Megan Grant

How to Become a Social Media Manager (Even as a Total Newbie)

Published on March 21, 2020 by Megan Grant in Misc

Social media. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s not going away anytime soon, which is why everyone is trying to capitalize on it. Companies are hiring digital marketing people left and right, but you know why we’re here: to talk about how you can build your own social media agency. Keep scrolling to learn how to become a social media manager.

Psst! I have a YouTube video on this, too.

How to Become a Social Media Manager (From Scratch)

If you’re looking to build your own business as a social expert but don’t quite know where to start, here are a few basic tips to get you going.

1. Get Clear About Your Niche

In the beginning, you’re probably going to be so eager that you’ll take any freelance social media job you can get. This might feel manageable in the beginning but I can promise you that this will get old.

So, do this.

Sit down and make a list of niches/industries that you believe you would enjoy doing social media work for.

For instance, when I was first building up my digital marketing agency, I went after businesses and brands in the fitness and nutrition industries. I did this because I have a lot of knowledge in these areas and really enjoy them.

Of course, pick something that there’s a demand for. It’s great if you love crafting with popsicle sticks, but if there’s no social media need for it, then it’s kind of a moot point.

So yes, there are some stipulations when it comes to where to focus your freelance social media efforts on.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Megan Grant (@coachmegangrant) on

But do pick something. And don’t worry that you’re going to be limiting yourself. On the contrary, when you pick a niche to focus on, you position yourself to become an expert on that thing. I was able to land clients so quickly because I was a fitness and nutrition marketer and writer.

I didn’t do marketing for everything.

Because I was focusing on these areas, I knew the terminology, the lingo, the culture, and so on. Brands quickly trusted me because they could tell I was knowledgeable and had intimate familiarity with their specific field.

If you want to know how to become a social media manager. pick a niche!

2. Get Your Feet Wet in General Social Media… And Then Consider Specializing

Just as you want to get clear about your niche, you also want to get clear about the specific services you’re offering.

But let’s back up for a moment.

There are multiple (multiple!) ways you can offer social media services to your clients. For instance, you can specialize in:

  • A specific platform — Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Paid ads.
  • Video content.

But in the beginning, you’re probably not going to know what specific direction you want to go in. So, while you’re getting your feet wet, stick with offering basic social media management, where you do daily organic posting.

Get to know the ins and outs — the nitty-gritty — of each platform. Over time, you’ll find yourself gravitating toward something you enjoy more and are better at. For instance, some people end up choosing to specialize in paid Facebook ads. When you know how to leverage these, the return on investment (ROI) can be insane. Read: You can make a ton of money.

Even as you gain experience, you might still find yourself offering basic social media management to some of your clients, and that’s okay. But the point — just like choosing a niche — is to become an expert in some aspect of social media.

This will mean you’ll produce better results than your competitors and be able to charge significantly more.

3. Set Your Rates

Nothing makes you want to tear your hair out like trying to figure out what to charge people, eh?

Your rates are going to evolve and go up over time, and you might even determine them on a client-by-client basis. But when you’re trying to land new clients, you need at least a basic idea of what your rates start at and how you charge.

For instance, do your rates start at $500 a month? Or do you maybe plan to charge hourly? (Side note: Don’t ever charge per post.)

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Megan Grant (@coachmegangrant) on

Now, how do you come up with the actual number? Your rates should be based on (1) the value you bring and (2) the time the tasks are going to take you. Factor both of these into your prices. This isn’t about simply getting as much money out of your clients as you can.

That’s not how you build long-term relationships with brands.

It’s about determining a number that’s fair and makes sense for the both of you.

As you’re trying to land clients, don’t commit to a rate upfront. You need to gather enough information from them so that you can spend some time thinking about a rate that makes sense. Then, you go back to them with a proposal and what you’re offering.

(P.S. Don’t forget to put these very important money details in your freelance contract.)

4. Learn to Read and Understand Analytics

If you want to learn how to become a social media manager — and a successful one — you have to become a master of analytics.

This is immensely important, and yet it’s something that so many people end up dismissing.

I know that staring at numbers and data doesn’t feel like a very sexy, creative part of social media, but it’s non-negotiable. How are you supposed to know if your efforts and tactics are working if you’re not tracking and measuring the results?

This is what analytics are for.

Social media platforms offer their own native insights, and you should be using additional tools like Google Analytics for more in-depth information. Plus, if you end up using any kind of social media management tool (which you should — more on this in a few minutes) — than that platform will also likely offer analytics.

Read and learn to really understand what this data is telling you. It will be key in providing social media management services that get your clients the results that they want.

5. Learn Very Basic Graphic Design

I said basic!

No, don’t try to become a Photoshop expert. That’s what graphic designers are for.

As a social media manager, you need to know how to quickly throw together simple graphics. This is so that you’re able to post branded content on your clients’ pages. Here’s an example of what I mean.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Megan Grant (@coachmegangrant) on

This is nothing complicated, and it probably took me five minutes max. It’s because I keep it simple and also rely on the right tools.

And that brings me to my last point.

6. Pick Your Library of Tools and Programs

When you first start your agency, you’ll likely be operating on a strict budget — and that’s okay! Most tools you’ll need are available for cheap and even free.

But write this down: You WILL need tools.

Don’t be that person manually posting across all of your clients’ pages one at a time. It’s excruciating, unproductive, and horribly inefficient.

Even though my business does well, I’m still very frugal. I’m happy to invest in tools that offer immense value, but I’m very careful where I put my money. That said, here are some of my recommendations.

To Schedule Out Social Media Posts

For a free option: Hootsuite

When you have money to spend: Buffer or e-clincher

To Create Graphics

For a free option: Canva

When you have money to spend: Photoshop

Canva Homepage

To Manage Your Assignments

For a free option: Trello

When you have money to spend: I continue to use Trello for free! 🙂 Also look into Basecamp and Asana.

I want to be very clear: You can indeed make do with the free options. I use Photoshop daily but Canva is awesome. The only bone I have to pick is with Hootsuite. The platform is stupid glitchy and it’s hardly evolved over the months and years. No bueno for an industry that changes literally by the day.

Plus, the free plan only allows you three social profiles. You will quickly outgrow this.

You’ll be fine if you start with the free plan but once you’re ready to upgrade, I strongly recommend you compare your options.

Becoming an entrepreneur is more within your reach than ever before. And truly, the only boundaries are the ones you set for yourself. Follow the tips above and you’re on your way to becoming a freelance social media manager.

Ready to bring in new business? Get my free guide to optimizing your LinkedIn profile so you can land high-paying clients.