3 Common Obstacles to Starting a Social Media Business and Why You Shouldn’t Let Them Stop You
Interested in using your social media skills to make money? Sign up for a free Brazen webinar with social media strategist Alexis Grant, author of How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business.
If you’re social-media-savvy, you’re staring in the face of opportunity; so many brands, both big and small, need help growing their online community.
But even if you know you want to use your social media skills to make money, it’s not always clear where to start.
Since launching my ebook How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business, I’ve talked with lots of young professionals who want to make this move, whether to earn money on the side of their day job or as a stepping stone to working for themselves full time. Those who are held up often feel stymied by the same issues.
So let’s talk about those popular obstacles and how to overcome them:
Obstacle #1: Deciding which services to provide
Social media consultants run the gamut, from coaching clients to creating strategies to actually implementing those strategies. Others run classes or webinars, and others sell products that help clients help themselves. Which type of services do you want to provide? Where on this spectrum do you fit in?
A big part of this is deciding who to target. Saying you’ll “work with anyone who needs it” may keep you from closing any doors, but also deprives you of finding a niche — and that’s usually where the money’s at.
If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. Target clients by topic — travel, for example, or finance — based off your skills and interests. Or target by type of client, looking to work with non-profits, for example, or individual writers.
Once you’ve got this down, create a page on your blog about your services (here’s an example). Even if you don’t include prices on your site, being clear about what you offer will go a long way.
Obstacle #2: Figuring out what to charge
This is another piece that varies drastically, which is why it can be difficult to pinpoint how to approach it. How much you charge depends on your experience, what you’re offering and what the client can afford. Recent college graduates charge anywhere from $20-$100/hour.
For your first paying client or two, try to find a happy medium between how much you think they can afford and how much you’d like to make. Lean toward affordability at first if landing that client is essential to getting your business off the ground; you can always ask for more with your next client. In fact, transitioning to higher paid clients over time should be one of your long-term goals.
Also consider how many hours you’ll work for the client. If you’re working on an hourly basis, you can charge a fairly high rate for those few hours. If the client is retaining you month after month to implement their social media strategy, your hourly rate can be lower because you’re guaranteed a good number of hours. This second type of client — the recurring monthly client — is the best kind in my mind, because you know you’ll have that paycheck month after month.
Obstacle #3: Getting clients
Landing your first client could be the most difficult part of starting your own business — or, if serendipity is on your side, it could be the easiest.
The key here is to always be on the lookout for opportunities. Who within your network, or perhaps within one or two degrees of separation, could benefit from your skills? Which organizations that you’re involved with have a not-so-impressive online presence? Which businesses would reach their target demographic by making better use of online tools?
Pitch one of those brands, letting them know how you can help them reach their goals. But don’t expect to fill your pockets with cash from your first client. Instead, consider working for that client for free to gain experience, a recommendation and possibly referrals that will help you down the line. Once you’ve done a fabulous job for that client, it will be easier to land more.
If you’re past the point of working for free — and you should only work for free if it’s benefiting you significantly by, for example, helping you build your resume — the client search can be more challenging. In addition to going after possible clients, focus on helping them find you. Use your own online presence to market yourself, showcasing your value in this field so opportunities come to you. One of the best ways to do this is through a blog.
This is what I like to call “making your own luck.” The more value you provide online, the more people you connect with, the more you build your online community — the more likely that community will think of you when an opportunity arises that fits your skill set. If you continue to build that network and make it easy to find you, you’ll rarely be in the position where you have to look for clients.
What other challenges are keeping your from launching a social media business?
Alexis Grant, managing editor of Brazen Life and author of ebook How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business, is offering a free Brazen webinar on making money off your social media skills. Sign up to join us!
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