Freelance Digital Marketing: 5 Most Profitable Skills

Freelance digital marketing is no joke.

On Upwork alone, there are a reported 12 million freelancers that earn over a combined $1 billion a year.

As 2020 exposed, modern day commerce is increasingly relying heavier on digital marketing to launch and sell its products to the market.

The opportunities are here to build yourself a significant income by becoming well versed in digital marketing.

The following are arguably the five most important skills to master moving into the coming year. While committing to one and becoming an expert in it can be lucrative in itself, having a base of knowledge in all five will pay dividends in the coming years.

Because of the integration within each of these disciplines, being able to speak to the different concepts and principles of each one can be a huge benefit when working as a freelancer.

While companies hire experts for their “speciality”, there’s an increasing need for freelancers who understand multiple aspects of the “sales continuum”.

The more of these skills you can become competent with, the more likely you’ll earn a significant income going forward.

1. SEO (Search engine optimization)

Some things seem to always remain the same.

Such as the importance of ranking on the first page of Google search results.

Organic searchers (i.e. potential customers) rarely even make it past this first page. Nowadays, paid search results take up a significant portion of these SERPS (search engine results page) making it imperative to optimize SEO with the goal of making it to these coveted spots.

Google ranks sites based on hundreds of factors such as keywords and number of backlinks.

Google also continually adjusts their algorithm.

For example, the Panda update triggered changes that decreased the effectiveness of the “spammy” type of SEO tactics that forced low quality pages up the rankings. This made way for an increase in “white hat SEO” to better comply.

Google even announced a change for 2021 that will attempt to improve the user experience for its top ranking websites.

SEO principles also apply to sites like YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay, which all require a similar level of keyword targeting and meta optimization.

This makes SEO a critical piece of a companies digital marketing strategy.

But figuring out how to rank high on search results is only one key to a successful digital marketing campaign.

SEO also allows a company to analyze how consumers are specifically searching for a particular product or services. This includes specific combination of keywords, seasonal trends, and local searches.

SEO also crosses over into numerous areas of expertise.

Blog writing requires a deep understanding of the latest in SEO optimization. Web designers often offer or are requested to include SEO tools and optimization for clients. Small businesses need traffic to maintain a steady stream of client work throughout the year.

Basically, SEO is super important and it pays to learn all you can about it.

In 2018, SEO professionals earned an average income of $81,103.

That’s significantly more than the average U.S. account makes (just saying).

Understanding even the basics of SEO gives a freelancer an advantage when it comes to most digital marketing work. You don’t have to become an expert but understanding the intricacies of it can help you land lucrative jobs within the freelance space.

To be truly well versed in SEO, you’ll have to become somewhat immersed in the technical side of it. Luckily, there are plenty of quality tools that does most of the analysis for you.

Here’s a beginner’s list:

2. Copywriting

Copywriting has been around as long as people have been.

Alright, perhaps a bit dramatic.

But “Sales Copy” is one of the most sought after skills in the digital marketing space.

If you learn even the basics of successful copywriting, you’ll inevitably begin to dissect sales copy that you encounter.

And you know what?

Most modern copywriting efforts are absolute trash.

Seriously, spend just a few hours studying some of the more successful copywriters around and you’ll begin to notice how most companies emails, sales pages, and Facebook ads don’t even nail the most important fundamentals.

That’s where freelance digital marketing experts like you (or soon to be you) come in.

The beauty of digital marketing today and in the future is this: companies don’t care who you are or even what “experience” you may have.

They care about sales. Period.

So if you can increase their sales, they will pay you lots of money.

Of course, you won’t become rich by being an “average” copywriter. No, you need to understand other aspects of being a successful freelancer such as finding clients and mastering the “dreaded” cold call.

But if you can master those two factors, your ability to generate income relies mostly on you.

3. Email marketing

No, email marketing isn’t dead.

As I’ve discussed before, it is actually very alive and very well.

You see, email marketing may seem a bit “old fashioned”. But that’s a faulty theory when you consider the number of individuals that check their email on a regular basis.

Email marketing allows for a type of reach with the customer you simply can’t get with other marketing tools.

A user’s inbox is a “comfort zone” for many. It is where they allow companies to enter in and give their best pitch for their latest products or services.

Unfortunately, many “pitches” get sent straight to the spam folder or dumped into the trash. Successful email marketers know the tactics and strategies to avoid these downfalls as well as how to increase clicks and sales.

Again, just like with copywriting, businesses don’t really care about much else if you know how to get people to buy from them.

And email is a tremendous way to connect with consumers.

So how do you take advantage?

Sending “broadcast” emails for a business or brand is the simplest way.

These are generally sent on a regular basis (several times a week or even daily) to someone or some businesses’ email list.

It keeps the customers or fans engaged, updates them with new products or services, and “warms” them up for future product or service launches.

Then, of course, sales emails are sent when applicable.

Successful email marketers often work on “retainers” (i.e. $2,000/month for 3 emails per week).

These types of deals generate continuous cash flow and can become a lucrative income if you sign up enough clients.

As with all “freelance” work, the income you generate will directly relate to what you offer.

If you can successfully promote a businesses’ product with an email campaign that generates $10,000 in sales, you’re more likely to be able to find businesses willing to pay you a fraction (20%) of that for your services.

4. Social media marketing

Social media has changed the way people communicate.

More importantly for you, its changing the way businesses market to its customers.

So much so, the opportunities to make full time incomes on social media alone has exploded with the influence of platforms like Tik Tok, Pinterest, and LinkedIn changing the game.

Many freelance digital marketing experts focus specifically on social media. You can make a full time income designing Facebook Ads or by promoting digital products on Twitter.

The barrier to entry into understanding social media itself is also nonexistent.

Most businesses don’t even understand the basics of growing an audience on social media. One of the obstacles is the differences between the different platforms, their specific audiences, and the way each algorithm works within it.

These are basics for active users but many businesses lack even this.

What’s the best way to get involved in social media marketing?

Become a user yourself and spend time interacting with others who understand the ins and outs of each platform.

Also, check out these resources:

5. Video marketing

As digital marketing evolves, the ability to grab a consumer’s attention does as well.

It should be no surprise that as customer’s attention spans decrease and the availability of content increases, digital marketing itself must evolve to capture clicks.

Marketers already report an increase in lead generation with video marketing. Video also allows for the ability to increase a customer’s understanding of a product or service in a fashion unmatched by the written word.

It increases brand awareness and engagement, especially on social platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

Video marketing is also one of the most accessible forms of digital marketing. You can view them on your phone, tablet, or smart television. And the potential for “going viral” leads to big upsides for a brand or company that is looking to attract new consumers.

Video marketing is a great niche to focus on within freelance digital marketing because the barrier to entry is bigger than that of copywriting or email marketing.

After all, while anyone can begin “practicing” their writing immediately with zero investment, capturing videos at least requires some equipment. This inherently limits the number of freelancers willing or able to get involved.

Any barrier of entry increases the need for a “specialist”: someone who specializes in a specific skill that others can’t replicate easily.

The great thing about video marketing is even your local small or brick-and-mortar businesses immediately understand what it is. While many are constantly playing catch up with the constant changes in SEO or social media platforms, everyone has a basic understanding of what video marketing can provide to the consumer.

To get started in video marketing, check out 21 video marketing tools you should know heading into the new year.

P.S. Continue building skills to master freelance digital marketing.