How to Become a Digital Marketing Professional

Digital Marketing BooksVery recently someone asked me for advice on what they should do to get into social media professionally.  That question allowed me to reflect how I got into my career as a digital marketing professional as well as inspired me to write this article.  Digital marketing is exploding and there are many of us out there.  I’m here to share my experiences on how I got started but do note that it isn’t the only way to get started.  There are many people in this space that have a different story with a different technique, but if you are dedicated enough you will find success your own way.

When I started studying digital marketing there wasn’t a lot of helpful resources out there.  There were a lot of articles out there, but not enough identified experts that had valuable insights to share.  Most of the expert resources out there were noise and unproven applied theories translated from traditional marketing.  Although some of those theories still have its application in the digital world the majority of it doesn’t.  Digital is a new medium, new channel, and something that kind of took everyone by surprise.  Even though the amount of marketing articles is greater than before I think that there are still a lot of noise.  There are way too many articles on the internet that provide big cliche advice that simply do not deliver enough specifics to provide value.  Digital marketing was in its infancy back then and a lot of people were trying to figure things out.  Thankfully, I believe we are to a point where there has been enough success stories that we can atleast begin to see some clarity to this madness.

Start by Listening

Digital marketing is evolving very quickly.  As a digital marketing professional you should have a high level understanding of all of the different areas of digital marketing and have an incredibly deep understanding in at least two subjects.  The web changes so fast that even universities are having a difficult time determining what courses should be in their curriculum.  One of the best way to keep up with the change is to simply listen, read, and learn as much as you can.  I commit to a daily regimen of consuming content from the top recognized subject matter experts shaping the industry today.

Committing to this regimen not only helps keep your chops up but also help expose you to the different marketing channels that will guide you to decide which channel you would like to go deep with.  Consuming content is one thing, but be aware that it could potentially take up a lot of time.  When you are starting out you just have to force yourself to read everything and anything you can get your hands on.  Read until your eyes feel like they are on fire and when they are actually on fire….read even more!

Start by Doing

The best way to learn is to start doing it yourself.  Every year there tends to be a theme in the digital marketing world.  It started with having your own website, then your own blog, then social media, then creating content, and now it’s all about mobile.  In the coming years it could evolve into the quantified self, wearable technology, or even augmented reality making a comeback with Google Glass playing an important role.  The important thing to take away from all of this is to simply get your hands dirty.

Everyone has to start from scratch to become good at whatever it is they are doing so don’t delay any further and just start.  For example, social media is now considered as commonplace as websites.  If you ever wanted to learn by managing a Facebook page, consider starting one from scratch.  You can start a page about…well…practically anything you can think of (ex: special interest, hobby, topic, debate.)  If you don’t want to start one, perhaps you know a friend or relative that has a page that is not actively managed.  Ask to be added as an admin and see if you can help make an impact.

Start by Teaching

One of the best ways to learn anything is to also teach it.  Another one of the main driving factors of this blog’s existence is so that I can pass on my experience and teach what I know.  If you have come to the realization that you have nothing to teach then you should go learn something and teach.  Teaching can come in many different forms.  You can teach by writing how to articles on a blog, tweet advice and tips on twitter, have a one on one with a friend, or even volunteer at non-profit organizations.

Teaching is an incredible opportunity to help those that are possibly in the same shoes as you were at one point.  It also gives you a chance to learn from other people’s experience that you might not have ever come across in the past.

Start by Networking

If you have read anything related to business or entrepreneurism you have certainly come across the saying that failure is good.  Failure allows you to learn from your mistakes so you can proceed to gain the clarity to make your goals into success.  While certainly failing ultimately leads to a good lesson learned, nobody wakes up planning to fail.  You wake up planning to succeed.  This is important to keep in mind in the digital world because the internet for all intents and purposes is an incredibly open sand box for you to mess up respectfully without shame.  The internet doesn’t hold grudges…(unless of course you keep exhibiting bad behavior…but that’s another story.)

With all of that said, one tactic to speed learn your way to success is to learn from people that have already made mistakes so you don’t have to.  By being physically surrounded by people already in the industry you will eventually be influenced by how they strategize and approach problems.  One of the best ways to put yourself in this environment is by attending conferences or local groups and clubs.  Listening in on the panel discussions is good, but don’t just go there to do just that.  Go there with intentions to meet people, build relationships, and become part of the industry.  There are clubs, groups, and conferences going on year round and you can usually find them just by doing a simple Google Search.  With a little digging there are clubs within your local area and many of them are free so there is absolutely no excuse for you not to get your feet wet.

Helpful Resources

Below are some of my favorite resources that I often check.  Again, there is no possible way for me to provide an exhaustive list, so instead of me puking a bunch of links I’m just providing my top 3 that I often gravitate towards based on the areas of focus that I’m interested in.

Moz – The Moz is a community driven by technical SEO professionals and website optimization experts.  The best way to attract organic traffic will always be to create unique engaging content, but if you’re looking to be even smarter in how you present and optimize your content this is the place to go to learn more.

Occam’s Razor – This is a blog by Avinash Kaushik who is a marketing analytics evangelist.  Analytics is more than just a numbers game.  It is intelligence that must be accompanied by every marketing effort to study its effectiveness to improve your business efforts.  If you want to be data driven and make smart decisions to improve your business with digital analytics this is a great place to get started.

The 2morrowknight – The author of this blog, Sean Gardner, was named number one social media power influencer in this Forbes article.  Many companies use social as a new channel to respond to customers needs and wants.  Social is evolving more than an extended customer service outlet and more towards breaking down the walls of the business client relationship.  If you want to gain ideas and insights on how to better utilize social for your business this is a great place to start.

If you have any resources that you would like to share please leave a comment and I’ll definitely check them out!

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