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May 02, 2024

How to Start a Freelance Digital Marketing Side Hustle

If you have the necessary skills, all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a way to attract clients.

There’s nothing better than being your own boss — there’s autonomy, flexibility and the ability to earn an income. Some advantages to starting your own freelance digital marketing side hustle are that the overhead is low compared to many other business ventures and your customers don’t have to be tied to one location. You don’t have to rent an office or storefront, you don’t need to stock shelves with merchandise and you don’t need a permit from the city to set your sign out on the sidewalk. If you have the necessary skills, all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a way to attract clients.

In this post, we will discuss the key elements to consider when launching a digital marketing side hustle, including how much you can make, which digital marketing disciplines are in demand, how to establish yourself and how to get clients.

How much can a digital marketing consultant earn?

There are several factors that determine how much you can make with your side hustle. Experience, location, industry and business structure are a few factors, but in general, there is considerable money to be made in using your skills as a digital marketing consultant. The income potential varies by skill set, with average prices broken down in the sections below.

A digital marketing agency may charge anywhere from $150 to $300 per hour for their services. The costs of those services can be inflated by the fact that multiple employees are involved in any given project. So a client may be paying a premium to have two or three people on the payroll for any given task. As a consultant, you can charge a competitive rate and still make money because you don’t have to pay for employees or the overhead of running a fully staffed agency. As a consultant working directly with a client, you can earn anywhere from $25 per hour, if you are just starting out, to over $100 per hour, if you have senior-level skills and experience. 

In-demand Digital Marketing 

Social Media Management Consulting

Earning potential: Junior to mid-level: $15 to $50 per hour

Expert: $100 to $200 per hour

If you’re an experienced social media manager with a creative perspective and an ability to stay on top of social trends, your skills are in high demand. Good social media content with compelling posts and a high level of engagement requires an investment of time that many businesses don’t have or aren’t willing to devote to social media. That’s why outsourcing social media management to a social media consultant is an easy choice for many businesses. Social media management requires the creative mindset needed to brainstorm, design and execute content along with the more analytical skill set needed to manage a schedule, analyze results and make adjustments. It’s a dynamic job that can have a huge positive impact on a business if it’s done well and many businesses recognize that value. 

Bay-area social media consultant Dalilah Arja of couldn’t agree more with this sentiment: “After 10+ years working in social, I’ve found a new, exciting challenge as a freelance social media strategist. I get to work with clients that align with my personal and professional goals, all while enjoying the flexibility of shaping my career on my own terms. Overall, it’s both personally and financially fulfilling in a way that previous jobs couldn’t match.”

As a consultant, you should be familiar with and have experience with some combination of the following platforms and tools:

  • Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X, YouTube, LinkedIn 
  • Meta Business Suite
  • Hootsuite, Sprout, Loomly
  • Canva, Adobe Photoshop 

Search Engine Marketing (SEM/PPC) and Paid Social Media Marketing Consulting

Earning potential: 

Junior to mid-level: $30 to $50 per hour

Expert: $50 to $100 per hour

Search engine marketing (SEM), also referred to as pay-per-click marketing, and paid social media advertising continue to be highly productive channels for businesses of all types and sizes. As a result, it is one of the more sought-after skill sets and paid media consultants can command higher than average rates. With just one to two years of experience managing either of these channels, you have an in-demand skill that is tailor-made for a side hustle or full-time freelance gig. As an SEM and/or paid social consultant, you should have proficiency in some combination of the following tools:

  • Google Ads and Bing Ads
  • Meta Ads Manager
  • TikTok for Business
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Consulting

Earning potential: 

Junior to mid-level: $30 to $50 per hour

Expert: $50 to $150 per hour

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be highly lucrative. Where a business appears on a search results page can drive the success or failure of that business. Because search engines like Google and Bing keep the inner workings of their search algorithms private, most businesses don’t know what to do to improve their chances of appearing higher in search results. Many businesses are willing to hire an expert to assess and optimize their site for the chance to drive more traffic and increase sales. Success as an SEO consultant includes an understanding of these relevant tools:

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Trends 
  • WebPageTest, PageSpeedInsights

Freelance Email Marketing Consulting

Earning potential: 

Junior to mid-level: $50 to $100 per hour

Expert: $100 to $150 per hour

Email marketing can be a highly effective way for clients to reach customers, but many businesses need outside help to manage it efficiently. Building campaigns, segmenting customers, writing communications and designing templates take a great deal of time to execute. Hiring an email marketing consultant is an excellent solution for any business without a marketing team or a dedicated email marketing manager. To effectively serve clients, email marketing consultants should be familiar with these tools:

  • MailChimp, Drip, Constant Contact, etc.
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager

How to get digital marketing clients

Freelance marketplaces 

One way to reach customers and share your experience is through online marketplaces designed to connect freelance or independent consultants with clients looking for specific services. Upwork, Fiverr and Markethire are examples of marketplaces where you can create a profile and connect with clients. These sites can help you reach clients when they need you, but they can also cap your earning potential. 

With an open field of freelancers from around the world competing for similar gigs, individual rates on freelance marketplaces can vary widely. You may find that the rate you want to set is easily undercut by others in the marketplace. You often have to pay to join the platform or pay a percentage of the earnings you make to the platform. The autonomy of having your own business is also offset by the fact that the platforms have their own set of terms and can change prices, formats or business models at any time. 

These marketplaces are a great way to find one-off projects with specific timeframes or scopes of work, but they aren’t necessarily a great way to build a long-term client relationship. Having full control over sourcing clients is the best way to reach your full earning potential. The most effective way to do that is with a custom domain, professional website, social media profiles, and a custom email address.

Value of a professional online presence 

Because digital marketing side hustles all exist within the digital space, the best first step to establishing your business and attracting customers is to create your own custom web presence. A custom domain, branded website and matching email address are the best way to convey a polished, professional brand. As an independent consultant with only one employee, a well-executed website can convey credibility and experience. Even if you focus your marketing efforts on local connections, word of mouth or social media, you still need a home base that can act as your digital storefront. A website is a great place to tell your story, emphasize what sets you apart and prove your experience. 

Custom domain name and email address

Start with a memorable domain that conveys your business or brand in as few words or characters as possible. Consider top-level-domains (TLDs) that can help you tell your story and claim a custom domain that matches your brand exactly. For example, TLDs like .pro, .consulting, .agency, .marketing  and .digital could be a great way to convey your experience or industry. Once you’ve registered your domain name, a custom email address only takes a few minutes to set up and it makes a big impact on your professional appearance.

Customized website

Your website is your opportunity to showcase your business. First impressions count, so make sure to include anything that conveys your experience or expertise. As a digital marketing consultant, you are the face of your business, so you need to tell a compelling story about your background and your business. Important  elements for your site include:

  • An ‘About’ section that serves as your resume, with information about relevant past experiences and achievements. 
  • A ‘Services’ section that explains exactly what services you can provide prospective clients. Consider including the tools and platforms you prefer to use. If you specialize in a specific industry, the Services section is a good place to explain.
  • Testimonials and/or client/customer logos.
  • Some combination of a form, phone number and email address that can easily be found so that prospects can reach out and learn more.

Optional elements to consider:

  • Rates and an engagement overview where you explain how you work with clients. For instance, are your engagements project-based or hourly. While many consultants choose not to disclose rates on a public facing website, you may find that publishing your rates helps filter out prospects whose budget may not align with your fees. 
  • A blog where you publish thought-leadership content about your area of expertise. A well written blog post can help establish your credibility and bring in valuable organic traffic to your website.

Launching your digital marketing side hustle with

Find the domain that gets you found and launch your business online, all with tools that make every step simple. At you can build a cohesive and memorable brand, drive qualified traffic to your site, and create a secure, stable foundation for your business.’s platform is designed with solopreneurs and small teams in mind. You can find a short, memorable name that catches eyes and wins customers, develop your brand with trusted products like Wix and Google Workspace, and enjoy peace of mind as your business grows.


This article features information about rates and earnings potential for digital marketing agencies and freelance consultants. This information was researched from a variety of sources, including freelance marketplaces – Upwork, Fiverr and MarketerHire – as well as from digital marketing agencies which chose to remain anonymous. These rates are based on the US market and will vary based on a range of factors including experience and specific location.They are intended for informational purposes only and are subject to change.

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