Kicking off a career in digital marketing can be both daunting and difficult, but there are a number of ways you can make it a smoother transition - whether you’re fresh out of school or uni, or trying to make a change from the 9-5 job you hate. We’ve put together a helpful list of 10 steps you can take to make sure you kick off your digital marketing career in style.
This is something that is so much more important than most people realise. If you speak to all the best DJs out there, did they learn their craft by reading a book, or did they buy their first set of decks and just have at it? The best chance you have of getting really good at anything is - you guessed it - practice. Qualifications are important, as we’ll look at below, but getting out there and starting your own project not only gives you confidence in your own abilities, but stands out to potential recruiters.
This leads on nicely from number 1: building a personal brand is important for employers to see that 1. You’re good at what you do, and 2. You take the industry seriously. You can learn more about how to build your personal brand, and why you should, over on our dedicated article: Personal branding: what you need to know.
Digital marketing is a serious, constantly changing and competitive industry, and if you’re to stand out in applications and interviews, you need to be across the language. Personal projects and qualifications will help with that, but you need to stay updated on industry knowledge, which leads us too..
As we said, this industry is constantly changing. Keep up to date with developments by having constant browses of sites like Moz, Distilled, Search Engine Land and Hubspot. These are leaders in the field and will help keep you abreast of, well, everything. This takes us to point 5…
You need to be both willing to learn, and passionate about the field. We’re going to assume you’re getting into this career because digital marketing excites you. Well then, that should and needs to transfer into doing *all of the above*. The willingness comes through hard work, and getting up each morning to read about any developments. The passion comes into it when you need to keep that going for a long time. But hey, both of those aspects are part of the job, and will keep you one step ahead of your clients (and competition!).
Speaking of clients (and potential colleagues), networking is one of the most important parts of any job in marketing - digital included. Surround yourself with people who are more experienced in, and better at, digital marketing than yourself. That way, you’re both learning as you go and meeting people that will be able to recommend you for jobs, find you clients, and of course be friends!
But as much as nepotism plays a massive role in everything, you still need some backing behind you on a certification level. This isn’t retail where you can learn on the job. This is strategic, analytical, organised work that is a difficult blend of creativity and tight logistics. Get the balance right, and you’re laughing. But to do that, you need to have some real training behind you.
And whilst your going down the path of training, embrace it. Get nerdy. Learn the technical side of everything you can. Even if you don’t want to build websites - you just want to write content or create SnapChat videos - we can’t stress enough how much of a help it will be for everything from interviews to on the job projects to know the background of different elements of the digital world. So get nerdy.
And number 8 leads nicely to 9: be a t-shaped marketer, as Rand Fishkin of Moz puts it. Have training or knowledge or experience in a couple of specific digital marketing disciplines, but have a broader understanding of all things marketing. Companies value this massively - it makes you a wildcard asset that other people may not be.
Last but not least, do you understand data? Do you know how to assess analytics? You need to know this to work in this field in the 21st Century. It comes back to almost everything above: be nerdy, get trained, learn the lingo, stay up to date. It’s all critical.