(updated on 12.02.2017)
When I first started my professional work life and career in marketing I didn’t have a complete picture of what I am going to do. I guess this was also why I went to study business instead of some real profession (#hustle).
As much as I would like to, I’m not going to spill my whole story here.. yet. This is for another time. I’m putting this post together to give some practical and useful tips to you young people who are getting into marketing.
I started with marketing around 2008 and have been testing and learning ever since. I have worked with several start-ups and also developed several of them my own.
From my experience there are a few things you should know before starting a career in marketing. So here I present my list of steps you should consider when you want to land your dream job in marketing.
1. Do your homework
While this might sound obvious I know several people who started their career because they were offered a position they knew nothing about. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but these people often find themselves in situations where they aren’t satisfied and happy.
The reason is not that marketing isn’t fun. Hell yeah, being a marketer can be one of the most exciting professions there is.
But the real problem is that marketing as a field is quite broad and the job you might end up doing can vary from analytic to copywriter, from SEO specialist to social media manager, from media planner to banner designer.
Do some research on different marketing fields and find out what is most appealing to you. Here’s a short-list of marketing fields and some of the best blogs out there that give explicit overview of them:
- Social Media Marketing (By the way, if you’re considering offering Instagram marketing services, I suggest you read my post on how to become famous on Instagram)
- Paid Advertising
- Search Engine Optimization
- Web and Conversion Optimization
- Content Strategy and Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Email Marketing
This is a fairly brief list of fields and solely around digital marketing, but should get your ideas going and you’ll be able to cross out everything that’s less appealing to you.
2. Choose your field
Thing is, nobody excels at everything and that’s OK.
When choosing the field that most speaks to you, bear in mind that all jobs pay well if you love doing them. This is common sense, so don’t rank some over others simply because the average salary or the service fee is higher.
From my own perspective I see a rising demand for User Experience Optimizer/Analyst in the field of marketing. Also, all kinds of data researchers and content creators are in high demand. If those titles make any sense to you and sound interesting then go for them!
3. Research job requirements
You want to do some research on companies and what skills specifically are required for certain marketing positions. Thing is, that headhunters and HR managers can have quite a different understanding of the position, job title and the skills and tasks associated with it.
Moreover, each company might actually need different skills for their business.
My suggestion would be to dig through their list and make a spreadsheet for yourself. List down all the required skills and experience requirements stated.
Click Here to download a PDF showing you how to get hired in 2 weeks!
4. Get some courses
Still with me? Awesome.
Once you know what skills and experience is required you can go ahead and get some courses online.
There are several entry-level marketing courses you can get for free. This should be a good start to get the basics covered. Additionally you can browse YouTube with relevant keywords. Although I always prefer courses such as Udemy offers.
Here’s a pro tip that will get you FREE access to even premium and paid courses!
If you have a LinkedIn account on free version, you can upgrade it to 30-days trial Premium and get access to Lynda.com course marketplace. Then you can basically cancel your LinkedIn Premium trial any time and still get access to Lynda’s courses.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, then go make one. It’s a must have if you want to succeed as a professional in our modern society.
5. Attend networking events
In order to become a successful marketer you need to grow your contact base.
One way would be to attend local get together events. If you are just starting out and do not feel comfortable meeting with other marketers, then try starting it slow.
Go to the event and just decide not to talk with anyone. It will happen organically the next time. Just go to the event!
Remember, many great people have once been shy and reserved.
6. Get some coaching
Once you get relevant people in your network, you are so much closer to getting an actual job than you know it.
Frankly, marketing is a lot about people and trust (as probably with most professions). People, and marketers especially, are drawn to other people who are ambitious and goal oriented.
If you share your goals (getting a new job and start a career in marketing), I guarantee you that some, if not most of them, would like to know more. “How are you planning to do that?”, “Where are you applying?”, “What position do you have in mind?”.
At this point, they see you as a rookie, as someone they could teach something to. And marketers sure like to teach other people. Consistently follow up with them and take their advise.
This is a good way to get coaching.
7. Start your own blog
This is something that is fairly underrated. Marketers are social beings. When we are not talking with other people and trying to figure out the next epic campaign idea how to engage with people, we blog…
Blogging is a way to let the world know your tone of voice, your ideas and your technical skill.
Now that you have:
- chosen your field of expertise
- had some online courses
- expanded your contact base
- got some coaching
you are more than equipped to start your own blog. For sure there are hundreds and thousands of blogs in every marketing niche and you as a novice marketer can’t match up with these superstars.
Not to worry. The internet is big and by writing about relevant subjects you establish your very own personal brand. If you have exceptional writing skills, you might even end up as a professional blogger and say no to whatever marketing job is offered to you.
Meanwhile I am writing my own guide to set up a blog with content strategy. Here’s a great overview on how to start a blog.
8. Do some free work
So, by now you should be pretty confident about yourself as a marketer. It’s time to make money!
Just kidding. First, you need to prove that you truly are a marketing hero.
“That’s hard!” you might be saying. Actually, no it’s not. Thing is that the average Joe doesn’t know that much about marketing. Especially, when we’re talking about new digital marketing trends and what to follow and what not to follow.
That’s okay, you don’t need to know about these things also… yet! What you should do is:
- Make a list of all your friends, family members and other acquaintances, who are either running their own business or are in an executive position in their company.
- Reach out to them and tell them what you are up to and what your career goals are (to become a kickass marketer).
- Offer your services to their business. This can be done in several ways, but you don’t want to come off salesy and be sure to communicate that you want to help them for FREE. This is for your portfolio.
- Get the green light and start cooking with the job. Yes, it’s free and you might feel demotivated. Not to worry. In my experience, when doing free work and doing awesome free work, it always turns out to be paid one way or the other.
- Report the results and plan for next activities. This is the place where you can shine and present a nice report of what you accomplished, researched, created etc. This is the time you are actually doing sales and if you did a good job, they are most likely to ask more work from you (this time most likely paid work).
9. Career in marketing and motivation
If you find yourself doing the work with full enthusiasm even in the evening – that’s great. If not however, it doesn’t mean that the marketing field is not for you. Keep in mind that everybody has motivation issues at some point.
Motivation to clean the room, motivation to start eating more healthy or motivation to finish up started work. There’s an amazing book on motivation by Steve Chandler called 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself.
It’s not linked to marketing, but still gives a good idea of how to stay motivated and focused at all times.
I personally like to read and learn new stuff about marketing when I feel demotivated. Because every time I read blogs and news about marketing, I get surges of motivation and I think to myself “Damn, why didn’t I come up with that”.
As soon as I get into that mode I just wish there were more hours in the day and I could do something epic from start to finish.
10. Start asking for money
Once you get into business with people and offer them your advice for free, you’d be surprised how many of them are actually willing to pay you for your services.
Be passionate about your stuff and deliver results and people will love you.
You might be thinking: “How can I, a marketer with little experience, ask money for my services?”. Thing is that if you don’t ask for money or you ask very little of it, then people don’t respect you and think that your advice is not valuable.
However, if you ask a proper service fee, people take you seriously and are more willing to go in business with you.
Because asking little = low quality. Your clients don’t want that.
A good way to establish your fee would be the following:
- Ask from your network if they have bought these services recently and how much they paid. Write down the number.
- Make a Google search for that service and contact some sellers who rank on the first page of search results and contact some who rank in the 5th page. Email or call them to ask for a quotation and write down the number. Some of them might have the prices on their website as well (depending on the service).
- Now compare these numbers and decide what you’re comfortable asking for your services.
- If you have your number down. Double it! I’m not joking. Odds are that if you are starting you are asking too little for your services. The worst that can happen is just a rejection from the client. This gets you in negotiation.
Keep in mind that if your initial number was close to what the best players on the market are asking then doubling it doesn’t really work. But I guess you figured that out already.
11. Reconsider your position on the market
Once you’ve successfully closed a client and delivered the results you agreed upon (and everyone’s happy), it’s time to ask yourself, what kind of marketing position you want.
What you’ve done so far is freelancing. Successful freelancers make a very nice living for themselves (even more than executives).
But it’s not all about money obviously. People are different and what drives us in the workplace can also vary.
You have to think further ahead. Do you want to be your own boss and do all the hard work, but also reap the luscious financial benefits and enjoy the free lifestyle? Or do you want to get hired into a company and be part of something even bigger and have less stress and more fun with your colleagues. There are many pros and cons to being an employee or being self-employed.
12. Keep learning
As with everything in life, marketing keeps evolving all the time. In order to maintain your professional status, I recommend taking at least 1-2 mornings a week and spend a few hours just reading and gathering ideas about various topics.
You can use your Facebook browsing time much more effectively. For example, collect ideas for your blog and your Twitter. Browse the latest web design trends. See who won awards for creative works and so on.
I keep a Trello board system for myself to track everything I am currently doing and things I am planning to do in the near future. I also gather content ideas there and brainstorm new business ideas. If you like to visualize your goals, then it’s an awesome free tool to use.
- Figure out what marketing field suits you the best
- Get to know the field – get some courses and get coaching
- Attend events and expand your network of contacts
- Start a blog
- Do some free work
- Work out your service fee and get your first paying customer
- Set long-term goals and decide if you want to be a freelancer or an employee
- Start a healthy habit of learning about your field
Click Here to download a PDF showing you how to get hired in 2 weeks!