Digital marketing is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of marketing activities, but the most basic definition is that digital marketers are promoting brands using the internet. And because this is a growing field, learning how to become a digital marketer is an excellent idea if you’re interested in a high-paying, flexible side hustle or full-time freelance work.
The opportunities for digital marketers are growing as the market expands — in 2020, the digital advertising market was estimated at $350 billion and is projected to reach $786.2 billion by 2026!
Today, we’re going to walk you through the steps of becoming a digital marketer without any experience. This guide is for beginners who do not have a degree and want to get started from the ground up.
What is Digital Marketing?
Before understanding how to get started, you need to know what the work actually entails. Plus, this is a very broad and growing field that’s constantly adapting to new consumer trends and technology.
So what is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, sometimes called online marketing, is defined as any marketing activity used to promote brands, services, and goods via a digital platform. Digital marketers connect potential customers with brands using the internet.
Because that’s still a somewhat vague definition, here are some of the most common areas of digital marketing:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is the process of making web pages more attractive to search engines with the goal of increasing their ranking and visibility.
- Content marketing: This type of digital marketing is anything involving written content, including blog posts, ebooks, newsletters, video and audio transcripts, white papers, infographics, and so on.
- Social media marketing: Learning how to become a digital marketer who specializes in platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. is a great way to help brands reach and engage with a wide audience.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing: One of the most common types of PPC marketing is search engine advertising, and these campaigns work by paying a fee every time someone clicks on a digital ad.
- Affiliate marketing: This is a tactic when an affiliate makes money by promoting another person’s business. Digital marketers can work for the business or the business who works with the affiliate.
- Influencer marketing: Similar to affiliate marketing, this is when brands work with influencers or celebrities to create content that promotes a specific product, brand, or service.
- Email marketing: Digital marketers not only write compelling emails, but they also understand how to use software for testing emails, creating sales funnels, running A/B tests, utilizing automation software, tracking clicks, and more.
Within each of those branches, digital marketers find a niche and work with clients in real estate, finance, fashion, media, entertainment, B2B sales, technology, education, and much more.
As you can see, there are lots of options if you want to learn how to become a digital marketer, and now let’s walk through the steps of getting started.
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1. Learn Important Digital Marketing Skills
One of the benefits of digital marketing is that it can be a high-income job that doesn’t require a degree in every situation. However, there are still some core skills you need to possess to be successful.
Here are the most important skills to develop as a digital marketer:
- Data analytical skills: Digital marketers must be able to track, compile, and analyze real-time data to help your clients make smart and real-time decisions on how to tweak their marketing efforts. Depending on your clients and niche, you might use software like Ahrefs, Google Data Studio, Datorama, and so on.
- Content writing: Despite all of the video, photo, and audio content online, written content still rules, and it’s used in email marketing, organic blog traffic, sales pages, funnels, and more.
- Creativity: Being able to come with new ideas, creative marketing campaigns, and innovative ways to reach new audiences is incredibly important for some digital marketing jobs.
- Communication: Because digital marketing involves selling a brand and vision, communication and storytelling is a must-have skill.
Many of these skills you can develop on your own, but there are also online course, videos, articles, and more that explain how to pick up each of these skills.
2. Understand How to Use In-Demand Core Marketing Tools
You don’t have to master all of these tools, but the more experience you have with a variety of digital marketing tools, the better, and the software and tools you use on a daily basis will vary based on your clients and niche. For example, marketers who focus on SEO will need to be comfortable with Ahrefs and SEMrush, while email marketers will need to understand how to use MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.
Here are some of the different tools used by digital marketers:
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- SEO Surfer
Beyond those, there are also project management tools and workplace communication tools like Asana, Trello, Slack, and ClickUp that will help you communicate and collaborate with your clients and team members.
Fortunately, there are tons of free online resources to learn how to use any of those tools. You can simply google, “how to use [enter the name of the tool]” or “[name of the software] tutorial” to find detailed walkthroughs.
And even if you don’t know how to use something in the beginning, don’t let that hold you back from finding clients because you can always learn it!
3. Find Your First Clients
As far as client acquisition goes, you have lots of options. You can start looking for entry-level digital marketing work on freelance platforms, like Upwork or Fiverr. For any kind of freelance platform, you’ll need to write a compelling description of who you are and your services. Leverage your strengths, even ones that aren’t necessarily related to digital marketing.
You can also reach out to people in your network — friends, family, neighbors, old classmates, etc. — who own small businesses and let them know how you can help them.
Your first client is always the toughest one to land, but you can use your first job as a jumping off point for future work. Ask your first client if you can use them as a reference, if they know of anyone else looking for services, and if they’re willing to give you a testimonial.
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4. Build Your Digital Marketing Portfolio
As you’re working on projects, keep track of the work you’re doing. You’ll want to note things like:
- Your role in campaigns and projects.
- Links, screenshots, or files for any published works you’ve been a part of, such as newsletters, ad copy, sales pages, white papers, social media posts, etc.
- Metrics that show the performance of what you’ve worked on — did it increase the click-through or conversion rate, for example? And if so, by what percentage?
The only caveat is that you’ll need your clients to consent to using your work in your portfolio. Even though it’s work you’ve been a part of, it technically belongs to them. It’s more than okay to ask, though!
When you’ve successfully completed projects, you also want to ask for testimonials. You can have a client quickly type something up or even record a short video. If you decide to build a personal website to advertise your services, testimonials are a must-have addition.
5. Network to Make Great Digital Marketing Connections
As you learn how to become a digital marketer, you’re going to meet a lot of incredibly talented and creative people along the way, and nurturing those connections is an excellent way to grow your business.
For example, doing SEO work for a client, you might meet a copywriter who wants to share your contact information with another client of theirs. This happens when you do great work, but it’s also important to be friendly and helpful with the other freelancers you work with.
Beyond connections you develop while working, there are also countless Facebook groups, Slack communities, in-person events, email newsletters, and influencers you can follow to grow your network. With any opportunity, be willing to share your knowledge and expertise along the way.
6. Keep Growing Your Skills
We’ve already talked about this, but digital marketing is a huge field, and it’s growing. There are countless opportunities for growth if you’re willing to learn new skills and adapt to your clients’ needs.
The best digital marketers run dynamic businesses where they excel at what they do but are willing to pick up new skills along the way. You don’t have to master everything, but being able to be more than just one thing to your clients is incredibly advantageous.
The Final Word on How to Become a Digital Marketer in 2023
If you’ve dreamed about finding a flexible, online job that pays well, leverages your creativity, and has room for growth, then digital marketing is an excellent option! We highly recommend checking out the Facebook Side Hustle Course if you want to jumpstart your career.
Beyond that, take advantage of all of the free content online. There are articles, how-to guides, videos, podcasts, and more.
Whether or not you need a degree or official certification depends on the types of clients you want to work with and what career path you want to pursue. You can learn a lot from targeted online courses that teach essential and niche skills.
There are some excellent online courses that take a month or less to complete, and many are self paced, making them a flexible fit for any type of person.