SMM Freelancer Markup

Hi all, I’m curious to know whether you’ve brought someone onboard to do the social media management for your clients, and if you have, what percentage uplift you charge on your associate’s rate - is there an industry standard level?


Hi @suzi welcome to Social Media Pulse! Do you mean hiring someone to work in your company to help with client work?

Or do you mean you mark up what they charge you?

Hi Deb…yes to both. I want to bring someone onboard (as an associate - not an employee) to work with one of my clients. They’ve given me a proposal, and so now I want to forward a proposal to one of my clients and I’m unsure whether there’s an industry standard mark up, such as 20% on top of my associate’s rate. Just trying to take the guesswork out of it if there is an industry standard :slight_smile:

Ahh…thanks for the clarity. I’ve changed the title of you post a bit @suzi to say freelancer markup because I think more people might respond.

I started my career running a graphic design studio and 20-35% was a common markup. Funny…in the social media space I haven’t heard a common percentage.

Did a bit of digging and I did see this recommendation from Sakas and Company

Guideline: Pay Freelancers Less Than 1/2 What You Charge Clients

Ideally, you’d take what a freelancer charges and double it, or pay subcontractors up to half of what clients pay you.

If you’re considering a freelancer for a specific project or retainer, it’s an easy decision. If you bill your clients $150/hour, you can pay a freelancer half the billable rate—up to $75/hour.

Or to put it another way, I recommend charging your clients at least 2X what you pay the freelancer. That is, if you pay the freelancer $50/hour, you need to be charging the client at least $100/hour.

It can be harder to do that 100% markup when subcontractors are doing expensive, in-demand work (for instance, technical SEO experts might charge $150/hour), or when the firm is under-charging (e.g., $125/hour instead of $150+ for digital marketing services).

You’ll have more flexibility on what you pay freelancers than on what you charge clients—freelancer rates vary widely, but clients aren’t going to be as understanding if a new project costs twice as much because you need to pay a freelancer more.

A key consideration is that freelancers tend to have a higher Billable Ratio than employees—because you’re not paying them for watercooler time. I’ll write about employee-related markup in a future article.

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@Agency Space Friends…when you hire a freelancer…do you markup your rates? How much?

Thank you Deb - that’s really helpful as a starting point to see what I should be paying and also charging when using subcontractors. I’m going along the 20% line right now, so just wanted to be sure I was in the right ballpark.

Interested to see if others comment and what their positions on this are too.

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