The two questions I get asked most often when it comes to my job are a) how much do you actually work a day and b) how did you ever get involved in the industry.
Getting a job in digital marketing is actually quite simple, truth be told. Making a name for yourself, making it big, running your own agency, getting to the top – all of that is an everyday uphill battle, but that can be said for any line of work. There is not much room at the very top.
In short – if you want to get your foot in the door, and start building a career in digital marketing, here are the few tips I have to offer. Hopefully, they will save you a headache or two, and help propel you a bit faster:
Read, Write and Test
First of all, let’s be clear on one thing – there is no such thing as a “digital marketer”. The industry itself encompasses hundreds or roles, and you are actually aiming for a career in one of the branches, so first determine what that branch is, and only then start climbing.
Most of the people you recognize as industry experts are self-taught, and the best thing you can do for your future job is to start educating yourself today. If you would like to work in a PPC department, get to know everything you can about AdWords, run small test campaigns, see what’s new in the field. Don’t wait to get a job to start learning. Even if you are going to start out as an intern, the more you know already, the faster you will progress. If you would like to start working in SEO, I’d suggest starting with technical audits – they will be a great groundwork for what you do later on.
Another thing about digital marketing is that there is always something new and fresh being tried by someone somewhere. Keeping up with the industry standards will be a part of your job, so make sure you are ready to never stop learning.
Know Who You Are, and What You Want
While we are on the subject of starting to learn, the first thing you need to acquaint yourself with is – yourself.
If you are more of a creative spirit, you will likely want a role in a creative department. If you are more of a tech geek, then website development might be for you. If design is your passion, web design is your clear choice. If you have a knack for words, becoming a copywriter or a creative writer can be your meal ticket.
Don’t try to force a role on yourself you might not be comfortable with, just because you think it’s your way into the industry. Don’t waste valuable years on honing a skill you neither need nor particularly enjoy.
Leave Your Ego at Home
This piece of advice might work for any industry, but it is somehow especially prevalent in the world of digital. You will be doing most of your work (if not all of it) using a keyboard and a screen to communicate. This will give you a certain distance and a sense of invulnerability, which you should try to shake as soon as you feel it sticking to you.
People online can be irritating, manipulative, short-tempered and angry. Part of your job may be to communicate with these people, and you need to leave your own ego out of it, and do it. Getting involved in a shouting match with somebody on social media will not do you, your company or your client any good.
Learn How to Sell Yourself
This is likely the most important piece of advice I can give you. I’ve known brilliant writers who are outshined by the mediocre just because they have no idea how to sell their own skills. Admittedly, I struggle with this myself.
There is a fine line between being arrogant and showing someone you are just the right person for a job – walking it is a lifelong challenge.
The more practical way to do this is to build up a portfolio of work you can show to clients and employers. And the best way to do that is to start a blog, or set up a website where you can showcase your work, and where you can direct people when they ask about your skill set.
This will also be a very practical opportunity for you to test your marketing theories out – what better way to do so than with your own brand?
People in marketing love to hire people who know how to sell – ultimately, that’s what it comes down to. So, whether you are selling something through your words, your designs, the way you code or the way you speak to someone over email, it’s up to you to bring your A game, and try to convince those who come across your profile to give you that job you have been yearning for.
Network – and Keep it Smart
Networking on social media is one of the best ways to get in touch with the people you want to work with one day. However, don’t send them a message asking for a job. Don’t ask for anything. Just connect, comment on their work, ask them to check out yours – build relationships, in short.
And don’t just shoot for the big fish, the CEOs and the big players. Network with people who are like you, looking for their big break, with people who have just started an internship, people who are learning and evolving.
Most marketers love to talk about their work – they love to hear other people’s ideas, love to hear other people’s thoughts on their latest idea, and if you show genuine interest, and get involved in their projects from the sidelines, you will establish a name for yourself, and that job will come.
Remember – Patience is a Virtue
Finally, bear in mind that you will have to do some legwork before you get hired – like in any other industry. While having a degree in marketing might get you a bit of a boost, digital marketing is all about walking the walk, and actually getting things done. Even if you don’t have a degree, but are ready to learn, put in the time and work hard – there is no reason why you shouldn’t make it.