How to Become a Social Media Manager

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Create unforgettable memories while you elevate your online business.

Getting Paid to Manage Social Media Accounts

When I left school at 17 back in 2011, I started an apprenticeship at a social media company, then another apprenticeship at a marketing agency in London that didn’t offer social media as a service. I introduced social media to the agency as an additional service and by the time I was 20, I started my own social media management business which allowed me to travel the world.

It was a mix between being in the right place at the right time, working hard and grabbing opportunities when I saw them.

If you’re looking for ways to start your remote working journey and can’t quite figure out how to ditch the 9 to 5—let’s talk about one job you probably already have the skills to do.

Getting into social media management is a great way to start your remote working journey.

Why social media? Because you can get started faster than you can with other remote positions, a lot of the skills you are likely to already have and can build upon, and there is likely someone who is too busy running their business who needs your help.

If you’re ready to start working online, keep reading to learn how you can find internships, get testimonials, build your portfolio, and pitch to clients as a Social Media Manager.

What is a Social Media Manager?

As a Social Media Manager, you can help with a range of things from: creating and scheduling content, analysing feedback and engagement, reaching out to influencers and brands, other PR tasks, creating social campaigns, running social advertisements, and many other tasks.

Not every Social Media Manager does the same thing, so if you’re unsure what you’d like your niche to be, start checking out job posts for this position and see what interests you.

What Skills Do I Already Have or Need to Learn?

Now, let’s list the skills and things you’ll need to learn and have to get started in social media management:

  • Experience with planning and scheduling apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Planoly.
  • Knowledge of different social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
  • Reliable laptop with WIFI connection.
  • A portfolio showcasing work done for previous clients.
  • Website or Facebook business page to showcase your services and network with potential clients.
  • Knowledge of current trends across multiple social platforms.
  • Basic marketing techniques for social platforms. 
  • Writing skills for captions, ads, and other content. 
  • Basic analytics skills to assess success across multiple platforms.
  • Basic understanding of different time zones.
  • Ability to assess and schedule posts optimised for time and engagement of target audience.

You probably have a number of these things already, like knowledge of different social platforms, a laptop, access to WIFI, knowledge of social trends, and writing and analytic skills. And the others—you can learn along the way!

There are many ways to learn the skills you need to break into social media management.

Platforms like Udemy offer skills training created by people working in the business. Or, you can see if some of your favourite digital nomads have created courses of their own. There are also plenty of YouTube tutorials and Google can be your best friend.

One of the best ways to learn something though, is to just do it. If you need to learn how to schedule and post content on social media, download apps like Hootsuite or Planoly and start scheduling out your own platforms.

Get familiar with the tools your clients will expect you to use.

Peruse job boards and remote positions and see what kind of skills the postings expect candidates to have. Then, go learn some of these skills and add them to your resume!

Dave Weatherall - That Travel Blog

Getting Started: Internships and Working for Testimonials

A good way to get more experience is landing an internship. While working as an intern, you’re not expected to know everything. That’s the entire point of the experience. You, the intern, and the person who agrees to the internship, both get something out of this relationship.

They get help with their business without having to pay you a full salary and at the same time, they might be training a future employee or contractor. In return, you get valuable experience by learning from a professional and get work you can add to your portfolio to attract future clients. (Not to mention the chance to turn the internship into a full-time job!)

It might seem counterintuitive to offer work at a reduced rate, and experience can’t pay the bills but if you’re starting out like I was, it can be a valuable experience.

What if you already have the skills you need to work in social media management, but just don’t have any work to put in your portfolio yet?

You can offer to do a small project for someone in exchange for a testimonial.

Working for a testimonial is useful, because if you do great work, you’ll get something amazing in return. A testimonial, especially from someone well-known in the industry, tells other potential clients that you’re good at what you do.

Your potential client doesn’t have to know the work in your portfolio was done free of charge. All they see is that you created a curated Instagram feed for someone in the industry, and this person loved it and recommends your work.

Don’t underestimate the potential of a good testimonial.

A lot of clients will even let you write the testimonial yourself, and then just look it over and approve it. This means you can write exactly what you want and need to market yourself, and have it approved by an expert in the business.

Internships and testimonials are a great way to build your portfolio, can be completed in a short amount of time, and will help you land future paying clients. They are a great step to break into the remote working world. And because you’re not taking on a full load of work yet, you can build your portfolio while working your other side hustles.

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Finding Clients

So you know you need to find an internship or get a testimonial, but how do you find someone to say “Yes?”

Well, you can always search job boards for positions, or, you can pitch directly to potential clients yourself.

One of the best ways to find clients is through social media, especially Facebook. If you’re not networking in groups related to your desired career, you need to start now.

Once you’ve joined a group, introduce yourself and start meeting other digital nomads. Consider sharing some of the projects you’re working on and ask for feedback, so members start recognising your work. Leave feedback for others too, so you start building community and connections.

Then, use this simple tool to find potential internships and job opportunities.

Go to the search bar in your group and type in things like “help needed” “intern” or “social media manager” and you’ll see all of the posts related to your search. You can start with the most recent and see what other members are needing help with.

Members in specific Facebook groups post opportunities to the group, because they know the community is full of qualified digital nomads. If you do this search every week, you might just land one of the positions!

You can use this tip for finding internships, job opportunities and potential clients.

If you don’t see any posts specifically asking for interns, create a post yourself and let people know you’re offering to do smaller projects in exchange for a testimonial! That’s what Facebook groups are for—building community. Just make sure you read the group rules to confirm you can solicit your services.

If you’re not interested in using Facebook (although you really should!) try other platforms like Instagram. Think about people who can really use your help.

Even if someone is a social media expert, they still need you!

For example, influencers do much more than just posting to Instagram. They are responding to emails, potentially working for other clients and collaborating with brands. Some influencers are coaches too. That’s a lot of work for one person. They may not realise they need help until you offer.

Think the client is “too big” or would never notice you? The risk of working with someone newer sounds more appealing if it’s an internship or work for a testimonial. For the client it’s low risk, high reward. The same is true for you.

If you can show samples in your portfolio done for a bigger client, you’ll instantly boost your credibility and chances of finding paying clients.

Don’t fret about reaching out to people who are already Social Media Managers themselves. They understand the importance of the job and can always use help.

Another option is reaching out to people who should be utilising social media, but aren’t. This might apply to older generation business owners, small, or local businesses. This means instead of reaching out via social media, you’ll need to pitch yourself in person.

One advantage is, if you can convince this business owner(s) the necessity of being on social media, you likely can turn this internship into a paid gig; however, some older business owners aren’t using social media because they don’t see the value in it. You might have to be a little more persuasive in your pitch.

If you need some help creating your pitch, check out my blueprint for winning clients as a digital nomad.

Then, when you’re ready to start searching for paying clients, use this same process! You might even consider reaching out to the person or company you did your internship with, or the person who gave you your testimonial.

Building Your Portfolio

Now that you’ve done the internships and secured testimonials, what work should you include in your portfolio? Note: Always make sure you have permission if you’re sharing work you created for a client!

  • Links to accounts you’ve managed
  • Links to published work (blogs, projects, advertisements, etc.)
  • Created social graphics/any graphic design work
  • Screenshots of planned Instagram grids
  • Social campaigns
  • Analytics showing increase in followers or engagement
  • Testimonials
  • Your resume
  • Links to your own social channels
  • Links to your website or Facebook business page

Basically, anything you think will be valuable to a client in making a decision to work with you, include it! Your portfolio should set you apart from other Social Media Managers by showcasing your talent and experience.

Be Confident

Lastly, as you start looking for remote jobs or pitching to clients, you might realise you don’t meet all of the qualifications of the job posting. That’s okay.

You don’t have to have experience with every aspect of the job to do it well. There is a learning curve when starting any new job or taking on a new client, and this is true with remote positions too.

As long as you have a majority of the skills listed in the posting, you should still apply. And if you get an interview or response from the client, be honest without selling yourself short.

For example, let’s say a job posting requires a comprehensive knowledge of Squarespace website management, but you’ve only worked with Wix. Good news: these platforms are incredibly similar. So if you’ve learned one, you can probably pick up the other pretty quickly.

If your portfolio and pitch are convincing enough, a company or client will probably be willing to train you on things you’re not as familiar with. When you’re pitching to clients, consider lowering your hourly rate to start, with agreement that your rates will increase later as you become more comfortable in the position.

While you shouldn’t shy away from taking on new projects just because you don’t have much experience, you still need to be honest with your clients when taking on any work. But being new at something isn’t a reason not to apply.

If you’ve learned new skills, completed internships, secured testimonials and built a solid portfolio, you’re ready to start applying for jobs and pitching to clients. Be confident in your skills and start making the remote working lifestyle a reality.

Looking for jobs but feeling stuck? Check out my Facebook group where we share helpful tips, job postings, and monthly “Share Your Latest” threads where you can share your work with more than a thousand other digital nomads.

Dave Weatherall

Dave Weatherall

On the road since 2014. Living and working from 40+ countries, mostly in Asia. Blogging, building websites, and marketing management. My mission is to show other people, like me, the possibilities of an alternative lifestyle outside of the typical 9-5.

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