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How Much Do Freelance Social Media Managers Make in 2024?

Want to start your career as a freelance social media manager? We’ll teach you how to build skills, set rates, and land clients.

Colleen Christison March 20, 2024
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They say money makes the (social media) world go round. So whether you’re a freelance social media manager or looking to hire a social freelancer, you need to know how much the going rates are.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about

  • freelance social media rates,
  • how to get a freelance social media management biz off the ground and
  • the skills a freelance social media manager should have.

Oh, and if you want to hear advice from our own internal social media team here at Hootsuite on how to become a social media manager, watch this video:

Bonus: Our free social media manager career toolkit includes resume, cover letter, and portfolio templates, along with a complete guide to social media job descriptions and frequently asked interview questions. You got this!

What is a freelance social media manager?

A freelance social media manager provides social media management services to businesses, organizations, or individuals on a contract basis. These social media experts are hired by clients who want to outsource their social strategy and execution.

Generally, freelance social media managers work with multiple companies and clients simultaneously.

Social media management freelance services commonly offered include:

  • Social media strategy
  • Creating and managing content calendars
  • Content creation (photography, design)
  • Content writing
  • Scheduling and publishing posts
  • Community management (engaging with followers, answering DMs and comments)
  • Analytics and reporting
Are you paid enough?

Download our Social Media Career Report for stats on social media manager salaries, benefits, job satisfaction, mental health, and more.

Get the report

How much do freelance social media managers charge in 2024?

Pricing your freelancing social media work can be tricky. You can’t simply do a 1-for-1 salary rate for what the average social media manager makes.

(That’s a salary of $67,585, with a $6,470 bonus, by the way. Thank you, 2023 Social Media Career Report, for the insight.) However, knowing this is a good way to get an idea of what your minimum rates could be.

If you want to make the same as the average social media manager ($35.60 an hour), you should be charging $35.60 plus your operating rates.

A more profitable way to calculate social media manager freelance rates is to consider all variables involved. You can base your social media management rate on your experience, value, business expenses, and your client’s budget and scope of work required.

Doing this takes more thought than aiming for the average, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Psstt: If you’re already making money as a social media freelancer, you can use this social media salary calculator to see how your total compensation compares to the industry average.

How to build a project-based rates sheet as a freelance social media manager in 5 steps

Step 1: Define your target salary and expenses

Take a look at sites like ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and Payscale to get an idea of what others with similar experience make and use this as your target salary.

Then, cost out your operating expenses and the time it takes you, on average, to complete the services you will offer. Break down how long it takes to complete each part of the service, including any subtasks. Don’t forget about client communication time!

Step 2: Calculate your ideal hourly rate

Next, add your target annual salary and your operating expenses. Divide that number by 50* to see what you should aim to earn per week. Then, divide that number by 40, your weekly hours. Now, you have an hourly rate to use.

*We know there are 52 weeks in a year, but c’mon, freelancers deserve vacation time too!

Step 3: Consider project rates

But hold on, you won’t want to come to clients with an hourly rate. You’re going to want your default pricing model to be project rates. This is because project rates remain the same no matter how fast you work.

The faster you get, and the better you use social media tools (like Hootsuite!) to save you time, the more profitable a project becomes. With hourly rates, you actually make less as you become more efficient.

Step 4: Build out your rates sheet

Once you have all of your ducks in a row, you can multiply your hourly rate by the estimated time to completion for your services.

Boom! You now have a project-based rates sheet for everything you are going to offer.

Step 5: Schedule a discovery call

Sometimes, clients come to you thinking they need one simple thing, like content creation. But they’re missing the building blocks to make that one service possible, like an Instagram strategy. To avoid throwing out a quote that you have to later rectify, it helps to know exactly what they need.

Discovery calls allow you to ask questions about the client’s business model, target customers, marketing budgets, KPIs, and any history of working with freelance social media managers to uncover potential red flags. It also helps the client get to know you and confirm you’re a good fit for the job.

9 skills that a top social freelancer should have

If you want to follow the freelance path, you’ll need to cultivate entrepreneurial skills on top of your social media management expertise.

You may be great at getting results for your clients, but you’ll struggle if your business processes aren’t solid.

Here are nine skills you should hone if you want to become a successful social media manager.

Content writing

A good caption goes a long way in developing an engaged community, helping your posts get seen, and developing your brand voice.

Freelance social media managers should be good at copywriting and editing, as the most effective social media posts are short, snappy, and witty.

Tool recommendation: Use Hootsuite’s OwlyWriter AI to generate captions for you and save yourself time.

Content creation

A freelance social media manager wears many hats, and content creation is no exception. You’ll likely be expected to create graphics, TikTok videos, or photography.

Whether you’re recording videos for TikTok or taking photos for Instagram, you need to know how to create eye-catching visual content. Each social media platform has its own image and video specs, so make sure you’re creating content that fits.

Tool recommendation: Canva makes design super easy with templates tailored for social media posts.

Source: Canva

Community management

There are a lot of people interacting with a brand’s social media pages. From DMs, comments, and reviews, a social media manager may be expected to reply to each message.

It’s time-consuming, and many brands outsource this aspect of social media management.

Good community management means:

  • being organized and meticulous (ensuring no customer service issues are missed),
  • following the brand’s tone of voice guidelines and
  • having genuine interactions with the community.

Tool recommendation: Hootsuite Inbox lets you manage all your social media messages in one place. You can track an individual’s communication history across all of your brand’s social accounts so you can give them personalized replies. You can also add notes to customers’ profiles and track response times and CSAT metrics for your reports.

Analysis and reporting

This is a big one. Social networks supply a lot of data, and your clients will expect you to be able to collect and analyze it. You need to be able to sort through the numbers to find actionable insights.

You’ll likely need to provide a monthly report to show your clients the results of your campaigns. (Psst, here’s a free social media report template.)

Your social reports should outline the results of your work, highlighting audience growth, engagement rates, reach, and direct sales/conversions, if applicable.

Tool recommendation: With Hootsuite Analytics, you can track the performance of all of your social channels in one place and create custom reports on key metrics for your clients.

Presentation and sales

Working freelance means pitching and selling your services to potential clients. This is probably a skill you didn’t need in your corporate life as a social media manager, but it’s vital as a freelancer.

If that sounds stressful, don’t worry. Like most things, this part will become more comfortable with practice.

Tool recommendation: Google Slides. Create a few templated, professional-looking decks you can have on hand to send to prospective clients. Be sure to include a rates sheet, a pitch deck, and a few case studies you can easily tailor to the job you’re trying to win.

Source: Google Slides

Client relationship management

Improving your relationships with your clients can grow your business. If your clients like working with you, they’ll continue to send work your way. They may even refer you to other potential clients.

That’s why building and maintaining client relationships is crucial to being a successful social media manager.

And while your current clients are important, you want to pay attention to other relationships, too. Keep tabs on potential and past clients and let them know if you have availability.

Tool recommendation: Individual freelancers rave about Zoho CRM as an easy-to-use tool. It’ll help you keep your clients taken care of. But when you’re first getting started, you can even use something as simple as a Google Sheet to keep track of potential clients in your sales pipeline.

Source: Zoho CRM


Social media managers need to have their fingers on the pulse of the latest trends. This can mean everything from memes to current events. Without this perspective, social media campaigns can look outdated or not relevant.

Tool recommendation: Hootsuite Streams is a social listening and monitoring tool. You can set up custom feeds to pull in social posts related to your industry, keeping you up-to-date on every important conversation.

Project management

Organization is another crucial skill for freelance social media managers. Not only do you need to manage content calendars, but you also need to keep track of your own business.

You’ll need a social media management workflow to ensure assets are delivered on time and approved by your clients. You’ll also need a process to ensure your invoices are getting delivered and paid.

Tool recommendation: Zoho, mentioned above, also doubles as a project management tool. But if you’re looking for ways to manage multiple content calendars, then Hootsuite should be your number one. Hootsuite also allows you to set up approval workflows within the platform.

Marketing and strategy

Understanding marketing strategies and how they will impact your social media campaigns are non-negotiable skills. You may be responsible for creating or following a social media marketing strategy.

Every social media post needs careful reflection on how it helps grow the client’s business. Strategic thinking turns a social media post into engaging content.

Tool recommendation: Hootsuite’s free social media strategy template will help you create winning strategies for your clients in no time.

Source: Free social media strategy template

Want to upskill further? Try these courses and resources for social media.

How to become a freelance social media manager in 2024

Okay—your social media skills are polished, and you’re ready to make the leap. Here’s a step-by-step on how to become a freelance social media manager.

Step 1: Set up your business

Before you can work as a freelance social media manager, get clear on what you need to do to set up your business.

This will vary depending on national and local laws, but may include:

  • Deciding which type of business you should register. This may be as a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company.
  • Choosing and potentially registering your business name, which needs to be unique. Check trademark databases if you want to trademark your brand in the future.
  • Registering for a tax number. Not all freelancers need one, so be sure to research the criteria for your situation.
  • Getting an annual business license. Again, not all freelancers need one, so do your research.
  • Creating a business bank account. Optional, so check with an accountant.

Along the way, you might want to consult with a tax professional to determine how much of your earnings you should set aside for taxes. They may also be able to provide advice on which business type would best suit your needs.

Create a business email and social media accounts. At the very least, reserve the handles for your business name, in case you decide to build them up later on. This will be useful when you start marketing your business more publicly and need to establish a brand.

Step 2: Build a portfolio

You will need a portfolio to show prospective clients the work you’re capable of.

There are a few different ways to showcase your professional portfolio. Some ideas include:

  • Building a website
  • Using your LinkedIn profile
  • Creating PDF files
  • Using a Google Folder to store your case studies

Just be aware that if you use PDF files or a Google Folder, you won’t be found organically online for your work. SEO matters!

If you’ve only worked in corporate roles, you can use projects and examples from those roles to build up your portfolio. Just make sure you focus on the social media marketing strategies you’ve contributed to and the results for which you were responsible.

Step 3: Price your services

Pricing your services is one of the most agonizing parts of freelancing, especially if you are new and unsure of a fair rate. There are many aspects to consider, including your desired salary, business expenses, taxes, and more.

We discuss how to price your services above, but if you still need clarification, reach out to fellow social media freelancers and build a network.

Step 4: Put yourself out there

Now comes the fun part: Freelance social media marketing for yourself. No matter how talented you are as a social media manager, you need to put yourself out there for clients to know you’re available as a freelancer.

Here are a few tried and true methods of marketing yourself:

  • Attend networking events. Don’t be afraid of trying ones outside of your industry, too. You might be the only social media manager at the merchandising conference, and that might be a good thing.
  • Post on LinkedIn. People on LinkedIn are already looking for business connections, so it’s the right place to market your services.
  • Join freelance social media groups. Be an active participant in these groups, not a fly on the wall.
  • Ask for word-of-mouth referrals. Ask past clients for testimonials and referrals; this is not the time to be shy.
  • Engage in content marketing. You already knew you’d have to create a social media strategy for your social media freelance business, didn’t you?

5 tips to succeed in freelance social media management

Your freelance business is up and running, but how do you stay on top of everything? By following these tips, of course.

Communicate with your clients

Good communication is key to building trust. And when your client trusts you, you’ll have fewer edits, more freedom to experiment, and generally better results. Don’t slack on those emails!

Don’t forget about your taxes

There’s nothing worse than a surprise bill in the mail, especially when it’s as big as your tax bill. Set aside a percentage of your income for tax season.

Use social media management tools to save time

Investing in tools can help you save time while working on social media management. And time saved = better profitability.

A social media management tool like Hootsuite, as a totally random example, allows you to schedule posts, create analytics reports, and respond to comments and DMs, all from one dashboard.

Build your network

There’s strength in community. When you’re a freelancer, you can’t tap a colleague on the shoulder with a question about a project or a client. That’s why you should build your network. Having like-minded folks you can ask about rates, processes, and projects will only make you more equipped and confident in your career.

Know mistakes will be made

Don’t let self-doubt or the fear of failure stop you from going after big projects and new clients. You’re going to make a few mistakes while you learn, and that’s okay. The most successful freelancers have tried, failed, and tried again.

Save time managing your social media presence with Hootsuite. Publish and schedule posts, find relevant conversions, engage your audience, measure results, and more — all from one dashboard. Try it free today.

With files from Sara Nguyen.

Are you paid enough?

Download our Social Media Career Report for stats on social media manager salaries, benefits, job satisfaction, mental health, and more.

Get the report

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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