From Freelancer To Social Media Agency CEO: Interview with Roel Manarang

[Interview Series] I’m thrilled to share another great conversation I had with one of the most respected and well-known Entrepreneur, Speaker, Marketer, Designer, and Blogger in the country today. I met him randomly via Twitter and soon realized we have many things in common. As a burgeoning entrepreneur, I was curious to know how he transitioned from freelancer to having his own agency. So, thanks Roel for granting me this opportunity! If you’re in the helm of Social Media or planning to be, read on to find out what it takes to be a successful Social Media Manager.

1. How did your online career start? What circumstances brought you to build your own social media agency?

I became passionate with sales and marketing since I worked as a sales consultant in a local company and then promoted as a marketing manager back around 2011 to 2012. I also worked as an administrative support and web administrator, in which, I was taking care of both customer concerns and reputation of our company website.

Before I even practiced social media marketing, a friend of mine introduced me to SEO, which I learned quickly. However, with the experience and skills I have, including graphic designing, I chose social media marketing as the perfect service that I could provide and the best niche to focus.

Shoot Forth

2. What is it like to be a freelancer living in Pampanga? Any insight on how widespread freelancing is in your area?

There are many Internet marketing companies ran by foreign and fellow Filipinos in Pampanga, especially in Clark. However, most of the clients I took are from Australia, Canada, and United States, ranging from small to large enterprises.

3. A Social Media Manager is so much more than posting updates on Facebook and Twitter. Can you enlighten our readers what an SMM work entails?

You are correct. Posting updates is just one of the basic tasks of a Social Media Manager.

Below are few actionable steps that I personally do. Please note that this list is also applicable to other industries, including entrepreneurship itself. You may need assistance from your clients and further research at each point.

  • market segmentation and research*
  • selecting beachhead market*
  • building an end-user profile or persona*
  • calculating the total addressable market (TAM) reach for the beachhead market
  • profiling the persona for beachhead market*
  • identifying the next customer acquisition campaign
  • charting the current competitive social media position
  • determining the customer’s decision-making unit*
  • mapping the process to acquire a paying customer via social media through conversion path
  • calculating the TAM reach for follow-on markets
  • calculating the lifetime value (LTV) of an acquired customer
  • calculating the cost of customer acquisition (COCA)
  • choosing the right social platform based from data and hard-research analysis

* Necessary only if no data is available from the clients’ end.

Meanwhile, these are the few basic things that I do, which most SMMs do as well:

  • creating contents for blog and social media accounts
  • creating the graphics to use
  • scheduling the contents
  • creating a social media distribution campaign (given that distribution is always 80% of the battle, whereas production is just 20%)
  • conversations and community building
  • tracking and measurement
  • social media analytics and reporting
  • growth hacking

4. What is your ultimate go-to social media blog and who do you consider as your influencers from both the local and international scene?

I rarely read strategy blogs because I create personalized strategies based on my customers’ goal. Most of the works that I read are related to SEO, conversions, growth hacks, and psychology.

However, to name a few, my favorites are Buffer Blog, Okdork (Noah Kagan), Quicksprout (Neil Patel), Socialtriggers (Derek Halpern), and Entrepreneur. I read these whenever I need an inspiration.

5. I couldn’t forget the term you coined for yourself in one of our earlier conversations: design-keter-preneur (designer, marketer, and entrepreneur). 🙂 If you can be just one, what would it be?

I’ll definitely choose entrepreneur for a long-term title. Turning some drama on, I believe that being young makes me enjoy marketing and designing. However, whenever I sit on a couch and imagine myself at the age of 40 to 60, I may not be able to provide a done-for-you service anymore, with me personally working on projects.

Well, I still have a long way to do them since I’m still young, committed, and driven for what I want and for my career. These traits also set me apart.

6. Any advice for freelancers who are planning to start their own social media agencies in the future?

Roel ManarangWith an extensive experience in freelancing, I learned different things, including getting to my feet again after every mistake. Below are few things that I highly suggest for everyone to remember.

On freelancing:

  • Focus on your goals one at a time.
    Here are few of the goals I focused during my first year:
    1. Get one to four clients. The earnings from these clients can help me pay my rent and bills.
    2. Work with at least one of the companies listed in Fortune 500 and add it to my portfolio.
  • Create a compelling proposal that can wow your clients.
    A sweet and short content always works for me, just make sure to do the same whenever you bid on a job.
  • Choose your clients wisely because not all that glitter is gold.
  • Give your 100 percent and be hungry for it.

On building a social media agency:

  • Always create a goal.
    Creating a goal is extremely important. It’s really impossible to unify everyone’s thought but you can unify your team with goals.
  • Choose your team wisely.
    You should remember that whenever someone joins your company, there are only two things that they could do. It’s either helping you succeed or helping you fail.
  • Adapt to major trends or changes.
    In social media marketing industry, it’s important to be up to date especially with the algorithms, features, and other changes in the social media tools you are using.
  • Start small, build big.

Here are some bonus advices from my favorite people:

  • Only fools use their mouth to speak. A smart man uses his brain, and a wise man uses his heart.
  • When you are competing with one another, don’t bring hatred along. Hatred will take you down.
  • The world will not remember what you say, but it will certainly not forget what you have done.
  • “Free” is the most expensive word.
  • Even if your competitor is still small in size or weak, you should take him seriously and treat him as a giant. Likewise, even if your competitor is massive in size, you shouldn’t regard yourself as a weakling.

7. Optional (only if you’re willing!): Can you share your rate when you started as a freelancer and your current hourly rate?

I started with a low-hanging fruit; I think my first-ever project was $25 USD fixed rate for a one-week work.

After building a good portfolio and set of clients in two months, I started charging a minimum of $8 USD per hour. My current hourly rate ranges from $9 to $25 USD, whereas my fixed monthly rate starts at $625 to $4300 USD per month.

8. Bonus: I stalked your IG account and you seem to be a foodie and a bookworm. What is your all-time favorite book and what food can you not live without?

Haha, great stalking. I really love books so I’ll just name three of my favorite authors—Seth Godin, Dale Carnegie, and Chris Brogan. And, I can’t live without high-protein foods like chicken and fish with vegetables as carbs.

*Want to be a better Social Media Manager? Sign up to our upcoming Social Media 101 course with guest speaker Roel Manarang. Details to follow!


Roel Manarang is the founder and CEO of North Social Media, a Philippine-based social media marketing company. He is also the author of Shoot Forth, an Internet marketing strategy blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

*Images grabbed from Roel’s Twitter Profile

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Subscribe to get instant updates on webinars, workshops and events!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.