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How to Start a Career in Digital Marketing – Step by Step Guide

How to Start a Career in Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing has become one of the most sought after skills today and it is allowing people to earn insane amounts of money irrespective of past experience or age.

But how to start a career in Digital Marketing especially if you are starting today?

Is it too late to start? Is the industry already saturated?

And what’s the best way to learn digital marketing if you want to succeed in the industry?

In this blog post, I will give you a roadmap on how you can make a career in Digital Marketing and succeed in it.

This is going to be your ultimate guide if you want to become a digital marketer and get a high-paying job in the field, or start a business, or start freelancing.

Going ahead, I have talked about how to start a career in digital marketing – something that most “digital marketing gurus” don’t want you to know. 

Watch this article as a Video:

The Potential of Digital Marketing – Should You Learn Digital Marketing in 2021?

Let’s first talk about the potential of Digital Marketing right now. People keep asking me if it is too late to get into Digital Marketing and if the industry is too saturated.

So here’s the deal. It is not.

Digital Marketing is a very recent skill if you compare it with other prevalent skills. It’s preposterous to think that the industry is too saturated.

In my opinion, it is just the opposite. Digital Marketing is just getting started. It is such a constantly-evolving industry that there is a new technology or change every 2 to 3 months.

If you know something today, you might still have to learn more in a few months. And you will have to keep doing this forever.

For example, all this started with search engine marketing. There were experts in the 2000’s who thought the industry was competitive.

And then came Email Marketing. Then came social media marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing and there are new things coming every now and then.

With each evolution, Digital marketing branches out into new things which allows for the entry of new people in the industry easily.

So don’t worry about being too late. If you start today, it is probably the best time to enter the industry.

The next question I get is.

Does Digital Marketing pay well?

Here’s the truth which might sound blunt. 

But if you have been following my blog in the past, you know that I like being honest with my advice.

Like all careers, Digital Marketing also requires blood and sweat. The more you put those in, the better reward you will get.

You might have to start at an entry-level and people will rarely pay you big money when you start off. 

I know you have seen ads from digital gurus claiming to help you make 7 figures or 8 figures. It might be possible in a one off case. But in most cases, it will take time, hardwork, and patience to reach that level.

Even those gurus – the ones that have genuinely done well – have been doing this over years.

I wouldn’t prefer calling myself a Guru or a Master, but I have been doing marketing & digital marketing for 7 years. 

But let me tell you the good news. If you play your cards right from the beginning, your growth can be exponential.

There is a dearth of skilled talent in digital marketing. There are a lot of high-paying positions available but a lot of times, the people aren’t skilled well enough to crack those interviews. 

I have taken hundreds of interviews for entry-level to mid-level positions in my teams and this has been my first-hand experience.

A lot of people think they are digital marketers, but they have surface-level knowledge and do not have a deep understanding of digital marketing from a business point of view.

But when the right candidate comes along, companies are willing to pay above-average pays because ROI based digital marketing can help grow a company’s revenue – which is valued by any company.

And if you want to start a business or become a freelancer, digital marketing can help you get leads, clients, sales without having any prior experience in it.

I am on a mission to train digital marketers that bridge this gap between industry expectation and skillset. The idea is to create practitioners who can deliver for real instead of just knowing superficial knowledge.

That’s the objective of my new Practical Digital Marketing live course. I will be beginning the enrolments into my upcoming Cohort.

So how to Start a Career in Digital Marketing and How to learn it?

The best thing about Digital Marketing is, you don’t need any previous experience or education. It doesn’t matter how old are you or what part of the world you are from.

If you are passionate enough, and learn how to start a career in digital marketing the right way, you will be able to crack it.

There is no hard and fast rule on how to learn digital marketing. Different people have done it differently and got different results.

Ideally there are a four ways to do that:

  1. Self-learn it by researching online
  2. Purchase a paid online course
  3. Learn on a job
  4. Join a physical or online institute

How to start a career in digital marketing by researching online

You can self learn by using various resources online. YouTube has a huge number of free videos that can get you started.

The only problem is, there’s so much content out there that it is difficult to separate the good one from the bad one. And the videos are scattered and don’t follow a certain track. 

Plus, YouTube can get distracting. One minute you are learning Digital Marketing, another minute you are watching cute Cat videos.

But if you are really inclined, but don’t want to spend money yet, you can self-learn it.

Purchase a paid online course to learn digital marketing

The second way is to purchase a paid online course. Mostly, these are pre-recorded courses which you can watch at your own convenience.

Again, after Covid, online course creation has boomed and I feel that a lot of people just started putting out courses for the sake of it. This means you will have to make sure that you are selecting a legit person’s course that will truly help you learn.

So if you want to purchase a Digital Marketing Course, you can choose either from organized platforms like Coursera or Simplilearn.

Or you can choose from individual creators that are selling D2C.

There are also aggregator websites like Udemy that give low-cost courses but finding a really good quality course out of the thousands of courses there is like finding a needle in a haystack.

There are also some specific courses from Facebook Blueprint, Google Garage, and Hubspot academy. Most of these courses are good but they aren’t holistic and won’t give you a 360 degree understanding of digital marketing.

There’s also a free digital marketing basics course in Hindi from Young Urban Project that will help you get started if you are a beginner.

Learn digital marketing on the job

The third way to learn Digital Marketing is by learning on the job. It is how I actually learned. I got out of college and worked in E-Commerce. That is where I got exposed to digital marketing and I got really excited about it. 

Then I went on to work with agencies where I worked with some of the largest brands out there. And then I moved to brand management and strategy with a large brand… before eventually starting Young Urban Project.

I am being honest when I say I didn’t know anything about Digital Marketing when I took up my first job. Truthfully, I didn’t know anything and wasn’t sure if it was the right thing for me. But I got so excited to see what it could do for a business.

So I started hanging out with people who were doing email marketing and Paid Advertising and just observing what they did. I realized that I had a natural knack for it and I was kind of a quick learner.

One thing led to another and I ended up doing some great work with some amazing people and got recognition in the industry.

But the thing is, I did not do any course. I don’t even think there were many courses around that time.

So I kept learning on the job, made mistakes, and learned some more.

But here’s the thing. I know it is not always possible to land a job that will allow you to learn freely. I understand that.

That’s why it’s great to work with startups. Startups don’t have rigid roles like large companies. And that allows you to do cross-functional learning.

It could be hectic working with startups but when you are starting out, go all in. You’ll thank yourself later.

And that brings me to the fourth way of learning digital marketing.

Join a Digital Marketing physical or online institute.

If you have tried the other things and are still not confident if they will help you make it happen, then getting professional mentorship is the absolute best way to go.

I am not talking about the pre-recorded courses. I am talking about live real-time interactive classes.  

This will not only allow you to learn in a much more effective way, but also allow you to get access to industry experts who might not be easily available.

In my experience, Live classes are much much better than pre-recorded ones. You can learn in real-time, ask questions as and when you have some. And you can have meaningful conversations with real people instead of later posting your doubts in some private Facebook group.

Now here’s the problem that I see in this. Most physical institutes and even some online institutes are charging crazy outrageous amounts for digital marketing courses.

I am seeing fees like INR 70,000 rupees to even INR 1.5-2.0 lac.

They will lure you with the names of employees from big brands who will teach you in the course. But from my first-hand experience, most of those people aren’t real practitioners. They are planning or strategy people who have agencies and teams to execute things. A lot of those classes are theoretical in the garb of teaching you “strategy”.

But the names of companies they work for are used by the institutes to lure you in to pay hefty amounts.

In my opinion, if you want to become an expert, you need to first learn the execution and tactics. And then move to strategy. That’s the logical progression irrespective of the industry.

And I have always believed that people who are real practitioners in the industry – running their own shows, getting hands dirty – are the ones who will be your best teachers.

Do those course or webinar certificates make a difference?

Another tactic that I am seeing being used by some prominent B-Schools is the bait of a certificate and an alumni status.

Again, I want to be honest with you on this. I and my peers have been interviewing candidates for years at various levels in Digital Marketing. 

One thing we all agree on is, those certificates and those big B-School names don’t matter when it comes to getting a job.

What matters is your hands-on practical skill

What have you done that proves that you can call yourself a “Digital Marketer”. 

The above answers are what interviewers are looking for!

So, while those certificates are good to have on your resume to show that you have learned something, it will ultimately come down to how you can give confidence to your interviewer that you know your stuff.

Let me tell you something. Almost all the experts in this industry currently aren’t from those pedigree B-Schools. That’s the beauty of this industry. It is democratic that way. You don’t need a pedigree alumni status to make it big here.

And those certificates are lesser in value than the paper they are printed on.

I want you to remember this the next time you think about spending those huge amounts on such courses.

There are some well known names that run good digital marketing courses.

I had been speaking to so many people who wanted to learn digital marketing but realized there was a huge gap in the industry between the talent expectations from the industry and the talent most institutes are producing. 

I strongly feel that digital marketing training has to be provided by making learners work on live projects along with classroom teaching in real-time.

And that is how I created my flagship Digital Marketing course. It is completely practical and result oriented learning programme where learners will implement and learn all the aspects of digital marketing in real time so when they come out of the course, they will be ready for any business challenge in jobs or their own businesses.

This course will be mentor led live workshops where the community will stay even after the course is over. And it will have industry projects from real brands to work on.

So these were the 4 ways to teach you how to start a career in Digital Marketing.

I hope this was helpful and gave you some sense and direction.

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