Chris Toy is the co-founder and CEO of MarketerHire, the #1 digital marketing talent platform connecting companies with expert marketers.

One of the most significant conversations happening in the marketing industry today has little to do with actual marketing. Instead, it’s an impending HR and leadership nightmare. 

Marketers are quitting their jobs in what has been dubbed the “great resignation.” In a recent survey of more than 25,000 marketing professionals, 75% agreed that marketing has a wave of resignations coming. And even more telling, 48% revealed they were personally planning on leaving their job. 

Over the course of the pandemic, there’s been a fundamental shift in the workforce mentality. No longer do people only care about how much they earn. They also care about how they earn it. This is especially true for marketers, who have two additional economic trends they can leverage to carve out a space of their own: The Creator Economy and the Freelance Economy. 

In both models, marketers build their own businesses, focus on the work they care about, and work the hours they want. This flexibility in how they manage their time is persuading many marketers to jump ship. The real kicker, though, is that marketers who build their own freelance business or join the creator economy can often make far more than they would at their full-time gig. 

For companies, this means it is becoming more and more expensive to hire great marketers full-time. After all, you’re not competing with another company. You’re competing with the marketer’s rolodex of freelance clients and subsequent income. 

Buckle up, times are changing.

Kaitlin Maud, an executive in recruiting, tweeted a word of advice to marketers: “I have officially been co-owner of a recruiting company for one year and if there is anything I have learned it is that some people in marketing are making absolutely unfathomable amounts of money. If you are wondering if you should ask for a raise or increase your rates: YES.”

Just how much are marketers getting paid right now? Several people chimed in on Maud’s thread, revealing that many social media marketers are now accepting jobs in Silicon Valley at a $250,000 annual salary. Just recently, it was reported that some CMOs are making upward of $15 million. Marketers are more important and more expensive than ever, and you aren’t alone if your business simply can’t afford one. 

Along with a shift to remote work throughout the pandemic, companies need to change how they think about hiring marketers in order to get the best talent without blowing their budgets. Hiring full-time or going the agency route are no longer the first two options for companies to try. Expert freelancers are available and can get the work done. 

And, with far less risk. Businesses leveraging expert freelance help improve the organization’s flexibility and agility in the face of the unknown. Better yet, freelancers make more efficient use of capital. 

Why the hybrid marketing team model works.

Working with freelancers and consultants has been normalized the past 18 months, and the sooner companies understand and change their strategies to reflect that, the better their talent will become. 

Hiring full marketing teams in-house isn’t going to work for most companies as more and more marketers opt to go freelance. 

The best marketing talent has loads of options. And they are increasingly wanting to explore those options. This is good for companies, too. Only the very best companies can hire the very best talent in-house because of the commitment required. However, the best marketing talent will freelance for all kinds of companies –– which makes expert marketing accessible and affordable for companies of all stages. 

If you want the best minds, it’ll mean hiring on a freelance basis. This isn’t to say that your entire marketing team needs to be contracted. The best solution is a hybrid one, where you hire a couple people in-house and then work with freelance specialists to get projects over the line. 

How you do this is up to your organization. Some brands hire more junior marketing managers, and outsource strategies to fractional CMOs. Other brands hire a senior level marketer, who then works with a freelance email marketer, SEO marketer, and social media marketer to hit goals. 

This hybrid hiring model for marketing talent solves for how marketers want to work. Even better, it improves a business’s marketing ROI. That’s because hiring marketing freelancers means you get a revolving door of expert marketing talent, focused on getting an individual project over the line in the quickest, most high-quality way possible. 

And the risk is relatively low. Did the freelancer not hit expectations? Find someone else. There are no long term contracts. A freelancer works with a business only as long as both sides agree the arrangement is profitable. 

Be selective!

A quick word of caution as you wade into the world of freelance marketing experts: As we all know, not all marketers are created equal. 

When you’re searching for an expert, make sure your vetting process can differentiate between a skilled creator with lots of followers and a real expert. This person should have proven experience managing teams, working closely with clients and balancing budgets. It’s easy to be wooed by the creators who’ve accumulated hundreds of thousands of engaged followers - and in truth, this is an impressive accomplishment - but you must prioritize the specific marketing needs of your clients and whether that skill will translate in the long run. 

The era of flex work isn’t coming, it’s already here. And that’s a really good thing both for marketers and for businesses of all sizes. 


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