On average, companies spend 9.5% of their total revenue on marketing.
And a good portion of those budgets often goes toward hiring freelance marketers.
Great marketers know how to get your offering in front of the people who’re the most likely to buy it. They understand how to make prospects consider your option instead of the competition and progressively multiply the number of such warm leads.
If you plan to scale your marketing capacity this year, this guide covers all the nuances of contracting with freelance marketers — from where to find them to how to onboard, pay, and manage high-performing teams.
The short answer is — it depends. Having full-time employees (FTEs) is a “classic”, but costly option. Agencies can make good long-term partners…or leave you not that satisfied with the end results (and the total bill). Freelance marketers, in turn, can be a flexible extension of your in-house team, but require extra ongoing supervision.
To help you decide, we’ve put down the pros and cons of each talent sourcing model.
A full-time marketing task force keeps your growth engine running (almost) around the clock. Individually, each covers their funnel segment — demand-gen, nurturing, or conversions. Jointly, a great marketing team keeps your sales funnel chock-full of qualified leads (B2B) or eager shoppers (B2C).
The best marketers know their chops…and their worth. The average marketing manager salary in the US is above $110K per year — and few of the best candidates stay unemployed for too long. Apart from the hiring costs and talent availability, there are a few other downsides to having more marketing people on the payroll.
Marketing may be a “team sport”, but individual performers can increase your odds of getting a home run. Freelance marketers can bring new skill sets, competencies, and perspectives to your campaign planning and substantially improve your capacity to generate new business.
Freelance markers can make a lot of marvelous work happen, but they aren’t almighty. Unlike full-time employees, they lack the ability to work in a continuous flow, crossing off one task after another. Managers too will have to adjust their expectations and style of direction to accommodate some of the following drawbacks:
Advertising and marketing agencies have been around for almost a century. While most have shed the Mad Men flair, they’ve retained the same commitment to delivering creative, measurable, high-impact campaigns for their clients.
Though agency executives try their best to meet every client’s demand, some don’t fully deliver on the glowing promises and yet still send over a substantial bill.
Marketing channels and strategies abound — as do marketing experts specializing in them. Below are several popular marketing roles freelancers take:
The number of freelance marketers available for hire has been growing continuously. Why?
Because the idea of freelancing is often more attractive than working full-time. In fact, 50% of marketing freelancers voluntarily quit their traditional job to pursue freelance work as it offered more flexibility, better pay, and improved mental well-being.
For distributed team managers, it means that hiring high-caliber freelance marketers got easier. Especially when you know where to search for the right talent.
Xolo makes hiring freelance marketers a piece of cake, by ensuring every project you have receives the precise talent it needs. Contacting the Xolo crew, and informing them of your project details and mission, means you’re just a few business days (or less) from hiring amazing freelance talent.
Let’s review some useful alternatives to Xolo, and give you a chance to decide which fit works best for you.
To meet the surged demand for freelance marketers, a bunch of niche marketplaces has emerged. Unlike general freelance marketplaces, this new breed of platforms matches you with a pre-vetted talent database.
But unlike agencies, you still get to manage your new freelance hire directly, while the marketplace handles some admin tasks.
Popular freelance marketplaces for marketers:
Marketers are social creatures. We like to bounce off ideas with peers and keep close tabs on all things happening in our industry (and well beyond it). That’s why you’ll often find the best freelance specialists regularly checking in with their virtual network — and it’s also among the first places where they’ll look up new gigs.
Become a regular to low-key connect with top pros and share your “I’m hiring!” messages to a competent, receptive community.
Popular communities to hire freelance marketers:
At the end of the day, the names of the top marketers are passed by one manager to another via emails, LinkedIn messages, and in-person exchanges.
To cut down your research time in half, ask your network who’s the best person for SEO/email marketing/demand-gen, etc. You’ll likely get some solid leads and could then start direct conversions with those highly-recommended people.
No one came through? Well, do some sneaky research of your own and follow the “breadcrumbs” trail. Look at the companies whose marketing you admire, then try to reverse engineer who did things for them. You can probably find freelancers associated with them in a couple of Google and LinkedIn searches.
That said, though-after freelance marketers are often busy up to their necks. So start your research early and schedule several discovery calls.
Popular ways to get freelance marketer referrals:
Freelance markets know their value and set prices proportionally to the impact their services deliver for the clients. On top, freelance rates account for all the overhead costs independents need to cover (unbillable hours, taxes, social contributions, insurance, admin costs, etc).
Therefore, freelance marketers request much higher hourly rates in comparison to full-time employees. But most of the time, they bring higher ROI too.
In terms of hourly rates, the Freelance Map survey says that European marketing and communication specialists ask for $86/hour on average (before VAT). A Malt study, in turn, found that European freelance marketers request the following day rates: €388 in France, €730 in Germany, and €180 in Spain.
Freelance marketers' rates also vary a lot based on their location and specialty. For instance,
Australian freelancers typically request the following day rates:
In Great Britain, you should expect to pay similar day rates (though in a different currency) to the following types of marketing specialists:
Overall, freelance marketers' compensation will vary a lot depending on their role and seniority levels. Most will share their prices upfront either during the discovery call or when submitting a project proposal.
An annual salary survey by Superpath estimates that freelance marketers make $105K on average per year, while full-time marketing employees receive $93K in compensation per year). The above includes both flat-rate and hourly compensation, received from clients.
The American Writers and Artists Institute also suggests the following median project rates for marketing freelancers:
Most freelance SEO specialists prefer to charge retainers — a fixed-price per month sum for a set number of deliverables and/or hours. Hourly rates aren’t common as they rarely reflect the value of work SEOs do.
Per Ahrefs, $501–$1,000 per month is the most popular monthly retainer rate for SEO specialists. Though some services may come with a higher check.
To get productive, marketers need to get the gist of your business: Key offerings, market positioning, differentiators, etc. On top, they also need to understand the goals you’re setting up for a specific campaign.
The above means a lot of back and forth during the proposal and onboarding stages. Freelancer management systems like Xolo Teams help you keep things moving. We provide you with a virtual office hub for your talent, where you can manage proposals and contracts, schedule payments, and ensure compliance with global tax and employment laws.
Here’s how we propose to onboard freelance marketers:
Freelance marketers have different pricing models. Some charge project-based fees in one lump sum or in installments. Others prefer retainers, which must be paid off in advance. Ask upfront about the contractor’s billing approach and preferred payment terms.
Unlike agencies and larger suppliers, most contractors prefer shorter net payment terms (NET 5/14/30). This means you may need to make changes to your accounting process to accommodate faster pay runs.
Xolo reduces the complexities of paying marketing contractors. Our platform provides convenient and compliant invoicing tools for freelancers, which are automatically sent for your approval. Xolo Teams allows unlimited admin users (for no extra cost), meaning you can add your Finance team to review and schedule payments. You can pay each invoice individually or roll them into a master invoice. Also, Xolo Teams can automatically generate invoices for each freelancer based on project scope (to save you time!).
Afterward, we debit the payment from your bank account and ensure quick distribution to all contractors in any of the 186 supported countries.
Freelance marketers can be a major asset to your business. But also a bit of a management nuisance if you don't take good ownership of the outsourced projects.
Taking ownership means having a well-defined vision and a structured process for scope definition, task delegation, briefing, and supervision. In other words: You should clearly understand what needs to be done (aka the scope), who should be involved in the task (e.g., a freelancer + 2 in-house team members), and how the project needs to be delivered (deadlines, results, etc).
To get there, try practicing the following:
Xolo is changing the way you think about hiring freelancers — less hassle, less time and better results. Send your next project to Xolo, and let a dedicated industry expert curate three freelancers perfect for your exact mission to you in under three business days, leaving you with an easy decision.
And if you’re looking to build a team, Xolo has you covered from discovery to payday.
Elena Prokopets writes content for tech-led companies & software development businesses, marketing to them. Her empathy for the customer, expertise in SEO, and knack for storytelling help create content that ranks well and drives industry conversations.
Elena uses Xolo so she can focus on her solo B2B content writing business without stressing over the compliance and admin overhead.
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