Set aside all the job portals. Getting a digital marketing job takes more than a certificate; you’ve got to prove that you can get your employers the results they’re looking for.
First, become a digital marketing expert
Without having expertise in digital marketing, you are not going to get a good job in digital marketing. So, the first order of business is to become a digital marketing expert by any means available to you, right now.
Also note that once you become an expert, you cannot expect companies to knock at your door to give you job offers. No one knows you are an expert yet. So there is a lot of work to be done to get the right job, even if you have become an expert. That, we will discuss in the second part of this article. First, let’s become a self-made digital marketing expert.
How digital marketing is different from other subjects
Many subjects cannot be self-learned. If you want to learn medicine, you need to join a medical college, one which also runs a hospital, so that you can experiment, legally, with humans.
If you want to become a mechanical engineer, you need to join a college that has enough infrastructure to teach you, or intern at a manufacturing company. You cannot buy a lathe machine and learn mechanical engineering from your home through trial and error.
But digital marketing is different. You can have a computer and an internet connection and have access to all the tools that the CMOs of multi-billion dollar companies have. Even enterprise-level solutions are available for free 14-day or 30-day trials, and you can play around with them. Tools like SEMRush, Moz, Google Analytics, OptinChat, and MailChimp are available to you just as much as they are to big companies. Most of these companies provide excellent customer support, and help you learn even before you become a paid customer. And tons of tutorials are available on YouTube for free.
You can start your own website and compete on a level playing field with the biggest internet giants. You don’t need to pay anyone to come to your website instead of a big competitor’s website. If you have better content on your site than your competitors, your traffic will scale (as long as Net Neutrality is maintained!). And you can learn digital marketing through practice.
How I became an accidental digital marketing expert
I graduated as a Civil Engineer in 2008, and I was jobless. I started a blog about motorcycles called BikeAdvice. I grew it from a few hundred visitors a month to a million pageviews a month. I invested less than Rs 10,000 in the venture, and I grew it with bootstrapping. All I had to do was register a domain name, buy web-hosting, install WordPress, and start blogging. By 2012, it was one of the biggest motorcycle publications in India.
I grew the blog to millions of pageviews by learning and doing things by myself. I learned how to use WordPress, installed Google Analytics, configured Webmaster Tools, started collecting emails with a WordPress plugin, and did email marketing with low-cost tools. I also grew my social media base on Facebook to more than one lakh fans, and used it to spread my brand and get more traffic to my blog.
I was becoming a self-made expert in content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and analytics. This happened because I wanted to grow my blog, and it did not stop with learning. There are things you can learn only by doing. You can’t become a swimmer by reading a book about swimming. Digital marketing is no different.
Now, I can get a digital marketing job anywhere in the world because I have proof of results. People do not hire you for your knowledge, they hire you for the results you can bring in. And for them to trust that you can bring in those results, you must have pulled in results already.
In most disciplines, you cannot generate results for a company unless you get a job. And companies are not going to hire you when you don’t have any work experience or proof of results. It’s a catch 22 situation.
But in the field of digital marketing, you don’t need to work as a digital marketer to become one. You can start a blog, or a small e-commerce website, and start generating some revenue. Even if you do not make any profits, you will be able to learn a lot through practice, and some results are better than no results at all.
You can show this as a project to your potential employer, and he/she will be glad to hire you over the other applicants who only have a certificate of course completion from one of the digital marketing institutes.
I don’t think such freedom to learn and do things is available in any other field. You cannot become a doctor on your own or become a rocket scientist. But you can become one of the top digital marketers in the country from your home.
You can also use your digital marketing expertise to help local businesses with digital marketing. You can charge a small consulting fee and gain experience by doing things at other’s cost.
How to get your dream job?
Now that you have become an expert in digital marketing, the next job is to get a good offer from a company. But by the time you become a digital marketing expert, it is highly likely that you would have figured out how to make money from the web, and you might not need a job at all.
There are plenty of ways to make money online with blogging, affiliate marketing, information product sales, and so on. If you can start your own business and scale it via digital marketing, then that is the ultimate dream. But not everyone can become a successful entrepreneur. There are so many challenges involved in it. You might want to get a good job, and there is nothing wrong with that.
How to be perceived as an expert
To get a good digital marketing job, you need to be perceived as a digital marketing expert first. You need to build industry connections and be known as someone who knows digital marketing.
Do not look for digital marketing job openings on job portals and send your resumes to the HR department. In most cases, good jobs are first filled from referral networks, and only if the HR department cannot find talent do they make their way to job portals.
Consider this: If you run your own company and need a marketer, you will only post a job opening on job portals if you do not know someone from your network that can do the job. So forget resumes and job portals. Focus on personal branding.
Brand yourself and be helpful
You should be known as a digital marketing expert in front of potential employers. You can do this by blogging, writing columns on well-known publications, or even by self publishing a book on the subject of digital marketing on Amazon Kindle.
Or go out and help companies with digital marketing for free. You can find out the top 10 companies that you would like to work for and look at their website or app for possibilities of improvement.
There are so many digital marketing tasks that you can do without having access to a website. You can do a pagespeed audit, SEO audit, or come up with ideas to improve landing page conversions. You can use tools like UsabilityHub to do user testing and find out which headline copy or design layout performs better.
Compile these ideas into a document and send it to the CEO of the company. I am sure that they would take notice of it. And this can be done even before the company needs a digital marketing manager.
If they find your tips useful, they are going to hire you when they grow and need a digital marketer. They wouldn’t even look for someone else. The digital marketing position would be filled up by you even before it is put up as an opening on the careers page.
Have a giving mindset
You need to think from the angle of “What value can I provide for other companies with my expertise”. With this mindset, companies will not hesitate to pay you. But if you have the attitude of “What can I get in return for knowing so much about Subject X”, your employers will be able to smell it from a mile away!
This is not just for digital marketing. Most of the candidates in interviews get rejected because they are needy and only focus on what they can get, rather than on what they can give.
Your attitude to add value for others first becomes proven if you work for free and provide value even before you are hired.
I have spent several weekends at coffee shops with early-stage startup CEOs who cannot hire full-time digital marketers. Some of the startups have grown in the past few years and have raised millions of dollars of funding. I can get hired in their company over a WhatsApp message to the CEO, if I want to. That’s the benefit of the good karma that I have built over the years.
So, get started learning digital marketing right away. Open a website of your own, and learn all the digital marketing modules by yourself. Learn about SEO, content, social media, email, and so on.
Become a self-made digital marketing expert and follow the above tips to grab a fun and rewarding job.
I hope this post gave you fresh ideas for your job hunt. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. And if you want to get started learning digital marketing, check out the free digital marketing course on my blog!
This article was written by Deepak Kanakaraju .He is a digital marketing author, speaker, and consultant. He blogs about digital marketing at DigitalDeepak.com and heads digital marketing at Razorpay.com. He has previously worked in well-known B2B and B2C startups such as Exotel, Practo & Instamojo. Before that, he founded a publishing startup called BikeAdvice.in and had an exit. He has invested over a million dollars in digital advertising through the course of his career. He has extensive experience in all the major digital marketing channels such as Search Engine marketing, SEO, Display Marketing and Integrated Digital Marketing.