Social Media Marketing is a great career for those who don’t want to be tied to an office. Becoming a freelance social media manager or community manager can be a blessing for those who need or want freedom. But (and there is a big but), it’s a big risk. Not only will you find yourself managing someone’s digital publicity, you will need to become a business. That means being able to keep yourself afloat while you get yourself to the point where you can support your lifestyle and creating a nest egg for those times when dry spells hit (it will happen). Today, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to set up financials as a Freelance Social Media Manager so you can get started with planning your business. If you’d like a copy of our Sample Freelance Social Media Manager Budget, simply click the link to ask for access.
Freelance Social Media Manager Budget
Figure Out Your Monthly Expenses
This is the first thing you need to understand as a freelance social media manager. Start by creating a Google Spreadsheet. Create a column for each month. Then create a row for each of your expenses, both business and personal, and don’t forget to include a row for the nest egg you want to create. The best way to do this is to go through your bank and credit card statements for the past 6 months. Don’t create a line for say each bottle of wine you drink or each time you go to dinner. Put these into categories, like fun or medical. A few sample categories:
- Utilities (PSEG, phone, internet, cable)
- Misc (gas, food, clothing)
- Business Travel
- Payroll (interns, contractors, fiverr purchases)
- Credit Cards
- Website (Servers, SEO, Content, updates)
- Marketing (yup, your own marketing expenses)
- Software (if you use software like Socialdraft for scheduling or Freshbooks for invoicing)
- Tax Payments
- Unexpected (for the unexpected)
You always want to estimate on the side of error, so always estimate that your expenses will be higher. Why? Say you get into a fender bender, or you lose a client, or you get sick. Unexpected things will happen, so be ready for them.
Once you have all your expenses estimated, tally up the total and divide by 12. This is how much money you will need to make monthly to reach your freelance social media goals.
The next step is to figure out how much you will have to work monthly in order to achieve this amount. Say you need to make $10,000 per month to cover your expenses and you want to work the average 40 hours per week (putting you at 160 hours per month). This means you need to charge a little over $60 an hour.
IMPORTANT: A note here, we don’t recommend that you work hourly. This spells disaster. If you work hourly, clients will nitpick at what exactly you’re doing per hour. This number is merely a number for your reference.
You now need to figure out how many hours per month it will take you to manage one client. These are some of the tasks you will need to consider when you figure out this number for each of your clients:
- Daily content & image creation
- Industry research
- Curate Content for social media sharing
- Engage community on 5+ social networks
- Handle customer service issues
- Live streaming (if applicable – Periscope, Facebook live)
- Client communications
- Reputation management
Consider these tasks and how long they will take, then add 5 hours (they always take more time). Then, take that hourly rate plus the estimated time you will spend on each client (35-40 hours per month) and divide that into 160. That will come to 4-5 clients per month in order for you to reach your desired income.
You will need to estimate for churn, since clients may not always stick around for a long time. The best way for you to prevent churn is to put your clients under contract (another reason you should never EVER charge hourly). When you craft your contracts, build them over a span of 6-12 months. Having this amount of time also has the benefit that you will have enough time to build your client and get them results. If you have contracts in place, you will be better able to estimate when clients will leave your service and you will be better able to plan accordingly.
I hope that this article and our budgeting spreadsheet helps out for you as you build your social media business. Here’s to you and your new life.