Janet DaPirano talks about her career managing and consulting social media.  You can find her on her website www.thesocialmediaqueen.com and on her Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.  

What do you do for a living?

I’m a social media consultant, manager and WordPress web designer.

How would you describe what you do?

I help small business owners market their business using online and social media marketing so that they get more exposure and increase their sales.

What does your work entail?

I create custom WordPress websites using HTML and CSS and teach and my clients how market their products and services on line using social media. I also have training classes in person and over the phone to help small businesses learn more about marketing their businesses using social media.

What’s a typical work week like?

Crazy! Most of my work is reactionary, so every day is different. Some days are crazy busy because my clients all decide they need something done at the same time.  I try to schedule things during my week so I have time for emergencies, but it is hard to predict what might happen each day.  I usually have a training call during the week and meet with potential clients, so I fit those calls in as well.  So as you can see there is never a dull moment in my business.

How did you get started? 

Most of my career was spent in the computer software industry.  I figured out pretty soon after getting hired with Symantec that I loved computers, software and marketing.  When you work for a software company, it’s a whole different world.  I loved the environment.  I also found out that I had a gift for picking things up quickly when it came to technology and so social media and web design were a easy next step in my career.  I was laid off several times because of the changes in the software industry, so I decided to start my own business using the skills I had.

What do you like about what you do?

I like meeting different people and creating new marketing plans and strategies for my clients. I also love keeping up with the ever-changing world of social media. The fact that I’m helping other people build successful businesses is a big bonus.

What do you dislike?

The reactionary stuff I deal with each day.  It can throw me off track and projects get put on the back burner when a client needs something done right now.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated? 

For my services, I charge per the hour or project.  Most of my clients are not local to me, so I have set up a Paypal and merchant account so that my clients can pay me easily. I have clients who are on retainer, and those who just pay for one time services like a website.

How much money do Social Media Consultants make? 

It depends on your experience.  If you are just starting out in your own business, then you have to do some research to find out what other Social Media Consultants are charging to get a better feel for your competitors and their fees.  Some are really expensive and some are not. Its best to start on the low end until you feel comfortable and confident about your skill set.  I have seen people charge anywhere from $25o to $3000 per hour for consulting and for social media managers, they might charge a monthly maintenance fee of $300-$3000 depending on the size of the company that they are working for and the tasks needed to be performed.

If you are looking to work for a corporation, they are paying social media managers around $50,000 – $100,000 a year here in California.  These salaries depend on experience and the size of the hiring company.  I am seeing more companies hiring social media managers because they want to have a dedicated person working on their social sites every day.  They usually want someone with marketing experience and someone who can help with new ideas for marketing promotions.

How much money did/do you make starting out as a Social Media Consultants? 

I started out charging $20 an hour, and soon understood that was to low of a rate because I was working really hard with little pay.  So, I quickly raised my rates to $45 hour, which helped.  After I charged that for a while, I decided to create packages that would allow my clients to pre-pay for 5, 10, or 20 hours which gave them a cut in the hourly rate.  My website packages, social media management packages, and social media consulting all have different fees, so it really depends on the business and what they need.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this? 

I would take marketing, business, and social media marketing classes so you understand exactly how to use social media marketing for businesses.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Marketing myself!  Since I market for my clients, I have less time to work on marketing for my own business.   The other challenge is managing my time so I’m not working long hours.  When I first started I worked night and day.  Now, I try to close my office door by 6PM in the evening so I can relax and spend time with my family.

What is most rewarding? 

Watching my clients businesses grow. When you see that they are growing their client base and increasing their income, its exciting for me.  When my clients tell me how much I have helped them and how happy they are, that’s my greatest reward!

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

I would recommend that you learn all you can about social media, marketing, and off line marketing.  I would also decide what you want to offer and what you don’t.  If you want to be a consultant, then you might not want to offer social media management.   Social media management is a full time job and if you have a full client base, you will have little time for anything else.

There are classes available online and locally that can help you learn a great deal about social media.  Also, if you are not someone who likes change, this would not be the career for you.  Social media is constantly changing and there are new sites being launched all the time.

How much time off do you get/take? 

I try to take a week or two off each year.  Since this is my own business, I have to make that happen!

What is a common misconception people have about what you do? 

That it’s easy. People think that its just posting on social sites, but there is a strategy and a marketing plan that goes behind each step you take.  You also have to learn all about your clients business, including their target market and what their goals are.  In most cases you are also managing your clients business reputation so you want to be able to handle anything that comes your way and correct it quickly. 

What are your goals/dreams for the future? 

My dream is to grow my business locally so I can help the local business owners get more customers, hire more people and grow the local economy.  I would like to also hire more team members for my own business and be able to contribute more money to the charities I like to support.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

Being in business is much like a rollercoaster.  Sometimes you have lots of business and sometimes it can be slow.  I think the best advice I can give to you if this interest you is to know that being in your own business means you have to constantly market.  If you stop marketing, you don’t have clients.  So you have willing and confident in yourself to market and sell your products and services to keep income flowing in.