VOL. 133 | NO. 58 | Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Starting a Digital Marketing Career
Digital marketing is a hot field. It has been hot for more than 10 years. I rarely share much about how to move into the field of digital marketing. However, I get many questions about it because a large part of my career was spent as a digital marketer.
When I first started, there were no specific courses you could take. Digital marketing is a career path that attracts entrepreneurial-minded people. Advertising on the internet changes quickly, so those working in the field must constantly grow their skill set. These quick changes require marketers to be self-learners.
My background in computer engineering helped open the door to the digital world because I had experience building websites.
Initially, I became an affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketers help sell products online for other companies, then receive a percentage of the sales they generate. I built websites and created digital marketing campaigns to sell a number of products and services, including shoes for the website Zappos.com.
You need experience in digital marketing to become a digital marketer. It’s hard to land a job that requires experience when you have none. Affiliate marketing is relatively easy to break into. It gave me the experience I needed to get going. That led me to a full-time digital marketing position, which led to more experience and more work opportunities.
But things have changed quite a bit since I started. One notable difference is that early on, many digital marketers were generalists. There were fewer total professionals in the field, so each person needed to have a broad skill set that covered many areas. Now, there are more professionals, so many have more specialized roles. For example, one digital marketer may focus solely on placing and optimizing Facebook ads. In the past, this person would have known some Facebook and a bit about every other social media website. Each person now has more in-depth knowledge of a smaller number of topics.
There are also more courses for digital marketing. Colleges offer them. Websites have them. There are meetup groups about digital marketing. The digital marketing community has grown.
If you are interested in switching into digital marketing, start by thinking like an entrepreneur. Look for free resources to get you going before you pile money into courses. If you prefer to take a formal class, check out edx.org. This site offers free online courses from schools like Harvard and MIT.
Look for a way to get experience, even if it means volunteering your time. In the early days of Facebook, I volunteered to set up and administer a Facebook fan page for a nonprofit. It greatly increased my understanding of the site, and it gave me real experience that I could put on my resume.
Digital marketers are self-starters. When you’re making the switch, whatever you do, don’t wait for someone else to show you the way. Make your own path.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.