Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools and universities for Guide to Online Schools
So you’re a social media expert. You’ve got 1,500 followers on Twitter and are pushing 700 Facebook friends. You love to blog and you scour forums for new info, adding your commentary along the way, engaging in more and more conversations. Social media is your thing, and you’ve got it down pat.
But how do you make money off your social media expertise? A burgeoning field is that of social media consulting. These self-employed contractors handle the social media needs of larger companies looking to build an online presence. Many people want to be self-employed: contractors can choose their hours, who they work with, and where they work.
That said, it’s not always the easiest way to make a living, with stiff competition and a less than bountiful job market. This is especially true for social media consultants, as anyone with an internet connection can start a Facebook account and proclaim themself an expert.
The best way to distinguish yourself from the pack, and build an impressive portfolio, is to start handling social media accounts for friends and family on a volunteer basis. Create Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for the family business. Help out your friend’s band by promoting them on Twitter.
Companies want to see examples of past work before hiring a consultant; make yourself a strong candidate by deftly and successfully handling several volunteer projects with concrete numbers to demonstrate your expertise.
After building a portfolio, promote your services. Do so in a way that brands you a legitimate social media expert — and don’t stop with your Twitter bio. Start a blog to advocate strategies for your projects, critically looking at what you’re doing in light of recent trends. Or comment on someone else’s social media campaign, arguing for or against the points made in an online article about social media. Demonstrate that you’re smart, creative, and insightful enough to be an expert.
Landing that first paying gig can be difficult. To help yourself out, come prepared with concrete statistics, such as your Alexa ranking or Pagerank. If your potential employer doesn’t know what those are, even better — explain what the numbers mean, further proving yourself an expert, one in-touch with all the cutting-edge tools of social media.
Be aggressive and keep trying. Campaign for yourself in creative ways that show off your social media savvy. Have a gig in mind that you really, really want? Create Facebook ads targeted towards potential employers.
As you start to land consulting jobs, be aware of your accounting. You may charge companies through PayPal, or they’ll cut you a check. Make sure to keep printed copies of signed contracts, especially if they are completed electronically.
Keep track of your earnings, and be aware that the U.S. self-employment tax is currently 15.30%, though you may be able to take deductions for business expenses like a cell phone, computer, or internet service.
Above all, make sure social media is something you love before venturing into self-employed consulting. It may take long hours, low wages, and a lot of patience before landing even a remotely decent-paying gig, but if it’s truly what you want to do, the lean times will be well worth it.
Your comments are always welcome