Remote working and starting a business are two trends that have been massively popular over the past few years. The news of Yahoo and IBM pulling remote workers back to their offices and letting go of people who aren’t willing to work on-site has created mass protests online and throwbacks from the young generation that refuses to obey the 9-to-5 working lifestyle.
The influence of digital online sources and online startups has provided job opportunities for people willing to provide services remotely. Self-made entrepreneurs have started with small blogs that went viral or YouTube channels that generate millions of views per each video out there.
A good percentage of the population working a regular job at the office is looking for alternatives that would let them working as solopreneurs or freelancers instead. There are hundreds of thousands (if not more) people on freelance job portals offering content, social media marketing, writing newsletters, maintaining a YouTube channel or other services provided by marketing firms.
The importance of marketing in the digital era, the development of online technologies (along with the affordability of tech and Internet services) have opened a new niche for people who want to work their own hours, start a business, join a reputable company or scale a business without paying for marketing services. While mastering marketing is extremely challenging, that doesn’t stop anyone from trying and learning the most out of social media, blogs, and online marketing courses.
The Modern Era of Digital Marketers
Marketing is nowadays taught as a separate specialty, a branch of PR or journalism programs, and as a set of courses in numerous specialties out there. Although the methods used in a university may not be as up to date and practical in a day-to-day environment, a lot of people see marketing as a viable career path.
Generations Y and Z also spend a ton of time on social media, tinkering with simple blogs, browsing various websites out there and judging user experience, look and feel or poor checkout processes. A study covered by American Press Institute states that 88% of millennials get news from Facebook.
The young generation actively leverages social media and reputable online sources for news and participates with reports, news, sharing relevant articles and often producing quality content as well. Think about the percentage of high-quality Instagram photos or Pinterest board created by people who are not employed as marketing or creative experts and the head start they may have in marketing.
Remote Digital Marketing Positions Gaining Popularity
Remote opportunities are far more accessible than a decade ago —, especially in the digital field.
I regularly stumble upon startups or larger product businesses looking for product managers and marketers where remote work is a possibility.
That said, solid experience is a must. Big and small companies, whether in a B2B or B2C setting, usually require a successful track record of responsibility, commitment, communication, and loyalty before agreeing to work with a remote digital marketer.
Remote marketing experts usually start with either of the two alternative approaches below:
- Start on-site and ask to telecommute or remote after 6–12 months to prove themselves. It may take them longer, depending on experience. But once they pass the trial and start to contribute to the business, they become valuable. Then, other opportunities may be unlocked as a result.
- Start with a job that’s more common as a remote position. Content writing is a fairly common one. Companies outsource writing to freelancers, consultants, even writing job networks. These are those who apply for a half-time or even regular contributor on the side, and increasingly invest more time and effort moving to a marketing role while retaining their virtual presence.
The Growing Need for Digital Marketers
There is an increasingly growing trend of businesses eager to work with remote digital marketers.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data quoted by SBE Council in 2012:
Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses, and businesses with less than 20 workers made up 89.6 percent
9 out of 10 businesses employ fewer than 20 people. Think about coffee shops, family restaurants, guest houses or anything else non-related to tech directly. The odds that no marketing staff works in those businesses are high.
Therefore, business owners and managers eager to keep their paycheck and work in a great environment that manages to stay profitable look for alternatives that would help them sell more.
Most businesses that have just started out cannot justify the expense of hiring a full-time salesperson who would do marketing for them.
Hiring remote digital marketers is the logical continuation that allows them to focus on brand development and reputability, advertisement opportunities, and other areas that would gradually increase the number of customers without aggressively pressing people to buy without them being in the frontlines.
Why Digital Marketing Experts Don’t Start Their Own Businesses?
So if they are the experts that they claim they are, why do these digital marketing specialists don’t start their own business?
Not every digital marketer is a suitable startup or agency founder. Here’s why.
There are different ways to approach the question.
Digital marketing includes a number of different categories profiling in various niches, such as:
- Social media marketing
- Copywriting/content marketing
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Conversion rate optimization
Some may include other forms of advertising, PR, web design or other tangible areas covered by certain professions.
Working as a marketer for an existing organization results in leveraging the power of the company – their brand and workforce, along with the capital.
- Marketing specialists are not starting from scratch.
- There’s an existing business with a (proven) business model that works.
- There are different team members who can support the marketing needs.
- Budget is allocated on marketing activities.
- There is traction that marketing specialists can amplify instead of bootstrapping and creating their personal and professional brand from the ground.
- Senior management or C-Suite has already tried certain strategies and has a rough plan in mind that could be refined and executed.
- There are existing clients (even if its the company alone) that these marketing experts don’t need to pitch, negotiate with, close, report to – at least for the most part.
Larger organizations also employ several marketers – or even multiple marketing departments. Marketers can collaborate with their colleagues and learn from their experience online or offline.
What Running A Business Entails For Marketers
A marketer interested in entrepreneurship or starting a small business has to prepare a business plan and create a unique offer for the market.
- If it’s a product, there’s a lot of work (and cash) that goes into the product itself before starting.
- If they are selling marketing services, it’s already a commodity – competing with everyone else out there requires a lot of time and hustle, as well as building a portfolio at discounted prices over the first months or over a year.
The new business owner(s) is in charge of creating a company, dealing with accounting, sales, the company’s own marketing (with different verticals maintained on a regular basis), technology, legal activities, negotiations, managing a portfolio of clients…
It’s a long list.
Those who want to try this path must partner up with other marketers profiling in different areas of the business. Or hire employees. This gets even more complicated – going through the entire job application process, vetting candidates, conducting interviews, onboarding and training new people and ensuring that you can afford to pay their salary.
Sure, some marketers are eager to work for themselves and act as consultants or freelancers. They may start a marketing agency and partner up with former colleagues.
But running a business is completely different than starting in an organization that hands you a business plan or a portfolio of clients, offers you a steady paycheck and fixed working hours. That’s why most people prefer to get a job and do what they truly enjoy instead of dealing with logistics and administration – and stressing over the monthly expenses.
Vetting B2B vs. B2C Marketers
What are remote digital marketers expected to know when it comes to working with B2B and B2C businesses?
A standard B2C marketing strategy is often incompatible with B2B marketing.
This is really worth clearing out for a reason:
Remote marketers may be exposed to a completely different environment (think childhood) than what you are used to.
Distributed workforce tends to be spread around the globe. Even if you are recruiting around your town, social and cultural differences may define the perception of big and small, valuable and invaluable, important or not. What makes a deal massive for one won’t fit another marketer’s bucket.
Two years ago, we were interviewing marketers for our B2B company selling 5 and 6-figure projects. While our job description clearly outlined the job requirements and stressed on the fact that former B2B experience is highly recommended, most applicants for our digital marketing jobs came in proposing various campaigns suitable for selling shoes, candies, or soft drinks – all based on what worked for them in their previous non-digital marketing jobs.
The overall perception of a brand is different, too. B2C marketers often bet on emotional triggers. B2B deals are more practical and conservative.
Building a successful marketing campaign for a B2B company is a longer journey targeting different channels, catering for several buyers within a company, focused on a smaller marketing, backed up with plenty of educational information and often dependent on building a great relationship during the pre-sales process.
Many B2B marketers have transitioned from other roles such as sales or business developers. Rockstar B2C marketers are certainly suitable for a B2B marketing role as long as they adjust their workflow and comply with the corporate/enterprise laws.
Not every digital marketer is a suitable startup or agency founder.
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Your Take On Remote Hiring?
Hiring remotely for digital marketing jobs definitely has its perks on numerous fronts, including the financial and legal ones. That said, it could also be a tad more complicated, especially in terms of establishing the rightful business relationship long-term.
While I’m a proponent of remote work setups in general, I can’t disagree with the performance benefits of working in the same room. We have a bunch of people at the office and coordinating quickly, especially our emergency response team, is significantly faster than offloading to remote peers. Whenever the speed of execution is crucial, outsourcing is tricky to arrange.
For almost everything else, especially with hiring people for digital marketing jobs, remote works fine. You can tap into a larger pool, among its several other benefits. Often, hiring through trials solves that problem – working for a couple of weeks or a month at the office, even as a part-time engagement, tackling actual problems in a reverse-engineered manner.
Freelancers excel really well – large corps are about processes, and focus on tons of theory before getting to work. Businesses can solve problems and acquire procedural knowledge on-the-go.
Here’s our experience hiring remotely, the common challenges we’ve faced and the possible options that work out.
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