One of our amazing graduates Emel Rizwani hosted a webinar last night to talk about her journey to becoming a Social Media Manager and what a typical day in her life looks like.
After years working in property management, Emel took an extended career break as the hours were too long and inflexible to fit around her family. She signed up to our immersive social media training at the end of 2015 to kickstart a new, more flexible career for herself. She's been working as a Social Media Manager ever since.
If you've ever wondered whether the risk of going freelance is worth the reward or what the real earning potential of a Social Media Manager is, then give it a watch below! There was a Q&A at the end, which we've transcribed below so you can have a skim through if you're pressed for time.
Q: What can you expect as an hourly rate?
A: As with anything, it depends! I charge more now than I did two years ago. I don't work full-on 9-4pm Monday to Friday. If I worked as much as I could I'd probably bring home around £2,000+ per month. But you've got to think who are your clients. If you're working with sole traders, freelancers and start-ups you're going to earn a lot less than if you work with an agency where you can incorporate bigger fees. You've also got to think you can charge a lower rate for the steadier work and higher rate for campaigns here and there. It's entirely up to you once you graduate - who you talk to, who your leads are and how good you are at negotiating. Some months I've worked £600, other months I've earned £2,500.
Q: When starting off with a new small business, roughly how many hours per week would you work?
A: The key to that is determining at the beginning with the client how many hours they're willing to pay for. Get them to agree to exactly how much they're willing to pay for and then you do your best to stick with what you've quoted and if it needs to be adjusted then everybody knows it's fair. Again it's a 'how long is a piece of string' type question.
Q: I've got a strong background in digital marketing and website development, just not in-depth with social media and Facebook advertising. Is it worth me doing Digital Mums training?
A: 100% yes because that's what you'll learn. You'll learn Facebook advertising and Twitter advertising. You'll drill down into target audiences, who they are and what they're habits are and how to go about reaching them. You'll totally be building on what you already have. You'll be bringing it all together and be able to offer a really well-rounded package for clients. Absolutely you should do it.
Q: How do potential clients react to your Digital Mums training? For example, how many of them have heard of it?
A: I'd say loads have heard of it. If a client is already thinking they need help with social media then they've probably Googled it and heard about them. If the client is a mum themselves, chances are they've probably heard of Digital Mums. If your client is more corporate then potentially not. I've never heard anybody say they've come across somebody who said "Oh no, you're a Digital Mum, I don't want you." It's very much the opposite.
Q: Any advice on how to get set up to keep with the latest blogs / industry news / developments?
A: Yes, you'll learn all that on the course! But you can set your social media channels up already to follow the relevant ones. If you're on Twitter you can set up a Twitter list so you don't need to read through you're entire newsfeed. I sign up to a few industry newsletters, I use Blog Loving and I love it. Once you work out what you want in your feed, they'll send you a curated selection of articles.
Q: I'd be nervous about quitting my full-time job and diving straight into social media management. Do you think it would be possible to build up a social media client base and quit full-time work gradually?
A: You're absolutely not alone. I think it would be incredibly challenging to do the course while working full-time. And if you found the course really challenging then you wouldn't be in the best frame of mind once you graduated. If you have a client and you can't give them 100% you'll know it, they'll know it, it won't necessarily last very long and it won't then lead to the next client. Now I'm not saying you can't. One of the ladies in my cohort was a single mother doing the course while working full-time but my goodness it was hard!
You need to know yourself. Be really honest with yourself and whether you can manage it. I don't know what you're job is and whether you could negotiate different hours, but if you could cut yourself some slack on that full-time job then the rest of it would feel much more manageable.
Q: Did you ever use social media in your personal life before the course?
A: Yes. I think there is some research that said new mums are on social media more than teenagers in those first few weeks because you are stuck at home with a baby on the boob feeling a bit isolated. So that was me! I also lived abroad and had relatives abroad so social for us was a great way to keep those connections up. I'd never used Twitter, but I was on Facebook and I really liked Instagram. I didn't have LinkedIn before I joined the course. I was on social media and it was through social media that I found the course as Digital Mums targeted me on Facebook.
Q: Do many Digital Mums work for bigger corporates or mainly small businesses?
A: Both, any and all in short! I think when you graduate you think "I'm going to find some nice mums that do some kitchen table crafts and I'm going to empower them and it's going to be lovely", but you soon realise they don't have a budget. I think you test the waters, you build up some experience with smaller companies first before moving your way up. But there are many students who come from marcomms backgrounds who have those corporate connections already who can walk straight in It's exactly what you're able to make of it, to be honest,
Q: Do any DMs look for permanent jobs in social media?
A: Yep absolutely.
Q: Any advice for preparing for the DM phone interview?
A: Be yourself and be honest - they're not looking for perfection, they're looking for enthusiasm, an idea of how the online world works and that you're switched on enough to get it and not completely drown.
Q: I've signed up to the Associate Programme and am working with a B2B business, will I learn about B2C social media marketing too?
A: Yeah, absolutely. The practice is the same. You're going to ask them what's their objective, who they're trying to reach and you'll implement the same methods for both. You're at a massive advantage than somebody in the opposite situation. If somebody's only done more consumer-focused work it can be harder to move to B2B. Once again, it's really what you make of it. When you graduate, you might specialise in B2B and if you're desperate to break out then you can do that and find those leads. The world is not short of leads as everybody needs help with social media marketing, and that's why this is so good!
Q: You sound like you love your job!
A: I do! I did a degree in French - never use it - then fell into a job in property management, which took it's toll. Then when I had kids I didn't know what to do. I honestly thought about retraining as a barista.
I've truly enjoyed everybody I've worked on and worked with since. And then where I haven't enjoyed a job, I've got the freedom to say you know what, this isn't working because I work for myself and set my own hours. It's really empowering!
Q: Do you make the company work out their own personas or do you advise them?
A: Both. Sometimes you work with an established brand who already have them and other times with somebody who is new and don't have them. Everybody is different.
Q: Best way to find freelance work in this field?
A: Talk to people. Talk to people in your network, build your network out, talk to people about how their social media is going, follow digital marketing and social media feeds, go to conferences, make yourself known in the #DMCollective once you graduate. There's an infinite number of ways. You start talking to people and opportunities come up.
Q: Did you have Imposter Syndrome when you started out?
A: Yes! I remember one of my best friends loves to torment me reminding me of how much I doubted myself. I said to myself as long as I make enough money to cover the cost of the course and the laptop I bought, then it will have been worth it. And I can tell you I've covered those many-fold, in fact, I probably covered those within the first few months of graduating. You just have to get out there and do it!
Q: Do you have a website?
A: No. It's been on my to-do list forever but I haven't got round to it, I just refer people to my LinkedIn page.
Q: How did you get your first job?
A: Somebody I knew saw a tweet asking for help in a particular field they knew I worked in. Another time, a DM graduate was working with a digital marketing agency and they needed help. My next job I was at a conference and I was tweeting from the conference and somebody liked the way I was tweeting and asked to meet me for a coffee. After that, a mum at school has a business and they need support. And the people who I've worked with referred me to somebody else.