How Much Should I Charge For Social Media Consulting/Coaching?

I’m up so late I’m hungry right now… :P That won’t stop me from blogging! Even though you haven’t seen my writing here, I’ve been keeping it up like I said I would. It’s just been in the form of content for websites and email responders… Anyhow, on to today’s topic!

What’s The Going Rate For Social Media Consulting?

EXACTLY $217.48/hour. Next question! ;)

Seriously though, I’ve been struggling to figure out how and how much to charge for this service I want to provide. Instead of sleeping, I decided to hit the google tonight and see what I could drum up. My searching brought me to EXACTLY what I was looking for in the form of a LinkedIn Q&A. Here’s the full question:

How do social media consultants charge clients?

Several small businesses and organizations have approached me about helping them market through social media. Since I’m new to the game (or at least new on charging for it), I’m trying to figure out how much is appropriate to charge. A few questions:

1. What’s the range of hourly rates charged by SM consultants?

2. Anyone have experience getting paid on commission — for bringing new clients to the biz? I can’t see yet how this would work, but one client is asking for it, so I’m brainstorming.

3. For companies who simply want me to run a FB page and Twitter feed rather than investing in a complete online strategy, got ideas on fee structure?

Would love to hear how others make this work.

Thanks!

A lot of really good responses to the question were posted and you can read them all [here.]

The amounts vary quite a bit but one thing is clear to me, they’re all a lot more than I was (am?) planning on charging for my service! That’s probably the usual newbie mistake though. :) So what’s my plan?

My “Business” Plan

No point in keeping it a secret. What I’m going to lay out for you is my rates, what you get for them, how I got them and why…

An upfront fee of $500-$1,000 and then $67/month… lol Seems laughably cheap after nosing around the net a little bit, but that’s the rate I have in mind. What I want to do for that price is get you setup with a basic website, get your social channels all setup and teach/coach. I don’t want to be writing blogs posts, updating Twitter or any of those shenanigans. I want to teach/coach you or someone in your organization how to go about doing it with classes, emails, forum posts, phone calls (when needed) and the like. I also want to build an online and offline community around the topic so the support and answers aren’t just coming from me, they come other paying members as well. The idea was to do it mostly online and mostly in groups (which is what would keep price low) except for an initial “hard core” break down (the higher upfront cost).

That’s the fuzzy idea anyway. The basic idea is to teach a person how to covert leads built online into paying clients/customers.

my rates, what you get for them

Where did $67/month come from?

Heard of Dunbar’s number? It’s basically (from Wikipedia) ” a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.” Some say that number is around 150. I set a goal of $10,000/month and if you divide $10,000/150 you get… $67. :D lol

So… I basically figured if I could get 150 people paying me $67/month doing stuff I love (guess how much I want to charge for my tai chi classes ;) ) life would be pretty good. I also assume that the rate of $67/month will naturally increase if I’m “awesome.” So then I can either work with fewer people or just make more money. :D

Another thing that seems nice about that amount is that I shouldn’t have any trouble landing clients and I can totally fire clients that I don’t like working with.

An Analogy Between Martial Arts And Social Media

Not to be cocky or anything, but I’m pretty bad ass at tai chi push hands. Come to my class and see for yourself! The thing is, I didn’t get bad ass in a week, a month, a year or even a few years. I got bad ass by training for over a decade now. There’s NOTHING I can do, as a teacher, to make someone as bad ass as me in a month, a year or even three years. Someone could walk into my class next week, offer me $10,000 to make them a bad ass in 1 month and… I’d have to tell them no (or say “Define ‘bad ass.’” ;) lol ) My point being, it takes time.

Now flip to social media and… It’s pretty much the same situation. It obviously doesn’t take 10 years to become a bad ass at social media (hmmmm… maybe it does!), but however long it takes (6 month, a year, 3 years?) it takes time (longer than a weekend seminar or a day of intensive training). So what you have to do is find an instructor that is a match for you and you learn from them one lesson at a time and then apply what you learned. That or jump in the deep end without knowing how to swim. Most business folk don’t seem to have time for that.

Some Closing Thoughts

I probably shouldn’t hit the publish button after 4:30AM, but I’m going to. :P I hope the above stayed mostly coherent and generally spelling and grammar error free. My goal with the business I’m starting is to get the knowledge of social media into as many Milwaukee minds as possible and DEEPLY embedded into them. This isn’t something just for businesses to maximize profits and get an ROI from. Schools, churches, nonprofits, government, families and the like need to be using this stuff!

However it’s structured and priced, my ultimate goal is to make see Milwaukee be the hands down most socially connected city in the world. All of the technology to do it is here, we only lack leaders and teachers. Anyhow, I better get to sleep. I’ll be harassing some of you on Twitter when I wake up in the morning. If you read to the bottom you BETTER leave a comment. Otherwise I might have to show up at your office with my video camera and do something CRAZY! lol

Does my structure sound cool?
Are my rates too low?
How would you improve on my “plan”?

Thanks. You have until Sunday night, otherwise I’m going on CRAZY missions next week! lol

OK… I think I better go to sleep. :)

One more thing. I mostly want to work with newbies who have little to no experience with marketing online, but REALLY want to learn. Newbies who are already running businesses/organizations, but not doing anything online (or doing a really poor job of it).

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11 Responses to How Much Should I Charge For Social Media Consulting/Coaching?

  1. Brian says:

    I knew there was a reason for my being up so late LOL.

    Something that has always appealed to me about social media/online networking is the potential to bypass the old way of “doing things.” Mainly in terms of self-promotion of some sort of product or service you offer, like say I wanted to promote my music or a book I write(some day!). Before all these tools, self promotion on a wide scale was almost nonsensical. Nowadays though you have so many people riding the wave of media revolutions like youtube with their partnership program, and every day I’m sure there’s someone coming up with a new way to “get stuff out there” to the people that want it.

    Perhaps once I get stuff rolling a bit I’ll come for some epic coaching on all this stuff! Your idea for the rates seems fine, especially in this economy I bet there are tons of small businesses out there who could really benefit from this but are really struggling cost-wise just to make ends meet. And considering the potential for basically exponential growth online, I’m sure they’d be willing to pay you even more as time went on. Perhaps you could set up some kind of thing where you get a % of the profit gained from the service. They’d know you’re on board with them too cause the more they make the more you make!

  2. Penney says:

    Sounds reasonable to me. I know at least one community agency looking at using social media to get connected with more people–the Board of Health I’m on. Problem is, none of the employees are that adept at social media, so I think there would be a market for your services, especially if you had promotional material that would demonstrate the usefulness of using social media.

  3. sandra says:

    First. I believe in you. I’d pick you if I had a business. There is an excellent article if you google
    “How businesses pick a social media consultant ” and the first article you will come to has a “cache” copy. In the article, read all of the tips especially from tip 20 to 31
    Article name:
    31 Confessions of a Social Media Consultant after 1 Year (almost) from social media today dot com
    Some examples of the tips are:
    a. “Don’t believe everything your client tells you. Price the project based on the contract duration. Don’t price it based on a future verbal promise or hope of future work. Setting yourself to succeed requires properly budgeting and scoping each and every project.”

    b. “With all of the layoffs and changes in companies today, you’ll be lucky if your subject matter expert and contact are still there to recommend you at the end of the project. Focus on what you can do today! ”

    In addition, some tips which deal with people picking your brain for free. I also like the ones about businessess that waste your time.

    I registered with one of the Learn about being a social media consultant online course through video/email and I do some . And so I read the tips in this article and they make sense based on my experiences.
    Those courses are good for finding a Mentor for yourself. I would be very selective if I were you; some teachers are better than others. Here is some of what they offer:
    Instructions on how to setup your twitter, linked in and facebook page so that the design of all the pages complement each other(they stress branding yourself–you can then show your clients how your pages connect)

    Instructions on the setting up social media: linked in, twitter and facebook and a blog and website . They recommend outsourcing the blog or website for your client
    How to consolidate your posts so that when you post on Social Media it goes to all.
    They recommend you charge by the job(such as the article) If you want just a facebook, twitter this is the amount. If you want someone to do tweets this is the amount. If you want content ongoing for a set period of time this is the amount. etc.

    They stress most small business will not hire staff to do this function and most likely will break with the contract with you at some point. Perhaps they loose interest, will get a relative to work on it or something. But the key is not to expect loyalty and longevity.

    In response to your idea about the city of Milwaukee getting hooked in; this could be your “hook”. You could set up a website for all the business and when people click on links they are forwarded to the facebook for each business. That could be one of the services you offer.

    If you want to bounce around ideas post again.

    Wishing you the best.

  4. sandra says:

    One more thing…I think you are so good at what you do, I think you could teach others in Milwaukee how to do social media(young ones looking for a job) and then reach out to get accounts of their own. So you really wouldn’t need to take one of the courses online except for to get additional information or for networking.

  5. Erica Conway says:

    Ok, I know you have energy, I know you’re smart and I know you’re capable… but finding, selling to and securing 150 clients seems really challenging right off the bat. Then I think, what about maintaining those 150 clients, doing the work they’re asking for in about 160 hours/month. Most will need more than one hour of work/week or month at some point in the process, or at many points in the process of providing them service. THEN I think about all the admin related to servicing clients in general (much less 150): providing clients w9 forms, dealing with receivables, taxes, insurance, workman’s comp., invoicing clients, managing cash flow and accounts payable…the list goes on.

    I like the model because it guarantees you steady cash flow. Very smart. I’m just not sure it’s realistic or the best way to go.

    I’m not sure what’s happening out in the world of social media consulting/coaching. What I do know, is, without fail, the client who pays you the least, squawks and calls on you the most. That is a UNIVERSAL truth.

    I URGE you not to be the low price leader. Instead I would like you to consider the VALUE (how can my services make them money?) you bring to a company.
    What is the value of YOUR TIME to:
    * execute a marketing/SM needs assessment?
    * provide analysis and a report based on that assessment?
    * work with key players in the organization to assign budget and metrics to developing a strategy or campaign around SM as a result of the assessment/analysis?
    * research, collaborate, plan and present that strategy or campaign?
    * finally execute the strategy or campaign?
    * reassess, test against metrics and tweak or plan next steps

    Tough questions to answer without knowing just how big the client’s problems/pain/opportunity is.

    You have a unique and compelling offering Casey. Figure out who can afford to work with you and go after those people. If you KNOW you can make them money with what you’re offering, you can make your fees contingent on success. If you do not ultimately control the outcome of whether or not your client makes money, you should bill on retainer, hourly or by project. Whatever you do, be the best in the region, the nation, the niche. Do what no one else does, better than anyone expects and ask your clients to pay you for it.
    Instead of 150 clients paying $67/mo. plus upfront costs, how about you focus on 15 clients paying $670/mo plus upfront costs? Better yet, how about 5 clients paying you $2K/mo plus upfront? All three scenarios get you to the same outcome, but in that last one you can spend some SERIOUS quality time doing some SERIOUS quality work. You’ll have to work harder to get and keep those 5, but it’ll be worth it. Because in the third scenario, your necessary base is securing and maintaining 5 clients at certain rate, and when you do, and add another, well, it really changes your top line, and if you control your bottom line, profits will soar with just one or two more ($24-$48K/yr). In your original plan, two or three more clients barely make a difference ($1-$3K/yr.), yet you’ll be working much harder trying to maintain and service at that volume.

    None of these scenarios matter unless you’ve got something rare, special and in-demand. Most of us that know you, think you do. Getting that packaged up and ready to sell is step ONE. Make it so. The rest will take care of itself.

    focus young grasshopper. :)

  6. Sean says:

    Agreed with Erica.

    You have 160 hours in a month (unless you’re working mad overtime).

    Once you account for all the administrative stuff (AP/AR, promoting your own business, taxes, insurance, invoices) you’re probably going to half that, unless you outsource it. Either way there’s going to be some administrative stuff (let’s say 5 hours a week).

    You’re down to 140 hours.

    Clients like you to track your hours so they can tangibly see what you’re up to. For every 10 hours you work, it will take 1 hour to track what you did for them.

    You’re down to 126 hours.

    And then realistically you’re not going to know everything and you’ll have to do some research. But those hours spent on research can’t be tracked so you can’t bill clients for it. One consultant I spoke with told me he tries to work no more than 5 billable hours per day, dedicating the other 3-5 hours for unpaid research.

    126 * 5/8 = 78.75 hours.

    So now you have 78 hours to give to 150 clients. Each client gets 30 minutes of your time. Suddenly $67/month at a half hour ACTUALLY works out to $135/hour. You’re the price leader by maybe $15/hour but 30 minutes per month isn’t enough time to dedicate to a client and actually get results. If the client is paying you for 30 mins of your time, why is she even paying you at all?

    I predict if you follow this model you will be out of work very quickly after being unable to achieve results.

    You’re better off to handle fewer clients and charge more money. Save up some capital, hire some staff, and expand to 150 clients that way.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck either way, keep us posted on how it goes.

    • miltownkid says:

      Yeah. Charging more is the way to go. Currently working a sales job (for windows and siding of all things :) ). Now the plan is to learn sales (and marketing) so I can charge more for services I decide to do on my own. I read a nice line last night that went something like “How much you charge is determined by your ability to market and sell your product/service.”

  7. sandra says:

    Here is the condensation of the The success System that never fails by W. Clement Stone.

    It’s really my effort to get to the point of it and hope it makes your sales job easier and more productive.

    Develop a success system: analyze what worked with the sale that you made and reproduce the strategy.

    keep your client looking at your product or literature, look out the side of your eye and if the client is shaking his head no pay no attention.

    When you meet your client say something positive and ask a positive question so they can say “yes”. It puts them in the affirmative mood.

    Know not only your product but your competitors inside out. Know the competitor it will help you feel more confident about your product or at least some aspects of it.
    sales is a “mental attitude”.

    How many times have you supported someone because you love their attitude? remember that. your attitude is also a key to your success. I know I like helping those who have a great attitude. (it’s not all product but if I have a great experience with the person, so keep it real)

    Learn a lot about a little. Become the expert in your field.
    Sounds like you already know about the power of belief.

    Use the affirmation “do it now” when you get the cold feet. It will help you with the fear and inertia.

    Work on perfecting your sales system because then you’ll be able to reproduce yourself(teach others to do what you do)
    start your day early and end it late.

    If you sell windows or whatever learn “everything” about it; become the expert, set up sites that go in depth about it for you as well as the company. Be of service to yourself as much as your client. Because at the end of the day you want to diversify.

    Don’t put all your knowledge and skill in one basket. Yes you can help the company with a social media campaign, but more importantly if they go defunct you’ll need to pick up where they left off.
    That’s it.
    You will succeed.

  8. Tonisha says:

    I found this article informative. While I want to work the social media world on a different avenue, this helped to give an idea and platform for setting fees. Good luck with your plan. I personally don’t want to teach them, so that I can continue to make money and have them as a client. Don’t spread yourself to thin, you might risk the loss of being truly beneficial to the client

  9. Pingback: What does a social media expert cost?

  10. Just commented on another post that includes a link to yours (http://www.accidentalconsultant.com/what-does-a-social-media-expert-cost) and commented with similar thoughts as the commenters above did – 150 clients in a month is a lot of “manini” (or in Hawaiian “small fish”) work to do. It’s too many clients for too little gain.

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