Eight rules for managing freelance marketers

Marketing is dynamic — and freelancers are likely to have specific expertise and experience that can be hard to develop in-house. However, while this talent is out there and ready to be hired, today’s market is flooded, making those freelancers difficult to find.

Unfortunately, this reality can yield suboptimal hires, which in turn can result in poor service and underwhelming ROI, eroding trust in digital marketing experts.

In order to combat this common problem, we’ve combed through a combined 20 years of experience in managing in-house and outsourced digital marketing experts to come up with eight rules for managing freelance talent.

Rule #1: Don’t compromise on quality
Choosing a freelancer from the abundance of available talent out there can be daunting. Endless scrolling down Google search results or hiring marketplaces will often leave you with more questions than answers regarding the expected quality of your expert.

It is important to gather “hard evidence” about your potential hire on your own by digging into the past quality of their work. You can do this by contacting the freelancer and asking them quality-oriented questions such as:

  • Which industries have they worked with?
  • What is the budget range they have managed?
  • What was the actual performance of the campaigns they created?

While this is a time-consuming task, it is important to hire someone who can deliver on your expectations.

Rule #2: Not all stars are your stars
Your business has its own unique needs, specific to your market or industry. Not every marketing expert, however talented and experienced, is necessarily the right fit for your business.

To get the best results and be happy with your hire, you need to know if they have relevant experience, such as working with similar products, target audience, industry, budget size and so on. Most marketplaces will help you filter down your options with some general categories as mentioned above, so don’t skip this step.

Rule #3: Invest time in setting the right expectations
Once you have selected your hire, it is important to take the time to communicate your expectations. These should cover everything regarding the stages of your project such as duration, milestones, time restraints, task prioritization, ideal communication channels, update frequency and a mutually agreed upon definition of “project completion.”

Expectations are a two-way street, so be mindful of your expert’s expectations,  as well as what they need from you to be able to succeed. This includes agreeing on how progress will be measured and reported.

Setting up the right work process from the start will keep misunderstandings and disappointment down to a minimum. Define how you’d like to maintain clear lines of communication and progress tracking — e.g.,., task management software, scheduled conference calls, digital marketing management tools, etc..

Rule #4: A good strategy is half the battle
When starting a project, you must make sure all of your efforts and investments are built to achieve your business goals. No matter how hard you may try to succeed with your marketing campaigns on the fly, you will never achieve your goals without a strategy.

To create a good strategy you need to have a vision of your ultimate goal — i.e., what does having a successful marketing machine look like to you? What results do you expect to see? What are your product/service’s strengths and weaknesses?

How do you plan on framing your unique value in a sea of competition?

It is important to communicate your goals with your hire so they can define the paths to get there and approve them with you. Their strategy should include answers to questions such as:

  • What marketing channels will be used?
  • What is the recommended budget size and how should it be distributed to various campaigns?
  • Is there any preparation or material you’ll have to provide? (E.g., content and messaging, graphics, landing pages or other website infrastructure changes, etc.)

Any strategy has to be uniquely tailored to your business.

Rule #5: Strong work foundations are key
While there is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy , there are best practices. These are hard-learned lessons your hire should be familiar with if they have the right experience.

Best practices are dynamic by nature and you can’t be laid back about them with your marketing expert. Make a point to understand how your digital campaigns are built and ask if all the best practices are being applied to the various channels you are using. Be actively curious and involved in the performance of your campaigns — after all, it’s your money at work.

Rule #6: You are responsible too
Demanding a high level of service works better when you’re applying your expectations yourself. If you expect to be kept up to date on your campaigns’ progress, reply to emails right away. If messaging or creative isn’t working, supply your hire with everything they need to change that.

By giving your hire the tools and information to succeed, you will reap the benefits faster. Consider it a team effort, where everyone has their responsibility and accountability.

Rule #7: Motivation is a key success factor
Managing outsourced professionals is no different than managing high-profile employees. Motivation will always stay a key success factor, especially when your direct control and authority is lower. People invest more in things they care about.

Share your vision and goals with your hire candidly. Motivate and support them to create an environment where they can feel free to raise red flags or innovative ideas. Remember, they hold the ability to boost your business forward: you want them on your side, fully informed and aligned with your business goals.

Rule #8: Measure, discuss, improve, repeat
It is a well-known fact that whatever you measure will improve. Marketing performance is no different. It is mandatory to be able to view the results of your marketing efforts, learn from them and continuously evaluate areas to improve based on clear data.

Establish a work culture of constant improvement. Most projects are ongoing, and if you are lucky to have found someone you like to work with and are pleased with their results, you will want to maintain and cultivate that working relationship. This can be achieved with structured communication via scheduled reports, live shared dashboards, weekly discussions or recurring phone calls to analyze current performance..

To sum things up…
When all is said and done, the advantages of having someone with experience, time and professional tools in place can outweigh the challenging deterrent of geographical distance. Outsourcing challenges your ability to manage people working for you remotely, But when done correctly, you gain effective and focused work performed by experts you could never hire in-house..

To find quality marketers today, sign up for a free digital strategy proposal here.

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