Digital marketing is big enough to warrant its own separate branch, which is why it’s perfectly acceptable to dream of opening your very own digital marketing firm. Digital marketing is in many ways both easier and more difficult than traditional marketing. Whereas traditional marketing relies more on design and psychology, digital marketing has to content with data, user behavior, and even digital tools in order to expand your reach online.
Anyone can become big online. Anyone can start a brand or business online. What this means is that there is more competition than ever before. Out-of-House marketing, or OOH, will always have a limited amount of ad space. The spaces cost a lot more to get your marketing campaign up on them, but the strategies behind a successful OOH campaign and a successful digital marketing campaign are entirely different.
It’s never too early to start planning your own digital marketing firm. In fact, planning it from the very start of your career is one of the best moves that you can make for yourself. While it is absolutely possible to start your own business right out of the gate, it will be harder to find clients this way. You will instead want to build up your professional and academic credentials beforehand. If you have a thriving portfolio, you can start to use that to market yourself to potential clients and then use that to build your own firm.
Success in business is all about who you know and what you can prove that you can do. Combine that with a smart business idea, and you can start a successful digital marketing firm of your own.
If you are just starting out, don’t worry. Instead, follow this guide and remember that there is no single way forward. You will have unique opportunities that others don’t, and similarly won’t have the same options. Working with what you have and putting yourself out there will go a long way.
That being said, the tips in this guide are fairly universal, allowing you to grow your career step by step.
Building Up Your Academic Qualifications
Your academic qualifications are an easy and effective way to get started with your career. You also have a lot of freedom when it comes to the qualifications that you choose. You can focus on the fact that you want to start a business of your own one day and then try to get the marketing experience from your master’s and work experience, or you can go right in with a marketing degree from the get-go.
There is no wrong path to take. What you do need to do, however, is know how you can leverage and benefit from the qualifications that you do have.
1. Your Bachelor’s Degree
Marketing is definitely one of those careers that you can get by on professional experience alone, which is why when it comes to academic qualifications, you’ll want to think outside of the box. Instead of taking a single marketing degree, think about the other skills that you will need. This could be psychology, or business, or even economics. Similarly, English and literature, or creative writing, can also give you a great basis to get started with your career.
The point is to choose an undergraduate that allows you a solid foundation in one of the essentials that marketing revolves around. The good news is that if you already have your undergraduate degree, there are likely ways that you can use it in order to pursue a career in marketing, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
Already have a biology degree? If you find that you don’t want to go into that field directly and instead found a new interest in marketing, that biology degree that you have makes you perfect for marketing medical brands. The same applies to all the hard sciences if you want a career change.
As for a degree in the humanities, chances are what you learned can positively affect your career in marketing. English is one of the primary backgrounds for marketers, but you can also use psychology, history, or any other humanities degree because marketing is human at its core.
2. Your Master’s Degree
If you already have your undergraduate degree, and it doesn’t directly relate to marketing, however, then you’ll want to bridge the gap in your experience. Your undergraduate will be helpful, absolutely, but there are certain skills you will need in order to sell your experience to employers and eventually other clients. A great way to do this, for example, is with the Emerson College’s Master of Arts in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics online program.
Degrees like this don’t just teach you principle digital marketing skills; they also work to teach you the analysis and science behind marketing online. This offers you a two-pronged approach to your marketing career that combines data science with the more traditional marketing principles.
Add your specialty as an undergraduate, and you have either a niche in marketing that you can take advantage of or have a solid foundation that many of the top marketers of today have.
3. Additional Qualifications to Consider
There are many, many qualifications that will certify your ability to use certain tools or your attendance at certain workshops or conferences. They are useful in job hunting and in acquiring clients. Some are just useful to learn.
Many are also free. Google offers a variety of certifications after you complete an online course that will certify you in things like Google Analytics, which can be an easy and effective means to showcase your skills when just starting out your career. They aren’t necessary in a sense you will be hard-pressed to find an employer that will outright require them, but if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of work experience, they can be what gets your foot in the door.
Not every certification will be so simple, but they are all opportunities to market yourself and your skills, so you should consider them and pick out the ones that will best help with your career.
Skills You’ll Want to Invest in as a Digital Marketer
There are so many skills you will want to have as a digital marketer. Understanding marketing just isn’t enough, even if you will never actually need to create content yourself. Knowing the process can give you an edge, and it can improve the entire campaign as a whole.
It’s the same reason why people who work in or with web design should understand the basics of coding. If you know how it works in principle, you can better understand what can be done and what is involved with seeing it through. It doesn’t matter if you never actually code in your job. If you know how to better communicate with the IT specialist or web designer, then the final product is going to be so much better.
This same principle applies to all of these skills. It is exceptional if you know how to do them well first-hand, but if you cannot and need to work with others who specialize in these areas, knowing the basics can help improve your communication and strategy as a whole.
Video Editing and Production
Video is one of the most important components of any successful marketing campaign, and while you will often be outsourcing video production and editing, you need to be behind the idea. Suppose you understand what makes a great advertisement video, especially in smaller spaces like social media or a website. In that case, you can create a better project plan and really see something amazing come to life.
Always trust in the skills and expertise of the video production team, but know that they don’t know your brand in most cases. You do. You need to be the one that leads the project, even if they are the ones that create the videos for you.
Photography and Editing
Every digital marketer should know the basics of photography and editing. Not only will this give you an edge over your competition, but it can also immediately improve smaller campaigns. If you are covering an event for your company, for example, knowing how to take photos (and videos) and edit them on the go will drastically increase the production value and the engagement of the content that you post online.
Professionals will still handle big editorial content, but knowing how to take great photos yourself quickly can do wonders for your content game. Not everything is going to be strategized and planned out. You need to be able to work fast on your feet as a digital marketer, or you’ll miss a key opportunity and see it fly by. If you can confidently create content that matches your social media, or your company’s blog, then you will have exactly what it takes to be an invaluable member of any digital marketing team.
Content and Editing
Text content is something that every marketer needs. Great copy is hard to create, yes, but if you can do it, then you will be golden. Even though not every line you write needs to be catchy and unforgettable, it does need to carry your brand’s tone of voice, be written clearly, and carry no mistakes. Being able to do this fast and consistently is one of the most basic, essential skills every digital marketer needs, regardless of which area of digital marketing you focus on.
Web Design and User Experience
Like video and photography, you likely won’t be in charge of actually updating the visuals or user experience of a website. You will, however, have an input. Digital marketers work hard to maintain a solid brand identity and to create value through branding. They are therefore going to be essential when it comes to web design updates.
Know the basics of web design and have an idea for the changes that you want to make when you want them. This way, you can show the designer what you want and be better able to communicate how you want the website or email newsletter templates to look.
The look of the website is just as important part of your digital marketing strategy as your social marketing campaign. Keep that in mind, and understand the principles of digital design to be a better digital marketer.
SEO and SEM
Everything ties back to search engines. Google is the biggest and arguably the best. The SEO strategies that you will use for Google will, in most instances, work on the other search engines.
While you won’t often be in charge of the entire search engine optimization strategy, you will optimize whichever component of digital marketing you are in charge of. This could just be optimizing the text you have written. It could be by optimizing the video you posted.
While your company should give you content guidelines and rules to improve your SEO efforts, don’t rely solely on them. Learn the basics of SEO and SEM and refresh yourself every month or so. This way, you can take the lead and ensure that your efforts are always going to help your brand’s presence on search engines.
How to Start Your Own Brand
Having the right skill set and knowing how to work with others to prop up where your skills lack is actually very hard. Once you have both, however, you are ready to start your own business. This can be done as an independent, if you have a list of brands and other agencies to outsource to. You will then be the lead to your clients. They hire you because you know how and where to get everything done.
You could also hire these people in-house, though you don’t need to do this right way. You can work by outsourcing first, and then as you get more clients on, you can then hire others and build your agency piece by piece.
Whichever approach you make, have a smart plan in place and know the right people. Digital marketing is too big to do on your own, but that is why so many people are in the industry. With the right contacts and the right skill set, you can bring in clients and succeed in no time.