A Guide to Hiring Remote Employees for Your Digital Marketing Agency

Creating Ideal Profile | Finding Right Remote Employee | Selecting the Right Employee

Digital marketing agencies have been hiring remote employees to get access to talent and save costs. Digital marketing jobs such as SEO, content writing and social media marketing are a great fit for remote work. Hiring remote employees for your digital marketing agency has several benefits. You can:

  1. Hire best talent for your agency even if there is talent shortage in your local market
  2. Save up to 30% on office and overhead costs
  3. Save 20-50% of on wages by hiring in a less expensive city or country

Hiring the right talent was voted as the second most important challenge facing digital agencies in a poll we conducted earlier this year. Several agencies told us that the most important benefit of hiring remote employees was increased access to talent. Hiring remote employees allowed them to find the best talent irrespective of local labor market conditions. For example, many smaller agencies in US metro areas hired in smaller US cities or in another country to overcome talent shortage in their cities.

Several digital agencies in the US, UK and Australia save up to 50% on employee costs by hiring workers in India and Philippines. These include SEO professionals, content writers, graphics designers, web developers and more.

Creating the Ideal Profile of Your Remote Employee

But hiring remote employees needs a different plan than hiring office employees. At a high level, the process looks similar – create job profile, source candidates, interview and select the right person for the job. The difference lies in how you do these activities.

You cannot supervise and monitor a remote employee the way you can supervise an office worker. You can’t walk up to their desk and check on their work. You can’t talk to them whenever you want to. So you need right processes and tools for managing remote employees.

The most important part is hiring the right remote employee. Not everyone can be an effective remote worker. While everyone loves the flexibility that comes with working remotely, only few have the attitude and discipline to be productive as a remote employee.

When hiring a remote employee for your digital marketing agency, look for a person who:

  • Can work independently without the need for detailed instructions or hand holding
  • Is positive and motivated
  • Is a good listener and communicator
  • Works proactively

Include these points in your ideal candidate profile along with required technical skills. After you’ve created the job profile, it’s time to start the search.

You can fill the job in multiple ways:

  • Hire a remote employee
  • Hire a remote contractor
  • Hire a small outsourcing company

The option you choose depends on your specific business needs. Generally, it’s easier to hire a contractor if the person is in a different country or tax jurisdiction than yours.  You don’t have to comply with multiple labor laws, payroll, tax and insurance issues that come with hiring an employee.   It’s also easier to let go a contractor than an employee in most countries.

If you plan on hiring multiple remote employees for your agency but don’t want the trouble of managing them, then outsourcing to a small company is a good option. Many outsourcing companies in India, Philippines and other places offer white label digital marketing services. They can help you scale your agency without the need to hire employees.

Finding the Right Remote Employee for Your Agency

In this post, I focus on the first two options, i.e., hiring remote employees and contractors. Once you have your job description ready, head over to one of these sites to find candidates for the role:

LinkedIn: Free to Use with option for paid job listing

LinkedIn is the ideal recruitment tool due to its global reach. If you have the budget, you can post the job on LinkedIn Jobs. But you can spread your message far and wide using LinkedIn even without it. All you need is some time and a bit of creativity.

The first step in using LinkedIn to recruit a remote employee for your digital marketing agency is to post the job opening as your status update on LinkedIn. Describe the job and profile of your ideal candidate. Include a link to the page where people can apply. If you don’t have a form on your site, just ask interested candidates to send you a private message on LinkedIn.

You should also post the opening on popular digital marketing groups on LinkedIn. Most groups have guidelines to follow for posting jobs so make sure you read group rules before posting your job. Postings in LinkedIn Groups generally get better response than postings on your profile page. Posting in groups puts your job in front of a large, targeted audience.

As people Like, Share or Comment on your post, more people around the world see and respond to it. If done well, you can get dozens of qualified applications for the job.

Some LinkedIn digital marketing groups where you can post your remote digital marketing job:

Digital Marketing: Social Media, Search, Mobile & more – over 400K members who are a mix of experienced and newbies in search marketing, social media and content writing.

Marketing Group – Digital SEO Search Social Mobile App Analytics Internet Media PR Data & Jobs – over 230K members who are experienced in SEO, social media marketing, web analytics and design.

Digital Marketing – over 1 million members

Digital Marketing Professionals Network – over 50K members

Facebook: Free to Use

Most business owners don’t look at Facebook as a recruitment tool. As a digital agency owner, you already know how to use Facebook for marketing. But you can also apply similar techniques for hiring remote employees or contractors.

Facebook Groups are one of the best tools for hiring. Almost every major city in the world has a Facebook jobs group. Thousands of people join these groups in search of a job. Most of these groups will allow you to post your job for free.

There are also many groups on Facebook dedicated to digital marketing. You can post your jobs in these groups. Groups that are dedicated to startups are also a good place to post your job since most startups employ digital marketing professionals. Most people on these groups are looking for gigs or remote work. They can be an ideal hire for your digital agency since they are already looking at working remotely and are motivated.

The best way to find a relevant group on Facebook is to search for “Digital Marketing” + your target city name.  For example, if you are looking for groups in New York, search for “digital marketing New York”.

Facebook Groups for posting remote digital marketing jobs:

Digital Marketing Jobs Updates – has over 50K members from several cities around the world

Digital Marketing work from Home – has over 50K members who are looking for remote digital marketing jobs

Freelance – Web Designing, Digital Marketing Projects / Jobs / Services – over 4K members who are looking to hire or work as freelancers

Digital Marketing Jobs – Hire SEO PPC Social Media Freelance Experts – has over 9K members looking for remote jobs in digital marketing

Pinterest: Free to Use

Digital marketers, especially of the creative variety, love to hang out on Pinterst. If you are looking to hire a designer, video maker / editor or content writer, Pinterest is a great place to post your job. Create an attractive image and/or video and post on Pinterest. Apply your Pinterest marketing sauce to it and see how your inbox fills up with high quality resumes.

You can also use Pinterest to hire remote SEO specialists since many SEO professionals are active there for link building.

Upwork: Paid

Upwork (formerly Elance and Odesk) is world’s largest marketplace for freelancers, contractors and small outsourcing firms. You can find a worker with almost any skillset such as writing content, doing SEO and managing social media. Since Upwork is focused on freelance work, it’s project driven.

Hiring remote worker on Upwrok is easy – post your project, select the best freelancer from the list of bidders and start working. Upwork has a desktop monitoring software that freelancers use to track their time and submit timesheet to the employer.

When posting your project, be as specific and detailed about the job to be done and results you expect from the remote worker. You should include both hard and soft skills needed to do the job. Ask bidders to share their previous work history or portfolio.

You should be open to hiring both existing and new freelancers on Upwork in order to find the right talent at the right price.

Existing or experienced Upwork freelancers have a portfolio with client reviews. So it’s easier to assess them. Evaluating new freelancers is a bit tricky. New freelancers join Upwork every day. These folks don’t  have any feedback or portfolio on Upwork. So they are generally willing to work at a discounted rate to build a track record there. Ask them to share their work experience. These could be from past employers or work done elsewhere. Insist on references you can talk to validate their skill set and work ethics.

After you post your project, freelancers start bidding on your project. You can also invite specific freelancers to bid on your project. You can also ask Upwork to help you find the right freelancers by paying extra.

Pro Tip for Hiring on Upwork

A pro tip for finding the right remote worker on Upwork is to post a small project initially to test them. For example, if you want to hire a SEO person, post a project to build 10 links in a week. Mention in your project that you are looking for a long term hire and the current project is to test potential workers. Then select multiple freelancers to work on it. By creating a small project, you can keep your costs down and afford to test multiple workers. Once the workers finish building links, you can evaluate the work and select the best one for ongoing work.

One of the drawbacks of Upwork is the steep fee it charges to employers and freelancers. As the buyer, you pay Upwork 2.75% of total contract value as fee for using the platform. Upwork adds this fee to the contracted amount when billing you. While this sounds like a small fee, it can quickly add up if you hire multiple workers or hire someone for long term. For example, if you hire a social media marketer for $1000 per month in India, you will pay Upwork $27.5 every month.

Upwork also collects a monthly fee plus 10-20% of contract amount from the freelancer. For repeat project, Freelancer will have to pay 10% of the billed amount.

Most freelancers include this fee in their bid amount so the buyer ends up paying the bulk of the transaction fee on Upwork. If we take the same social media freelancer example, between you and the remote worker, Upwork will collect $157.5 first month and $127.5 in following months. That’s a lot of money.

Upwork is great for finding remote talent but not so good if for hiring remote employees for long term. A better option is to post a one-time project, find the right talent and then contract with the worker directly to save on transaction fee. You can use a good time tracking software like HiveDesk to keep track of work done by the remote worker and bring transparency.

Reddit: Free

Reddit is a very popular discussion forum with millions of active users. It’s also a good place for hiring remote employees because there are thousands of digital marketers, web developers and designers active on Reddit.

There are several Subreddits (or topics) dedicated to digital marketing and freelancing on Reddit. Some of these Subreddits have thousands of members from around the world. By posting your job on these Subreddits, you can get it in front of thousands of potential remote workers.

Selecting the Right Remote Employee

Interview is an integral part of hiring process. Since you cannot meet remote candidates in person, you will have to interview them over phone or internet. I recommend you use Zoom or Skype to do a video interview. I like video interviews because

  • I can look for visual clues to evaluate the person
  • Seeing someone is a powerful way to connect with the person
  • Video calls help find out if the remote worker has a reliable and fast internet connection, essential for doing digital marketing job

I prefer Zoom over Skype for one off meetings like doing interviews since you don’t need to add the person to your contact list. I don’t like adding dozens of people to my Skype contact list unless I intend to connect with them on a regular basis. With Zoom, I just email a link that the candidate can click to join the meeting.

If your job posting gets dozens of responses, as it should, you will need a way to track the candidates. If you can afford, sign up for an applicant tracking system.  You can also use a spreadsheet to track candidates. You can use Google Sheets to track candidates if more than one person is involved in hiring process. Keep updating the spreadsheet as you review resume / portfolio and interview the candidates.

At the end of the interview process, you will likely have more than one candidate you find suitable. Before you make a final decision, I suggest you give each of them a small assignment.

For example, if you are hiring a content writer, give the candidates a topic for a short blog post. It can be as small as 300 -500 words. The idea is to check if the person can structure thoughts and write well. Similarly, if you are hiring an SEO person, ask candidates to build 5 links from relevant sites with decent domain authority.

This approach reduces risk of hiring a wrong remote worker for your digital agency. You may have to spend a few bucks on trial assignments but it’s much better than hiring the wrong remote worker. Trial assignment is by far the best way to judge the quality of a remote employee. It’s great for checking both technical skills as well as ability to work remotely.

After the trial assignment, select the person you like most, finalize terms of contract / job and sign the contract. Make sure you receive a signed copy of the contract before the remote employee starts working.

If you liked this post, let us know. Yo can also share your experience in hiring remote workers for your digital marketing agency.

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