How to Hire a Marketer for Your Startup

6 min read
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Having a marketing team for your startup so that you can grow your business is key. No matter how novel your idea is, or how strong your products are, your company will fail if you can’t get the attention of your intended audience.

Working with a world-class marketer can be a make-or-break factor for early-stage startups. Unfortunately, many of these small businesses don’t have the funds to recruit their own in-house marketing team.

The good news is that if you hire a consultant, you can still benefit from top-notch marketing expertise. Whether you’re looking to get some quick help or fill a full-time position, this article will discuss how to hire a marketer for your startup.

How much is it to hire a marketer?

Without prior experience, making your startup’s first marketing hire can be tricky. You might first wonder “How much does it cost to hire a marketer for my startup?”.

But asking about the cost to hire a marketing consultant is like asking the question “How long is a piece of string?” There are marketers for hire to fit the needs of every business and budget.

Early-stage startups may prefer to keep small marketing projects in-house, so that they can develop their own voice and identity. As your startup grows, however, you’ll find that your daily marketing tasks have grown alongside it, becoming too time-consuming for you to manage alone.

If you’re looking to start small, you can hire a freelance digital marketer. This person is typically an independent consultant with one or more specializations who has previous experience in marketing. Having an affordable marketing expert on call is invaluable when you need help with a specific issue or project.

The cost of hiring a freelancer will vary depending on the person’s rates, experience, skill set, and availability. Freelance marketers may charge by the hour, by the word, or by the project. If you need recurring help, they may also charge a monthly retainer fee, which guarantees that the freelancer will be available to work a given number of hours per month.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, the hourly rates of freelance marketers in the United States generally hover around $50 to $100. If the freelancer instead charges a retainer fee, this cost may range from $1,000 to $3,000 per month.

If your marketing needs stretch beyond a single freelancer, you may look into working with a digital marketing agency. So why should you hire a marketing agency instead of a freelance marketer?

  • Agencies offer access to multiple marketing professionals, each with their own specializations and skill sets. This also gives agencies the capacity to rapidly scale up if you have an urgent project.
  • Using an agency tends to provide a more stable working relationship, with a designated project manager and check-in meetings.

The benefits of using a marketing agency tend to come at a higher price, however. A survey by marketing expert Jason Falls found that $125 to $150 per hour was the most common hourly rate, charged by 27 percent of marketing agencies. 36 percent of agencies charged over $150 per hour, and the remainder charged below $125 per hour.

What if you want to bring your marketing capabilities in-house by hiring one or employees? An internal marketing team provides greater reliability and connectivity with the rest of the organization. However, it will take time to build and can be too expensive for early-stage startups.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for marketing managers at a startup is roughly $80,000 per year. You’ll also need to pay for any employee benefits, insurance, and payroll taxes, as well as the costs of hiring, onboarding, and training.

How do you hire a marketer?

Whether you want to hire a freelance marketer, an agency, or an employee, you need to vet potential marketing partners and make sure that there’s a fit. So where can startups find skilled professionals for their marketing roles?

The first place to look is to ask your connections in the startup community. Marketing is an essential business function, and any startup founders past the seed stage should be able to point you to people they’ve worked with.

Besides your personal network, you have multiple options to hire marketers for your startup:

  • The best marketers are excellent at selling themselves, so social media websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn are good sources of potential hires for marketing jobs.
  • You can also connect with job candidates at marketing conferences, whether virtual or in-person.
  • Job search websites such as Indeed, Monster, and AngelList are good places to post an ad with job descriptions for open marketing positions.
  • Targeted ads on websites such as Facebook and Google can help you expand your search radius and reach more people who work in marketing.

Last but not least, you can also find a marketing partner on one of the online marketer marketplaces. These include general freelancing platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr, as well as specialized platforms for freelance marketers such as MarketerHire, Advisable, Hire Digital, and Traktion.

What should you look for when hiring a marketer for your startup?

Of course, not all marketers are created equal. So what factors should you consider when hiring a marketer for your startup?

The most important step is to think about the types of marketing capabilities you need for your business. Hiring a marketer for your brand strategy will be very different than a marketer who can help you gain Twitter followers for your startup. The types of marketing functions include:

  • B2B marketing, including content marketing, search engine optimization, white papers, and case studies.
  • Product marketing, including email marketing, landing page optimization, and effective social media marketing.
  • Brand marketing, including brand identity, logos, voice, and messaging.
  • Communications, including public relations, media strategy, and thought leadership.

Ideally, you’d find a marketing partner who can help with all of these tasks—but this may not be a feasible goal. When just starting out, the best strategy is likely to hire a well-rounded, experienced marketing professional with one or more specialties in the marketing channels where your business has already seen success.

Other factors to evaluate when hiring a marketer include:

  • The necessary level of experience (measured in years, technologies, previous work, etc.) of your marketing partner
  • The channels by which your target audience is currently finding your products
  • The successes and failures of your existing marketing campaigns
  • The skill sets (and gaps) of your internal employees
  • The marketing budgets and campaigns of your biggest competitors
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