3 Fool-Proof Tips for Transitioning into a Career in Digital Marketing

Tearing off the Corporate Shackles

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We’ve all been there. You find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the morning. Your motivation is about as low as winter temperatures in Canada. With every passing day, a little more of your soul gets devoured by your corporate master, who shuns your well-being in the pursuit of earning cold hard cash. You officially hate your job.

And then finally, one day, you wake up and ask yourself “is this even worth it anymore”? The answer is a resounding “no.” For some, this is the most liberating experience of their lives. They decide they’ve had enough and it’s time to change career.

I found myself in this position back in November 2013. I was a Commercial Banker in London, England. The money was great. The holiday allowance was even better. Trips to the South of France, Turkey, Croatia and other glorious parts of Europe were common. I was surrounded by filthy rich bankers who owned multiple homes and bought fancy cars. And yet, I came to realize that money really doesn’t buy happiness. I concluded that it was more important to find a labour of love, one which I would enjoy unconditionally.

So I went back to the drawing board. I started from scratch. In situations like this, the only thing you can really ask yourself is “what do I fundamentally enjoy doing?” For me, the answer was “writing”. But this thought seemed ridiculous. I hadn’t studied English since I was 16. And journalism was (and still is) a dying profession. All I had going for me was that I spent every moment of my spare time reading and writing.

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Then one day I had an epiphany. After reading an article about yet another bricks-and-mortar UK retail giant going bust, I realized that traditional businesses couldn’t compete anymore because they were being undercut by online businesses. I realized that a company’s website was their new shopfront. I knew that websites require copy writing, and I speculated that virtually every business needed a website. Even plumbers.

And so was born my idea to enter the weird and wonderful world of Digital Marketing. This meant ripping up my UK Visa and returning to my homeland of Canada. It meant tearing myself away from all of the high school, university and work friends I had made in the last decade. But 15 months after I quit my job, it turns out it was all worth it.

Taking a Leap of Faith

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It wasn’t an easy transition, though. There have many-a-long nights. There has been an abundance of uncertainty about my future career path. Plenty of mistakes have been made along the way. Metaphorically, I’ve been walking along a dark path in a forest, having forgot my flashlight.

But I figure, I’ve learned so much about transitioning into Digital Marketing, that I’d be doing the world an injustice by not sharing my insights. If even one person reading this blog wants to get into this blossoming online industry, then writing this post will have been worth it.

So, without further ado, I present to you the three tips I wish someone had given me 15 months ago, when I was looking to get a foot in the door of the online marketing world.

3 Tips for Transitioning into a Career in Digital Marketing

1. Swallow your pride and do an internship

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When you hear the word internship, what springs to mind? Eager university students looking to find their way in the world? Fetching coffees to impress your superiors? Doing one admin task after another all so that you can enhance your Resume?

All of this is true to an extent. But how else do you intend on entering an industry that you have zero experience or education in? Some people are well-connected and can usurp the internship process. But most people can’t.

Doing an internship in digital marketing was the best move I ever made. Sure, it meant foregoing a six-figure salary and exchanging it for a pathetic $20 a day. But where I lost out in pay, I more than made up for in learning and experience.

At RankHigher, I was given weekly training sessions in Google AdWords by one of the foremost PPC Specialists in Toronto. Additionally, I was taught all the basics of search engine optimisation by a Senior Writer. Most enjoyably, I was given a multitude of opportunities to blog and write website copy. My blog posts were given a huge audience, and at last check, averaged about 5000 views each.

Doing an internship allowed me to get my career on track and it helped highlight what I needed to learn to be successful in this profession.

It’s never too late to do an internship, as Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson discovered in the movie Interns. So swallow your pride and do one, even if it’s unpaid.

2. Get yourself some certifications

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Doing an internship is great, but some employers are looking for formal qualifications on your Resume. For me, this meant passing several exams in the pursuit of obtaining certifications from Google.

Google offers a series of digital marketing certifications, which teach you how to use their online suite of tools. Their online suite of tools comprises of YouTube’s advertising platform, their AdWords display and search advertising platform and Google Analytics.

Using these platforms is fairly complex, which is why exams are necessary in the first place. By taking and passing a certification in each of Google’s tools, you gain the practical skills you need to hit-the-ground-running. The best part? They don’t require a huge amount of studying, and you can take the exams an unlimited number of times.

You’ll find more information on Google’s certifications here.

3. Build your digital presence

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Over the last decade, the way employers do their background checks on job applicants has drastically changed. Gone are the days when a Resume, a tailored suit and a beaming smile would get you the job.

Nowadays, when you apply to a job, the first thing employers do is Google your name. What they find will be invaluable in determining whether to take your application to the next stage.

You might be forgiven for not having an online presence when applying for jobs in industries like law, medicine and accounting. But when applying for jobs in the Digital Marketing industry, if you don’t have a social media or blogging presence, you may as well not exist. You won’t even be considered.

So, make sure you have active profiles on all of the major social media platforms. Start with LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Work on building a strong following. Connect with that childhood friend you’ve not seen in a decade if you need to boost your numbers.

A presence isn’t enough though. You need an opinion. Employers want to be able to easily determine who you are, what you stand for and how well you can write. Having a blog is a great way to showcase all of this. Pick a topic you’re passionate about and start posting. Your aim should be to become a thought leader in your particular niche. This is a long, strenuous process (with some experts claiming it takes 50 blog posts before you get any serious traction), but it’s the best way to demonstrate to a future employer that you are committed to the world of digital marketing.

And make sure to let your personality shine through. Employers are not only looking to see if you have your digital chops in order, but they’re looking to see whether you’d be a good cultural fit for their organization.

Have you recently transitioned to a career in digital marketing? What advice would you offer someone looking to do the same?

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One comment

  1. angelinaaurora · June 4, 2015

    Great post! It would take a miracle for me to be able to afford to be an intern, but it sounds like solid advice if you’re able to take the financial hit. I’m definitely going to check out the certifications. Your point about having a digital presence is bang on too. Love that this is only 3 simple but (mostly) doable points. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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