Social Media Strategists: How to Set Your Prices

By Saige Driver
October 24, 2018

One of the most difficult but important tasks freelancers have is setting prices. The community asked how social media strategists should set prices, and we asked experts to find out.

As a freelancer, deciding how much to charge for projects is an important decision. Charging too little may result in a lot of work for not a lot of pay. If you charge too much, you could have a tough time finding and keeping customers.

A community member asked, “What should I charge to run a small business’s social media?” This is an important question for a lot of social media strategists who struggle to set prices. We asked social media experts to find an answer.

1. Decide how much you want to make a year.

When you’re deciding how much to charge as a freelancer or social media strategist, you need to take a step back and decide what your yearly salary should be. To determine this figure, you can conduct research on sites such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Once you decide how much you want to make yearly, work backward.

“I try to work backward from what I would want my hourly rate to be, charging a flat rate based on the projected number of hours I’d be spending on each social platform,” said Nicole Fallon, a social media consultant.

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When you’re deciding how much you want to make, you need to consider industry averages and your experience level. If you’re just starting out with no customer testimonies, you shouldn’t charge as much as someone with five-plus years of experience.

“I think it’s important to be realistic to consider your portfolio and expertise,” said Corri Smith, owner of Black Wednesday. “We charge much more now that we have had a full book of business for four years and have happy clients, testimonials and 100 percent of business coming from referrals.”

2. Determine what the project entails.

Before you throw out any numbers or prices, you need to chat with the business owner to learn about their goals, social media accounts and what they expect from you. Once you have all the information, you can start figuring out your pricing.

“Social media needs vary so much from business to business, as do their goals and expected ROI for social,” Fallon said. “Before I take on a new social media client, I usually set up a discovery call to talk through their vision for their social presence, including how many accounts they have, how often they would like to post, and what types of content they want to see on each channel.”

If clients don’t have an idea for their accounts, Fallon provides a standard base package and will work from there. The base package includes a predetermined number of posts a month. Then businesses can decide if they want to go up or down from there.

3. Charge per project or social account.

As a freelancer, it’s always smart to charge per project, not per hour, because you end up hurting yourself if you become faster and more effective.

“Generally, I charge per project – or, rather, per social account,” said Fallon. “Hourly rates can get messy, especially because that’s so much ‘off the clock’ work that needs to be done with social media (checking notifications, liking/sharing follower content, responding to DMs, etc.).”

When you’re talking with the business before starting the project, you both should be clear about your expectations. If, for some reason, you have to work more or with more urgency than expected, it’s OK to add extra charges – as long as you’re upfront about it.

“We add additional charges when hours go over or when there is a sense of urgency,” said Smith.

4. Do your research.

It’s best practice to constantly do research on your industry, no matter your job or title. However, it’s even more important for freelancers who set their own prices. You should always know industry best practices and how much other social media specialists are charging.

“I talk to everyone I possibly can who does this as a business!” said Fallon. “I’ve also done tons of research on my own to see what bigger agencies charge. That being said, ‘average’ prices can vary a lot. Get as much information as you can from as many sources and individuals as possible.”

Once you decide how much to charge, be sure you set realistic expectations upfront.

“It’s impossible to promise you’ll get them X number of followers or X percent increase in engagement,” Fallon said, “and anyone who says that they can is definitely using shady tactics to do it.”