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Marketing is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners and essential to your business’s success. As small business marketing becomes more digitized and more competitors enter into each industry, marketing your products and services becomes even more difficult. How do you stand out when everyone gets the basic rules of the game?
Hiring freelance marketing help can be the solution, especially if you’re on a budget, or if you don’t have the time—or expertise—to do it yourself. Start by breaking down what projects you need help with, and then turn to one of our eight recommended sites to find freelancers who are reasonably priced and ready to go. You might end up liking these freelancers so much that you want to offer them a full time job!
Small business owners usually discover that their marketing needs come in phases. For instance, if you’re just starting a brand new business, then you’ll need help launching a website or blog, establishing your social media presence, and acquiring your first set of customers. If you have a more mature business, then you might need help refining your brand, exploring new marketing channels, or improving performance on existing channels.
Freelance marketers work with businesses at all stages, but most specialize in one of the following areas:
As you can see, the umbrella of marketing contains a lot of specializations. You might need to hire more than one freelance marketer, depending on what you want to accomplish. But the nice thing about freelancers is that you can either find someone very specialized or very general. For example, some marketing freelancers specialize in restaurant marketing, retail marketing, or ecommerce discussions. Finding someone in your industry will lower the time spent in initial discussions/learning and allow the freelancer to get to work more quickly.
There are several freelancer and “gig economy sites” which list freelancers who can help your business. Most of these sites list freelancers in every industry, but marketing is always a big share of freelancers. On these platforms, business owners can browse freelancers by location, specialization, and budget. You can also read reviews of freelancers left by other business owners.
Each site works a little bit differently. Some let you browse without creating an account, while others require you to create an account to see freelancer listings. Pricing also works differently, with some listing projects by hourly rates and others on a fixed fee. On some sites, freelancers have to bid for projects, whereas in others businesses can choose any freelancer on the network. Whatever the specifics, the purpose of these sites is to help businesses and freelance marketers connect.
Here are the top eight sites to find freelance marketing help:
Photo credit: Fiverr
The freelance website Fiverr is the largest freelance marketplace for small businesses on a budget. The average going rate of freelancers is more affordable on Fiverr compared to other sites, hourly rates as low as $5 (explaining the website’s name!). However, Fiverr now charges a 20% fee to buyers and sellers.
Although Fiverr is great for businesses on a budget, you should be aware that most freelancers on the site are looking to get a foot in the door and build up their portfolios. If your budget is tiny, this could be the smart place to start. But you might also need to more closely supervise the freelancer’s work and might not get the highest quality results. If you’re going to use Fiverr, make sure you review customer ratings carefully first before deciding who you’re going to use. Fiverr takes 14 days to clear your first payment, so this also isn’t the best option if you need someone right away.
Similar to Fiverr, Upwork is a freelance marketplace for small business owners. Upwork is more expensive than Fiverr but also offers access to a pool of more experienced freelancers. Their matching algorithm is great, and you have to take a brief “quiz” about your project and the skill set and experience level you’re looking for before you can browse your matches. Working with freelancers on Upwork is very easy. You can email your freelancer, share files, and view demos all without leaving the Upwork site or mobile app. This makes it easy to monitor progress and stay on task.
Upwork is free to use, but for access to the top-tier freelancers, you must upgrade to a paid Upwork plan.
Yet another large freelancer marketplace, Freelancer.com helps you find marketing help to grow your business. There are over 15 million jobs and 31 billion users on the website. Instead of browsing marketing freelancers, you get started by posting a description of your project. The platform will then match the appropriate freelancers to you. Their payment model will give you peace of mind. Freelancer.com will hold your payment in escrow until the work is completed correctly. This is a monster site for freelancers, the biggest on our list. For many freelancers. freelancer.com provides their bread and butter. So, you’re more likely to find experienced freelancers here. In fact, the company claims that 95% of their customers rehire freelancers.
Most people think of LinkedIn a place to post jobs and build your professional network. But LinkedIn also offers a marketplace for finding freelancers, including marketing freelancers. This is the company’s ProFinder product. You can put in details about your project, such as what you need done, how soon, and whether you prefer someone on-site or remote. Then, LinkedIn will send quotes from marketing freelancers straight to your email. You can work out the cost details with the individual freelancer. LinkedIn ProFinder tends to be costlier than a marketplace like Upwork or Fiverr, but you’re also drawing from a more closely vetted pool of talent.
Compared to other freelancer sites, Guru is smaller and has a more international presence. Last time we checked, there were only about 70,000 marketing professionals on the platform, and they were located around the world. But prices were very reasonable. If you have a relatively straightforward project, a small budget, and don’t mind someone remote, then this could be the perfect option for you.
This is another freelancer site where you can find help on a variety of marketing needs. Like Freelancer.com, the way to get started on People Per Hour is to post a description of your project, though you can also browse projects and freelancers if you wish. Try to be as detailed as possible, so you get the best matches. You also can choose an experience level from entry level to expert. Select based on budget and the impact that the project will have on your business. People Per Hour has hourly rates and fixed-fee projects, though it is a small-scale site.
Photo credit: 99Designs
This site is a little different from the rest. 99designs is a dedicated platform for finding design help of any kind. You describe your project, decide your budget, and numerous freelancers compete to “win” your business. The best part is you get to see (and eliminate) actual designs as you go through the process. The filtering helps you hone in on your own design preferences and choose someone who you think will work out for your business. Design contests start at $299.
Do you have a project that requires especially careful attention and specialized experience? Will this “make or break” a new product launch or determine whether a client comes on board? If so, you need the best help you can get. Toptal sources the top 3% of freelance talent across the web. These freelancers command a premium, but they deliver results. You can use Toptal to find expert UX designers, graphic designers, illustrators, animators, and other marketing and design professionals.
Using freelance marketers is very different from having in-house, on-staff marketing help. Unlike a full-time staff member, a freelance marketer doesn’t intimately know your business. They’re also likely to have several different clients, which means that you might not always get their full attention. Understanding such differences will help you get the most benefit from your freelance marketers and reach your business goals.
Here are some best practices when working with freelance marketers:
Before selecting a freelancer, make sure you know what other business owners are saying about them. Most freelancer sites, similar to Yelp, let you compare freelancers based on reviews. Granted, you should always take reviews with a grain of salt, but reviews will give you a general idea of how successfully a freelancer has reached objectives for other businesses.
The best freelancer is one who understands your industry and your specific business needs very well. Use the filters on freelancer sites to find marketing freelancers in your industry or in the area you most need help in. Some freelance portals will even let you view the freelancer’s portfolios and lifetime earnings on the site.
While working with a freelance marketing consultant, it’s important to be as honest as possible from the get go. Think of the first few days as a “probation period.” If they are not communicating well or don’t seem to “get” your business, let them know what they need to work on. If you don’t see improvement over the next few days, move on to another freelancer. Remember, though, that you are obligated to pay for any completed work.
You don’t necessarily need to hire someone in-house to help with your freelance marketing. Some of the best freelancer marketers work as consultants for multiple clients. You can use one of the sites above to review and compare different freelancers and choose the best ones for your business. When working with a freelancer, the best approach is to give good feedback and carefully monitor their progress. And in the end, you might be so thrilled with the results that you end up making the freelancer a full-time job offer to join your business!