Are you thinking of starting a career in Digital Marketing? It’s a great choice! I can tell you this without hesitation.
I’ve been practicing digital marketing for more than 15 years and it’s never too late for anyone (with and without prior experience), to get into the exciting world of online marketing.
The good news is that you can learn digital marketing without following a digital marketing course at a college or university, although there are plenty of options.
You can start a career in Digital marketing by building the required skills using online resources and by serving clients around the World from the comfort of your own home.
Is digital marketing a good career?
Digital marketing is a great career choice. We are living in a digital world and marketing budgets are moving to digital advertising and away from traditional marketing channels.
Companies need to improve their online visibility and there is an increased demand for digital marketers worldwide.
The fact that you don’t need to be physically present in a particular location makes digital marketing ideal for people looking to start their own businesses or work as full-time freelancers.
Digital Marketing Salary
For many people it’s the salary that makes a good career, and the digital marketing consultant salaries are more than competitive.
In a recent industry survey by Credo they found that the average rate for digital marketing consultants worldwide is $140 per hour.
Of course, you won’t be able to charge this rate from day one, there are various factors that affect the rate like years of experience, the industry the client is in, country location etc.
What is certain though is that there is money to be made in the digital marketing industry and the demand for digital marketing consultants is growing very fast.
10 Steps to Start a Successful Digital Marketing Career
Here are 10 steps you can follow today to pursue a career in digital marketing:
- Get to know the basics of digital marketing
- Start your own website
- Become an SEO Expert
- Get a Google Ads Certification
- Master Facebook Ads Advertising
- Become an expert in Google Analytics
- Get a digital marketing job as a freelancer
- Get a real internship
- Stay informed of new updates and keep learning
- Learn how to use digital marketing tools
1. Get to know the basics of digital marketing
For beginners to digital marketing, the first obvious step is to understand what is digital marketing and the main components that make up digital marketing.
Digital marketing or online marketing as it is sometimes known, is a broad term that is used to describe the process of marketing on the Internet.
It has a number of components that cover all areas of online promotion. You need to understand that it’s not a single discipline but is has a number of processes (channels) that can participate in a digital marketing campaign.
In particular, digital marketing has the following channels:
- Search Engine Marketing – covers two areas: search engine optimization (organic SEO) and paid search advertising.
- Website Marketing – promoting your website on the internet.
- Content Marketing – how to use different types of content in your digital marketing campaigns.
- Email Marketing – marketing products or services using email.
- Social Media Marketing – marketing on Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks
- Mobile Marketing – marketing on the various App Stores (Google Play, Apple Store)
- Video Marketing – marketing on YouTube, Vimeo and other video channels
- Affiliate Marketing – making sales by promoting other people’s products and getting an affiliate commission.
A good digital marketing manager should have the necessary skills to work with ALL the above channels.
Don’t get stressed, you don’t have to learn everything from day 1.
As you progress through your digital marketing career path, you’ll get a chance to work with different techniques, technologies and tools and eventually the puzzle will be completed.
Resources you can use to understand the basic digital marketing concepts:
Fundamentals of Digital Marketing – A free online course by Google which explains the basic principles of Digital marketing.
2. Start your own website
Once you get to know the basics, the next step is to get your hands dirty and start practicing digital marketing.
One of the best ways to apply the different digital marketing concepts in the real world, is to start your own website.
Digital marketing is not a theoretical concept, but it’s highly measurable and practical. It’s not enough to know the theory behind SEO and social media marketing but you need to know how to apply the different techniques in practice.
Throughout your digital marketing career, you’ll be asked to promote different kinds of websites to either increase their organic traffic (SEO) or sales through PPC and social media advertising.
To gain the necessary skills and confidence, start your own website that will combine both concepts.
In other words, setup a blog and work on increasing your rankings and at the same time either create a product or find a product to promote through advertising and try to make sales.
I know that this process will take time and if you are new to this, the learning curve will be big, but it’s the only way to build a solid foundation for your career.
Having your own website will not only help you to learn the different concepts but you can use it as a showcase to convince new employers or clients to trust you and secure a good contract or job.
When we hire new digital marketing specialists we don’t just look for certifications but for people who can prove their knowledge and having a website with high rankings and traffic is the best way to do this.
Resources you can use to create a new website:
How to start a WordPress Blog – A step-by-step Guide for Beginners to Blogging
3. Become an SEO Expert
You cannot pursue a career in digital marketing if you are not good at SEO. You first need to become an SEO expert and then build other skills.
With SEO you’ll learn how to create websites that both users and search engines love, and you can apply the same concepts to improve your Google Ads and Facebook paid campaigns.
Build your SEO career gradually and when you feel that you have master the skills of SEO, continue with the rest.
There resources will help you get started with SEO:
- What is SEO
- SEO Basics for Beginners
- SEO Training Guide
- SEO Full Course
- SEO Strategy to go from 0 to 100K Visits per month
4. Get a Google Ads Certification
Part of your job responsibilities as a digital marketing consultant is to use Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords), to promote products or services in the various Google properties and websites on the Internet.
The fastest way to acquire the necessary skills is to get a Google Ads certification. Google has a plethora of resources to help you become a Google AdWords Expert and getting a certification is a great way to prove to your clients or potential employers that you have the necessary skills.
Use the following resources to get Google Ads Certified:
5. Master Facebook Ads Advertising
The next step is to start with social media marketing and in particular Facebook Ads. As a digital marketing specialist, you need to know how the different social media networks work (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn) but the majority of your time and campaign budget, will be spent on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook besides being a great social network, is now one of the most important tools for any digital marketing campaign.
Getting organic exposure on Facebook is getting harder so the only way to use Facebook as a selling tool, is to learn how to use their advertising platform.
If you have already followed the steps above and have good knowledge of SEO and Google Ads, learning how to use Facebook Ads will not be difficult.
Many of the concepts are similar with PPC but you still need to learn how to use the tool and familiarize yourself with the various Facebook policies.
Use the following resources to learn Facebook Marketing:
6. Become an expert in Google Analytics
Besides learning the different tools that can generate traffic, a digital marketing professional needs to know Analytics.
One of the main characteristics of any digital marketing campaign is that everything is measurable.
You know how many people viewed your campaigns, how many people clicked on your ads, how many conversions they generated and a lot of other metrics that cover every aspect of a campaign.
To be able to make informed decisions based on real data, you need to know how to measure the effectiveness of a campaign and how to analyze the results.
Your starting point is becoming an expert in Google Analytics.
The following guides can help you get started:
- What are Google Analytics Page Views?
- Google Analytics and SEO
- Google Analytics Reports for Beginners
- Google Analytics Academy
7. Get a digital marketing job as a freelancer
The next step in your career path to become a digital marketing professional, is to get a real digital marketing job.
Starting your own website (step 2 above), is a great way to practice the different digital marketing techniques but doing digital marketing for a client, it’s a totally different story.
Handling client accounts will ‘force’ you to setup procedures, improve your analytics and reporting skills, learn how to handle budgets and how to manage client communication.
You can use job portals like upwork.com, peopleperhour.com, fivver.com to apply for digital marketing jobs.
If you are a beginner, start with easy and quick tasks first and gradually move into bigger projects.
It’s difficult for freelancers with no feedback to get a job assigned so make sure that you:
- Read the job posting requirements carefully and reply to any questions.
- Reply fast. A job application will receive hundreds of applicants so make sure that yours is on top of the list.
- Keep your prices low and reasonable. If you have no experience, you cannot charge a premium fee. Your goal at this stage is to gain experience so that you can make money later.
8. Get a real internship
Another way to grow your skills and experience fast is to get a real job as a digital marketing assistant in an established agency.
This is highly recommended because you will get to learn how a modern digital marketing agency works and you can use some of their practices if you decide later to start your own agency or join another company as a digital marketing expert.
Starting your career as a freelancer, without having working experience in a company, will be more difficult because you’ll have to figure out everything from scratch.
As I mentioned above, working with clients is different than doing digital marketing on your own websites and if you don’t have the right processes in places, you will lose valuable time in activities that are not ‘billable’ and this will reduce your salary and revenue.
9. Stay informed of new updates and keep learning
Digital marketing tactics change all the time. Some digital marketers love this and some hate it, but it’s a fact that digital marketing is a fast-changing industry.
Google is deploying hundreds of changes related to organic and paid search per year, Facebook algorithm is constantly changing and in general the digital marketing landscape is extremely dynamic.
This means that if you decide to follow a career in digital marketing, you should know in advance that learning will be part of your DAILY activities.
I’ve been doing this for years now and every day I get to learn something new. In fact, 20% of my time is spent on reading about industry updates and new developments, case studies, learning new tools and staying up-to-date with changes made in all digital marketing channels.
To ensure that you’ll never miss an update, follow these websites:
- Seroundtable – By far my favorite website when it comes to digital marketing news and updates. Barry does a great job of informing us of everything is happening in the industry.
- Search Engine Journal – News and resources on all digital marketing topics
- Content Marketing Institute – The content marketing premier resource
- Google Blog – Updates on all Google technologies
10. Learn how to use Digital Marketing Tools
Besides learning how to use Google analytics, you also need to learn how to use other digital marketing tools.
When you climb up the ladder and become a digital marketing manager, you will have to manage a team of digital marketing specialists. The only way to evaluate their work and control the progress of multiple projects at the same time is through tools.
A good tool will allow you to create dashboards for all channels and meaningful reports to management or clients.
There is a plethora of good tools available, and although they are not free, the monthly fee is an investment for your career and another great item for your resume.
My recommended tools are:
- Google Data Studio – Free and can be used to create custom dashboards and nice reports.
- SEMRUSH – This is the tool I use daily. Read my semrush review for more details.
Starting a career in digital marketing is a great choice. There is increased demand for digital marketing professionals worldwide, the salary is good (depending on experience) and it’s a job you can do on our own as a freelancer or by joining a digital marketing agency.
If you are starting out now, your first concern should be to build your skills. Digital marketing is not a ‘single thing’ that you learn by taking a course and then get to work.
There are many disciplines that make up digital marketing and you should be an expert in all of them if you want to reach the higher end of the pay scale.
The best way to learn digital marketing is to practice on your own website. Create a blog and start writing content. Spend time mastering SEO and then move on to Google Ads and Facebook marketing.
If you have the opportunity to join an established digital marketing agency then do it. The experience you will gain working with experts and on multiple projects will be invaluable.
If you want to become self-employed or start your own digital marketing business, then start your career as a freelancer and gradually build your clientele and expand your business.