Staying Sane: 6 Tips for a Freelance Social Media Manager
Working as a freelance social media manager basically means you are juggling 5, 6, 10 or more hats at the same time. You need to come up with fresh and engaging ideas for posts and community activities, monitor performance and KPIs, keep up with the company and industry news, as well as know your Twitter bots from Facebook trolls. Here are a few tips for staying sane as a social media manager.
Manage time effectively
Assess how much time each project is going to take up within your day and/or week. Take into account the amount of social media platforms each brand you are working with has, how often you post, how much time the creation of each post takes on average, and how diverse the content is going to be. For example, are you posting similar content to each platform, or do you have to come up with a completely new concept for each and every post, without cross-platform news updates?
Since they are paid for results, freelancers tend to forget that emailing clients, getting to meetings, billing and other management tasks are also part of their work week. For example, staying up to date with your client company news is an important part of your job, so don’t be tempted to cram it in somewhere between waking up and breakfast. Moreover, your industry news update shouldn’t be an afterthought but an integral part of your schedule.
To stay sane, account for the amount of time you are spending on managing your time, projects, and schedule.
Keep track of your projects
Don’t just rely on the scheduling apps to help you out with all of your postings, as some of your clients will be using Sprout Social for their social media scheduling and monitoring, others - BuzzSumo or Buffer. You can also use separate folders for each project when working with online graphic design tools like Crello. Whether you track your projects in a desktop app, a Google Sheet or a default managing app on your phone, tracking is a non-negotiable.
Include post times, research and content creation schedule, an ideas tab, a brief brand voice guide as a reminder, as well as a list of upcoming tasks for each project. This will help you make sure you are not accidentally repurposing old content from a different project for a new client or using the same joke twice.
Log all your employers
A spreadsheet with all of your employers will come in handy when working (or considering) with companies you have previously dealt with. Here are some of the information bits that you can include in your file:
Start and end dates,
Project titles and duration,
Contact information (gets lost easier than one might imagine),
Preferred channels of communication (if you’ve been working freelance for a while, you probably noticed that tools that teams use to communicate vary - someone prefers Skype, others use WhatsApp or Slack; most likely, you’ll be expected to turn up at the preferred service of the rest of the team, so have you login info ready),
Notes (this can be your general impression of working with the company, brief outline of upsides and drawbacks to working, like “were late with payment”, “requested last minute edits”, “paid a bonus when bottom line exceeded planned numbers”).
Commit fairly large time slots to one brand at a time
Being a social media manager means speaking to your audience in the tone and voice of someone else. Moreover, you cannot convey just any mood you might have at the time of creating your content - you have to reflect the brand you are representing and their continued style of communication through the chosen social media channel.
Dedicate large chunks of time to creating content for one account to help yourself stay in the right brand voice and try to chunk together accounts that are similar in tone. Say, you are running a coffee shop account, an influencer’s insta, an agricultural firm, and a tattoo parlor. Group the coffee shop and the tattoo parlor, while depending on the type of influencer you are dealing with, you might even get away with creating content for the agricultural firm and… Just kidding, give yourself a time slot to breathe between those two.
Be a one-stop shop
As I was running out of advice points for you guys, I’ve decided to talk to my colleague, Crello’s social media guru and the voice behind all the social media accounts of the brand, Oksana Danshyna. I figured she would be able to provide me with a few pointers. And boy, was I right. Instead of a sound bite quote, I was in for a story, the gist of which I’ll share with all of you cool The Luminary readers in the two paragraphs below.
“Speaking of coffee shops, imagine walking into one asking for a cappuccino and the barista replies: “Order coming right up, could you please provide me with a coffee machine, coffee beans, water and a cup though?” That’d be pretty odd, right?” Oksana started. I couldn’t quite grasp what she was getting at at first, so she continued.
“When you are a freelancer, you are that one-stop coffee shop - you need to have every tool necessary to do your job at your fingertips,” she said. “Don’t rely on employers to provide you with their management tools as some of them might not have any at all and others will be using laggy or outdated ones. Find your preferred tools for content creation, account management and analytics, and rely on them. For example, you can use free Crello templates to create images for social media – they are instantly resizable, so you save time on creating graphics for each social media platform individually.”
My final tip is a pretty universal one – take breaks. Sure, being a freelancer means being your own boss, and one would think that’s a good thing with all the breaks you’ll naturally be giving yourself, but is that really the case? You are your own boss, true, but are you any good? Are you managing your projects and time efficiently and giving yourself well-deserved praise, bonuses and time off? The very least you can do is make sure you create a vacation schedule and stick to it.
You are responsible for your own productivity and staying in shape. Schedule time and activities to rest, unwind, renew your energy and take time to reminisce and just exist. At the end of the day, sometimes you are are trying to finish a task by the end of day, spend two hours with little to no result, come back the next day after a good night’s sleep and a tasty breakfast and ace the thing in a mere half an hour.
Mary Ivanova is a writer with degrees in psychology and political science. She writes copy for Crello, a graphic design platform for non-designers, and is eager to share all the cool design tips and tricks she’s learned from her team to make your visual content look more polished and appealing. You can find her on twitter.