Digital marketing is a hot field, and it has been for more than 10 years. While I don’t often write about the field, I do get many questions about it because I spent a large part of my career as a digital marketer.
Digital marketing is a career path that attracts entrepreneurial people. Advertising on the internet changes quickly, so those working in the field must constantly grow their skill sets. Self-motivated learners thrive most in this quickly evolving field.
You need experience in digital marketing to become a digital marketer. That may sound like a catch-22, but the solution is quite simple: Get into affiliate marketing. This field is relatively easy to break into, and it will give you the experience you need to land your first digital marketing job.
I was initially an affiliate marketer myself. Affiliate marketers help to sell products online for other companies and 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 Zappos. This work eventually led to a full-time digital marketing position, which led to even more experience and new work opportunities.
That said, things have changed quite a bit since I got my start in digital marketing. One notable difference is that many digital marketers were generalists in the early days. There were fewer professionals in the field, so each person needed to have a broad skill set that covered many areas. Now, there are more professionals in digital marketing, and many have adopted 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 in addition to a bit about every other social media website.
There are also more specialized courses for digital marketing. Colleges offer them. Websites have them. There are meetup groups about digital marketing. The community has grown by leaps and bounds.
If you are interested in starting a career in digital marketing, start by thinking like an entrepreneur. Look for free resources to get you going before you spend money on courses. If you prefer to take formal classes, check out edX, which 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 setup 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. Whatever you do, don’t wait for someone else to show you the way. Make your own path.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.