The sun stood right in my face. I had to squint my eyes behind my newly-bought sunglasses.
It was a beautiful, late afternoon. Still warm, yet breezy, as the sun rays warmed my pale skin. I was sitting there overlooking the beautiful city of Porto as the sun was slowly setting.
I clicked “send”. That marked my 100th attempt at sending a cover letter that would hopefully land me an unpaid marketing internship.
I didn’t know what I was doing, but I figured that it was a numbers game. The more cover letters I sent, the better chance I had of landing something.
This post was contributed by Chris from freelancingwithchris.com.
After hitting the refresh button one too many times over the coming weeks, I had to face the facts:
My empty inbox was staring right back at me.
(Ultimately, I heard back from two companies. I worked with one of them, but the process was discouraging at best.)
If you’ve ever tried to land a remote marketing job, whether full-time or not, you’ve probably had a similar experience. Applying for jobs by sending out CVs just doesn’t work that well.
You’ll never hear back from most of them and from those that do reply, it is usually a polite “we are going in a different direction.”
But after years of feeling stuck, I finally broke through. At first, it was more invitations for interviews but somehow I also received more freelance work and random opportunities for exposure.
People started replying to my emails.
In this guide, I’d like to share that approach with you. I’ll show you how I landed a variety of remote marketing jobs, so you can use the same approach in your own life — whether you want remote freelance marketing work or your dream full-time job.
Important Note: Before we jump into the specific approach, keep in mind that the majority of remote marketing work is in the online marketing industry rather than offline. So I’ll focus on that even though the principles can be applied to offline marketing as well.
How Much Do Remote Marketing Jobs Pay?
According to Payscale, the average salary for a full-time online marketing job is $65,044/year ($5,258/month). If we estimate eight hours of work daily, five days a week, that becomes $32.36 hourly.
Freelancers charge $50 per hour and up, offering the same skills to help businesses.
The higher rate is offset by the fact you have to spend time landing the projects, and covering your own benefits and insurance.
What Marketing Service Can You Offer?
Let’s first brainstorm which service we should offer.
Start with Existing Skills
The easiest place to start is to base our remote marketing services off of what we already know.
If you’re already good at SEO, marketing project management, running ads, etc., offering to do the same for freelance clients is the easiest way to get started.
If you’re looking to break into a new industry, here are some of the most in-demand freelance skills to learn.
Then, Choose a Niche
Let’s imagine you’re a marketing project manager in the travel industry. Obviously, if you can work with clients in the same niche, that’s perfect — but sometimes it’s not allowed due to NDAs or a conflict of interest.
Another alternative is to work with different clients in the same industry. For example, if we have a day-job working with luxury hotels, we could use our expertise to help 3-star hotels with freelance projects.
Or we could work with travel-related experiences such as tour operators, Airbnb businesses, or even Airbnb homeowners.
The point is to work on projects that are close to something we’re good at already. That way, we can focus on driving clients in the door without also having to worry if we can actually help the businesses once they agree to work with us.
Generate Freelance Business Ideas
If you don’t already have a couple ideas for your freelance business in mind, here’s an easy exercise to get you going:
- Ask 3-5 of your friends what they think interests you
- Write down your hobbies e.g. based on what you do on a Saturday morning or in your spare time
- Pair your marketing-expertise with one of those industries or niches
For focus, let’s make it simple. Pick the industry/niche where you:
- Have the most experience
- Can do the work (e.g. no conflict of interest)
- Don’t hate it
It’s OK if it isn’t the most amazing thing ever, as long as you don’t despise it. You’ll eventually like it because passion tends to follow doing the work.
Normally, people get stuck at this stage because they don’t want to close any doors. But remember you can always tweak and pivot your freelance business idea later.
Figure Out How Much to Charge
When you have picked an idea that seems good enough (not necessarily perfect), the next step is to choose how much to charge.
Pricing is a step where people tend to get hung up as well. I can’t speak for all cultures around the world but if you tend to work (or want to work) with western clients, they’re generally used to a rate of $50 per hour for marketing work.
If you think you can land projects at a higher rate right out of the gate, go for it!
Many freelancers are scared of charging what they are worth. I know how that feels because I used to be in that boat as well. If that’s you, start with whatever you’re comfortable with — you can always increase your rates as you go.
Go Sell Your Service!
The process of working with freelance clients is slightly different from the world of full-time jobs.
If we have to learn a new marketing skill AND learn how to land projects at the same time, we’re suddenly doubling our workload and it will take us much longer to earn good money.
I’ve noticed this challenging new freelancers over and over again as they struggle to land projects.
For many of us, sales can feel icky, sleazy, and like something we’d rather avoid. That’s exactly how I felt because I didn’t know how to pitch marketing projects.
Fortunately, I learned there are several approaches that aren’t sleazy. Read on to learn more.
How to Find Awesome Remote Marketing Jobs on Freelance Job Boards
Broad freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are good for getting started. But after a while, we get used to the visibility of new projects. It’s easy to browse the jobs newsfeed like we browse social media.
If you aren’t careful, you’ll quickly forget about other channels and think that these are the only remote marketing jobs out there. That leads to our focus becoming scattered between different types of projects in different industries, and perhaps even among different services, rather than looking for a channel with better leads.
Most of these platforms also have lots of cheap labor. That turns many services into commodities that you have to compete with.
Typically, that isn’t as difficult as you’d think. The challenge it presents is that clients join the platforms thinking that the ultra-cheap freelance rates still offer the same quality of work as those with higher rates.
Avoid those clients like the plague.
Benefits of Freelance Marketplaces
Remote marketing jobs abound on sites like:
They offer a couple key benefits for beginner freelancers:
- Access to a broad pool of gigs
- They help you get paid after you complete the projects
This is a huge advantage so you don’t have to spend your time stressing about payments, particularly in the beginning when you are focused on landing clients.
Challenges of Freelance Marketplaces
However, a growing challenge can be simply getting your account approved on the platform in the first place.
During recent years, it has been more and more difficult to get started as the platforms frequently claim “your services are too common.” Upwork, for example, has 10,000 new freelancers joining daily.
While this might sound like a hard “no” to use them, it isn’t. If you already have an approved account on their platform and can begin applying for projects right away, do it.
It will be easier for you to get started, as the leads you’ll find there are further down the funnel and already looking to hire freelancers.
If you don’t have an approved account ready, I recommend skipping the next two sections of this guide.
Creating a “Good Enough” Profile
Your profile doesn’t need to be perfect, but here a few things that are essential.
First, a good picture of you is important. Ideally, one where you’re smiling and customers can see your face.
Along with that a simple, short profile text that clearly explains what you offer is good enough to get started.
In your text, don’t just say “I can run your ads”. Explain how it helps the client with something they care about, e.g. “I can run your ads so you can increase sales and revenue by 25%.”
Here’s an example of someone’s profile text that highlights the benefit of hiring them:
Image cred: Upwork
I particularly like that the freelancer added a review from a previous client in the text.
Finding Profitable Remote Marketing Jobs
The next step is to look at projects and separate the good from the bad. Typically, these online marketplaces have a bunch of things clients can search for, such as the:
- skill level they need
- price range / budget
- desired location of the freelancer
- and more
The most important metric for you is how many freelancers they have hired previously compared to how many jobs they have put out.
If they’ve put out 10 projects in the past, but only hired one, how likely are they to hire on the next project you spend your time bidding on?
If you guessed “low,” you’d be right.
The problem is that many clients on the marketplaces are new to working with freelancers, so they don’t know what to provide to help you do your job the best. That means you’ll see a bunch of job descriptions that are just a couple lines long.
They are typically horrible and we want to avoid them at all cost.
A rule of thumb to weed out bad projects is to think:
Can I send them customized, in-depth ideas, based on this project description?
If yes, go for it; if no, avoid it as you’ll be wasting your time.
You’ll figure out the nuances as you go, so this is just to weed out the worst ones at the beginning.
Crafting Winning Proposals
Everyone else is busy trying to land as many clients as they can, so we’re going to do the opposite. Focus on fewer clients and the customer lifetime value of these clients instead.
That means we can afford to spend more time landing them than most other freelancers. Good for us because it just so happens that that makes it much easier.
For us to do that, we need to be able to provide them with a more specific proposal than everyone else.
- Most other freelancers send generic proposals to everyone.
- A small portion writes OK custom proposals
- An even smaller portion writes amazingly specific proposals for every project they are interested in.
The latter portion lands 90% of the work at much higher rates. So, let’s position ourselves in that bucket, shall we ;)
To be able to do that, we need to know who the potential client is, their needs, etc. — all that good marketing-stuff you’re already familiar with.
I can’t give you something you can use as a one size fits all (that’s what we are trying to avoid) so I’ll share this framework instead.
If they want to steal your ideas and do it themselves, let them! They aren’t worth your time in the long run, anyway.
Spend an hour(!) or so on each proposal and share what you know. Spend the time researching and add links to share examples of industry-standard conversion rates or whatever is relevant. It’ll impress them.
Aim to blow them out of the water by being specific and helpful. If they give you the product or brand name, website URL, etc., use it to share specifics!
Remote Marketing Job Posts and Applications That Stood Out
Below are two examples from readers who landed real marketing projects on Upwork.
This proposal got the gig at $35 an hour.
Here’s another example. The job description:
Followed by the cover letter proposal:
This one won the project at a $250 flat rate.
You can find a comprehensive guide to landing digital marketing-projects on Upwork along with more proposal examples on my blog.
Pro Tip: Always work to figure out what their name is so that you can personalize the proposal with “Hi X”. About half the time, you’ll be able to find it from past reviews by other freelancers.
Since they can only see the first few lines of your proposal among many others on their backend, you have to grab their attention and have them click “read more”.
Personalizing it as you probably know from email, is the way to go. The more the merrier.
Remote Marketing Jobs on Niche Job Boards
The next option we’ll look at is niche job boards that are focused on remote marketing jobs. If you Google “remote work”, you know they’re all over the place.
Here are two boards I like:
Companies that tend to be more remote-focused appear to be less political and more modern. These job boards tend to be more focused on full-time work but you will occasionally find freelance or part-time work as well.
These sites still have a decent amount of competition, but attract a different client base.
How to Find “Secret” Low-Competition Remote Marketing Jobs
While I couldn’t find any specific study covering freelance-projects, a survey by LinkedIn found that 70% of full-time positions are filled through networking or word of mouth.
Even though there are thousands of remote marketing jobs on the online marketplaces, it’s still only a fraction of all the marketing work available.
That means all the remaining projects aren’t posted anywhere!
Of all of those projects, there are two main sub-groups:
- those that aren’t aware of the possibilities of external help
- those that are, but haven’t done anything about it yet
Both types of client leads have less competition because freelancers either aren’t aware or are scared of reaching out because they don’t want to come across as spammy. This could be a goldmine for you.
The format you use to reach out to those businesses doesn’t matter. I prefer cold emailing because they can reply when it works for them.
Cold Emailing without Being Spammy or Sleazy
With cold emailing, I like to do it in batches of 50 businesses. If you didn’t get any clients after that, you might need to pick a different market.
It is the quickest way I can think of for you to test if the market works without investing in anything. With that out of the way, let’s dive into how to approach cold emailing in a respectful, non-spammy, way.
By setting a small barrier for leads to cross, we know that if they do, they are more likely to be interested in our services and therefore it makes sense to spend more time with those leads.
Just like in the marketplace example above, we don’t mass-pitch everyone. Again personalization is the name of the game.
In a world where everyone is cold email spamming en masse, we’ll be the ones who are genuine, respectful, and aim to make a long-term connection.
Most will buy an email list, and write a generic email with the business name inserted to make it look custom. They might get a 5% return rate. Maybe. We’ll do the opposite.
We’ll contact fewer people and spend the time upfront to connect with them. Not only will you see much higher return rates (I’m seeing about 25% return rate without optimizing my emails) and get feedback like this:
If you do it right, you’ll have a huge leg up because they will like you instantly just from being different. And you won’t hate yourself or feel ashamed in the process!
Nick’s Notes: It was Chris’ cold email to me that landed him this guest post.
Structuring Your Email Outreach
The best way to do it is to learn about their content and genuinely connect with them based on it. For example, by sending them an email commenting on a point they made in an interview and sharing our experience as it relates.
Remember that they are probably busy, so keep it short. Keep it to just a few sentences to respect their time. Even if it is short, they WILL notice that you took the time to get to know them when no one else did. (If you often get spam emails you’ll notice how easy it is to see if they are automated — even with “personalization”.)
A warm contact or a connection is better but oftentimes we won’t have that option available to us.
Next, in the same email, we’ll write a line or two about our background and ask if we can share some thoughts or ideas with them.
This latter part, after the introduction, can be reused. Here’s a simple example to get you started but don’t write exactly the same as it will be a crutch holding you back.
[Comment on a point from their content, interview, etc.].
I help [type of businesses with your service] and I’d like to help you, so you can [benefit from your services].
Would it be okay if I sent you a few ideas on how I could help?
How to Track Your Outreach Efforts
Most people won’t reply and that’s fine. Some will reply that they appreciate the personalization but the timing isn’t right. Also fine. I like to keep track of it in a simple spreadsheet to move faster but what you prefer is up to you.
Here’s a simple template you can copy to get started (click FILE > MAKE A COPY to get your copy).
While many people will procrastinate over which tools to use, you already know that at this stage it doesn’t matter. It’s all about contacting businesses.
Qualifying Remote Marketing Job Clients on the Phone
For those that wrote back interested, the next step is to prepare some solid ideas for them that will be unique to your marketing skillset.
If you’re selling ads management, you could take a look at their ad accounts and suggest them different copy or angle-ideas, or perhaps a different cross-platform funnel.
If you’re doing SEO, suggest different keywords to target or on-page optimization they could apply — but remember to always tie it back to what they want. That’s usually sales, revenue, or leads.
Your target here is to get them on a phone call — not to win the project just yet as we need to understand their needs and experience.
A call will help you build trust with them and I’ll share some rough guidelines for you to use on the call (if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via my blog).
Questions to Ask
You’ll want to ask them some questions to refine your ideas and get a feel for what they think about them.
Overall, you’ll want to understand:
- which marketing activities they have done in the past
- how they feel about them
- the results they had
- what they think of your ideas
- their general plans or goals for the future
Here’s a list of example questions to get you started but you’ll want to tweak this to your specific situation with each client.
- Who are your best customers?
- What is your business goal?
- To get [business goal], what have you tried? what worked/what didn’t?
- Where do you see yourself 3 months from today?
- What’s the motivation behind you wanting this?
- Assuming for a minute we end up working together, what would that look like on a daily basis?
- Have you worked with any freelancers before? How has your experience been?
The key here is to let them do most of the talking on the call.
Again, our approach is to work with people that need our help executing the projects, rather than just advising them. Usually, sharing as much as we know helps mitigate their uncertainty and build confidence in you.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to understand what exactly they need help with before offering them the price. If a lead is asking for the price upfront they’re typically not a great lead.
Early on, you won’t be able to share the price because you don’t know what they need. In that case, you could tell them that together you have to define more specifically what needs to be done and that the price depends on the project but your standard hourly rate is $X.
It gives them a ballpark figure to understand if they can afford you and helps you figure out if they are worth your time or not. In most cases, I’d rather say no to a lower price and go focus on another lead — there are plenty of them out there.
You might come across some that mention that they know someone who can do it cheaper. In that case, consider simply being polite and tell them: “That’s great — it sounds like they might be a better fit for your project.”
I have to emphasize that you should be polite saying this; it is not professional to get emotional, negative, or even angry. It will hurt you later.
Rather, you just saved a bunch of time and headache working with a client that is more worried about the cost than the outcome. Some clients say it just to test you, so don’t be surprised if some of them do a 180 on the spot and try to persuade you to take the project. It’s an entertaining experience.
Sending Your Remote Marketing Job Proposal
The final step is sending them a proposal.
You might have just gotten off their call and now it’s time to send a proposal. It is time to sum up what you’ve been talking about and get the deal on the table.
People love to make a big deal out of that with PowerPoint templates and whatnot. There are always exceptions but in most cases, you’re just scaring businesses away — especially if they are small business owners.
It can feel overwhelming if you throw a huge contract at them that their lawyer has to look through.
They might feel overwhelmed and be tempted to look at it later — and they’ll never get that done. De-risk it by sending it in a simple email with an overview, pricing, and next steps.
Granted, this is not the most amazing proposal ever but it gets the job done. If your prospect asked for something in particular, make sure to do that.
Sometimes people will want free work in exchange for equity, “exposure,” or more work down the line. Most of the time it isn’t worth your time unless this is a dream brand you’d love to work with.
How to Turn a One-Off Remote Marketing Job into Multiple Profitable Projects
When the client has agreed to your proposal, remember to agree with them how frequently you should update them.
Typically, once a week is great. Never miss deadlines — you’ll build up a bad reputation.
In your freelance business, the client’s project is your product. It’s what gets your client to come back for more.
One of the simplest ways to help them come back with more work is by under-promising and over-delivering.
Before you begin the project, think about where you can sprinkle in something extra to surprise them without charging them.
Give them something extra here and there. The best way to do that is through things that you know are valuable for them but takes little time for you to create. With remote work and the internet, there are plenty of options because you can copy-paste.
It could be a template of a process they need to follow, like an on-page SEO checklist for publishing blog posts. It’s easy to make a duplicate copy and add their name to it.
As most marketers know, it’s cheaper and easier to get more work from current customers than go out and find new ones. Because our framework is to work long-term with clients, we can afford to do extra things to crush the competition when we pitch. The same is true during the project.
For example, if you’ve been helping them set up some A/B tests for email sequences and landing pages, consider offering to set it up for their opt-in boxes as well as a little something extra.
Which Remote Marketing Jobs are the Best Fit for You?
Let’s say you’ve found a remote marketing job ad somewhere and you are interested but not 100% sure if it’s a good fit for you.
The easiest way to figure out if a particular marketing job is for you is to talk to someone who has a job as similar as possible.
If it’s a particular brand you dream of working for or it’s in a particular marketing-role within a certain industry, there is almost always someone who has or had a similar job.
Search around on LinkedIn, create a list of relevant people and reach out to them either via LinkedIn messenger or email. Tell them that you are interested in the brand/industry/job role and would love to learn more about what it’s like day-to-day.
Virtual or In-Person Coffee Meetings
Ideally, you’d be able to schedule a coffee meeting in person but if you are looking for a remote job, online options, like a Skype call, might be good, too.
It’s kinda like the introductory classes in college. They might seem useless on the surface but they are great to get a better understanding of your direction without having to go all in.
You can save time by discovering that a certain direction isn’t for you without having to go through it first.
As you meet them, learn about the industry, their challenges, the market, and show you come from a genuine place of learning.
One of the core things you’ll want to understand from the coffee meetings is what the deep, real, challenges in the job role are.
How to Create a Remote Marketing Job CV and Cover Letter that Stands Out
Instead of writing a cover letter and CV that is generic and about your experience, you can tell them that you understand their challenges. For example:
- Increase the number of leads for the sales team by 15% month over month
- Decrease the cost of ads by 20%
- Optimize the number of conversions from website visitor to free trial user
That is way more specific because it’s all about them and what they need. The problem hiring managers have is that they have to digest your experience and figure out a way to connect it to what they need.
By doing the above, you’re doing this step for them. (And working at a whole other level compared to your competitors.)
The Remote Marketing Job Interview
Compared to most other people applying for jobs, you already know significantly more about the role. But even so, it is useful to ask some questions, in the beginning, to warm up the person you are speaking with and make sure you understand everything correctly.
Bessy Tam, a career coach for non-tech jobs in tech, shares a great guide on interviewing and which questions to ask. Below are a few of her examples:
- Can you tell me what a typical day looks like in this role?
- What does an ideal candidate look like for you?
- If you were working with a [Title of Role], what’s one advice you would tell him/her to succeed?
- What does success look like for a [Title of Role]?
- How do [Title of Role] often fail in the company?
How to Negotiate a Salary and Perks You’re Excited About
The hiring manager always wants to know your salary expectations as quickly as possible, but you’ll want to keep that for as late as you can without being disrespectful.
Similarly to freelancing, one approach to delay it is to tell them that you’d like to figure out exactly what needs to be done first. But give them a ballpark figure if they keep pushing.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for the conversation is by brainstorming what they might ask you, and practice your responses.
The hiring manager has these conversations for a living so, all other things being equal, they’ll be more used to them.
As you might have noticed, the approach to landing remote marketing jobs — whether freelancing or full-time — is similar.
As you probably know from the marketing world, it’s all about understanding who we speak with, so we can tailor our personal marketing to fit them the best way possible.
About the Author: When Chris isn’t freelancing, he writes about freelancing. Read more epic case studies and guides like this one at freelancingwithchris.com.