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How-To Make Money in Digital Marketing

Types of Freelance Internet Marketing

Believe it or not, all marketers do not fall into one big pool of potential employees. There are 8 distinct marketing specialties, some similar, some very different. These fields overlap. Most of the time you’ll find freelance marketers with one specific area of expertise.

8 Types of Internet Marketing and How-to Make Money in Digital Marketing

  1. Social Media Marketing – Using social media platforms to promote a product or a service.
  2. Influencer Marketing – Securing endorsements and product placement from people who are deemed experts in their field, have large followings on social, or are celebrities.
  3. Affiliate Marketing – The business of building digital Brand Ambassador campaigns and rewarding participants for each visitor or customer brought in through their efforts
  4. Email Marketing – Crafting creative, branded emails to send to potential or existing customers, building out email lists for your client
  5. Content Marketing – Making creative collateral to push out to in the form of advertising or social content with a specific goal (conversions, sales, awareness, etc.)
  6. SEM Marketing – there are two main types of SEM marketing.
    1. SEO Marketing – Improving the visibility of a website or product through using strategic keyword content, back end optimization, and paid placements
    2. PPC Marketing – Used most commonly through Google Ads, you bid for placement in a search engine’s sponsored links
  7. Product Management – The person who manages all of the above and interfaces with the product, development, and QA teams to ensure seamless efforts
space grey ipad air with graph on brown wooden table
Tracking ROI is a huge part of any marketer’s job. Photo by Burak K on Pexels.com

Kate, what do you do?

I am in charge of a creative department and I’m a liaison between that team and other departments. Technically I’m not a “freelancer.” My main employer is a specific agency that I’ve working with for 8 years. I am a contract employee.

I like to refer to myself as a creative strategist.

What’s the difference between a contract employee and freelancers?

It’s pretty simple. Self-employed people are all considered freelancers in some respect. Both pay all our own taxes. We work remotely. Contractors and freelancers set our own rates and choose what projects we want to work on.

The difference is that a contract worker often works with one company over a longer period time. They are typically represented by an agency who negotiates rates, etc. on projects. Also, contract workers are free to work on additional projects as they see fit.

A freelancer works on their own and they wrangle up work wherever they can find it. Not only do freelancers use sites like Upwork, Indeed.com, and Fivver to find short term gigs. but also they have to pitch for that work. Freelancers are often sub-contractor for larger companies or for contract employees who are engaging in product management services.

The commonality between these two types of self-employed people is that we all have to hustle our asses off to stay employed. That is how-to make money in digital marketing.

I mean, everything is by direct deposit these days, but every once in a while it’s fun to make it rain. I like to spread money out on my bed and roll around in it naked. KIDDING! (Or, am I?) Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com

So, Specifically, How Do You Make Money in Digital Marketing?

There is no special sauce to this business. It’s really quite straightforward. You find a client, you negotiate a rate, and then you do the work.

Some things that you have to keep in mind: You need to figure out your tax liability for each job you take and set aside money to pay your taxes quarterly. (More on that in another post.)

You also need to make sure your rate accounts for tools you need, subcontractors you may need to hire. (These are tax deductible expenses, you usually end up benefiting from those expenses.)

This is how-to make money in digital marketing.

Let’s outline a sample of a job I currently have:

Through the agency that contracts me, I was given a big client project. It involves a lot of creative collateral creation. It also includes building organic social reach to help them spread awareness and drive opt-in for their product.

Where I started was by brainstorming a concept and then made a pitch deck. I included examples of success stories for the methods I was encouraging them to buy into.

My boss and I presented that pitch deck and they really loved it. Then we were asked to break out a line-item budget.

woman draw a light bulb in white board
It all starts with an idea, then you have to break it down. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Where did you start?

I started a spreadsheet where I broke out the campaign by monthly scope of work. I then created the categories of work that needed to be accomplished. The first thing I filled out was my monthly administration fee.

I then assessed the activities I needed to engage in to successfully execute the campaign. The next step is getting quotes for materials (like Sprout Social, and Adobe Creative Cloud) and added them into into the budget, spread apart over the duration of the campaign.

I then looked at the team I needed to involve in the project. Because I am a contractor (though I am a department head,) I have assembled a team of people who have been approved through my agency to work with. I know their rates. So, I built them into the appropriate activities.

Then there is this: Aside from my monthly retainer (which my agency has agreed to on all large projects,) I have another opportunity to make money. If I manage my activities and expenses smartly and deliver the expected results… any overage becomes my profit on the project.

I have become very adept at this. Because I’m extremely good at my job. (I’ve been doing it for 20+ years.) I generally come away with an extremely happy client and my agency singing my praises (yet, again…) plus profit.

Are there other ways you make money?

Sure. There are a lot of ways I make money in digital marketing. Primarily, I get paid a lot of money to do piece work. Companies come to me and ask me to do creatives for them. I do a lot of SEO structured writing. I also execute on graphics and video and podcast setup.

Like, in addition to my agency giving me big campaigns to manage, they also give me smaller pieces of work they pay me for. App descriptions, website copy, SEO blog posts, and infographic creation are what is called my “bread and butter” work.

This is because big projects may only come every six months (unless you develop a longterm relationship with a client.) You need to have steady work to fill in those gaps.

person holding toast with butter on top
We love bread and butter work. Photo by Ravi Kant on Pexels.com

Are there other ways you create “bread and butter” work?

Well, yeah. In addition to being a contract employee for my main agency, I’m represented through a creative services agency. I have a dedicated agent who pitches me to clients for short term assignments that fall within my fields of expertise. Mostly, they pitch me for writing assignments, as writing is my biggest strength.

Also, I have about a million side hustles going on at any given time. Right now I’m working as a Brand Ambassador for a few companies that I publicize on my social media. I run ads on my blog (where you are right now.) And, I will be starting some affiliate marketing soon.

I do tutorials on how to build social presence. Running preroll ads on all of my YouTube videos is an income stream. I also do social media overhauls for people who are looking to better optimize their presence and reputation.

There are literally endless opportunities to make money in digital marketing. In addition, I have a PayPal button where people can donate money if they want to support my creative endeavors. I wouldn’t count on any of these side hustles to pay your rent (unless you’re REALLY good and develop huge followings.) But, it’s always a couple of ducets in your purse each month. And, it adds up. This is how-to make money in digital marketing.

Is Freelancing in Digital Marketing Hard?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in the fact that there are times you have to grind hard and barely have time to eat and sleep. (Right now I’m working on average 80+ hours per week.)

No, in the sense that I have an immense amount of freedom. And, as an established contractor/freelancer I can command higher rates based on my experience, expertise and portfolio of work. In that sense, I can pick and choose what I want to work on. And, as long as my credit cards are paid off, my car payment can be met for at least two months, and I have a pile of money in the bank (which isn’t always the case) — I can tell clients “Nope, I can’t work right now. I want to spend time with my kid, go to England to visit family, go on vacation.”

Also, I have the right to work anywhere. I do not have to stay in Chicago. Like, I’m going to my parent’s house for two weeks. They have wifi, so I can work. I could work on a beach in Tahiti if I wanted to. Plus, most clients don’t make you punch in and out of a clock. They do not care when/how the work gets done, so long as you deliver on deadline.

beach calm clouds idyllic
Yes, they have wifi in Tahiti Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com


If you are already a marketer, you have the skill set to become a contract or freelancer. It’s all about how you package yourself. If you’re in the industry you probably know how to run down clients and projects, so you have that going for you.

To the beginners, please read my post on how to set yourself up as a freelancer or contract worker. Figure out where your skill set lies. Then just begin hustling. You’ll get there. Make heavy use of an agency and sites like Upwork. Remember it’ll likely take 5-10 pitches to get your first job, but don’t become discouraged. Eventually, you’ll hit effective frequency and become gainfully employed.

Good luck!

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