Side Hustle: Social Media Manager

Written By Cathy Lovering
Last updated June 10, 2021

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Personal Finance
June 10, 2021

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Side hustles can be lucrative gigs. If you act as a social media manager, your side hustle can not just make you money, but also bolster a local business, artist, or nonprofit organization.

Every business these days needs social media, but few know how to use it to their advantage. That’s where you come in. Doing it well requires a specific skill set. You’ll have to know how social media works as a marketing tool—not just as a platform for friendly engagement. Here’s what you need to know.

A social media manager works on brand positioning. That’s advancing and monitoring the customer-facing look and voice of the brand. This is a core task of a business marketer.

The key element is that a social media manager does this brand positioning via specific platforms and messaging modules: tweets, posts, and photos. Especially if you work as a social media manager with a larger company that has a marketing department, you do your job in collaboration with others for the company to have a unified online and offline brand presence.

Social media managers are very hands-on. They monitor comments, reactions, and engagements, and they interact with followers online. These social media experts start the ball rolling with social media editorial content and then watch to see how it’s received.

Social media management has a number of different aspects. There’s a digital element, a data element, and a human element. All of these combine to create a social media strategy that not only entertains but offers a return on investment. Here are a few elements of good social media management:

Quality posts

It’s quite easy to populate social media feeds with content. But each post or tweet should have a purpose and align with the brand’s voice and strategy.

Data-supported quantity and timing

Metrics tell you when to post and how often. Something as simple as knowing that your target audience scrolls Twitter between 3 and 4 pm can help you time your social media for optimal engagement.

Structured but human approach

Optimal social media management is part of a strategy. But it’s also important that a brand’s social media come across as human and welcoming, consistent with the brand voice. Ongoing monitoring helps you to learn from followers whether your brand is connecting.

Additionally, one thing social media management should not include is boosting vanity metrics. These are raw numbers like followers, page views, and downloads. Instead, keep your eye on:

  • Cost of new user acquisition
  • Number of active users
  • Engagement and sentiment
  • Return on investment

This is just the beginning. Social media is evolving, and the brands you’re working for will have to evolve along with it.

This can sound like a lot of work, and it is. But, you can be a successful social media manager as a side hustle. Here are some skills that contribute to success:


Know how to listen to, and speak with, coworkers, brand representatives, in-person and online.


Posting on social media is largely about written expression, so you need a knack for concise, brand-consistent writing.


Know the basics of digital marketing and its offline counterparts. Then you know the reason why social is so important, and how to pivot your social media engagement strategies as necessary.

Organization and efficiency:

A social media manager works every day and has to respond in the moment. That’s easier when you’re organized. If you need to respond to an online comment from a customer, it helps to have the relevant information at hand.


To make your social media stand out, it helps to have some creativity in your back pocket, as long as it aligns with the brand’s voice.

Human touch:

Ultimately, social media is about people. So you can’t be so caught up in the data that you forget about the value of responding to a customer. It all benefits the brand at the end of the day.

As a social media manager, you’re independent, at least until you sign on with a company. To get started with this as your side hustle, take a few key steps:

Develop your own personal brand and social following. This shows potential clients you know what you’re doing. Hopefully, they like what they see.

Network within your current industry or social circle. Get the word out about your new venture as a social media manager. Encourage friends to refer you.

Start small. Start with clients you know you can handle, whether that’s a friend’s art show or musical band, or your cousin’s booth at a farmers market. Small jobs help you develop a portfolio. From there, you can grow your client base.

Stay up to date with social media marketing. Look closely at the work that good social media managers do and emulate them as much as possible. What brands do you admire? Instead of distractedly scrolling through their feeds, analyze their strategy. You can learn a lot from their success.

Becoming a social media manager is within reach. For digital-minded entrepreneurs, it can be an ideal side hustle that earns you extra money. You can use your technical skills to bolster the reputation of an artist, nonprofit, or business. Take it seriously, start small, and you’ll be on your way to a new venture.

About the Author

Cathy Lovering

Catherine Lovering has written about personal finance and health for over 10 years, with bylines on and She holds an LL.B. (J.D.) from the University of Victoria.

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