An Agile Workforce Is The Future

May 20, 2020 Susan Marshall

Marketing leaders across industries and geographies are feeling the pressure to answer tough questions about the future of work, like: How do we attract and develop the new talent we need? How do we scale and accelerate the pace of change? How can we ensure that the people with us now don’t get left behind? And how do we make the right investment in our people to prepare them for the future? An agile, modern workforce depends on a people-first strategy that embraces tech. Leaders need to play a driving role in supporting the development of an agile workforce if they want to survive the digital transformation. The businesses of Silicon Valley and other tech hubs have become leading examples of why an agile mindset works, hitting home the importance of implementing methods that get things out the door for testing quickly (like rapid prototyping or the sprints we do here at Torchlite). Rapid innovation is key — there’s always time to hammer out the minor details after you can prove that a concept is valuable. BMO’s chief transformation officer, Lynn Roger, put it best: “Speed is the new business currency.” Adopting an agile talent strategy allows you to: Bridge the gap between current employees and the skills they’re missing An agile workforce looks “more like highly orchestrated networks and ecosystems with a multitude of approaches to mobilizing, orchestrating, and engaging talent, skills, leaders, and ideas,” according to Deloitte. This business model is especially attractive to companies with talent gaps. No one employee can know it all, which is why more and more businesses are turning to freelancers to supplement their teams. The role that a freelancer plays on a team varies based on the needs of your company. Some on-demand experts augment teams on a single project basis, while others enter into months- or even years-long working relationships. Freelance talent is also used to manage variable demand for companies like agencies whose workloads vary based on client needs. These experts also work in both extended, long-term projects as well as one-off project roles. According to Accenture, “up to 40% of companies experience talent shortages impacting the ability to adapt and innovate.” Understanding that your potential talent’s experience comes from a variety of locations — taking breaks to pursue further education, building a side hustle as a stay at home parent, interning, traveling — and not just traditional corporate jobs, is key to building a diverse and effective workforce. Drive collaborative innovation New perspectives are refreshing. When your team recruits help from the outside (via freelancers, consultants, or any number of other methods), you’re opening the doors to potentially game-changing ideas. When you’ve been neck-deep in a problem for a long time, you start to lose perspective. A fresh set of eyes can unveil solutions you’d never come up with yourself. These “outsiders” can also be pivotal to driving innovation. They force you to answer the question “why?” — and that’s never a bad thing. When they ask questions, they’re trying to get to the root of the problem so they can help develop new solutions to test. This experimentation is the key to actually getting things done instead of just discussing them. These on-demand workers allow you to test ideas on the fringes and fail fast. Focus on what you’re best at while building a happier workforce The benefits of working with freelancers can be obvious — like the fact that you’re checking tasks off of your marketing to-do list. Equipping your team with the right tools, including access to on-demand experts, allows them to focus on their goals and get more done. Freelancers act as a second line of defense for your internal team, allowing you to focus on what you do best while the experts knock out projects quickly and effectively. Some benefits, however, are less obvious. It’s true that on-demand experts allow you to focus on what you do best, but did you know that they also create a happier workforce? Freelancers are “often able to pursue a broader set of goals, whether those are about family, a creative pursuit, a side interest, or community involvement,” according to Deloitte research. Perhaps the concept is best understood as Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale School of Management and workforce researcher, shared with Deloitte: “They care about money, and they worry about money, but they’re not doing this just for money. In fact, money is a problem they have to solve so that they can do what’s really driving them.” Partner with others to provide value for customers And now, tech companies, agencies, educators and brands are all looking for ways to better access, manage and pay freelancers at scale. Our own customers are building and managing private marketplaces to manage talent and produce great results. From training programs to martech vendors, customers of all sizes and from many industries have leveraged the Torchlite platform to empower their own customers: One martech vendor found that a private marketplace provided access to the talent that their partners and customers needed. This increased their time to value, reduced customer attrition, and ultimately led to happier customers. Another marketing technology vendor took advantage of a private marketplace to create a new revenue stream. While freelancers involved in the private marketplace make money and provide value, companies are also able to monetize the ecosystem. One digital marketing academy CEO turned their custom marketplace into a tool for graduates of their program. The students want to put their certifications and skills to work immediately, and their marketplace allowed them to showcase expertise and find gigs. How do I start? Before you can set any changes in place, you must first expand the concept of the modern workforce. That means understanding that some of the most valuable contributors on your team can extend beyond a 9-to-5, office setting. Modern marketers recognize the ability to source talent in new ways is key to competitive agility, and that means incorporating tech and other tools into the talent-hunting process. Put your team on the path to success with a single source that allows you to access, engage, and manage expert on-demand talent. After all, success depends on having the right people at the right time.

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The Freelance Revolution: Working In A Post-COVID World

Apr 22, 2020 Susan Marshall

It Has To Be the Right Partnership At Torchlite, we're obviously fans of independent contractors and freelancers. Over the years, we've grown to love these problem solving, creative entrepreneurs and do everything we can to support their careers. In fact, we are a catalyst to matching professional freelancers with the brands that need their skills on demand. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. So naturally, we are concerned about the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and  consequences for freelancers and independent professionals. According to the New York Times at least 316 million people in the US, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are being urged to stay home. Many of those people will be forced to reconsider how and where they work, some jumping into the independent contract business full time. We at Torchlite are here to help with that transition.   Implications For The Freelance Revolution PwC has helpfully published two interesting reports. The first is PwC’s 2020 CEO survey, published at the end of March, and involving chief executives from a variety of industries and geographies. The second is a survey of corporate CFO executives, also recently published.  This month, Forbes provided a summary of the CEO study main findings, followed by some interesting implications for the freelance revolution.  Worth a read, but here are the highlights. It's good news for our freelancers: Finance talent transformation is a key emphasis.  Half (50%) of CFOs describe their team as lacking the right skills mix to meet future business needs. Moreover, 60% believe that stable, long-term employment, is less likely in the future. Taken together, it’s fairly evident from the PwC and BCG reports that freelance and independent management consulting opportunity is likely to increase and broaden as a result of COVID 19. What might we expect: More companies are likely to access freelancers both for cost efficiency and to supplement critical skill sets. Without doubt, freelancing enables a more cost and time efficient approach to supplementing or adding critical technical skills. But, beyond cost efficiency, freelancing makes it possible to attract world-class talent that would be unavailable to most organizations on a full-time basis.  Perhaps the expert wouldn’t be interested in full-time work, or his or her full-time cost would blow up the staffing budget. But, she or he would be available on a project basis, or as a consulting advisor.   4IR offers interesting and important freelance work and lots of it.  Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum described the fourth industrial revolution this way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”  These are seen as critical investment areas, and no organization has the internal staff to independently realize the potential of 4IR. Remember, companies like Alphabet, Apple and Facebook - able to access tremendous resources - continues to depend on freelancers to fill out their teams. Freelancing, on a global scale, will grow significantly to meet the 4IR challenge. Freelancers are a critical resource to more industries. As BCG points out, freelancing is undeterred by industrial boundaries. Whether in agriculture, finance or education, most organizations lack the full set of skills and experiences they will need to take full advantage of future global and regional growth opportunities.  More areas of freelancing will grow in importance. The data sends a very clear message: freelancing will grow in a widening range of professional areas. We’ve already seen the rise of independent management consulting platforms, and the growth of new platforms in an ever growing set of professions. More companies are partnering with freelance platforms to build a more flexible, blended workforce. A Changed Economy As the danger of COVID 19 passes, and executives rework their businesses, reinventing in the context of broken supply chains, skill gaps, and digital transformational requirements, freelancing  has an exciting and attractive future. At Torchlite we have the tools and expertise to help freelancers and independent contractors thrive in our changed economy. For many companies, the work doesn’t stop even if the workers can’t be onsite. The expert freelancers who have the talents and skills that are in high demand can define where and how they work, compensation, and many other specifications around how they do their work. Join Torchlite’s network of freelancers today. Vive la Revolution!

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4 Statistics That Make the Case for an On-Demand Workforce

Jun 12, 2019 Emily Brungard

We live in a world that’s moving at hyperspeed. Customers want more, and they want it faster. Demands on your team are growing at an impossible rate. Technology is enabling us to do more, but it will only take you so far without the people who know how to use it. With all of these demands, you may not have had the chance to consider integrating everything (customers, your internal team, and technology) to make your job easier. But we’ve found the key to keeping up with these demands comes down to talent: having the right people at the right time. If you need more convincing, consider these statistics: 68% of HR pros have trouble attracting top full-time talent Highly skilled freelance experts have the leverage to do work on their terms. More and more freelancers, especially the ones with highly sought after talents, are leaving the 9-to-5 world for more flexible work lives. This is only confirmed by the fact that, according to the Society for Human Resources Management, more than two-thirds of HR managers have experienced difficulties attracting the best talent to their open full-time roles. By 2026, Fortune 2000 companies will have no employees outside of the C-suite In the next decade, could you be saying goodbye to your traditional org chart? Accenture predicts that by 2026, the most successful companies won’t employ people outside of the executive team. As this liquid workforce evolves, companies will double down on the value of having the people with the exact expertise they need, at just the right time. That means instead of hiring a full-time technical expert for a project that requires heavy lifting at first but then tapers off, companies can bring in an expert to implement their new tech or tool and then continue contracting on an hourly or project basis. What does that mean? More money in your marketing budget to drive results. 30% of headcount spend is put toward on-demand workers Enterprise companies are dedicating a third of their headcount budgets to contingent workers, independent contractors, and freelancers. When a project comes up that the company’s internal team doesn’t have the skills to complete, on-demand experts enable them to navigate roadblocks and continue moving the needle. In other words, they help companies get around the situations that would have stopped them in their tracks before. Nearly half of businesses can’t find the on-demand talent they need According to SAP Fieldglass, 45% of businesses are experiencing a shortage of on-demand experts. In other words, they can’t find the people they need to get everything done, and it’s affecting productivity and results. Non-employee talent makes up 40% of the global workforce today, and they’re not just filling administrative or support roles — they’re the people making strategic decisions that move these companies forward. Searching for the right people to fill gaps on your marketing or professional services team? Tap into Torchlite’s network of experts today.

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Finding the Perfect Marketing Freelancer

Mar 26, 2019 Emily Brungard

Finding the right freelancer can sometimes feel like an endless game of match-making. Sifting through experts with acute knowledge in the right niche or industry can take far too long. However, finding the right marketer can make all the difference and open up new avenues for campaigns, growth, and opportunities. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. Freelancers vs. In-House vs. Agencies Finding the right marketing solution and partnership for your business is a comparison game. You’re likely trying to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer, a new team member or partnering with an agency. You’re not alone. The changing tides of business have created new avenues for productivity and it is now possible to succeed without a physical location or a comprehensive in-house team. Project-based teams, freelancers, specialized agencies and white-label partners have opened up the doors for new business opportunities. But there are certainly pros and cons for each of these options. Cost Effectiveness Agencies Agencies often offer project-based or retainer based partnerships. These are more expensive than freelancers but less expensive than hiring a new employee (at least over time). In-House The cost of an in-house employee is often underestimated. This option seems attractive because building an in-house team is great for collaboration and culture, but the overall costs can come back in droves. Taking into consideration factors like training, salary, benefits, PTO and possibly turnover — the expenses start adding up quick. Freelancer Hiring a freelancer is the most affordable option (by far). Professional freelancers come equipped with the right skills, resources, and tools to do their job efficiently. Vetting and selecting an expert in your niche is really the only hidden cost. Expertise Agencies Agencies are typically specialized and have team members that reflect that particular niche. Design agencies have designers and web-design agencies have developers...so on and so forth. While these are typically good options for specific expertise, the very best talent typically prefers to work as a freelancer or in an actual operational role within an existing company. In-House Finding in-house talent is a game of cat and mouse. The shifting landscape of marketing has created new specializations left and right. Social media coordinators, PPC managers, SEO experts — these are all necessary components of a successful digital campaign, but one person can rarely do them all. This means you will be hiring a lot of employees. Freelancer Freelancers are great for expertise because you can pick and choose exactly what you need. This widens the scope of any project your client may need because you can hire a freelancer to complete tasks you don’t have the capacity for. Manually searching for freelancers is a headache, but that’s what an on-demand expert marketplace is for! Communication Agencies Depending on the particular agency, this one is a coin-toss. Some agencies pride themselves on constant communication while others are overloaded with work and may take longer to respond. You are also limited to one or two points of contact and work on a delivery, review, revision, delivery schedule. In-House As you may have guessed, communication with an in-house hire is almost flawless. The ease of having someone in person without having to worry about alternative means of communication or even time zones makes this one a breeze. Freelancers This is something you can’t really control unless you have done your due diligence during the vetting process. If communication is a make-or-break factor for you, it should be discussed as an expectation from the start. On the positive side, freelancers rarely put aside a set time to respond, which means you can sometimes converse outside of a strict 9-5. Quick Freelancer Checklist If you have decided to go the freelance route, there are some things you should consider before selecting your expert. Here are the basics: Full-Time Professionals You want to look for freelancers that are professionals in their own right. What do we mean by this? You’re looking for full-time freelancers. This is a big one because professional freelancers have mastered the craft of handling multiple clients, projects, and deadlines simultaneously. Yes, it’s important that the freelancers you choose are well-versed in the field you’re looking for. But it’s equally important that they are vetted for their expertise in the freelance field. Google Check This is a given, but it can easily shine a light on any red flags that may be looming in the background. It can also show you a lot about a freelancer’s qualifications, past work and how they market themselves (the proof is in the pudding). What to look for: Do they have a website? Do they have an LLC? Do they have social media accounts? While all of these aren’t a necessity for whether or not you should hire a specific freelancer, they will give you some insights for what you are getting into. Get References and Evidence Any freelancer you are considering should have no issues giving you references or past work examples for you to evaluate. Past work can really help narrow down your search for a freelancer by illustrating the style and diligence they convey through their career. Verify Their Skills This can be done a few ways, but it's definitely worth doing before hiring a new freelancer. Verifying their skills with any tools or software in question is never out of the question. Ask about any certifications they may have or courses they have completed. Depending on the type of expert you are looking for, you may want to test out their skills with a small test project. Once you have gone through this checklist you’re ready to start interviewing or selecting the perfect freelancer match. Asking The Right Questions First things first, remember that you are looking for help because you are lacking the time, resources or expertise to complete a necessary project or campaign. Start your search by evaluating the holes that you are trying to fill. This will help you narrow down exactly what kind of freelancer you are looking for and the expectations you have for them once they get started. Next, you should ask these 8 questions to assist in the match-making process. There is no such thing as a shortage in preparation when it comes to finding the perfect freelancer — especially if you want results. Are they taking a holistic approach to understanding my problem? Do they have the strengths and expertise needed to achieve my marketing goals? Do they understand my brand and messaging? How will they communicate and collaborate with my in-house team? Will I have the visibility to track projects and approvals on a frequent basis How and how often will they report on the performance and results of their marketing efforts? Can I seamlessly modify my marketing plan and add or change project experts as my needs change, or will I need to find a new partner? What can I expect from the first 90 days of this partnership? Setting expectations is a two-way street. Not only is this important for your own project transparency but also for your freelance partner. Creating clear expectations frees up freelance talent to creating the very best result within the scope of their own multi-client workload. Working with someone who shares your values and will execute your vision is what you want. At the end of the day, you’re looking for a trustworthy partner who will help your team succeed. Project Transparency One big hurdle that we often see companies trying to overcome with freelancers is project transparency and setting expectations. It’s a big deal so we understand why it’s a topic of discussion. Businesses are reluctant to utilize freelancers for a few reasons. They don’t trust people that they haven’t worked with before They have been burned by a freelancer in the past They think it reflects poorly on their business to utilize outside help The truth about these three reasons is that the freelancer could certainly be to blame — but more often than most people would like to admit, the fault is double-sided. Relaying project expectations is 100% the responsibility of the person hiring the freelancer. If you have been burned in the past by a freelancer underdelivering or missing a deadline, it could have been a bad hire. Not your fault. But it may be worth revisiting whether or not your company relayed the necessary information to the talent. Hesitating to hire a freelancer because you aren’t sure whether or not they have what it takes is certainly a concern we understand. That’s why expert marketplaces like ours take pride in finding experienced, skilled and passionate freelancers to offer their clients. Freelancer Time Management As we mentioned, your first step in the vetting process is to find a professional freelancer. Not only is this to ensure that the talent you have acquired is official, but also experienced in handling multiple projects. Now, you’re not going to be able to manage your freelancers time for them. This is entirely up to their process. But we may have some freelancers out there that are reading this article, so this part is just for you! If you’re not a freelancer, feel free to skip this section. Learn to say no This is something that many freelancers learn the hard way over time. Freelancers want to get hired again, especially if they have built a good rapport with a client. Because of this, it’s often difficult to say no even if you know you’re going to be overloaded with work. But this is something you have to nip in the bud early. Just like it’s important for you client to relay expectations effectively to you, it’s equally important for you to relay your availability to them. Get rid of distractions This is a tough one. Productivity is your currency and you will go broke if you have too many distractions limiting your time. Email, funny YouTube videos — even your cell phone can take away from your workday. Try to segment your day so that you check in on important contact platforms at certain times, that way you’re not distracted by requests Treat it like a job You may be thinking “Well it is my job!”. We know, but creating your own work schedule, routines, and limitations are how you can remain happy while doing freelance work. Trying to adopt the workstyles of all your clients can scramble your brain. You definitely want to work as an extension of their team, but you may need to communicate some boundaries as to how you prefer to work. Freelance Cost Effectiveness Our marketing team has saved more than a quarter million dollars over the last year by leveraging our own business model. By harnessing the power of the Torchlite Marketplace, we throttle our marketing team when and where we need it, allowing us to create the output of a larger organization with more resources. Onboarding a new employee costs, on average, $4,000 and takes between three and four weeks. When you factor in all of the costs and the time it takes for your new hire to reach peak productivity, you might ask yourself if it’s all worth it. Freelancers can be productive immediately, and they’re only paid when you need specific work done. There’s no need to hire a full-time web developer, for example, if you only need occasional work done on your website. Companies that use freelancers also save on benefits like insurance, retirement contributions and PTO—freelancers aren’t employees, after all. This saves companies an average of $4,708 per employee per year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If a company can hire ten freelancers instead of ten employees, that adds up to $47,000 in annual savings on healthcare alone (that means an entire additional employee!). Add to your bottom line without adding to your headcount. Reach out today to find your project's perfect match!

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Why “Right People at the Right Time” is Critical to Company Success

Jan 23, 2019 Susan Marshall

I’m lucky to work with a team that embodies the Torchlite mission and vision. Our team has taken the “3 Cs” (our core values — communication, collaboration, curiosity) to heart, and they demonstrate them every day. Building a team of customer success, marketing, sales, development, and professional services experts that share our mission of helping customers achieve their goals has been both challenging and rewarding. Building a team has taught me the value of having the right people at the right time. In a startup, it is difficult to know exactly when you’ll need an extra set of hands. It could be the difference between a successful product launch and missed deadlines. It’s also taught me the importance of asking for help when you don’t have the expertise you need. With the right team and the right resources, marketing results are sure to follow. The Right People: Your Internal Team Our people are critical to our growth. At the core, culture is all about people, and we’ve built a team of driven contributors who share our company’s core values. You can hire a team of A-players, but if you don’t give them the tools and support they need, what’s the point? Before we bring anyone on board at Torchlite, we ask them what they need to be successful. Equipping our team with the right tools (including access to on-demand experts) and lines of communication, allows them to focus on their goals and get more done. The Right Time: Highly Skilled Technical Experts With the right people on your team, you can weather any storm. That’s not to say that your team has to be perfect — you must have the right mixture of people, processes, and technology. But sometimes you can’t deny that you need an extra hand. In fact, the best leaders recognize when they (or someone on their team) needs help, and they facilitate getting that help. The first step in recognizing that you need an expert to fill a gap is understanding that you don’t know it all, and that you don’t have to. With so many tools and technologies available, no one person can be an expert in everything. Why settle for piecemeal marketing results when you could test, change and analyze your marketing techniques more efficiently and effectively with the help of an expert? The type of expert you choose to work with depends on your marketing team’s goals, but making sure that you have your “bread and butter” marketing tactics down pat is a good place to start. An on-demand workforce can increase the efficiency and quality of content produced to meet market demands. If you want to implement a new channel or campaign, freelance experts can be onboarded to help you prove revenue potential before hiring permanent employees for long-term execution. And when your team is occupied with more pressing projects, a bench of on-demand digital experts can make sure that all of the pieces of your marketing puzzle stay together. Since independent contractors tend to focus on a specific platform or skill, they tend to be more up-to-date with the latest product releases, trends, and “must haves” in their field. That means they’re efficient, results-driven, and that they can save you money. Our own marketing team is made up of event and digital marketers, product marketers, and designers. They’re pros at what they do, but sometimes we need an extra set of hands. That’s why they use Torchlite’s marketplace of digital experts to fill the gaps. For our team, that means working with technical experts who have a deep knowledge of Salesforce and Pardot, as well as a digital advertising whiz who helps us target the right people at the right time. From Pardot implementation and support to lead generation campaigns, our own solution has helped us scale our marketing team without increasing our headcount. It’s not just our team that has realized the value of on-demand experts — we’ve worked with hundreds of brands to help them unlock the value of their marketing technology. It's more than building another software solution. It's about bringing people and technology together to create an agile and tech-enabled approach so marketers can get more done and compete in a digital world. Need an extra set of hands? Contact us today and we'll connect you with the top 4% of digital experts.

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7 Signs It’s Time to Hire On-Demand Digital Talent

Jan 09, 2019 Emily Brungard

It’s 11 a.m. and your office is buzzing with energy. You’ve got a product release around the corner, updates to roll out, and a team to take care of. You’re in heads-down mode trying to get everything done. Copious amounts of coffee have been consumed. Lunch? You don’t have time for that — there are deadlines to make. But what about your day-to-day work? While your team has been laser-focused on a few short-term projects, have others fallen by the wayside? In a perfect world, all of your marketing work would be perfectly balanced, but let’s be real — that just doesn’t happen. And what about that new tool you bought last month but haven’t had time to implement? If this sounds like you, it may be time to add a support system to your team in the way of on-demand, specialized talent. These are seven ways to know you need an extra layer of support: 1. Your team doesn’t have the expertise Sometimes you need a specialist to get a project done. Maybe your team has been using piecemeal technology to get projects done because it’s too difficult to switch over to a new platform. Maybe you’re implementing a new channel and you don’t know where to start. On-demand digital experts bring you the right expertise at the right time, so you can drive results. Freelancers tend to focus on one or two things they master and continue to obtain training for over the years, which allows you to reap the benefit of a true expert without the expense of hiring a full-time employee or paying for new or ongoing training. 2. Your team is always busy but it's not all getting done If your team is constantly working late nights or missing deadlines, chances are you need some extra help. We can all agree that the work needs to get done and budgets are limited, but make sure to consider how current workload affects employee morale. What are your turnaround times for deliverables? Outsourcing allows you to unlock multiple marketing channels with ease and avoid employee burnout. 3. Your team can do it, but it’s not the best use of their time or talent Let’s say you want to implement the Salesforce marketing platform, but you don’t have a Salesforce Marketing expert on your team. Instead of using your copywriter or designer’s time (who already have work and don't have the training) to set up and optimize the tool, you could hire a vetted technical expert to get the tool up and running in less time with more experience. You hired each person for their specific skill set. So why pull an employee off more important tasks if a freelancer can get it done on a project basis? 4. You’re losing out on opportunities If you’re losing opportunities to build brand awareness because you’re too busy to respond to outreach, it’s definitely time to outsource some work. Are you being invited to speak at conferences or participate on panels only to decline because your workload is too heavy? Is your competition catching up to you? Consider the cost of falling behind. 5. Your top objectives need more time and attention from your team Do you have an expensive initiative in the works or a quarterly goal that you’re struggling to meet? You don't have to drop the ball on other tasks to focus on the ones that need more of your time. It’s time to hire a freelancer if your team is being pulled to dedicate more time to a select few projects. Outsourcing tasks to on-demand experts is one solution that can help you check more off your to-do list without getting behind on your biggest priorities. 6. You want to increase output without increasing head count There's a place for reasonable increased demands on your team, but if they're feeling like they were hired with one set of expectations and you keep adding to their plate, you're going to have very unhappy employees who aren't able to dedicate their own expertise and attention to the projects they already have. If it's feeling like they're being asked to do the job of 2 employees, adding a short-term freelancer can ease that burden, keep your employees happy and productive (read retention and better bottom lines), and the additional work will be getting done by an expert. 7. You're experiencing a transition Maybe your company was acquired, a full-time employee is on parental leave, or your team has been assigned a new project and they're not entirely equipped to handle it. Regardless of the circumstances, freelance digital experts are trained to fill a temporary gap for you or someone on your team. Even during a period of change, the show must go on. On-demand digital experts can fill technical and creative skills gaps across a variety of channels. If your team is overwhelmed with work and you need an extra set of hands, browse our marketplace of on-demand digital experts today.

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Unlocking Salesforce: A Q&A with Marketing Cloud Expert Sean H.

Dec 12, 2018 Emily Brungard

Research from Salesforce suggests that customers now expect a more connected and personalized experience delivered to them in real time. In fact, 70% of customers say connected processes — like seamless handoffs or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions — are key to winning their business. Marketers are expected to take data and transform it into an experience for customers. With tools like Marketing Cloud, the possibilities are endless, but if you’re not dedicated to learning the latest features of the platform, you’re only beginning to scratch the surface. That’s where Salesforce experts come in. One of the top benefits of working with an on-demand Salesforce specialist is that they’re true experts who obtain certifications, read the latest product release notes for fun, and are dedicated to unlocking the platform’s value. We sat down with Sean H., one of Torchlite’s on-demand Marketing Cloud experts, to talk about getting the most from Salesforce, and how experts can help marketers do more with the platform. What is the most common problem you see when working with Marketing Cloud customers? Underutilization. The marketing cloud is a powerful platform, but that can also make it seem overwhelming. Many clients don’t use newer features designed to make their lives easier and campaigns more impactful because there’s a learning curve associated, and they don’t have the bandwidth or the in-house knowledge to invest to really make the most of the platform. What do you predict will be a bigger problem in 2019 for Marketing Cloud customers? “Personalization” became a marketing buzzword a few years ago, and, at that time, many people didn’t understand how the idea of personalization applied to their businesses. Fast forward to now, though, and the best businesses are figuring out how to segment, target, and develop personalized content that is really driving results. For SFMC customers that haven’t taken the time over the past few years to dig into the platform and figure out how to put it to work to personalize the marketing experience, they may find themselves losing market share to competitors that are staying in front of the curve. They may find that the “batch and blast” strategy that served them well for many years just isn’t resonating any longer because Competitor B’s personalized multichannel campaign met their customer’s expectations that much better. What is your best tip for using Salesforce? How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time. With a powerful platform, sophisticated data management, and a number of different ways to effectively execute each campaign you’ve envisioned, it’s easy to be intimidated by the Marketing Cloud. By breaking it down – Who do I want to reach with this? How do I want to reach them? When and how often should we talk to them? – you’ll find the right features and tools for the job, whether it’s a simple Guided Send or a cross-channel journey. What is your proudest Salesforce project? It seems quaint now, but when Journey Builder was still new several years ago, it was a really big deal to successfully build and begin firing those more personalized marketing experiences to customers. It’s not that we couldn’t execute similar campaigns at the time with available tools within SFMC, but the interface and experience was such a departure, really just the beginning of things to come, that you couldn’t help but be a little proud to be one of the pioneers. Why are cross-channel integrations so important for Salesforce customers? Cross-channel integrations are one of the biggest advantages of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud compared to some of the other platforms out there. In today’s information-overloaded, short-attention-span world, repetition is just as important as serving content appropriate to the channel. If you truly want your message to reach and resonate with customers, you have to be willing to take your message to where they are, whether they’re on email, social media, SMS or all of the above. Why is having an on-demand Marketing Cloud expert necessary? Because the SFMC platform is so powerful, and constantly evolving to boot, having an on-demand SFMC expert can be like having an on-call problem solver – you know that you want to reach high-value customers who bought Widget X the last time 12 months ago, for example, but you just don’t how to get there easily without a lot of trial and error. SFMC experts have taken the time to learn the ins and outs of the platform, know the shortcuts and the pitfalls, and can look at your problem and tell you, “This is the best route to get there.” In the end, this saves you time and money on internal resources and allows you to drive revenue on your new campaign that much more quickly. Have more questions about hiring an on-demand Salesforce Marketing Cloud expert? Tweet us, or request the help of a Salesforce expert today.

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Hiring On-Demand Marketers: 7 Pros and Cons

Nov 21, 2018 Emily Brungard

In today's competitive, evolving marketplace, an agile methodology could mean the difference between becoming a booming business or closing your doors. With more than 41.8 million independent workers in America, hiring freelancers is one of the most effective solutions to securing top talent without going over budget — and there are plenty to choose from. Yet, like everything in business and in life, there are pros and cons to hiring freelancers. By taking the time to do your homework, you’ll save time, money, and headaches. Read on for seven pros and cons of hiring independent contractors. Pro: The Cost When you factor in the cost of recruiting, salary, benefits and company perks, and desk space taken up in the office, hiring a full-time employee can become pretty costly. The average employee hiring process costs $4,129 and takes 42 days. Who needs to spend that much extra time and money? Companies save, on average, between 20 and 30 percent annually by hiring an independent contractor. Going along with cost, the risk associated with hiring freelancers is lower, because you only need to hire and pay freelancers when there's work to be done. Because you work with them on a project-by-project basis, the worry of digging yourself into a payroll hole during downtimes is lessened. Con: Less Face-to-Face Interaction Given that most freelance work is done remotely, you shouldn’t expect to see your freelancer every day. Clear communication is essential in any working relationship, but it’s especially paramount when working with freelancers. Your freelancer isn’t in the office every day so they’re not privy to water cooler convos or even major announcements unless you share the news with them. You are their primary source of information on all things related to your business and your marketing initiatives. Don’t assume they have any insight into changes, progress, setbacks, or glitches, and always err on the side of over-communicating to prevent misunderstandings. See 8 ways to work better with your freelancers. Pro: Marketplaces Make Hiring Easier Than Ever Marketplaces like Torchlite facilitate long-term relationships between full-time freelance experts and marketers so that you can unlock the value of your marketing technology, get more done and compete in a digital world. We only connect you with the best freelancers (check out our vetting process here) — so you can rest easy knowing that the marketers you’re trusting with work will follow through. Marketplaces like Torchlite give you a full view of the experts you can access at any time, and facilitate the onboarding process. Con: Less Consistency With a freelancer, you have a specialist — but the tradeoff is that they may not have the historical knowledge that a full-time employee would have. Your independent contractor has the know-how to get the tasks you assign done, but they won’t be as familiar with your organization’s marketing strategies, what has been tried, and what direction to take things in the future. However, freelancers offer unmatched flexibility and can come on to a project whenever the need arises. Pro: You’re Not Limited to Local Talent Companies look to freelancers to find talent outside their current location. Expansion or an understanding of new markets can be made without onboarding a full-time employee. This allows you to bring new perspectives to your team. Con: You’re Not the Only Client An independent contractor’s job is to make clients happy and provide business results. The reality is that a freelancer is likely working on making several clients happy at a time. However, it’s also in the best interest of an independent contractor to get results for their client in order to build up clientele as well as reputation. This means that the freelancer’s time isn’t dedicated solely to you — they’re juggling many different requests, one-time projects, and strategies. A freelancer might also choose to perform the work outside of normal business hours, making immediate contact difficult without prior planning. Pro: Access to Specialized Talent Freelancers tend to focus on just one or two things that they’ve gained complete mastery of over the years. If you want to hire a content marketer, then you’ll get someone who specializes in content marketing and little else. This is far better than forcing someone from business development to make an attempt at content marketing because you simply can’t afford to hire another full-time employee. As a third party, a freelancer will be able to work on your campaign from a point of view that you may not have previously considered. Hiring isn’t something that should be done lightly, no matter if you’re searching for a full-time employee or a freelancer to complete a one-off project. It’s not always easy to find top talent, which is why Torchlite exists. We make it easier to connect with the top four percent of specialists to get more work done without breaking your budget. Connect with an expert today.

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Retaining Top Freelance Talent: It’s Like Dating

Jul 18, 2018 Emily Brungard

When you find top freelance talent, you don't want to lose them. It's hard enough to find a full-time employee, let alone an amazing freelancer who understands your industry and your specific business. In that way, it’s a little like dating—you have to learn someone’s preferences, talents and expectations in order to click. And for freelancers, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Deloitte Insights’ research suggests that employee retention and engagement are the number two concern in the minds of business leaders, second only to the challenge of building global leadership. This statistic isn’t just relevant to full-time employees—it’s a trend that has made its way into the 1099 workforce. Workers are more like free agents than ever before. So how do you keep them engaged? Allow Ramp Up Time Hiring a freelancer helps you save on recruiting costs by getting to work sooner, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need ramp up time. If you truly want the best quality work from your on-demand help, give them a chance to learn your preferences and learn about your brand. If you routinely switch freelancers after just one project, they may not have the chance to ramp up properly. After your first project, be sure to set a meeting to provide feedback, review expectations and see how you can work better together. It can be as simple as spending five minutes at the end of an engagement discussing what went right and what went wrong, but more frequent feedback is even better. Set Expectations Early Consider offering your freelancers a fixed monthly retainer if you like their work and plan to keep sending projects their way. Include a set amount of work in the monthly retainer, and get their rates for any work that falls outside of it, so they can bill you the extra as needed. Don’t fall into the trap of making your relationship with freelancers purely transactional. If you want to get to work with them again in the future, make sure to treat your freelancer like they’re a true extension of your internal team. Communicate Frequently Treat them like they’re a part of your team, even if they’re not in the office next to you every day. Don’t just rely on written text. Schedule a video or voice call to convey more details. While it might seem like it takes too much time, doing this up front can actually improve clarity, prevent misunderstandings, and save time later on. This also helps you establish a closer connection. Don’t limit interactions with freelancers to just your own. Connect them to more team members to help them learn about your projects and business. Understand You’re Not Their Only Client Because you’re likely not your freelancer’s only client, you have an opportunity. When was the last time you asked for their advice? With a diverse portfolio of work, it’s likely that the freelancer(s) you work with can provide a unique perspective on the content you’re putting out. In the same vein, remember that the freelancers you work with could be working with several clients at the same time, including you. One of the advantages of freelancing is flexibility, so if a client frequently shoots over urgent last-minute projects or expects the freelancer to be available 24/7 (unless specific times of availability were agreed upon), chances are that freelancer will look for work elsewhere. Pay on Time The best freelancers are in very high demand. They can pick and choose their clients. In fact, freelancers might decide to stop working with you entirely if you don’t treat them well. More than 70 percent of freelancers have trouble getting paid at some point in their careers, and 29 percent of freelance invoices are paid late. It’s not difficult to get ahead of this problem: be transparent with your freelancers about how your company’s fiscal year runs, how long it typically takes to process invoices and how it pays its contract workers. The keys to successful freelance relationships are a lot like what it takes to be successful in any other relationship: transparency and communication are key. By setting expectations early and reviewing those expectations often, you set yourself and your freelancer up for success.  Implementing these tips may nurture what could ultimately become mission-critical relationships for you and your company. It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Are you a freelancer looking for your next gig? Sign up and join Torchlite today.  

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Behind the Scenes: Our Freelancer Vetting Process

Jul 11, 2018 Maria Rummel

We know that adding a new person to your team, whether full-time or freelance, takes both time and effort. In other words; money. This is why freelance marketplaces like Torchlite develop rigorous screening processes for their freelancers. The goal is to ensure clients are matched with the perfect person or team for their project, but not all talent pools are created equal. Some platforms allow anyone to fill out a profile making businesses do the work of wading through resumes and portfolios, trying to balance budget with professional talent. This is a great way for freelancers to get their start, but it's not always the best way to find the exact right person for the job. Increasingly, freelancer marketplaces are choosing to scale down the number of profiles, instead focusing on proven track records, strong portfolios, and excellent reviews. We wanted to give you an insider look at how we select our Flexperts, so you have a better understanding of the difference. 1. Profile Check All potential Flexperts are asked a series of questions before moving onto the application process. This serves as a "weed out" right off the bat. Our goal isn't to serve a million clients at a time. We want the very best for you, so we only accept the very best. And, while this makes our talent pool a little smaller than some of the big guys, we've found our clients consistently rave about the performance of our freelancers, and our retention rates for both clients and freelancers is enviable. 2. Application Next up, we get down to what really matters — proof. All potential Flexperts submit an application including a resume, multiple work samples, and references. The truth is, anyone can apply, but what sets a true professional apart is several examples of their work, including metrics, if applicable. 3. Review All applicants are reviewed by our team of industry experts, including our CEO. If we put our name behind someone, we want to make sure they pass muster up to the very top. After receiving an  application, our resourcing team reviews and considers any attached work samples, recommendations, and the applicant’s resume. And, we're not just interested in the work- we want to know about the person, too. We're looking for those soft skills that will make their addition to your team seamless. 4. Phone or video interview Call us old-school, but in today’s marketing age it’s important that teams know they’re working with a real person. We also want to know that our freelancers will be are available, responsive, and able to effectively communicate with our clients. We attract talent from all over the world, but only a handful make it through to the next round after speaking with us. 5. Availability and hours In order to help us match clients and freelancers for optimal working conditions, we will ask all applicants about their availability and hours. Torchlite does not require our Torchliters to be available at specific times of the day, or for certain amounts of time. However, we do take availability into consideration when resourcing accounts to fit our clients' needs. 6. Acceptance The final step of our vetting process ensures that each freelancer understands what it means to be part of the Torchliter community and work for Torchlite’s clients. This is an essential step of transparency and agreement between Torchlite and all of our freelancers that helps us both decrease the amount of time it takes to resource accounts and cultivate a community of top-notch digital marketing freelancers. If you’re a marketer looking to add our vetted talent to your bench, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you!

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