Hourly Rate for Freelance Digital Marketing Services

In the past year, the pandemic has shown us that some jobs are totally doable from home, while others are quite impossible. Fortunately, digital marketing can usually be done 100% remotely, making it a prime job function for outsourcing to freelancers. And generally speaking, freelance digital marketing services cost less than agencies or consulting firms.

If you’re an entrepreneur or manager considering hiring freelance digital marketers, perhaps you are looking to build or scale up your marketing team. One of the top questions is most likely, how much do freelance digital marketing services cost?

※ Note that hourly rate obviously depends on many other factors outside the scope of this post, such as YOE and cost of living.

SEO Services

Personally, I am personally not a huge fan of hourly pricing. I love efficiency and automation, but hourly rate can punish you for that. However, hourly rate is a common pricing model, and it's easy to understand at a glance. It can be useful for long-term projects that require flexibility for freelancer's responsibilities and schedule.

A recent survey by ahrefs found that the most common hourly rate for freelance SEOs is 100~150$, with 25% of respondents charging this rate. 50% charged between 75~200$.

The most common monthly retainer rate was 500$~1,000$, with 23% of respondents charging this rate. 45% charged between 500~2,000$ monthly.

For SEO audits, pricing usually depends on the size of the site. I frequently see agencies price SEO audits around 5k, but for smaller sites, a lower price (and undercutting agency pricing) makes more sense. Pricing for SEO audits is usually quoted per project, but it can be useful to estimate the amount of time that the project will take, to put things in another perspective. For small to mid-size sites, I usually take about 40 hours on a technical audit.

PPC Management

Many PPC campaign managers also use either hourly rate or monthly retainer. With either pricing model, the fee would end up around 350~5,000$ monthly.

However, both agencies and freelancers also use the percentage of ad spend model, usually 10~30%. This model also makes sense because accounts with larger budgets generally require more time commitment and maintenance. The PPC manager has to work harder to find new opportunities, make sure that the budget is allocated properly, campaigns are organized optimally, not competing against each other, etc. Also, with a larger budget, the account should be generating more leads, so overall ROI for the business should still be high.

With PPC management, often the first 1-2 months require extra time commitment to become familiar with the campaigns, conduct an initial audit, and create a plan going forward. In some cases, I request a monthly retainer on the condition that my client agrees to a minimum term of 3~6 months. That way, I know that my client won't take the initial audit and recommendations and find another freelancer to implement my plan, and I have the guaranteed contract for those few months going forward. For the client, hopefully the minimum term is not an issue because we were planning to work together long-term anyway.

If the client is upfront about asking for just an account audit with no campaign management, I'd probably treat that as an individual project, and charge hourly or one-time project fee.

Other Digital Marketing Services

Web analytics: Hourly rates for web analytics freelancers tend to start at between 100~150$, and can easily surpass the 200$ for advanced GTM/GA implementations and web dev.

Social media: Note that social media here refers to organic posts. Paid ads are covered in the above section. Social media freelance rates can hover around 50~100$, or even 120$+ for professionals with 5~10+ years of experience. Monthly retainers can run anywhere between 400~5,000$. If services such as influencer targeting and customer support are included, the rate could be toward the higher end.

Copywriting: Writers sometimes charge a flat fee per article, or base on word count. In my own experience outsourcing copywriting tasks, I've paid up to 500$ for a mid-length article (around 2,500 words) for niche or technical topics requiring esoteric specialization.