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GenM is the tool that allows you to hire marketing interns for your startup at really low costs. 3 months ago, I decided to carry out an experiment and hired 4 apprentices all at the same time. Here's my personal experience and some tips, recommendations and warnings.
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I’ve been using GenM for three months now and a lot of people have reached out to ask me if it is worth it. This aims to be a complete and detailed review that will help you decide whether you should hire an apprentice on GenM.
GenM is a platform that connects startup employers with marketing students for 3-month apprenticeships.
If you’re running a startup, there’s a need for marketing and sales to grow your business, but being a startup means you’re probably low on certain resources - mainly money and time.
GenM aims to provide a solution to that problem. They allow businesses to hire marketers at approximately $1/hour, saving you time and allowing you to grow your sales.
This may sound like slave labor, but it’s not. Both parties get some benefits - more on that below.
As GenM is a two-sided platform, it works differently for employers and students.
The first thing you do as an employer that wants to start using GenM is to visit their website and create an account. You will be then asked to create a profile and provide some information about yourself.
It’s important to make your profile interesting and attractive. Otherwise, students won’t be interested in you and will ignore your messages. Here’s how my current profile looks like:
You will then be asked to complete the registration process by having a call with their team. In some cases, you won’t have to have a call and you will be ready to start your search straight away.
Once you are done with the call, you need to go to the “Match” section in your dashboard and use the filters to look for an apprentice that fits with your needs.
Once you’ve found some people you think that could fit, you will probably try to contact them, but you won’t be able to. You will be asked to first buy a credit.
GenM works with a credit system. One credit costs $147 and allows you to hire an apprentice that will work for your business for 3 months. The price per month, therefore, is $49.
Each week, the apprentice can work for 5-10 hours, and in some cases (if they are really enthusiastic), they will work even longer. Each month, they will work an average of 30 hours, so you would be getting marketing work done for $1.66/hour.
Once you’ve bought the credit, you will be able to continue reaching some apprentices.
GenM allows you to hire apprentices to do the following types of work:
As you can see, there are lots of different categories and, if you can’t find the one you are looking for in the list above, that’s not a problem. You can actually hire the intern to carry out any marketing-related task, as long as you find an apprentice that’s interested.
Social media is the category in which most apprentices want to work in, so there are around 3,000 candidates. Graphic design is the category with the least amount of candidates, around 1,200.
But, does this list really mean that you can hire apprentices for all of those types of work?
Well, I’ve personally hired apprentices to work on social networks, analytics, SEO and content creation (more about this before), so I haven’t tried all of the possible types of work.
However, considering my experience with the apprentices, I would say you won’t be able to get high-quality work on all of those categories. Here’s my opinion about the type of work you can and can’t find:
So you’ve decided what will the apprentice work on and found a great fit. But, problems can always occur. In fact, my first apprenticeship needed to be canceled (more about this below).
I’ve read on Quora and other blogs that GenM Customer Support didn’t resolve some people’s problems. In my case, I had no problems getting help from Customer Support. There was a conflict with the apprentice, so the contract was canceled. I was given my credit back and could use it for another apprenticeship.
I’ve heard of some cases in which GenM refunded customers their money back, so sincerely doubt you’ll have any issues with customer service if you have some conflicts with the apprenticeship.
Okay, but what would the apprentice gain from working for $1/hour?
Well, in fact, the apprentice works for $0/hour as the $49/month payment is kept by GenM.
When students join GenM (for free), they have access to a series of digital marketing courses. Are they any good? I haven’t personally checked them out, but I asked my apprentices and they told me they were okay.
I estimate they give you an idea about the topic so that, if you are interested in that aspect of digital marketing, you can learn more in depth on your own.
Apart from getting access to these courses, they enter the database and businesses can find them and hire them for apprenticeship opportunities. This allows them to build their resume and gain experience.
Finally, a third benefit that apprentice may get a few years after working on the platform is to find paid freelancing work through GenM’s freelancing service.
One of the most frequently asked questions is if GenM is legit.
Yes, it is legit. You and the apprentice will be asked to sign a contract that will protect both the business and the apprentice.
Where or not it is morally correct to have someone working for your business for 40 hours per month for free... well that’s another question.
Internships and apprenticeships aren’t something new. The only thing that GenM is making new is to essentially virtualize the process.
In my opinion, as long as you provide enough mentorship and help the apprentice develop his/her skills while giving a great boost to his/her resume, it’s morally okay. There actually was a discussion about this on this Hacker News thread.
So this wouldn’t be a complete GenM review without telling my personal experience using the tool.
I’ve hired 4 apprentices in GenM, all at the same time. This is NOT what I recommend to you. I’d recommend you to start with one apprentice and see if that works. If it does work well, and you want more marketing help, go ahead and hire more people.
Anyway, I wanted to take this experiment to an extreme and considered that, in the worst scenario, I was going to lose $400-$500 and some time.
But before hiring these 4 apprentices, I had a failed attempt.
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I found about GenM in late-November and decided to give it a try in mid-December. In my first try, I wanted to do things quieter and only hire one apprentice. I was looking for some help on managing Failory’s interview with failed startup founders.
So I bought one GenM credit and start reaching out to a lot of people. Some mistakes I made:
I found some apprentices who were interested in the site and had some calls. They went quite well, but none of the candidates sounded really interesting or enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Without any great criteria, I chose one of those interns, signed the contract and set up everything so that she could join the team. She signed the contract and that was it... I never heard from her again.
After two weeks with no contact from the apprentice, I contacted the GenM support team and in a matter of 2 or 3 days, I had my credit again and this apprentice was removed from the system.
I’ve previously exchanged many emails with the team and even the CEO was keen on carrying out an interview for Failory. In my experience, the support team has always helped me really well.
There is even an email in which you can contact them if you are struggling to find an apprentice that fits what you are looking for and they can share you some tips or recommend your business on a weekly newsletter they send to students.
There are some people in Reddit and Quora who claimed to have received really bad support but that was not my experience. They probably have changed the way they do it during the past few years.
So I now had one credit to use in a new apprenticeship. But in the meantime, I went traveling and it was a month later when I finally decided to use it.
I decided to hire someone to carry out content creation & SEO tasks. But to take this experiment to an extreme, I bought 3 more credits. I decided to hire 3 content writers and 1 community manager.
This time, I was more careful with who I was about to hire. I realized interviewing startup founders and publishing the interviews on Failory wasn’t a really exciting job opportunity for someone who was interested in learning digital marketing.
So I decided to look for content writers, and to find them, I searched for people who were interested in this skill, were English native speakers, and were from the UK, USA, and Australia. This way I was able to find 30-40 interesting candidates.
In the case of the community manager, I think he reached out to me and expressed interest in working on the site.
I didn’t want to commit the same mistakes as before, so I contacted the GenM team to ask them their recommendations on reaching potential apprentices. This is what they told me.
“We suggest having a strong opening message to students because it is the first point of contact. Instead of telling them what you're looking for at the start, ask what they want to learn. It will open up the conversation and you can gauge whether they could be good for you or not. Just make sure to ask open-ended questions so they have to give a logical answer as opposed to answering with a yes or no. It's important to engage the student a bit before hopping on a call right away because they will know you better and the call will be more effective.”
And they also shared me this template:
“Hey (student name),
I run an SEO & content marketing consultancy (list what your business does) called XYZ (your business). We help clients grow their organic traffic through content marketing and SEO (main sources of marketing).
Currently, we are looking for an apprentice that loves to learn and apply digital marketing skills to real sites that are growing. Always great if you have some experience in digital marketing, but not necessary if you love that space and are a fast learner.
Would be great to start the discussion and hear what you're looking for and if we might be a good fit!
What types of skills are you looking to learn and apply?"
So I customized this a little bit and used GenM’s massive messaging tool to reach 40 potential apprentices.
There were 5-10 people interested in the opportunity so, following what the GenM team had recommended me, I started chatting with them and asking them different questions about their experience, studies, hobbies…
This lead to 6 calls with different content writers and a call with the community manager. From these calls, I hired 3 content writers, based on their previous experience in writing content and their business knowledge, as well as the community manager.
GenM is currently working on a tool that will allow managing apprentices right on the website.
But I’d recommend you to set your own workflow. This are the tools I’m using:
On the web side, we also use Google Docs and Webflow.
Keeping in close communication is essential to keep your apprentice motivated on the project and, potentially, extend the 3-month contract for a longer period. Some of the apprentices I’ve hired are so motivated about the project that they want to keep working on the site as interns.
Sharing these apprentices links and resources so that they can keep learning about the topic they are working in is essential. Same with giving feedback, it tends to be really appreciated as they learn a lot from it.
The process of giving feedback on GenM is quite tedious. Every week, you will be asked to complete how well the apprentice worked that week. But you don’t need to answer the questionnaire, you can skip it. What you won’t be able to escape from, will be the final evaluation of the apprentice, which he/she will use in their resume.
One of the questions I receive the most is how much time does finding, managing and giving feedback to apprentices take. Here’s an estimated report:
This results in an approximate of 8 hours to find and hire an apprentice and 1 hours/week to manage him/her.
This tends to be a big worry. One guy once asked me:
“Did you try and find specific expertise or are they kind of jack of all trades, masters of none?”
I think there are both of these types of candidates out there. There are some students who are just trying to find what aspect of digital marketing they like the most, so they don’t have any specific expertise yet. But in other cases, students have already found what do they like to work on and what they are best at, and these can provide much higher quality work to your business.
As for my personal experience, the apprentices had some previous relevant experience. One of the content writers I hired, for example, had won a writing competition, and another one is running a personal blog.
So yeah, I think it depends a lot on what type of work you are looking for.
In my personal experience: Yes, it totally was worth it.
Our social networks’ following have grown a lot since I’ve hired the community manager, as I wasn’t actually posting anything before; many of the existing Failory blog posts have been improved and are beginning to increase the SEO rankings, and new articles, as well as guest posts, were successfully written and published.
The experiment had greater results than what I was expecting and I’m planning to keep using GenM in the next months.
I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works. The greatest possible loss you will suffer will be $147 and some time.
I would love to read your experience with GenM, so scroll down and leave a comment. I will be answering them all.
Finally, if you have any other doubts or believe I’m missing anything, do not hesitate to reach out to me.
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