Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring a Digital Marketing Expert


You’re looking to hire a digital marketing expert, but you’re not sure where to turn (or who to trust) - I get it. With a TON of people claiming to be experts in “social influence” and “marketing” nowadays, it’s near impossible for the everyday business owner to know the difference between legit and well, not-so-legit!

Over the years working closely with a group of fantastic collaborators who walk the talk, I’ve also compiled a list of common red flags that I’ve noticed among those who can’t be trusted as the real deal - those I’ve come across casually through my research of the field and those who burned my clients before I came along. You can save yourself a world of heartache if you stay on the lookout for these red flags:


Sadly, this is a practice that has become commonplace. Taking graphics and photos straight off of Google and claiming them as their own, sometimes even slapping their logo on top! There’s a couple best practices that a majority of solid digital marketers know:

1. If you’re sharing a graphic or photo from the Internet on social media and you do not have the rights to it (CC0 - Creative Commons Zero license is what you want your stock photos to have), you should credit or link back to the original source - and never alter the condition of the image.

2. If you’re creating print collateral, ads, or designing a website, only use imagery you have the full rights to. In this situation, simply crediting isn’t sufficient. Look for free photos with the CC0 license, or invest in a professional photographer to elevate your strategy.


Nobody wants to see a “digital marketing expert” with a blank webpage, an outdated font, and small, awkwardly formatted images. I love minimalistic style as much as the next gal, but not templates from the 90’s! When hiring a digital marketer, tune in to how their website looks - their skills should shine through their work. Always request example works, too. Any blogs, sites, and social profiles they manage should be top-notch, and if they aren’t, they should provide a disclaimer as to why (the client posts in addition to them, etc. - because believe me, that does happen!).


Oh, boy. Video is the name of the game in 2019! Each good digital marketer knows this, and knows to engage their followers with Instagram Stories, IGTV, Facebook Live and the like. You’re looking for an individual that can elevate your own digital presence - and it’s unlikely this person is going to offer this advice when their own presence is slacking. Video content is key for any modern marketing strategy and can vastly increase your engagement rate!


Hints that your expert isn’t a super organized worker or doesn’t really care what their own Internet presence looks like may include: missing navigation, missing social icons (or broken links), a novel of text when you hit the homepage, and an extremely long sidebar (or, a sidebar in general - those are so 2010!).

You have to begin to wonder: What will this person do with my space on the Internet?


The ticket to clear brand recognition is focusing on what your audience wants to see, not what you want to write about. So, if this expert has a blog that really isn’t tailored to YOU, chances are, you’re just not the right fit (or your pro here doesn’t understand the value of content marketing). You want someone who knows how to embody a specific tone and voice, and speak to just the people you need to speak to. In efforts to keep my interests separate and clear for my audience, I offer more personal life musings on my lifestyle blog, and blog all about business and marketing tips right here.


The worst red flag of them all: Claiming that they’re an expert! It’s a common theme I’ve noticed - the experts I work with never call themselves experts, instead they allow their work to speak for itself. The overly confident ones usually fall short and embody many of the red flags on this list. They probably have a website from the 90’s, use buzzwords like “growth hacking”, and really don’t have the client base that speaks for their abilities. Even worse: They may try to guarantee you a specific $ amount in profit or X amount of followers, rankings, etc. An informed marketer knows that no two strategies are identical and it is misleading to guarantee specific results.

I hope this post got you thinking about what your ultimate goal is for hiring a digital marketing expert and gave you some ideas for what to look for during that process. If you run into anything that feels or looks fishy to you, pop it in the comments below - I’d love to clarify and help answer any questions you have! :)

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more food for thought…