How to start a career in digital marketing
They say the first post is the most difficult to write. To be honest, it didn’t take me more than 10 minutes to figure out what my first post should be like.
No hesitation, I knew that what I should write is what everyone who’s dipping their toes in the waters of SEO, content creation or social media is eager to know: how to start a career in digital marketing.
A that is a big question and I believe there is no one specific way. This reminds me to a conference I attended last week in Kødbyen, Copenhagen, about women in tech.
One of the panelists, Nina Varming-Petersen, explained that when she’s asked how to start a career in tech she answers “you should find the way that works for you”.
Whether you learn how to code, study a degree in engineering, or start a company in tech, you need to find a way to make it work for you. The same applies to digital marketing.
Perhaps, I can use my own story as an example and give you some tips on where to start if you haven’t made up your mind yet.
Look at how others do offline and/or online marketing
When I was a child I could spend countless hours looking at advertisements. They bored me, of course, but whenever I saw a new one my eyes would start analyzing it and dissecting what was good and bad.
The value proposition and the storytelling of the ads fascinated me. Nowadays, it is easier. You don’t need to watch TV but just open your email, your Facebook, do a search on Google, or watch a video on YouTube.
Now you can look at them and compare what you like and what you don’t like. Would you click on one of them? Once you start asking yourself these questions, you will start getting interested in online marketing.
You can do something similar with billboards, TV ads, or even with banners in magazines. Just because the tools we use and the length of the message in online marketing differ from the ones in offline marketing doesn’t mean they don’t share the same foundations.
Try to figure out what a good message is for you and, more importantly, who you are. Once you have done, you are ready to fail again.
Look at how others consume online marketing
All marketers have the same defect: we believe we know what our audience wants. Or even worse, we believe our audience wants whatever we want. And that is a huge mistake.
Sometimes, we can’t see the bigger picture. Many people (hello, my parents) can’t distinguish between an organic result and an ad. On top of that, it has been proved that it exists certain banner blindness: we have learned to ignore banner in mobile and desktop.
And if you know a thing or two about online marketing, you are programmed to start ignoring even more. You know that that “hurry-up, last days” email campaign you received yesterday is only to make you purchase.
We all have committed the same mistake. We start in marketing, we think we are on top of the technological wave and we try to go for the young, cool millennials.
Error. The reality is that they are born to ignore your ads. So, now you are ready to put in practice and learn from your mistakes.
Start working and/or putting in practice your digital marketing knowledge
As I said before, now you are ready to fail and to learn from that failure. But how to put in practice your newly acquired marketing skills? I continue with my story.
While I was studying I got a part-time job as a marketing assistant. Most of the time you don’t need experience in marketing to do so.
Online marketing is still a quite young discipline that embraces everyone. Most of the businesses out there use it. So, what they need is two types of people: those who are good with numbers and those who are good with words.
It is interesting to see how much the language is connected to online marketing. The most common path is to start as a copywriter, which means create articles for the internet with the purpose of being indexed by Google.
To do so, they will teach you tons of best practices such as the use of headlines, interlinking, backlinking, use of keywords, etc.
The other common path is the one with numbers, you will likely end up helping in the creation and set-up of paid marketing, or in plain English, online ads.
What if I have a business and I want to start a career in digital marketing
You might ask. In that case, it is even better because you will have the opportunity to put all your knowledge into practice without worrying about getting a job.
This is a win-win scenario: you will learn about digital marketing and you will hopefully expand your business with this new set of skills.
In that case, I recommend you to move from theoretical knowledge, into a more practical one. You can start by creating a website.
Buy your domain and website host and then install your CMS (Content Management System, which is the tool you will use to make the website).
Most of them offer 1-click installation with the CMS of your choice. WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Drupal or SquareSpace, to name a few, are the CMS’ that you will use to build your website.
Why? Simply because it is easy to install and start creating a website. Your only headache will be which theme to use or the order or your menu tabs.
Once you have your website you are ready to go. Now you can do as you please, but I recommend you to start measuring the site’s traffic. You want to know how many people visit your website.
Keep on reading to learn how to measure your traffic.
Next steps to start your career in digital marketing if you have a business
Read, watch, talk. I wouldn’t choose another period in history to live. We have so much access to knowledge and so many possibilities to learn.
Before I mentioned about measuring the traffic of your website. You can choose whatever you want, but to start the best is Google Analytics. It is for free and Google offers courses called Analytics Academy, where you can learn how to use it.
But if you still feel that you need something less complicated, the good ol’ Google offers you Digital Garage, a platform where you can find several online courses that will help you make your business digital.
As this is my first post, I don’t know who I am actually writing to, but I also believe in the democratic power of the internet that will show this content to all walks of life. So, if you feel confident enough to continue digging in marketing the next on your list is Google Ads.
You might want to do some paid marketing, or you might not, but you won’t know until you learn what is about. And guess what. Yes, Google offers you another learning tool: Academy for Ads.
There are many possibilities, and as the above-mentioned Nina said, there isn’t one way but the one that works for you. Nowadays, you have tools and they’re for you to use them.
However, I am well aware that it is not the same when you are working in digital marketing in a company and you have someone who can guide you and prevent you from making big mistakes.
That’s why you should first read and research and the ask. There are tons of communities out there, both online and offline.
If you feel this is something that you would like to understand and decide about but not manage, then you should hire the services of a professional.
I work for invoicing and accounting software and I always recommend entrepreneurs to take care of their accounting to a certain extent. Whatever in accounting or fiscality they don’t feel comfortable managing, they should delegate it to their accountants.
t is the same in digital marketing. You can start your career in it and outsource the most complicated part, or just find a software that does it for you. Believe me, these things are out there.
What if I want to land a job in digital marketing but I don’t have experience
It’s true that there are plenty of opportunities that require a certain level of experience, even if it’s something that could be easily taught.
For instance, I always say that when it comes to copywriting the most important is that the candidate knows how to write in a compelling and attractive way. That can’t be taught but SEO best practices can.
However, if you are struggling to get a job in the sector I offer you four scenarios:
Create your own blog or website and put your digital marketing skills into practice:
As you could read, there are tons of resources: online courses, certifications, blogs where you can learn and put in practice in your blog. You could use this as an asset when you sit down in a job interview for a marketing position.
This will give you the savvy to face your first job in digital marketing. On top of that, it will show you are autonomous and eager to learn. Kudos to you.
Start an internship in digital marketing
Most of the companies that offer you internships do it because they cannot afford to hire you, but instead of taking it as a problem you should see the brighter side: you can gain some experience.
They might require little-to-none knowledge in the field and they will teach you. So you will work in digital marketing, you will learn by practicing, and who knows if in the future they can hire you.
Volunteer to help NGOs or non-profit organizations with their digital marketing activities
This is definitely a way to go if you have the time for it, plus at least you are doing something for a good cause. I believe volunteering doesn’t always need to be for selfless or altruistic purposes, as you always get something back.
It is like working as an intern but with more freedom. In this scenario, you will have the possibility of putting in practice your knowledge while doing some good. What more can you ask for?
What to do now to start a career in digital marketing
Now it’s time for you to take a decision and see what path you want to take. You can be an entrepreneur, you can be an employee or you can be both.
Possibilities are endless. Personally, I started working as a part-time marketing assistant while studying but I also did all the above.
I took internships writing content for websites. I created my own blog and now I am creating this one too. I have volunteered and still do it by helping others with issues in marketing and communications. I created a business as a consultant in digital marketing.
You can attend conferences and networking events, take online courses and offline full-degrees in marketing, work as a volunteer with SEO and try to get a job in SEM… Who knows?
You can also drop me a message and I can tell you more what I think it is best for your business or for your career. “Find the way that works for you”.