will still give you a good idea of the kinds of things that many social media specialists are expected to do:
- Develop and implement social media brand strategies, campaigns, and plans to build brand/company awareness
- Plan paid social media advertising strategies and budgets
- Oversee day-to-day management of campaigns and ensure brand consistency
- Research and understand the needs and tone of various clients and stay up to date on news and trends in their industry
- Create, maintain, and grow new and existing social networks, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, FourSquare, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, and others
- Manage company blog and editorial calendar, eBlasts and landing pages that align with social updates
- Monitor social media progress using web analytic tools
- Incorporate optimization strategies, analyze data, and research the best ways to increase traffic
- Review the success of campaigns and develop ways to improve
- Drive engagement with social media influencers
- Resolve customer issues through social media
- Create engaging written and visual content for blogs, newsletters, and landing pages
- Research new media platforms, trends, and industry opportunities
Again, this is a job description for a full-time social media consultant for a large company. But if you’re just starting out and doing social media work for smaller sites or businesses, you may only be asked to handle one or two specific tasks.
Related: How to Make Money on YouTube
What Tools do Social Media Consultants Use?
Like any other profession, there are certain tools of the trade that you should be familiar with if you want to make money as a social media marketer.
As I was doing my research, I found that social media marketing tools could be grouped into three main categories: scheduling tools, design tools, and SEO tools. Let’s take a look at all three.
If you’re going to have a well-thought-out social media plan, you’re going to need to be able to schedule posts in advance.
And if you have to physically be behind the computer or on your phone clicking the “post” button for every single social media message, you’ll never be able to scale your social media business.
Social media scheduling tools will be the secret sauce that makes it possible for you to handle work for several companies at the same time.
Here are a few of the most popular scheduling tools on the market today.
Hootsuite is probably the most popular scheduling tool for social media professionals. With Hootsuite, you can schedule hundreds of social media posts at once across all of your social accounts. Here are some other things that you can do with Hootsuite.
- Track the performance of your posts with in-depth social media analytics tools.
- Easily find what people are saying about your brand by searching for posts by hashtag or keyword.
- Take advantage of collaboration tools to make working with a team simple and seamless.
Hootsuite is the undeniable leader in this space for professionals who need to control several different types of social accounts at once. But if you specifically want to focus on Pinterest, another tool may be a better fit: Tailwind.
While Tailwind has recently expanded its services to include other social media networks like Instagram and Facebook, their expertise and claim to fame has always been Pinterest.
One of the coolest things that Tailwind offers is their SmartLoop feature. This allows you to reshare your best pins again and again to get fresh engagement.
In addition to their pin looping magic, Tailwind also makes it simple to schedule pins far in advance. And with their SmartQueue feature, Tailwind will show you the exact time that your pin would have the best chance of reaching the most amount of people.
If you search online, you’ll find no shortage of Pinterest pros gushing about why they love Tailwind so much. If you end up working for a client who wants Pinterest to be a big part of their marketing strategy, you may want to give it a try.
Other Scheduling Tools Worth Checking Out
There are lots of competitors out there in the social media scheduling space. Once you’ve gotten a handle on what Hootsuite and Tailwind have to offer, check out some of these other companies to see if there’s anything about their services or pricing specifically appeal to you.
- Sprinklr–Best for large enterprises: they claim to work with half of Fortune 50 companies.
- Sprout–Best customer service: stating they have the highest customer service ratings in the industry
- Buffer–Best for solo social media consultants: their lowest plan is only $15 a month for one user
- CoSchedule–Best for working with a team of content creators: you can assign tasks to individuals and easily move content through a series of people
How do you decide which tools you should use? Nick True, FinCon’s social media consultant, says it really boils down to which platforms you use the most for your social media campaigns. He says:
I’m not married to one specific tool. I’m married to the best tool at the current moment for getting the job done. When choosing a tool I focus on finding apps that integrate well with the social platforms I use while simultaneously fitting well into my current workflow.
He explains that this is the reason why he doesn’t personally use Tailwind but acknowledges that it could be the perfect tool for you.
I don’t use Tailwind because it’s primarily a Pinterest tool and I don’t have any Pinterest work at the moment. If I did, then I would probably start utilizing it. Figure out what platforms you plan to use and how you want to execute your work, then go and find the tool that best suits your situation.
Ten years ago, creating top-notch artwork required expensive software and special training on how to use it.
Thankfully, as technology has progressed, it has become easier and less expensive for the average design dummy (like me) to create amazing photos.
Although feature-laden applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are still popular with design professionals, they are no longer a necessity for creating great art. There are now several online tools that make it possible for you to do your photo editing right from your browser.
Canva is an incredibly popular online photo editing tool, and for good reason. Here are a few of the things that Canva will allow you to do completely free:
- Upload your own photos or use one of Canva’s over 8,000 free designs
- Design inside templates that are the ideal size for each social network
- Add text to your photos
- Get access to two folders to organize your designs
- Store up to 1 GB of photos and assets on Canva’s cloud servers
- Access millions of stock photos starting at $1 each
And if you’d like access to more features like the ability to work with teams, create photos with transparent backgrounds, or access more free designs (over 400,000), you can pay $12.95 a month for a Canva for Work subscription.
There’s a lot to love about PicMonkey. Their online software is easy to use and well-designed. Just like Canva, you can do all your editing work with PicMonkey in the cloud and then download to your computer when you’re done.
Unfortunately, PicMonkey does not have a free version of their photo editor. Their cheapest plan will set you back $7.99 a month.
However, you get more features with this plan than you get with the free version of Canva. PicMonkey’s basic plan includes access to their popular Primo effects and touch-up tools.
So if you need a few more features than Canva’s free version has to offer but feel like Canva for Work’s suite of options would be a little overkill, PicMonkey’s basic plan may be the perfect happy medium.
Other Design Tools Worth Checking Out
While Canva and PicMonkey may be the most popular online photo editing tools, there are several other tools worth checking out.
- Stencil–Best for finding royalty free photos: they offer over 2 million royalty free images
- Easil–Best for creating next level designs: they offer Photoshop type layers and the ability to create gifs
- Crello–Best for creating animated designs: video and animation for only $17 a month
- Snappa–Best for small teams: you can have 5 users for only $20 a month
Ok, so we’ve covered scheduling and design tools. Now let’s move on to discussing SEO tools that can help you create the kind of content that people are looking for online.
If you’re not familiar with the term “SEO,” it’s just an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. When you are creating any content, whether it be on a blog or social media, you want to create content that people care about.
SEO research can help you find out what that is by giving you data about which terms people search for and how often. Also, using SEO tools, you can find out which keywords will be easier to “rank” for than others.
And once you know what these keywords are, you can great content around them that get people the answers they’re searching for.
Conducting SEO research may not be something that you’ll be asked to do as a social media consultant. This would typically only be the case if you were also in charge of content creation for the company that you work for.
Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt you to be familiar with some of the most popular SEO tools available today:
- Google Keyword Planner–Best for getting keyword data straight from Google
- Google Search Console–Best for finding out which pages on your site perform the best on Google
- Keywords Everywhere–Best for showing real-time keyword data inside your favorite search engines.
- UberSuggest–Best variety of completely free SEO tools
- Ahrefs–Best for finding how difficult it will be to rank on “Page 1” for a specific keyword and what your competition is doing
- Moz–Best for finding outside-the-box keyword suggestions
Using these tools, you’ll be able to confidently create a social media campaign that will resonate with the audience that your client is trying to reach.
How Much do Social Media Consultants Make?
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for social media consultants is $38,767.
But ZipRecruiter is quick to note that there is a wide range of pay for social media consultant jobs. They say that they’ve seen salaries as high as $66,000 and as low as $16,500.
Scrolling through job listings myself on Indeed.com, I also found a huge disparity in social media consultant pay. Keep in mind, though, that most of these job postings were for full-time jobs with one particular company.
But, as we’ll see in just a moment, you may be able to make your best money as a social media consultant by working as a freelancer. Doing social media marketing as a freelancer offers two main benefits.
- First, you can make your social media work your side hustle and keep your day job while you build up your business.
- Second, you’ll be incentivized to create efficient systems so that you can work for multiple clients and make more money.
But how do you find clients when you’re just trying to get started as a freelance social media specialist?
How to Find Your First Clients
But one of my favorite ways to find clients is to simply connect with people in the online space and offer to help. This is how Drew DuBoff got his start as a social media manager. Here’s what he had to say:
My first clients actually found me! I was a student in their blogging courses and I noticed that their Facebook groups were growing rapidly (the free community was around 5,000 at the time.) I had a hunch that they needed some help, so I offered it. After a brief trial period, they brought me on full-time.
If you’re wanting to get your foot in the door with social media work, Drew’s story should be an inspiration to you. I would highly recommend that you join as many professional Facebook groups as you can. Maybe even try to attend a social media marketing conference or two.
The more people you meet, the better chance you’ll have of landing work.
How to Scale Your Social Media Consulting Business
Doing part-time social media consulting work is one thing. But what if you really fall in love with the work and want to turn it into a full-time job?
Or what about if you actually need to hire team members at some point? How should you handle that?
I interviewed a few people who have experience making these transitions. I asked them to share what helped them take their social media consulting gigs to the next level.
Bryana Myricks shared how you can slowly transition from completely volunteering your time to eventually having a full-time workload of paid social media work. She says:
If you notice your favorite local bakery has great reviews on Yelp but they’re not on Facebook and Twitter, offer to help them out. Once you have a nice amount of experience, then start off as a side hustle.
Charge people a competitive rate (research the starting salary for a Social Media Consultant in your area) and market yourself to anyone you think may need your help. From there, you can either continue to build your business, or start applying for bigger companies for a full time position.
Here’s a great video explaining how to find businesses that need your services on Yelp.
And Drew has some pointers about how to scale efficiently. He says it’s important to determine which tasks can be easily delegated and which ones will require personal training.
The key is looking at which tasks are routine and which require knowledge. Dissecting the social media tasks that you do this way allows you to build a balanced team of contractors that are experts in the different kinds of tasks you have.
Final Thoughts on Social Media Consulting
It turns out that getting paid to do social media consulting work isn’t a pipe dream. By getting familiar with the right tools and by advertising your skills in the right places, you could turn your social media prowess into a side hustle…and maybe even an eventual full-time job.
Do you have any experiencing with making money as a social media consultant? If so, comment below to let us know how you got started and which tools you love the most.