7 Helpful Tips on How to Start Your Digital Marketing Career

By Sergey Grybniak,
business.com writer
|
Jan 23, 2020
Image Credit: fizkes/Getty Images

Interested in a career in digital marketing? Here are seven things you need to do get started.

For many, the days of shopping in brick-and-mortar stores are long gone. Today, every successful company has a branded website, social media accounts, outreach on reputable contributor platforms, forums, business directories, Q/A services, and an extensive online audience. That is why digital marketing services are constantly growing in demand. Competing companies hire the best specialists to effectively promote their ventures and push their commercial pages to the top of search results.  

As digital marketing becomes an increasingly popular and lucrative niche, more and more young people are turning to it as a top career choice. However, as in any other niche, it can be challenging for aspiring specialists with modest backgrounds to outrun experienced colleagues and land well-paid positions. 

The tips below will help you take your first steps in digital marketing and build momentum to climb the career ladder to success. 

1. Gain hands-on experience

Even if you are a great learner, your knowledge of theory is unlikely to impress a potential employer. It is much more important for them to know that you are skilled enough to handle challenging situations and solve real-life tasks. Any hands-on marketing experience will be a plus.

As a student, you can work part-time in a marketing agency or take on an internship during summer vacation. You will not only gain valuable experience, but also make useful contacts and possibly reserve a position for future full-time employment.

As a graduate, don't be afraid to take a low-paid marketing job for a couple of months. Having gained practical experience, you will be able to return to the job market with an updated resume and more ambitious aspirations. 

Also, you can launch your own project. For example, promote your friend's rock band on social media or help your family member promote their online store for local search results. Be sure to gauge both initial and resulting metrics to provide a potential employer with a detailed report on your marketing success. Such autonomous projects will show you are a good analyst, and able to work without oversight from a boss. 

2. Build your own online image

When seeking candidates for marketing positions, along with perusing your resume, recruiters often review social media profiles. Company owners are unlikely to trust you to promote their products and services if you are not even able to promote yourself. Digital marketers with only a single post on Facebook and a handful of photos on Instagram usually arouse suspicion. 

As your first practical project, create your own professional brand. Make contacts with a large number of niche experts and potential clients, regularly post relevant and meaningful content, and collect likes, shares and comments. 

A strong social media profile will reflect your digital charisma and your ability to get the attention of people who are of primary importance to a successful digital marketer.

3. Develop a broad outlook and narrow specialization

There are many branches of digital marketing. The key ones are social media, PPC (pay-per-click ads), SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing, each with its own sub-branches.

You will not be able to become a top-notch specialist in all of these areas, and you will have to pick a lane. Some people are keen on writing and prefer content marketing, while others have an analytical mindset and prefer SEO. 

A broad outlook will help you understand exactly what kind of digital marketing job excites you most, and allows you to develop your full professional potential. Once you find your passion, continue moving in this narrow direction. 

Determine what team size suits you most. Some specialists enjoy networking and are happy to collaborate with dozens of people daily, while others prefer close interaction with a small group of coworkers. Also, decide whether you want to sign on full time with a firm or become a freelancer, performing individual projects and shifting from one client to another. 

Once you establish your ideal work mode, every hour in the office will bring you genuine pleasure. You will have superior performance and achieve much better results than your peers who are still struggling to find themselves. 

Strive to become a master of your chosen craft, and always pay attention to what colleagues from related departments are doing. A broad outlook will give you perspective on the tasks in your narrow specialization and help you find the most effective solutions.  

4. Attend niche events

Even for IT specialists, it is sometimes useful to step away from the computer and engage in live communication with like-minded people. Niche conferences, meetups and workshops are great venues for educating yourself, boosting practical skills, making useful contacts that can come in handy in the future, or even finding your first employer. In addition, traveling to events taking place in other cities and foreign countries will broaden your horizons and refresh your mind. 

Pubcon Pro, Internet Summit, and Growth Marketing Conference are among the most popular digital marketing conferences held annually in the US.

5. Monitor digital marketing news

Digital marketing is a dynamic industry developing at warp speed. New approaches and technologies are constantly emerging, and your agile competitors are sure to utilize them. If you do not do the same, outdated methods will bury your promotional campaigns. 

In addition, the ways that people search for goods and services on the web are changing. Cater to their needs to make your products or services more visible on the web. 

Select several reputable digital marketing publications, like Search Engine Journal, GoDaddy Garage, or Search Engine Watch, and review them daily to stay up to date with the latest niche trends. 

6. Gain general tech knowledge

Even if you don't plan to develop websites or write code for mobile apps, it will be useful to learn how those things work. After all, as a digital marketer, you will have to communicate with technical specialists and convey project requirements to them from a marketing standpoint. 

In general terms, you need to at least understand what features your colleagues can implement using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and other programming languages. Learn tech terminology to communicate with developers in their language.

7. Compile a killer resume

A well-designed resume will help you make a positive first impression on a potential employer. Make sure it is neat, well-formatted, meaningful, and demonstrates your best personal and professional qualities, while at the same time hiding weaknesses. 

Large companies receive dozens of resumes daily, and it is especially challenging for aspiring specialists to stand out. Use the following tips to turn your resume into a golden ticket to a successful future:

  • Having limited experience, you should highlight your personal qualities. Showcase your creativity, diligence, ability to network and find a common language with different people, meet deadlines, absorb large volumes of information, distinguish the most important details, analyze them, and make meaningful conclusions. 
  • List all your internships, conferences, competitions, and other activities related to marketing. 
  • Provide certificates that demonstrate your expertise. For example, Adwords certification by Google would be a great plus for a PPC specialist. 
  • Get positive recommendations on LinkedIn. Most employers use this business network to verify the professional reputation of candidates. 
  • Lead with the most meaningful details. Busy recruiters spend only seconds looking through each resume. Hook them with your key merits described in the first lines. 

Use these helpful tips to stand out from your competition in the job market and take the first steps towards your future success in digital marketing. Believe in yourself, monitor niche trends and cultivate your strongest talents.

Sergey Grybniak is CEO of digital marketing agency Clever-Solution.com, founder of Opporty.com and co-founder of Carvoy.com and Vericost.com — innovative digital marketplaces that help people to promote businesses, lease cars and facilitate travel. Experienced in management, marketing and development. Sergey has helped many small, mid-sized and large companies in both Europe and the United States to digitally cement their reputation. As a technology evangelist, Sergey is passionate about utilizing the power of advanced instruments and tools to help entrepreneurs conduct business more efficiently. He is all about boosting traffic, increasing SERPs, and improving ROI, and is eager to share his vast experience with Business.com readers. Sergey frequently writes about search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, content marketing, and website design and development. He is also a great fan of productivity, time management, and motivation.
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