Building career in marketing. My 8 learning So far…

Disclaimer: You can skip the intro and jump on to the main course. The intro covers the short background info about me on which you might not be interested.

I read somewhere Jeff Bezos from Amazon stepped into the internet because he saw a significant increase in internet usage. He saw huge growth in the internet industry.

That’s when I started thinking about building a career in the internet industry.

I live in India. And I know the internet is growing globally and in our country, the potential of the internet hasn’t been utilized completely yet. So the opportunity hasn’t gone away.

From there, I started learning the basics of digital marketing and don’t know how but I just found SEO fascinating among other marketing methods.

And slowly-slowly I started learning marketing in a broad sense. I understood the importance of ROI, traffic is not linear to revenue so on. And still learning and improving my skills. 

But from starting my career to till now. I learned many lessons. If I go back in time when I started my career, I would love to read this guide and follow it.

So, without further ado.

Learnings so far…

Go after skills and not tactics or hacks

In marketing, especially, “digital marketing”, a lot of beginners follow hacks and black hat tactics for quick wins.

Of Course, who doesn’t want quick wins. And I am not saying don’t use them.

But, you should never forget, tactics can fade away but skills do not.

Skills will stay with you and you’ll never be in a bad position when hacks got fixed and tactics started failing.

Use the tactics, hacks but keep your eye on honing the skills.

For Example:

Earlier, many marketers built web 2.0 links and ranked their websites. Then Google rolled out its algorithm and many lost their entire site traffic. So instead of using shady tactics, if those people build a good and helpful site with genuine links from real sites. They would have survived the algorithm.

The above one is an example in an SEO vertical. 

However, my message from the above example is that you should know what skills matter and won’t fade away in your vertical. Then work on them continuously. 

But if you’re not able to figure out which skills you should focus on. Then, there is one skill I would recommend you to learn and improve.

And it’s “WRITING”.

Writing is a skill you should be good at if you are in marketing. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a content marketer or content writer.

Let me explain why?

  • If you are a Social Media Marketer: You’ll write the caption, messages, words on the image.
  • If you are in SEO: You’ll write outreach email, maybe Blogpost, editing content for optimizing.
  • If you are in Email Marketing: You need to write compelling emails.
  • If you are a Blogger or Content marketer: You’ll write articles.
  • If you are in Paid Marketing: You’ll be writing content for advertising or Ad copy. 
  • If you are a Youtuber: You’ll be writing a video script.
  • If you are a Copywriter or Editor: You got the point.

This is one of the primary reasons for starting this blog. To Improve MY WRITING.

In fact, Earlier when I applied to Ahrefs, here’s what Tim Suolo (CMO of Ahrefs) wrote:

Also, even if you are good only at writing. You can make money. Check this out. A Payment from Medium to its writer.

Learn to sell your skills

Online marketing is a very rewarding industry. Millions of dollars are made by people.

In fact, the X number of fastest-growing companies in INC 5000 are marketing agencies.

Look at the earnings of the freelancer.

And their hourly rates.

But, to get these kinds of rewards(money) in the online marketing field you need two things…

  • Skills
  • And Skills to sell your skills.

I am expecting you have the right skills.

But, Here’s what I mean: When I say, develop skills to sell your skills.

If you have the skills but don’t know how to sell than…

How will you get clients?

How will you get a job if recruiters are not convinced with you?

Although, you can start your own blog or YouTube channel to make money. And there you don’t need clients and no need to convince anyone. Still, this process will take some time.

Instead, you can start a freelance career, a small marketing agency, a job. The good thing about these is that you can start earning money the minute you take the job. 

But, it can only happen if….

You know how to sell your skills. Then you can build a business in which you have clients that are ready to pay a good amount or a high paying salary. It’s much faster, but a hard process to start making money. Because selling is not an easy thing.

Work on side hustles.

You’ll learn more with side hustles than your actual job.

Side hustles are good teachers. They will take you to the details.

As a marketer, especially a digital marketer, you should be testing and experimenting with things. For that, side projects are the best. You’ll have all the control and you’ll have to do everything(if you want) which will teach you a lot.

In a Professional job, you are bound by rules, because of your boss, clients, project requirements, etc. But in your own project, you have full freedom to break the rules and go against the notion. You can test, experiment, do whatever you want. 

Generally, you’ll be spending your time in the office doing the same things or a few things for which you are hired. You’ll be not handling everything and doing everything on your own. That puts a gap. A gap of not knowing about the important details.

As an example, I learned about WordPress, building websites, and a bit of coding by building my own websites at the starting of my career. I was hired as a junior SEO. And most of the work was already done before I joined. So there is not much room for me to learn outside of a typical day task. Side projects helped me to broaden my knowledge. 

If I have never started my own website, I would have never learned extra outside of my day job.

Besides improving your skills, it can land you a good job as well.

For instance, Joshua Hardwick, Content Head of Ahrefs got his job because of his side project TheSEOProject.org (Source).

Build your Personal Brand 

Having a personal brand not only gives an extra advantage over your competition who doesn’t have a personal brand but it comes with other benefits as well like…

  • You can sell products to your audience. (Not just for the sake of making money but by recommending them good products)
  • You’ll attract the right opportunities. Matthew Howells Barby got a job at Hubspot because of his personal blog. (Source)
  • You don’t have to prove your expertise you can show them with your personal marketing channel.
  • People will trust you more.

In fact, a personal brand can help you build a multi-million dollar business.

Take Gary Vaynerchuk – His personal brand helped his company to get clients like Budweiser, General Electric, Toyota, and many more.

Elon Musk, Tony Robbins, Neil Patel, Melyssa Griffin are a few more good examples who built their Personal Brand and now leverage it in their respective fields to achieve more.

Take this blog as an example, this blog has multiple purposes and one of them is building a personal brand as well.

However, you’ll not be able to build a personal brand in a few months just by writing a few blogs or making videos

Building a personal brand is like climbing the ladder. You need to start small and then climb up to the top. It’s unlikely that you’ll be invited as a speaker at the event in the beginning. So it’s important to be realistic. Focus on giving value first wherever possible. That includes writing a detailed answer on a Facebook post, writing a guest post for a small blog. And slowly-slowly you’ll land on bigger things like writing for authority sites, guest on a podcast.

Keep a proof of your achievement

How will people trust you that you are good at your skills if you don’t have any proof?

One way is to build a personal brand as I mentioned in the previous point. But building a personal brand takes time or maybe you are not interested or not having enough time to build a personal brand. In that case, you need to have something (like a proof) to show your expertise. 

As the number of so-called marketers is increasing day by day and it’s becoming hard to know who has the real skills who can deliver results. Having proof will separate you from those who talk and those who do. It basically helps you to sell yourself better.

Also, when you join the company and work hard to get results. But what happens when you leave the company? All your achievements will be gone if you don’t have proof. You’ll put your reputation at risk. And when you join a new company you’ll have to do it again to build the same reputation. That’s like doing the same thing over and over again every time you leave a company and join a new one. And I guess you won’t work in the same company for a lifetime.

Enough! What proof you can have in your portfolio and how to get these.

First, you can get proofs like these.

Testimonials (Written or Video format) from the clients.

Screenshots from google analytics, social media analytics, messages on FB, tweets, etc. Like this…

To get these proofs.

You can deliver results and record them.
Or you can offer your service for free in exchange for testimonials.

For instance, Recently I posted on FB that I’ll do a quick SEO audit in exchange for Testimonials only if they think my audit is helpful. And I got one request before deleting my post by admin.

It didn’t take me more than an hour to check the site and to show some issues on his site. And here’s what I get.

That said, I don’t use my proof just to show my expertise to the new people. But I use it as motivation. I used to think about what I did to get those results. How I overcome the problems. It reminds me of the mistakes I made so that I don’t do it again. It helps me to become better at what I do with each new campaign.

Scratch the skin while keeping your focus on the eye of the bird.

If you are starting a career. I would say dig deep. Try to become a specialist. You’ll grow faster. You’ll be more focused and most importantly you’ll learn how to become a specialist. But, I’ll not say don’t work on any other skills, whenever possible, scratch the skin.

For example: As I do SEO. It doesn’t mean except SEO, I don’t look at other things instead I keep scratching the skins of LinkedIn, Quora, and other marketing channels.

And scratching the skin of other marketing channels will give you news ideas, perspective, which you can use in your core skill.

As late Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things”. So, as you learn about other marketing channels and then you’ll be able to start connecting things that will separate you from other marketers.

For example, I and most of the SEOs usually use keyword research tools for finding new content ideas. But when I started scratching Quora, I got to know Quora is full of topics that people want to read, influencers with a big following that nobody is connecting, and amazing writers that I hire.

Build Process

Do you want to do things faster and better? Then you need Processes.

Why is this helpful?

You might be spending your time doing repetitive tasks on a daily or even hourly basis.

In that case, you’ll lose a lot of your time if you don’t have a step by step process.

Why?

Because you’ll be thinking about what next step you should take. Along with that, you’ll exhaust your mind and that will decrease your productivity.

Instead, if you have a process. You’ll start working without wasting any single minute. And you’ll finish things much faster without losing quality. Because you know what steps you need to follow.

The best example to prove my point is Ryan Stewart, He Built up his entire agency on processes(Source). If he can build a service-based business that involves researching, writing, onboarding and most importantly driving results to his clients. I think you can too.

Still not convinced? Then, here’s the big example…

McDonald, the largest fast food chain in the world, built its business using processes.

Watch the first 3 min of this video to understand how McDonald’s built its empire on process and system.

However, sometimes you can’t build a step by step process of each and everything you do, still, you should try to build processes for most things that don’t require much thinking.

And if you can’t build a process for the whole task then just build the process for half of the task.

Also, besides doing things faster and better. If you start your work (whenever it is morning, evening, night) with a process and you finish 2-3 tasks. You’ll feel motivated because you have finished something without wasting much of your time. That motivation will give you the energy to work on the next task.

Give Back. Provide Value.

“Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.” ~ Jim Rohn

The more you give, the more you receive. I believe in that. And I follow it most of the time. And I use it in different areas of my life as well.

Plus, You will build a personal brand much faster if you add value to your audience’s life. By giving advice, tips, lessons you learned, in short: anything that adds value. And this is what I’ll try to do from this blog.

This works well. Here are the words from a Famous SEO blog “Detailed.com” tells exactly how giving is helping him to receive more.

Over to you

These are my learnings.

Now I would like to hear from you:

If you’re on the same path…..I would like to hear your learnings in the comments.

Or, If you have already made your name in the marketing field then share some valuables gems from your experience vault.