Social media jobs have never been more plentiful. They run the gamut from ads and strategy to content and community management.
However, most people limit their social media career choices to just content creation.
I’ve worked in several social media jobs (and even got a doctorate on the topic), so I can confirm options abound.
Let’s look at 9 ways to make money in social media:
- Community management
- Guides and courses
- Content strategy
- Profile audits
- Paid ads
- Live PR
#1 Community management
You manage brand audiences. This includes:
- Running surveys
- Running competitions
- Handling DM inquiries
- Responding to comments
- Running online communities (e.g., Slack, Discord, Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, Twitter Communities)
You’ll prepare monthly engagement reports so the brand can understand what people are talking about most often and how to improve its offerings.
This path is easier if you enjoy engaging with people.
How to get into this:
- Set up your online accounts on social media
- Join the types of communities you want to work in: parenting, gaming, web3, etc.
- Establish relationships with marketing managers, community heads, and founders — most likely to hire you
- Highlight community management experience on your CV
#2 Guides and courses
You create printed guides (e-books), slide decks, or video courses (online) to help people get better at social media management.
Your target market is largely founders and freelancers looking to get better at social media on a limited budget.
A course is a great way for them to level up and for you to get paid asynchronously.
You can also upsell 1-on-1 coaching, content strategy, and profile audits (more on these in a bit).
You’ll need to know:
- How to write, edit, and design compelling content
- How to promote your courses and guides online
This path is easier if you enjoy teaching.
- For video courses: Create an account on any online course platform like Udemy, Teachable, or Kajabi.
- Determine your course content: Will you focus on Profiles? Content? Ads? Pick one.
- Create and upload the content. Add subtitles and a transcript to videos for accessibility and easier skimming.
- Promote the guide or course through search, social, ads, affiliates, or partnerships (third-party websites, newsletters, and related podcasts).
- Get paid daily, weekly, or monthly.
#3 Content strategy
You help brands create better content for launches, campaigns, and content publishing.
You can do this freelance or in-house. You can also consult on just strategy or create the content as well.
You’ll need to create separate strategies for different platforms. What works on one platform may not work on another.
This path is easier if you enjoy writing.
Skills you’ll need:
- Copywriting: Writing good captions
- Planning: Creating content calendars
- Graphic design: Using Canva or other tools
- Automation: Scheduling content with different tools, like Planoly for IG and Pinterest and Publer ($) for the rest
Charge anywhere from US$500/mo and up depending on the client and their needs (number of channels, type of content, etc.).
#4 Profile audits
You help people spruce up their social media profiles. A bad profile can stand in the way of someone landing their next job or dream gig.
You can target executives, founders, and job seekers who want a better online presence.
- Optimize your own profiles across the platforms you’ll specialize in
- Create content around profile optimization and the dangers of inaction
- Add a simple link to book a Calendly call or purchase a profile audit (e.g. via Linktree)
- Charge a commensurate fee: I’ve seen prices ranging from $50 – $200+
- Just 3 audits each weekday at $50 per audit would net you $3,000/mo
This path is easier if you enjoy marketing, PR, or communications. Also great for former hiring managers.
You help other digital content creators grow their careers and businesses.
If you have lots of social media experience, you can sell consultations to your peers to help them avoid mistakes and grow their businesses faster.
This is easy to do online and can bring in easy income. You can also upsell tool sales as an affiliate (like I do with Publer) and guides.
This path is easier if you enjoy coaching and motivating people or have an HR background.
- Create a simple Calendly booking page and hook it up to your PayPal account
- Share daily content about how to build a social media business on LinkedIn and Instagram
- Connect and engage with other social media managers — DM them to understand their challenges
- Drive traffic to your booking page and get paid (here’s mine)
- Optional: Set up monthly coaching packages for recurring income, like I’ve done
#6 Research, insights, and analytics
You run large-scale surveys to determine how people feel about different topics and compile a report.
Your work will help (mostly large) companies to:
- Understand user sentiment g (e.g., voter sentiment on taxes, consumer opinions on new tech)
- Develop better products
- Predict consumer behavior
- Develop mystery shopper programs
- Build better brand and GTM campaigns
This path is easier if you enjoy statistics, marketing, or academic research.
- Highlight your research, statistics, or marketing analytics background in your CV and your online profile
- Apply to an insights firm or enterprise company — typically those in politics, consumer goods, or tech
- It’s extra helpful if you’ve run a few online polls yourself and compiled the results into a report
#7 Paid ads
You help companies deploy their ad spend across social media platforms.
Your job is to manage the money and ensure they get the most bang for their buck, measured in terms of reach, brand awareness, and conversions. 👇🏽
You’ll start off managing small budgets — $500/mo — and end up managing larger ones (up to $100,000/mo or more).
Companies are more willing to put you in charge of larger budgets when you have demonstrated experience.
You monetize from a percentage of the ad spend, a flat fee, or both.
In short, you’re being paid (quite well) to spend money.
This path is easier if you enjoy budgeting or e-commerce.
- Deploy your own money on a few ads to figure out what works. Take courses and watch YouTube videos to learn best practices.
- Run a few ads for a friend’s business to scale through paid ads. This will teach you how to handle other people’s money and give you a chance to create case studies.
- Advertise your services online through your website (if needed) and social media (especially LinkedIn)
- Create daily content around paid ads: How to deploy them, mistakes to avoid, etc. Share your learnings.
- Apply for freelance gigs, in-house jobs, or cold DM founders to pitch your services.
You host workshops and training sessions for corporate and government teams looking to level up their social media game.
You’ll be training teams on:
- Community management
- Reputation management
- Social media analytics
- Content strategy
- Social selling
- Paid ads
These gigs usually pay more than one-off consultations with solopreneurs.
You can upsell your services, books, and speaking engagements.
You’ll typically interface with marketing, PR, and HR leads who need to improve outcomes within their respective departments.
This path is easier if you enjoy teaching.
- Create a one-page website with your offering and prices
- Add testimonials and case studies from previous clients if you have them
- Do cold outreach to sales directors, PR heads, and marketing leads
- Do warm outreach to PR/sales/marketing professionals in your network
- Find out their needs and pitch your services
- Set up a date and time for training and deliver
- Always collect feedback for improvement
- Create case studies after every training session
#9 Live PR and reputation management
Some clients need someone to handle their social media comms in real time. Think celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile figures and brands.
You’ll quickly translate whatever’s going on in real life into social media content.
You’ll shoot and caption content on the go, and relate public feedback to the client as it comes in.
This is a fast-paced job and requires quick thinking and fast fingers, so ensure it’s suited to your personality.
You’ll be on call during odd hours, but the job can be deeply rewarding as you get to hobnob with high-profile clients and travel a lot.
This path is easier for former journalists and PR specialists.
- Practice live-posting — Twitter is a great platform for this, with IG a close second (through Stories)
- Build case studies by managing the social media channels of celebrities in your network
- Apply to work at a PR agency or offer the service as a freelancer
How to become a social media manager
If you’re interested in working as a social media specialist, there are some important skills, education, and qualifications you’ll need to have.
First off, you’ll need to be familiar with social media platforms, and comfortable using tools designed to post across multiple accounts.
It’s also important to understand your audience and their interests. This helps you create content that engages them and keeps them returning for more.
Creativity and communication skills are also essential. You’ll need to present familiar content in new and interesting ways and quickly decide how to handle sensitive topics.
When it comes to education, most social media specialists have a bachelor’s degree in subjects like public relations, communications, or business.
If you’re in school, pursuing an internship or other activities that showcase your skills can make you a more attractive candidate to future employers.
Finally, employers often prefer to hire people who have experience working in social media, public affairs, or a related field.
If you haven’t worked in the industry yet, learning about social media on your own and earning certifications can help boost your credentials.
And of course, the best way to learn social media marketing is to start and run your own social media accounts.
Questions to ask clients when taking on freelance social media jobs
Freelance social media management is a viable way to earn money, but you must do your homework before signing any contract with a client.
Below are some questions I advise social media professionals to ask new clients:
- Do you have any examples of content we should emulate?
- What platforms would you like to be active on?
- Is there anything I should avoid when posting?
- What’s your budget for the ads or campaign?
- Will I edit photos or will you do it in-house?
- How often am I expected to be on call?
- Will I take pics or will you supply them?
- Do you have a social media policy?
- What are your official hashtags?
- How many posts do you need?
- What equipment will I need?
- How often will we post?
These questions aren’t exhaustive, but they’ll help you deliver your best work for any client.
Final words on social media jobs
Social media is a vast and growing field, and building a social media career is a long-term game.
Salary ranges for social media jobs vary, but it all comes down to how hard you work, what clients say about you, and how savvy you are about promoting your services.
Keep these tips in mind as you navigate this journey:
- Ask for briefs: Know a client’s needs, brand guidelines, and tone of voice
- Stay updated on social media trends: Read reports and case studies
- Invest in your business: Budget for tools, training, and promotion
- Stay active on social: Pos content, run surveys, and test ads
- Always sign contracts: Get everything in writing
- Price yourself well: Don’t shortchange yourself
- Work with a mentor or advanced professional
- Test new platforms: Get a feel for what works
- Curate your feeds: Your work speaks for you
- Network regularly and build relationships
- Take breaks often: This job can be taxing
- Ask for feedback from users and clients
- Niche down — it’ll make things easier
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.