The Unrivaled Guide to Starting Your Freelance Career in Digital Marketing

Written by Xolo
on September 05, 2022 17 minute read

Starting a freelance digital marketing business is always exciting. As a freelancer and specialist, you have complete control over how you handle your business. There are also several unique opportunities within the digital marketing space, so you can create a business that caters to your individual skills and interests. Use this quick guide to learn more about how to start your own freelance digital marketing business.

Get Started with Your Freelance Digital Marketing Career

Start by thinking about what skills you have to offer businesses and create a formal title for yourself. While choosing a specialization can help, many new freelancers take their careers one project at a time. Others choose to offer a wide range of services to a niche group of clients. After you have learned the specific skills you need to grow your business, begin building a digital portfolio and start securing clients. Here is a list of some popular digital marketing niches and titles you can consider to see which route suits you best:

  • Freelance SEO Specialist
  • Freelance CRO Specialist
  • Freelance SEM Specialist
  • Freelance PPC Specialist
  • Freelance Content Marketing Specialist
  • Freelance Programmatic Marketing Specialist
  • Freelance Media Buying Marketing Specialist
  • Freelance Affiliate Marketing Specialist 
  • Freelance Social Media Marketing Specialist
  • Freelance Email Marketing/CRM Specialist
  • Freelance Brand Marketing Specialist


Read on for detailed step guides to learn and become a freelance specialist in the most in-demand digital marketing areas in 2022:

How to Become a Freelance SEO Specialist

Search engine optimization, or SEO, helps push content to the right audience using a combination of keyword research, link building, website data structuring, and media outreach. According to Indeed, the average salary of a SEO Specialist in the UK is £33,671, or £19.66 per hour. Salary Expert estimates a SEO Specialist would earn €28,98 in Germany, €21,59 in Italy, and €28,83 in France.

Becoming an SEO specialist doesn't necessarily mean getting a certification because trying and doing will teach you the most, but having at least one when starting out can help you learn the fundamentals of how SEO works. If you need to learn the basics, try starting with a course like the one offered at Academy Europe or Google.

As a SEO Specialist, your skills and scope of work will revolve around 3 main pillars which are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Here are a few recommendations to help you learn more about each specific area. 

How to Learn On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO involves structuring each page so that it can easily be read by search engine web crawlers. Several elements within a website can be optimized to attract more traffic and boost rankings such as title, content, keyword optimization, alt tag, meta description, etc.

  • Essential On-Page SEO Factors You Need to Know - This guide by Search Engine Journal details all the factors of on-page SEO.
  • On-Page Ranking Factors - Moz has several guides outlining SEO topics. This article has a detailed infographic that can help you troubleshoot some common on-page SEO issues and provides tips for building better pages.
  • Free Online SEO Course - Semrush offers a detailed course on on-page and technical SEO. This course can help you prepare for Semrush’s exams and serves as a great way to brush up on your existing skills.
  • Keyword Research: This guide by Backlinko will help you get the hang of keyword research in SEO and you can start from there using keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, Moz, etc.

How to Learn Off-Page SEO

One of the strongest and also toughest elements of off-page SEO is building backlinks to your website from others, which signal Google about your authority and popularity on the Internet. The key is to learn best practices but it’s also important for you to learn underlying principles of the strategies like manual outreach, broken link building, skyscraper link building, etc. Here are some resources that you can use to learn about backlink as well as practical tactics to build links:

  • Off-Page SEO: What It IS & Why You Need It - This detailed guide from HubSpot offers several unique off-page SEO strategies and a helpful checklist.
  • The Strategy of Content Marketing - Offered at Coursera, this popular course teaches you basic content marketing strategies and how to build a professional brand online.
  • Backlink Management Course with Greg Gifford - This free course at Semrush offers several video lessons to help you learn the basics of link management.
  • The Ultimate Guest Blogging Guide and Toolkit - If you are a Digital Marketing Institute Power Member, you can learn a lot from this comprehensive guide and access several other resources to help you get started with off-page SEO.

How to Learn Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on ensuring search engine spiders can crawl, index, render your website and optimizing ranking factors like page speed, internal linking, mobile friendliness, etc. to make your pages and whole site more competitive on search results pages (SERPs). 

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide - Who better to teach you SEO strategies than Google? This complete guide helps you get started with technical SEO and details how your site content is reviewed by search engines.
  • What is Technical SEO? - Detailing how to improve SERP ranking, this technical SEO guide from Semrush is perfect for beginners.
  • Learn Technical SEO - This resource guide lists several articles and courses to help you perfect your technical SEO skills.
  • Become Great at Technical SEO - This CXL course teaches you how to “outrank your competition” and includes several on-page SEO strategies to help you optimize your ranking.
  • Run a Technical SEO Audit: technical audit is a big part of technical SEO which requires an in-depth analysis of the technical health of the whole website then diagnosing as well as prioritizing fixes to make it more friendly for search engine crawlers. Ahrefs’ 8-step guide is a great start for you to learn what elements will typically be involved when doing a technical SEO audit. 


Once you have a good understanding of a SEO strategy, you will need to build a portfolio of your work to show clients. Include examples of search phrases you have used to improve a website's ranking, technical audit and performance statistics in addition to any SEO projects you have done before both for real-life experiences or personal projects for your own website. 


How to Become a Freelance CRO Specialist

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, specialists focus on using analytics, testing programs, content management systems, and other tools to enhance conversion results on websites. Like many other digital marketing positions, CRO specialists often need to learn a little bit of everything to build a successful career. In addition to using their knowledge of SEO and website development best practices, they conduct extensive testing and studies to develop and implement new strategies, emphasizing the user experience. According to, the average hourly rate of a CRO specialist in the UK is €20.51. According to Payscale, the average salary in Germany is €58,000.

There are several conversion optimization training and certification courses available to teach you the skills you need to become a freelance CRO Specialist. Digital Marketer offers a Conversion Rate Optimization Expert certification program. Udemy also offers a 6.5 hour training program with a certificate of completion. If you would like to brush up on some individual skills, use these suggestions below.

How to Learn Digital Analytics

Digital analytics utilize tools like Google Tag Manager, Hotjar, and Adobe Analytics to measure the performance of a website or content. Get your ground up by learning from these courses or guides: 

  • What Is Digital Analytics? Definition, Examples, & Tools - If you are completely new to using digital analytics, start with this Amplitude guide.
  • How to Blend Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Analytics to Grow Better - This HubSpot's Guide teaches how to use digital marketing analytics and data to better understand user behavior.
  • Learn Google Analytics 4 and Google Tag Manager: Analytics tools like GA4 will allow you to track visitors’ engagement and behavior on your website, helping you understand their activities as well as drop-off points on the entire digital customer journey. A good combination of learning to read GA4 reports and do basic configurations from Google Tag Manager will do a lot for your analytic technical knowledge.

Besides learning key principles of marketing analytics, a good practice is to learn important tools to track CRO analytics like mouse tracking, visitor recording, click map analysis, etc. If you intend to work in CRO, chances are you’ll need to know how to use and extract insights from them.

Learn the Basics of UX Design

UX design works to create a meaningful experience to each visitor. By focusing on usability and function, you can improve the overall effectiveness of a website.

  • How to Learn UX Design (7-Step Guide) - This straightforward guide by CareerFoundry is packed with resources and is a great starting point.
  • UX & UI Design Courses at DesignLab - Professional courses at DesignLab can help you learn a wide range of skills. The Foundations beginner course teaches students key concepts, while UX Academy is designed to help you build a stronger UX/UI portfolio.
  • Google UX Design Certificate - This training course led by Grow with Google requires no previous experience and emphasizes user interactions.


Learn CRO tactics and strategies

To become a CRO Specialist, you need to fully understand how users interact with content. Conducting extensive research and understanding statistics can help you create content people are more likely to interact with. 

  • CRO: Conversion Research Methods - This general overview of research strategies can help you learn how to use specialized tools to collect data. Learning to develop CRO workflow, iterate with learnings and experiments are important to improve the conversions. A good practice is to read different case studies on how startups and companies work to improve their conversion numbers. After you’re read many of them and understood the pillars of CRO, you can build yourself a big log of CRO tactics which you can use for your freelance job, basic ones like to use exit pop-ups, put key messages above the fold, use UI images for better interactivity, make it easier for people to try the product and see values, etc. They can seem very simple but understanding the logic and psychology-driven rationale behind them will help you come up with many great CRO ideas. 
  • An Introduction to A/B Testing and Optimization - A/B testing is the key to resolving UX issues and improving website performance. A big part of CRO is to run experiments to test different hypotheses and improve the performance of online elements and experiences. This detailed guide by Dynamic Yield will walk you through the thought process of running tests and make informed decisions from the tests’ results. Making the wrong decisions can cost your client lots of money in the long run so understanding concepts like statistical significance, probability to be best, A/A testing, etc. will go a long way. 

How to Become a Freelance PPC Specialist

Pay-per-click marketing is strategically planning and optimizing advertising campaigns to drive web traffic. As a PPC specialist, you will want to leverage your excellent writing and research skills to get traffic to your landing pages. According to Search Engine Journal, the average salary is between €37,900 and €67,330 in Europe. This is an hourly rate of up to €33.20.

Much like SEO and SEM specialists, the steps to become a freelance PPC specialist start with education. recommends starting with a Google Ads Certification to learn more about Google's search, display, shopping and analytics features. You should also consider exploring the Facebook Blueprint Certification Program. Some additional skills to work on include writing effective ad copy, Google AdWords, and landing page development.

How to Learn Ad Writing

With a limited amount of space, PPC Specialists need to know how to make the most out of a few words so making them killer and converting is the top strategy. Learn how to write effective ad copy by these resources:

  • PPC Ad Copy 101: How to Write Compelling Ad Copy that Converts - This guide teaches you how to write pay-per-click ads that grab attention.
  • How to Write an Effective Ad Copy That Get You Your Potential Customers - Neuroflash’s guide details the basic components of each ad.
  • PPC University - This free course by WordStream covers the basics of PPC, finding the right keywords, and writing great ads.

How to Learn Google Ads

In addition to getting a Google Ads Certification, you should maintain a strong understanding of how AdWords works.

  • How to Use Google Ads for Your Business - If you haven’t gone through the certification process and have little or no experience working with Google Ads, this beginner’s guide is a good starting point.
  • The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads - Another excellent HubSpot guide that details all the components of Google AdWords and best practices.

How to Learn Landing Page Development and Design

Sending traffic to the right place is crucial. While writing engaging ad copy and placing ads effectively will get you traffic, you need a well-designed landing page if you want to convert your traffic into sales or leads.

  • How to Create a Website - If you don’t have any experience building landing pages, start here.
  • Your Guide to Creating High-Performing Landing Pages - Neil Patel offers a wide range digital marketing tools and training courses. This guide offers several creative tips anyone can start using right away.
  • Learn to Code - Once you're done with the basics and want to advance your skill set, you can learn to code your website to make it truly unique even though it isn’t compulsory because usually you’ll get lots of help from developers in the team. Coding is rarely a compulsory skill but will give you lots of edge especially if you'll work as a freelancer and manage lots of things by yourself. W3Schools offers a range of tutorials to help you practice and perfect your HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, and SQL skills. 

How to Become a Freelance Social Media Marketer

Social media marketing, or SMM, has become a very broad category and there are several ways to create a successful career as a freelance worker in the industry. According to Prospects, social media managers in the UK can earn up to £25 per hour. Glassdoor reports Social Media Managers in Germany earn an average salary of €44,294, €41,524 in France, and €31,307 in Italy. Most social media marketers or managers work with businesses to manage accounts on multiple platforms, but they can specialize if they choose to. For example, some specialists excel at creating Instagram or TikTok content.

One of the crucial steps to become a freelance digital marketer is education. Many universities offer digital marketing or communications programs that emphasize social media and expose students to best practices. Hootsuite offers a very detailed guide on getting started as well as certification programs and tools.

There are several skills you can work on to be a successful social media manager. In addition to management tools, you should also consider learning graphic design and influencer marketing.

How to Learn Social Media Management and Organization

Learning the best ways to structure content and how to oversee multiple accounts at once is crucial for social media managers.

  • Social Media Marketing Course - Online Marketing Institute offers a beginner-level course to help you learn about the main social media platforms, how to gain engagement, and best practices for publishing content.
  • How to Effectively Manage Multiple Social Media Accounts - This guide from Digital Marketing Institute describes how to manage multiple users and accounts effectively.
  • The Top 15 Tools for Managing Social Media Accounts - Use this helpful list to find several tools designed to make your life easier.

How to Learn Graphic Design

While not a necessary skill, learning basic graphic design skills can help you build better content. Most social media is visual and you need to be able to grab people’s attention.

  • A Step-By-Step Guide to Designing from Scratch - Canva offers several design tools social media marketing managers can take advantage of. This how to guide can show you some basic design strategies.
  • How to Design Graphics for Social Media Like a Guru: Tutorials & Tips - Graphic Mama put together a great list of resources for beginners.

How to Learn Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is leveraging someone else’s audience to gain exposure. Even if you don’t necessarily use influencers for product placement, learning the ins and outs of influencer marketing can put you at an advantage over other social media marketing specialists.

  • What is Influencer Marketing? The Ultimate Guide for 2022 - Start with this guide by Influencer Marketing Hub to learn how influencers affect social media.
  • Choosing the Right Influencers: The Metrics That Matter - How do you select the right people to work with? Use these key metrics by Forbes!



How to Become a Freelance Email Marketing Specialist

Email marketing is a great way to raise awareness for products and services. If you have the ability to write engaging ad copy, you should consider becoming a freelance email marketing specialist. Hourly pay can vary by location. For example, specialists in the UK make £16.67 per hour on average according to Talent. According to Salary Expert, email marketing managers make an average of €28.11 per hour in Germany, €22,00 in Italy, and €25.23 in France.

In addition to taking some of the certification and degree programs mentioned above, you should consider enrolling in some copywriting and design courses. This can help you learn how to develop unique content for your emails. You will also need to have a great understanding of email management tools.

How to Learn Email Writing

  • Email Writing Skills - Need to learn the basics of writing an effective email? This video tutorial by Canity is here to help.
  • Write Professional Emails in English - This Coursera course teaches a combination of email formatting, etiquette, and English grammar.

How to Learn Email & Newsletter Design

In addition to writing engaging content, email marketing specialists need to be able to put together a visually appealing email. These resources help you to better structure and design your emails to improve the likelihood that they will be read.

  • Email Copywriting & Design - This chapter covers writing, formatting, and designing an effective email.
  • How to Create an Email Newsletter - Learn the different components of an email newsletter to build better designs and layouts using this tutorial.
  • Use Mailchimp to Build an E-mail Marketing Campaign - Mailchimp is a popular tool for designing and managing emails. This 2-hour Coursera class teaches you everything you need to know.

How to Learn Mailing List Management

Building and managing a mailing list requires strategy and a lot of organization. Learn mailing list management strategies to help grow and maintain your reach.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Email List Management - Learn the basics of list management with this helpful guide.
  • 9 Killer Strategies to Build an Email List - Start developing your own strategies with this fast guide.
  • Email List Building 101 - Another excellent Udemy course , this 1.5-hour course walks you through building a mailing list, setting up automatic responses, and creating subscription forms.

How to Become a Brand Marketing Specialist

Brand marketing specialists work closely with businesses to help create a recognizable identity. This could include creating a logo, designing a website, or managing social media accounts. According to Talent, marketing specialists earn an average of £17.95per hour in the UK. Salary Expert reports an average hourly rate of €28.88 in Germany, €21.81 in France, and €19.08 in Italy.

The steps to become a brand marketing specialist can take longer to complete than other digital marketing roles. Most successful brand marketing specialists have a degree from a university. Oxford Brookes University, NEOMA Business School, Lund University, and many others offer master-level Marketing and Brand Management degrees. Some of the key skills you will use as a brand marketing specialist include project management, market research, and design. Some brand marketing specialists also find learning Adobe Creative Suite and social media skills can be an asset to the role.

How to Learn Project Management to Work as a Freelance Brand Marketer

Project management goes beyond coordinating tasks. Brand marketing specialists often need to organize large, strategic campaigns to stand out.

  • How to Run a Branding Project in 6 Steps - If you are starting to build a new brand marketing campaign, this short guide will walk you through the process.
  • Digital Project Manager Course - This 12-month course teaches project management strategies in depth as well as the technical and design skills needed to lead projects.

How to Learn Market Research

If you are branding a new product, you need to make sure it resonates with your target audience prior to releasing it publicly. As a brand marketing specialist, you will often use statistics and data analysis to make decisions.

  • How to Do Market Research: the Ultimate Guide - This detailed guide by Survey Monkey teaches you various types of market research and how you can take action to get the insights you need for your brand campaign.
  • Market Research Specialization - Offered by the University of California, this popular course teaches you how to plan research, develop questionnaires, launch surveys, and analyze results.

How to Learn Creative Design

After you know what your target audience wants, you need to develop a unique brand that captures their attention. In addition to out-of-the-box thinking skills, you will need to be able to design marketing materials that match your brand’s style.

  • Logo Design in Adobe Illustrator - Your brand starts with an eye-catching logo. Brush up on your Adobe Illustrator skills while learning how to develop professional designs in this Udemy course .
  • Define Your Company’s Singular Style with a Brand Kit - This extensive guide by Adobe describes step-by-step how to build a consistent and effective brand kit using their Creative Suite.

How to Determine Your Rates as a Freelance Digital Marketer

To set the right rates as a freelance digital marketer, you need to consider your experience level, the types of services you are offering, and the average pay for that industry. While you should always set your hourly rate to a pay level you are happy with, you will also need to stay competitive. Pricing your services too high or too low can deter customers from trying your services.

Use the salary estimates in the sections above as a starting point. To figure out the rate you need to charge your clients, you will need to add your hourly rate, production costs, and fees together. Next, estimate how long it will take you to complete each service. For example, if you are offering a service that will take 2 hours to complete and you want to net at least €25 per hour, you will need to invoice for €50 plus any additional expenses you may have.

Expenses will vary from person to person. If you need to use specialized software to complete your project, you may need to factor in a portion of your subscription costs. You will also likely have electricity, internet, marketing, and general office expenses. If you found your client using a marketplace that charges a fee, you will also need to factor that into your hourly rate.

How to Find Clients as a Freelance Digital Marketer

Best Marketplaces to Find Clients as a Freelance Digital Marketer

Many new freelancers struggle with finding regular clients. Luckily, there are several marketplaces you can use to advertise your services and find work in digital marketing.

Develop Your Own Marketing Strategy to Attract New Clients

While marketplaces are a great way to gain new clients, you should also take the time to invest in your own marketing. You should build a solid marketing plan that utilizes several different sources. This will help you get a steady stream of new clients. Here are a few examples of ways you can promote your services:

Digital portfolio - Most freelancers need to build a website that includes examples of their marketing work and their contact information. Making an attractive landing page and adding a rates section with checkout options can help you secure new clients.

Marketing Blogging - Consider building a blog to inform people about your services, discuss industry topics, and showcase your skills. If you already have a digital portfolio, adding a blog section and creating a new post at least once per week in your own area of marketing will help you connect with new and existing clients.

Email newsletters - Create an email newsletter to remind clients of your services or any specials you may have. If you have a blog, you can include links to your newest posts. Services like Mailchimp can make designing a newsletter and organizing a mailing list easy. If you want a zero or low-cost way of building a newsletter without having to set it all by yourself, platforms like Medium or Substack will make it easy by you writing your content and they’ll help you send the newsletters and promote it to a wider audience. 

Networking events - Find local networking events to meet business owners in your area and discuss your services in person. Many networking clubs will post about the events they host on social media. You can also use sites like Meetup to find networking events online.

Referral programs - Encourage your friends and existing clients to refer you to others by creating a reward program. Many freelancers offer a discount to new clients using a referral code. If you don’t want to offer a discounted rate, think of a small additional service you could provide for free to clients as a referral bonus. On another note, it also helps you to practice referral marketing by your own.

LinkedIn – Don't underestimate the power of social media marketing when it comes to finding new clients. Setting up a LinkedIn profile and actively participating in conversations can help you connect with business owners in need of your digital marketing services.

How to Manage Your Freelance Digital Marketing Business

Many people overlook the business aspects of being a freelancer. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to treat your freelancing work like a business from day one. This means building a brand for yourself, applying applicable taxes, sending professional and consistent invoices, and accurately managing client records.

When setting up your new business, location matters. For example, Estonia has an excellent e-Residency program that helps people from all over the world enter the EU market remotely. Registering your new company, paying taxes, and sending invoices can all be automated with the right tools. Xolo Leap is a great way for new freelancers to get registered, obtain e-Residency in Estonia, and manage their business' finances.

How to Invoice as a Freelance Digital Marketer

Sending professional invoices is crucial and consistency is key. Not only does having a structured invoice help your clients with recordkeeping, but it also makes you look more professional. When it comes to invoicing, VAT is also a matter of lots of compliant concern. Value-Added Tax (VAT) is added to each transaction you make as a freelancer. While rates will vary based on the country you are in, you are responsible for collecting these taxes and remitting payment. Most countries in the EU have around a 20% VAT

Depending on the types of services you are offering, you may not need to apply VAT. For example, the EU has different rules for digital services and cross-border transactions. To make things easier and painless for you, when invoicing with Xolo Go, VAT will be calculated automatically and added to your invoice without any headaches. You can aslo invoice to your cross-border clients in a matter of minutes, manage your expenses and get paid without registering a business. 

Keeping Excellent Client Records as a Freelancer

Make sure to save everything that you work on and keep excellent records of all client activities, including payments. Not only will this help you at tax time, it will help you if a client returns to you for more work. Depending on the type of work you are doing, you will likely be able to store this information on your computer; however, it could be a good idea to invest in cloud storage in case you ever lose access to your device. Many payment processors will keep track of the payments you send and receive, but the more information you can store on each client, the better.

Start your journey as a freelance digital marketer

If working solo is always your aspiration and marketing is your strong suit, it might be time to pursue a career as a freelance digital marketer and provide your services to various potential business clients out there. The current digital climate gives people like you more opportunities than ever before. Don’t sweat paper or administrations because we’ll give a big hand. With Xolo Go, you’ll be able to invoice clients without even having to start a business, and with Xolo Leap you’ll have your own Estonian company registered by us and run it from anywhere in the world.

With these easy options in place, there’s no reason to remain stagnant. It’s time to go out there and put "become freelance digital marketer" at the top of your to-do list.

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