With Facebook and Twitter's recent CRM upgrades for business users, and the ability to chat with website visitors chat by installing Facebook Messenger on your website, social media is becoming the foremost channel for customer service and business-consumer interactions.
However, most small-to-midsize businesses are still relying on their websites to provide online customer service. In fact, according to Jay Baer , author of the customer service book Hug Your Haters, 32% of customer complaints on social media never receive a response.
That means one thing and one thing only: As soon as these small-to-midsize businesses start to realize that their prospective and existing customers prefer to interact with them on social media, we're going to see a major uptick in the demand for community managers.
Why Freelance Makes Sense for Community Managers
According to PayScale, the salary range for U.S. community managers is $31,000 to $73,000 , with a median of $49,000, or about $25 an hour.
As a freelancer, most community managers earn between $15 to $30 an hour, depending on experience, roles and responsibilities, and the significance of community management within a client's business.
However, for most small-to-midsize businesses, community management isn't a full-time position. That means freelance community managers can (and should) easily work with multiple clients, which accomplishes two things:
- Assuming you work with clients in different industries, you'll be able to develop a more comprehensive understanding and expertise of community management, which increases your value (meaning you can charge more with future clients).
- You'll have more time to focus on developing additional skills, such as creating and curating content, building social media strategies, and providing related services (which also increases your value for future clients).
At an average of 30 hours per month, per client, the average community manager could work with six clients, earning a tad more than $48,000 a year (before taxes), with the added benefit of enjoying the freelance lifestyle.
If you're a community manager who already knows (or wants to learn) how to create and curate content, build social media strategies, and provide related services, you can easily charge $30 to $50 an hour, which effectively doubles that $48,000 annual clip.
However, the Buck Doesn't Stop There
As social customer service takes center stage, the need for high-level community management services is going to skyrocket - especially for bigger businesses that need full-time community managers, but struggle with strategy and practice.
This opens up opportunities to:
- Build community management programs and strategies for bigger businesses (which they will execute internally)
- Offer community management consulting and workshops to bigger business (and/or smaller businesses that want to do their community management in-house)
- Develop online courses, and
- Train aspiring and current community managers
All of these services will surely come at a higher rate (anywhere from $50 to $100 an hour, if not more).
Either way, community managers can get ahead of the game, and tip the scale of supply and demand in their favor, by starting their freelance business sooner than later.