Hire freelance marketers: the state of today’s workforce
“Over the next three years 55% of businesses believe that they will have a problem attracting new talent.” Professor Ans De Vos from Antwerp Management School
Most people are aware that a significant percentage of businesses have diversified their hiring methods. From opening themselves up to remote and flexible working methods to composing their teams entirely from freelancers. According to a Freelancing in America study, freelancers make up 36% of the USA workforce today. And they skew young – almost half of working Millenials are freelance. The workforce is changing across the world, and businesses will need to adapt to stay ahead.
Marketing is a great field to hire freelancers in. With tens of channels, hundreds of tactics and thousands of marketing tools, it’s impossible to have all knowledge in-house. So it’s no surprise that according to Upwork’s 2018 Future Workforce Survey, companies are struggling to find talent. Marketing positions are open for an average of 32 days, and 46% of hiring managers say it’s harder to hire marketers than in 2017. Freelancers are a considerable source of specialized talent that will slip through the nets of traditional hiring practices.
So, how does a modern business today work out the best way to hybridize their workforce?
Why should you hire freelance marketers?
There is no shortage of reasons why you should look outside of your workforce for marketing projects. Here’s just a few:
- Hire the best person for the job, not just the most convenient person geographically.
- A freelancer brings to the table their niche perspective, their fresh pair of eyes, and unique experiences.
- Some projects will require highly specialized knowledge. It will be easier to find a freelancer with those capabilities.
- Freelancers understand the need to be continual learners. According to Mary Meeker, 55% have participated in skill-related training in the past six months.
- You can reduce the typical hiring times.
They say the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Hiring freelance marketers is the best way to shake up the marketing rut your business finds itself in.
Mary Meekers 2018 report showed that the most wanted benefit for workers, beyond a paycheck, is flexibility. So it seems the need is at both ends.Freelancers understand the need to be continual learners. According to Mary Meeker, 55% have participated in skill-related training in the past six months. Click To Tweet
Some caveats of working with freelancers
Let’s be clear though, freelance marketers are no panacea. Without the right amount of diligence and research, situations can work out imperfectly:
- You can waste a considerable amount of time finding the perfect freelancer for your company.
- Miscommunications between employers and freelancers can end up being costly.
- Expectations and results aren’t always aligned. This can be especially the case when working with agencies who will want to sell you what they can offer rather than adapt to what you actually need. The number of talent in agencies limits what you can do as a business.
Some caveats for freelancers
On the other side of the fence, it’s also not all empowering unicorns and happiness for freelancers themselves. Beyond the usual pitfalls of freelancing, such as loneliness, freelance marketers can also struggle with:
- Limited performance feedback. Committed freelance marketers are continual learners who want to keep developing and learning 
- Boredom and job dissatisfaction. Traditional markers of success are not as important to freelancers as an ‘inner sense of purpose’. 
- Work insecurity. Freelancers can feel disposable to a company rather than integrated into their team. Many freelancers have reported feelings of anxiety or mental health issues from burnout or worries about the future.
How do we keep the practice of hiring freelance marketers ethical?
While there is no shortage of companies (eg Upwork, Fiverr, People per Hour) that have herded together freelance talent, it’s well known that their bidding approach to hiring is a race to the bottom.
If you want to hire freelancers ethically, do not encourage these content mill websites. They will, additionally, often leave you with disappointing results. You get what you pay for.If you want to hire freelancers ethically, do not encourage these content mill websites Click To Tweet
Personally, my best referrals have all come from LinkedIn where I’ve been hired on the strength of the content that I have posted. This includes my native videos, links to blogs I’ve written, and so forth.
I am not alone in doing this. There are thousands of freelancers on the site, many of whom will have the specialist skill and knowledge that you require. You can also use your professional network on LinkedIn to get recommendations from your peers. The chances are that someone you know has worked with someone who would be the right fit for you.
Another way to use LinkedIn is to type the keywords you are looking for in a person and work your way through either the ‘People’ or ‘Content’ tab.
It’s not your only option, of course, you could advertise the position in traditional outlets too.
However, LinkedIn has several advantages for me:
- A freelancer’s LinkedIn profile is a more in-depth version of the CV. You can see demonstrations of their expertise, as well as recommendations from past clients.
- Observe how they interact with others based on their activity, and know whether that style will mesh well with your company’s.
- Shorten the hiring process significantly – all it takes is a message to set up a call. You could hire a freelancer in a matter of hours, not weeks.
Psst! I’m a freelance marketer 😉
 Rothwell, A., & Arnold, J. (2007). Self‐perceived employability: Development and validation of a scale. Personnel Review, 36(1), 23–41.  Lo Presti, A., Pluviano, S., Briscoe, J.P. (2018). Are freelancers a breed apart? The role of protean and boundaryless career attitudes in employability and career success, Human Resource Management Journal, 1-16 (p. 3).
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