Guide: How to Start a Career in Digital Marketing in 2019?

Whether you are looking to kick-start or switch career, it’s never easy to find your path. I hope this guide full of actionable tips will help you.

Your challenge

As we all know, most jobs (especially in digital marketing) require previous experiences. And the problem is: currently you don’t have any!

Your opportunity

The digital marketing landscape is moving fast.

So fast that most companies (and most marketers) struggle to adapt fast enough to change. That’s your opportunity:  to learn something faster than these organizations and that can bring direct value to their business. 

Easier said than done, right? Follow the guide to know how.

Your plan

  • Start with a specific goal

Start by making a list of companies or people you would love to work for. Keep it small and very specific.

Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.

For instance, instead of setting a loose goal like “I want to work in social media marketing” go for something like “I want to become responsible for the Instagram Stories at company X”.

This will make it much easier for you to break it down into micro goals and track your results.

  • Hack the learning curve

A common mistake young digital marketers make is to aim at learning everything. But the industry is so large and changes so quickly that it’s just too big of a task.

Instead, pick a tiny area of digital marketing that really passionate you. Start with relatively new channels or sub-channels to increase your chances to stand out. For example, you could deep dive into Instagram Storie’s strategies and tools, podcasting, or Pinterest ads…

  •  Power up with expert insights

Now that you have identified the specific area in digital marketing that you are the most interested in, it should be fairly easy to find the thought leaders in that category.

Follow them, of course, but you should also reach out to them with questions. Don’t worry they won’t bite! In general, people in the digital marketing industry are quite accessible.  

For inspiration you can look at this set of questions Tim Ferris put together for his book Tribe of Mentors. Keep in mind that the main goal here is not just to add an expert to your contact book but to learn from their mistakes and achievements in order to get there even faster.

  • Bridge your experience gap with a side project

This is the beauty of digital marketing and entrepreneurship, you don’t need a license or permission to get started.

I know it can be scary but learning by doing is definitely the fastest and most rewarding way to learn.

Depending on the area in digital marketing you decided to focus on, find a small project you can kick-start easily and that doesn’t require a huge time commitment and investment.

This side project will be a platform for you to test all the new things you are learning and a central piece for your future job applications.  

  • Monitor job openings and loopholes

You should be the first to know about new job openings at the companies you listed in #1. It’s very easy and free to set job alerts on LinkedIn.

But you should also do some homework.

You should continuously audit what these companies are up to in term of digital marketing activities and document the loopholes.

You might identify that one of the brands you want to work for is active on Instagram but never use Instagram Stories. If this is the sub-channel you focused on, it gives you a chance to start a conversation with their team.

  • Find the right person to talk to

Finding the right interlocutor is as important as your pitch.

If no one can introduce you to this company, you could browse LinkedIn but often times job titles can be confusing or outdated.

If there is a phone number on their website, give a call to their front desk and ask who is the best person to talk to regarding that specific matter.

  • Skip the queue, create your own line

Let’s recap. You now have a clear idea of the company you want to work for, the value you can add, and you have the contact details of the decision maker.

If you are lucky there is currently an opening for the exact position you are looking for. Otherwise, you will have to create your own line.

At the end of the day, marketing is about standing out. Why don’t you use the channel you are exploring as a medium to apply?

If you use this creative path, make sure to keep it short, non-intrusive, and humble. Your goal here is only to tease your value-add which will eventually spark a discussion around a potential position.

  • Don’t stop after the first rejection

If your first tentative was unsuccessful, it’s okay.

Ask for feedback and move on fast, fuelled with new learnings.

You have a long list of opportunities to explore.

Good luck!

Recommended resources

Setting SMART Goals →

Asking better questions →

Why side projects should be stupid →

How to deal with rejection →

Join the conversation on LinkedIn or Twitter.