How To Become a Freelance Marketing Consultant in 8 Steps

Updated July 21, 2022

Working as a freelance marketing consultant can be a great career path for individuals with an interest in marketing, helping clients and designing their own work schedule. Knowing how to create your market niche can help distinguish yourself from potential competitors.

In this article, we will discuss what freelance marketing consultants do, how to become a freelance marketing consultant and tips for succeeding in this career.

What is a freelance marketing consultant?

A freelance marketing consultant is a self-employed individual who creates and implements marketing campaigns, channels, strategies and related tasks for their clients. Freelance marketing consultants analyze a company's relevant data, such as engagement rates or sales numbers, to design, execute and revise their marketing efforts. Companies hire freelance marketing consultants to help them reach new audiences, keep existing customers and increase their revenue.

Related: 10 Types of Marketing Jobs To Explore

What does a freelance marketing consultant do?

A freelance marketing consultant's responsibilities vary based on many factors such as their target audience, marketing specialization and current clients' needs. Common duties for freelance marketing consultants include:

  • Conducting research on current market conditions and trends

  • Designing marketing proposals and strategies

  • Evaluating marketing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), such as return on investment

  • Building branding plans and designs

  • Communicating regularly with their clients

  • Billing accurately for their services

  • Increasing a company's digital presence

  • Creating marketing reports for clients that highlight data from past marketing campaigns and initiatives

How to become a freelance marketing consultant

Here are eight steps to help you start your career as a freelance marketing consultant:

1. Choose your niche

Defining your niche as a freelance marketing consultant helps distinguish you from your competitors. Some freelance marketing consultants define themselves by their specialization in a certain type of marketing or marketing skill set such as:

  • Content marketing

  • Affiliate programs

  • Direct marketing

  • Social media marketing

  • Copywriting

  • Digital advertising

  • Website or graphic designing

  • Lead acquisition programs

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

Some freelance marketing consultants choose to specialize in marketing for a specific industry, such as healthcare, technology or tourism. Other freelance marketing consultants become experts in certain marketing channels, such as video or email marketing. You may also choose to combine two or more of these approaches in defining your niche.

2. Develop knowledge and skills

Freelance marketing consultants require no particular education or certification. However, marketing consultants should be familiar with the current tools and trends of the marketing industry. You may also need to develop or hone specific marketing skills, such as content or social media marketing, depending on your experience level and chosen niche.

Aspiring freelance marketing consultants with little to no experience in marketing might benefit from taking online courses about the marketing industry, marketing tools, marketing skills and related topics. You might also consider pursuing a degree in marketing, public relations, communications, sales, business administration or a related field.

3. Define your audience

While your audience might change as you gather more clients, defining your target clients before beginning your freelance business helps you figure out how to tailor your networking and promotion efforts to those consumers. Your chosen marketing niche might also help define your audience. For example, if your niche is the food industry, your audience is likely restaurants, grocery chains or farms.

An important part of deciding on your audience involves differentiating yourself from your competitors. Research the competition in your area or field and see if there is perhaps a market need those competitors are not currently fulfilling. If you notice, for example, that lots of freelance marketers specializing in copywriting target the transportation industry, consider providing copywriting for the finance industry.

Read more: How To Find Your Target Audience

4. Design a website

A professional website allows potential customers to find, research and contact you. Your website should detail the marketing services you offer and show how you can provide value to your prospective customers. If you have previous marketing experience, whether freelancing or through a larger company, summarize those experiences on your site, including data such as KPIs. Your website should also mention any of your relevant education or certifications.

5. Create your portfolio

A marketing portfolio provides samples of your previous marketing work. You should try to include samples of all the marketing skills and services you provide, be those web design, digital ads or SEO. Your digital portfolio demonstrates your relevant marketing skills to businesses and helps give them a better idea how you can provide value to their company.

If your previous work is not confidential, you might include portions of your portfolio on your website. If your work is more confidential, consider creating a secure online portfolio that prospective clients can only access through a link.

If you do not have previous marketing experience, create a portfolio of marketing content from your freelance business, such as blog posts or logo designs. You could also offer friends and family discounted rates on your marketing services in exchange for permission to include what you make in your digital portfolio.

Read more: How To Design Perfect Marketing Portfolios

6. Set your rates

While your rates might end up varying between clients, decide on starting rates before launching your business. Research your competitors to get an idea of the rates for freelance marketing consultants with similar skills, experiences or specializations. Try to set your own rates accordingly based on your experience, niche and knowledge as a marketer.

7. Network to build your client list

Since freelancers obtain their own clients, it's important to learn how to network with both existing and prospective customers. Here are some networking strategies for freelance marketing consultants to consider:

  • Engage online. Join online forums, groups or social media channels relevant to your target audience. Contribute meaningful content to these platforms, such as marketing tips. Taking part in relevant online conversations helps to establish your credibility as a marketing consultant.

  • Stay in touch. Some clients may come to freelance marketing consultants with one specific project they'd like marketing help with. Attempt to stay in touch with all of your clients, even those that approach you with single transactions. These clients may have more projects in the future or be able to provide you with referrals.

  • Attend events. Find events where your target clients are likely to attend, whether in person or online. For example, if your marketing niche is the technology sector, considering visiting a technology exposition. Attending events related to your marketing niche helps show potential clients your willingness to dedicate time and effort into creating successful marketing campaigns for their businesses.

Read more: The Benefits of Networking: 14 Reasons To Start Your Network

8. Look for jobs

Besides building their brand and networking, freelance marketing consultants can seek out and apply for jobs directly. Create an email alert for relevant job postings online so that you can respond in a timely manner to prospective customers. You could also work with a third-party vendor who helps match freelance marketers to prospective clients.

Tips for succeeding as a freelance marketing consultant

Here is our advice for building a successful career as a freelance marketing consultant:

  • Create consistent branding. Freelance marketing consultants should create high-quality and consistent branding not only for their clients, but for their own marketing business. Use the same logo, business name and color scheme on your website, social media channels and other physical or digital platforms where your business has a presence. Try to also use a similar style of writing in your content, whether you decide on a more casual or professional tone.

  • Offer a discount. Discounts can be a great way for new businesses to prove their value while obtaining future clients. Consider running a promotional period offering lower rates, providing free consultations or another special monetary offer to get prospective customers to try out your services.

  • Continue learning. A professional marketer should stay informed of recent developments in the marketing industry such as current trends, tools and strategies. Even after your freelance business is running, continue honing your knowledge and your craft. Consider earning a marketing certification, taking online classes, subscribing to a marketing industry newsletter and other tactics to further your professional development.

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