Is Your Kid Starting a Digital Marketing Business? Here are 6 tips to get them started.
So, your kid getting out into the “real world” and wants to start a freelance digital marketing business. Congratulations! Don't panic.
I’m sure they've taken many classes on digital marketing and they're ready to dig in. But beyond what they might have learned in school or online…there are things they should consider as they move forward.
Just DM them this link. Or text it. But don't email it - they never check that.
Find an industry, platform or technology and niche yourself.
When you’re starting out, you’ll probably say “yes” to just about anything – and that’s okay. You have to test the waters a little bit to see what you enjoy doing (more about that below).
But sooner rather than later, you need to decide on a niche; either a specific industry or technology that you want to become an expert in.
Here’s the thing. Digital marketing is HUGE. You cannot be an expert in everything and it’s a waste of time to even try. If you do, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and you won’t be truly good at anything. You want someone to say, “You need to call him/her. They’re the expert in real estate marketing or Snapchat ads or Instagram.”
And don’t be afraid! You know better than most that digital marketing can be flexible. When I niched my business I told myself I would try it for six months and if it didn’t work, I’d change my website and social media back to what I was doing before. Guess what? I didn’t have to! The moment I niched my business exploded.
Choose the industry you want to serve intentionally.
If you’re choosing a niche based on industry, pay attention to the ebbs and flows of the market. For example, if I had niched myself in real estate, I would have gone broke during the pandemic because real estate came to a stand still and my clients might not have been able to pay.
None of us has a crystal ball, but just pay attention to how that business works, so you can plan accordingly.
As far as technology, you have got to be on the cutting edge of any changes that happen. This might sound weird, but you should be so up on what’s happening that just trying to explain it to other people is difficult. My mind goes into overdrive when a colleague of mine talks about Google; it changes constantly, and I don’t have the time to keep up with it. That’s why I rely on other experts – like you might be – to take care of those needs for me.
Pay attention to what you don’t like as much as what you do like.
Pardon my language, but as teenagers we’ve all had pretty shitty jobs. I did and so did my own kids. That’s okay because figuring out what you DON’T like is just as important as what you DO like.
The same is true as you start your business.
Pay attention to qualities in clients that bother you. Are they constantly trying to get something for nothing? Do they not respect your time? Do they not respect YOU? These are all red flags you should be aware of.
Also pay attention to the clients you love. What industry are they in? Why do you like working with them? A great book about cultivating and growing your business by working with people you love is The Pumpkin Plan. Highly recommend!
Create boundaries around your time.
Oh, man. I learned this one the hard way.
When I started my business, I was working all the time. And, yes, there will be times when you’re up against a deadline or you’re working ahead so you can take some time off.
But if you have a client who is constantly demanding you do things on weekends or outside of your communicated business hours…it’s time to move on. Believe me, that is not a client worth having.
Aside from the client relationships, it’s also important that YOU understand when you’re working and when you’re off. As freelancers our time is our own. I think we all go into this thinking we’re going to have this awesome flexible schedule when what really happens is we get sucked into working all the time. You have to train YOURSELF not to do that – that’s a quick way to get bitter and burned out.
Define your scope of work and stick with it.
This goes back to what I said above about niching your business. I found myself saying “yes” to a lot of things in the beginning that I really didn’t want to do – and when I did that, I was running in circles.
The best way to grow your business is to define the tasks your company does (in my case it’s custom content, social media, and email marketing for financial advisors) and start networking to find other marketing professionals who do the things you don’t want to do. The moment I brought in a consultant to handle digital advertising was the BEST DAY of my business! I hate working with analytics and, frankly, that’s not my strong suit.
Find people who can do what you don’t want to do and create a referral relationship. I have many colleagues that the outside observer might think would be competition for me – they’re not. They refer to me and I refer to them.
Remember to “pay yourself first” and find benefits!
Okay, this is the mom in me and I want to make sure you’re taken care of.
Running a business is hard, especially if you’re a creative person. I don’t like dealing with the numbers and the nuts and bolts of the business!
But when you’re freelancing, you’re getting money up front, and your taxes have not been taken out of it. If you don’t plan and save throughout the year, you could end up with a surprise tax bill and no one wants that.
My rule of thumb is to save at least 35% of each check you get. You’ll get better instructions with this free course my brilliant sister/financial advisor put together: Finances and the Gig Economy.
You also need to make sure you have health benefits. I highly recommend finding a benefits broker; you don’t pay for their services (they’re paid by the insurance company you choose) and they’ll find the best fit for you and your wallet.
Good luck with your business!