Since the pandemic, working “remote” has been the new norm for many digital marketing agencies. After all, why pay for a local office when you have video calls? Why restrict your prospective customers to your region when you could expand globally?
The ability to work remote has also increased the competition in the job market. Agencies have a bigger talent pool to choose from, but prospective employees also have more businesses to choose as their employer. It makes for an interesting landscape of employee benefits, high performance expectations and unique company cultures.
About three years ago, I was on the hunt for a remote digital marketing job. It took several months but I ended up at an agency I love, working with people I jive with. If you’re currently subscribed to job alerts and waiting for that perfect remote gig to come through, then I know the feeling., I want to share a bit of how I ended up finding a company I love working at and how you can do the same.
The Hunt for the Right Remote Digital Marketing Job
The beginning of a job search is filled with excitement, hopefulness and motivation. But pretty soon, the endless clicking and scrolling through what feels like infinite webpages turns your hopeful search into a tedious slog that makes you question if your expectations are too high or if the job you want actually exists.
In my 8-month search, I learned a few methods for efficiently finding jobs that matched what I wanted.
- Search job sites. I expected sites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter to be full of spam but I found several reputable agencies posting open positions on those sites. I would come across the job there first, then go to the company's website to learn more about the position and apply. To help direct your search, several sites aggregate full-time and part-time remote jobs like workingnomads.co and justremote.co.
- Figure out what companies are calling the position you want. For some of you, this might sound like a no brainer, but for jobs like what I wanted, every company seems to have a different title. Digital Marketing Manager, Project Manager, Account Manager, Digital Marketing Specialist...the list goes on. Check out top agencies and notice the titles and descriptions used for the position you want. Then, come up with different ways of searching that into Google. For example, if you’re looking for a marketing associate job, you could narrow your search by adding phrases relevant to your interests such as “content creation” “search engine optimization” or “brand marketing.”
- Define some key characteristics of the company you want to work for, then search for those terms. I wanted to work for a 100% remote agency, so I searched “100% remote marketing agency” and “fully remote marketing agency” and “remote marketing agency." Then, I would see if any of the agencies listed had openings. Also, if you have specific software skills with tools like with Wordpress or Hubspot, search companies that specialize in that platform. That's an easy way to get a leg up on the competition.
- Use partner directories to find agency jobs. If you have experience in a specific software like HubSpot, take advantage of their partner directory. I ended up scrolling through pages of partners to see if they had any openings. One nice thing about HubSpot is that it splits its partners up by tier, which gives you a small indication of how established the company is and what kind of revenue they bring in.
Finding the Right Digital Marketing Agency
I used to think that I could get along with anyone and adapt to any environment. I was wrong. For me and my Miss Enneagram #1, highly organized (organizing is fun!) self, non-negotiables for a work environment have now been defined as:
- A desire to have organized systems in place from the top down that everyone follows (for efficiency’s sake obviously, nothing to do with my obsessive need for structure).
- A team that tells it how it is, even when it’s not super fun to hear.
- A company where I can create meaningful impact and contribute to helping the company grow and developing key initiatives (not every company or employee wants this).
- A highly collaborative environment where two brains are often recognized as being better than one and I can work with teams cross-functionally.
It really helps to define what you’re looking for in an agency. Go deeper than “I want to create excellent work for clients and have a good work-life balance.” Everyone wants that. You have to dig into how you work and the environment you thrive in if you want to set yourself up to succeed at a new company.
Questions to Ask
Looking for remote marketing jobs at a digital agency comes with a unique set of challenges. On the one hand, remote work is great because you get the flexibility that comes with working from home. But on the other hand, you’re competing with other applicants from around the world, not just your town.
Here’s the other thing, you might get interviewed two or three times by your prospective company and meet the same person twice at most. You don’t see their office and get a feel for their atmosphere. You really don’t have much to go on when it comes to figuring out if a company is right for YOU.
If you’re looking for remote marketing jobs, here’s my advice: don’t settle. Put those well-honed communication skills to good use and ask tough questions. Determine your non-negotiables and then use questions in your interview that help you determine if it would be a good fit. Here are some ideas:
- How do you ensure client success while also maintaining work-life balance? - The key here is “ensuring client success.” Everyone wants work-life balance, but agencies need clients to be successful and sometimes that success is achieved by forgoing your personal work-life balance. It can become all too easy to fall into that trap.
- What’s the “thing” that makes your company successful? I like to understand the drivers behind the success of a company and also what the person interviewing sees as critical to their success. This gives you an idea of their priorities and what motivates them.
- Where do you want the company to go? This is a good one to ask smaller companies and can give you a feel for the vision the CEO has and how he or she plans to get there.
- How does your company handle working in different time zones? This one is all about getting a feel for expectations. Are you required to be on during specific hours of the day? Is that going to work for your schedule?
- What skills would make me successful in this role? Not every company has the same expectations in their marketing positions. For some, an account manager may function as more of a digital marketing strategist. In other agencies, they may need to take on some copywriting tasks or be proficient in Google Analytics. Understand the core proficiencies needed in the job you’re going after and determine if those are a good fit for your skillset.
Competition is high, so you need to be on your game when you submit your application. Here are six things I suggest you do for every application you submit:
- Go to the company's website and read everything. Blogs, about page, team page — all that good stuff. Get a feel for their voice and how they pitch their business. See how long they’ve been around and get a beat on their values as a company.
- Read the website bio and LinkedIn profile of the person/people interviewing you. These can tell you a lot: hobbies, education, where they’re from, etc.
- Read the job description and then look at team members that have those positions. Look them up on LinkedIn and read their website bio to see if you are somewhat similar. This will help you get a feel for the kind of people the company hires for the position you’re applying for.
- Make sure you exceed the requirements of the job description. We've already talked about how competition for online marketing agencies is super high. You need to make sure you meet or exceed not just the years of experience required, but the years of marketing experience. Make sure you highlight any of your specialties like social media marketing, marketing automation, specific CRM experience, SEO, PPC and product marketing. And if you have any relevant certifications for the position you're applying to, don't forget to showcase those.
- Do some investigating to figure out what your future salary should be (and the perks that should come with it). This can vary greatly by job type and title, so you want to be confident in your numbers. At some point, a prospective employer is going to ask you what you are looking to make, and you need to have a reasonable answer ready. Glassdoor can be an excellent resource for this.
- Find reviews about the company. My primary sources for company reviews were Glassdoor and the HubSpot partner directory. Reviews not only help you determine whether or not you want to work there, but also tell you something about the company culture and what kind of clients they have.
How to Be a Successful Remote Digital Marketer
Lots of people have asked me how to be successful working remotely, whether it be for our agency or another remote position. So here are my top three tips for being successful working with others from the comfort of your home.
- Over Communicate — In a remote environment, you don’t get the luxury of seeing your coworkers on the way to lunch or having a quick chat by their desk. If you said something mildly offensive or you didn’t understand a task, you must communicate that. Because once you close out your video call, no one can see your frustration.
- Talk About Your Bandwidth Often — No one can see you working 10 hour days, so no one will know you’re overloaded and on the edge of burn out unless you communicate that. It’s critical to discuss how much bandwidth you have in a week and learn how to say no if you just don’t have the time.
- Create a Separate Space for Work — In a physical work environment, you commute to and from work. You’re in a different building with different surroundings. These things do a great job of telling our brains that we’re at work so when we’re home we can relax. When we work from home, we have to work harder to create that separation. For the sake of your mental health, create a separate space for working at home. Don’t regularly work from your couch or your bed. Create a routine that tells your brain when you’re “at work” and when you’re “at home.”
If You’re Sifting Through Remote Marketing Jobs, Look at Their Values
You can tell a lot about a company by the values they claim to possess. For some, you might determine that they didn’t put a lot of thought into their values. For others, maybe you just don’t align with their priorities.
Our values at Lone Fir are:
- Hungry to Achieve, Humble to Learn
- Exceptional Through Ownership
- Trust Built Through Authenticity and Integrity
- Make Work Fun!
One of the reasons I love working here is because my values align with the company’s. That doesn’t make others good or bad if they don’t align with them, it just means they want different things in their workplace.
It’s important to understand and define what company values are important to you because if you don’t align with them, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
What Makes Lone Fir a Unique Remote Marketing Team
Whether you’re looking to work here or you just want to know what things might be valuable in a remote marketing agency environment, these are a few things that I’ve come to love about this specific team.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Marketing in itself is creative, and it’s tough to deliver a quality product by yourself. You need input from your team. But marketing is also incredibly fast-paced, and people are busy. You don’t always have a couple of days to pass around a piece of content or marketing campaign to get input. People can’t always drop what they’re doing to help you out.
At Lone Fir, I’ve been incredibly thankful to have highly responsive teammates. I post something for feedback in Slack, and at least two people answer within a few minutes. It’s helped me serve clients better and made me feel like I can really collaborate with highly skilled people.
Spend Your Time Where Your Strengths Are
Most digital marketers become something of a jack-of-all-trades. Content marketing, growth marketing, email marketing, demand generation, maybe a touch of Google Ads and a healthy dose of digital marketing strategy — most marketers end up dabbling in a bunch of things. So when asked if we “can” do something, the answer is often yes.
At Lone Fir, that’s welcomed, but we’re also hyper-focused on helping each other grow in our strengths. Do you think you’d enjoy working in a different area of the company? Are you good at it? Great. Let’s get you there.
Banter, Peanut Butter and Happy Hour
A lot of people think that remote work is only for people who don’t mind being alone. After working at Lone Fir, I’d say that’s completely false. It’s all about the culture you create. How responsive are you on Slack? I know what you’re thinking… "Slack gets distracting and I lose productivity." That’s fine; you don’t have to be on 100% of the time. But you do have to be available a lot of the time. If that’s not your jam, well… 🤷
Here at Lone Fir, we intentionally make time to hang out. We have a regular remote Happy Hour where we all gather on a video call and someone hosts. We play games, have drinks and maybe debate a highly controversial topic like whether or not peanut butter belongs in ice cream. (Obviously it does) People tell funny stories, we all laugh and our Fridays end with a good time.
We also have a fairly active #banter channel in Slack. Here my coworkers post their cute dog pictures, favorite quotes from Thanksgiving and polls about footwear at home.
Make Time to Get to Know Your Coworkers
We are highly relational people and we function a lot better when we know the people we’re working with. When we understand what’s going on in their life, what they’re passionate about and what motivates them it not only makes work a lot more enjoyable, it allows us to work more cohesively as a team.
We have a Slack app called Donut that randomly pairs you up with people to have a regular, non-work related conversation. It’s helped us meet each other and spark some fun conversations.
Don’t Give Up!
My job search lasted a solid eight months. Months on end of figuring out the kinds of jobs I qualified for, what I could and should be making in them, and stalking various agency websites for openings. I filled that time with a lot of professional development so my resume would stand out and I could speak intelligently in my interviews. I worked on HubSpot certifications and read books and blogs. I listened to a fair amount of marketing and agency podcasts (hit me up if you want a solid list of podcasts). Sometimes I lost motivation, but I kept working on myself and the kind of employee I wanted to be.
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, let me offer one last piece of advice: keep improving yourself. Don’t let your job search put your development on hold. And hey, if you think you might be a good fit at Lone Fir, check out our available positions.