This $100,000/year Career is Growing Like Crazy
According to salary.com, a digital marketing manager in the United States earn $99,349 a year on average.
During my first internship at a media agency I thought that whatever the digital marketing department worked on seemed kinda unserious. However, compared to our team in the TV department, they had a lot more free time and higher budgets to do cool things with.
As I realized that the salaries were indeed higher for those type of jobs, I began studying at the university. I thought that was the correct -and only- way to earn more money and get a better job that would be fun and cool.
Fast forward a couple of years. As I finished another couple of internships, I realized that even though I now had a bachelor’s degree in marketing, I had never actually used what I studied.
It was my third internship and once I again I felt like my studies and job were worlds apart. I had hands-on training by some of the biggest tech-giants in the world, and frankly that would have been enough to get me started.
Looking back I should rather have focused on learning on job and work to convert that into a full-time position.
That would have given me 3-4 years of direct experience rather than a degree where hiring managers afterward STILL ask for experience.
The great thing about digital marketing is that it is easy to enter because it is changing so rapidly- every year or so the tactics and tools change, so taking say a four year-degree only makes you left behind before you even start.
There are plenty of digital marketing degrees at universities around the world. The average cost of an online bachelor’s degree in digital marketing is $38,000 and $58,000, so we can expect a standard university with an in-person faculty to cost a lot more than that.
Online training programs by experienced professionals in the space often cost a couple of thousand dollars in my experience. You still have to put in the work to learn but rather than getting an expensive degree with a stressful loan, you can actually come out ahead and earn the cost back within the first six months by taking online programs and start working right away.
The difference between studying and being trained
I prefer to take these kinds of training programs rather than studying at a traditional school because it comes down to the difference between studying and being trained.
Studying digital marketing feels passive and in my experience you get to work on theoretical cases at best.
Being trained means you are applying the concepts in real life on real projects in a much more practical way. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you don’t apply it anywhere you’ll never earn more money.
With a training program, that is the core focus as they usually want you to work on your results rather than giving you a certificate and leave you hanging. Digital marketing is one of the few industries where a certificate isn’t really necessary even though they are given out – when I hire digital marketers, I never ask if they have any certificates because I know that it doesn’t mean they are able to do the work.
In online training programs it is also much easier and cost effective to update the curriculum so you will naturally have much newer material that fits the real-world.
Facebook and Google updates their procedures much faster than any school can update their curriculum, which results in you learning outdated tactics. And when you apply them you have no idea why they won’t work anymore.
Trust me, I’ve made that mistake way too many times.
If this is your first career, start with an internship to understand what kinds of topics within digital marketing you prefer. It will be much easier for you to turn that into a full-time position because you can build trust over time.
That can be done both online and offline. It is difficult for me to imagine which type works the best for your personality but I do offer a training program to help you understand how to make the decision for yourself along with some pointers towards the end of this article.
If you want to change careers, you can follow the same steps but it will most likely be ideal to start out doing it on the side so you won’t risk it all until you feel comfortable with your new set of skills.
If you are working a 9-5 job, an online/remote internship will probably work best for you- perhaps with a company in a different timezone. That is a common solution in the space since the work is mostly online, people are much more flexible with remote work in this industry.
Who this is for
The digital marketing industry is certainly not for everyone. While I can help you learn fast this is no magic pill or unicorn-career that will land you in riches overnight. You have to put in the hours and do the work to see results. The courses that I offer are ideal for you if you are:
The reason I’m sharing this with you is that you’ll see (if you haven’t already!) that many websites talk about online marketing and people earning thousands a day, almost overnight.
Some are scammers and some are not. It is possible to earn very good money with this type of skill set but it always requires work. Always.
My goal is to help train you so you can shave months and years off of your learning experience but you still have to put in the work just like with anything else we have to learn in life (remember learning how to ride the bike?).
In case you want to get started right away, you can use my FREE intro course where you’ll learn about digital marketing strategy. Register here!
The good things about this type of career
As we talked about before there are several benefits of this type of career. And as you saw above the average salary is high especially considering the low amount of experience and schooling you need to get started.
The reason people are able to earn so much is because they are able to directly tie their work back to core business metrics like revenue- they show how it impacts the business directly because marketing online are much more trackable than the traditional media, meaning that we can understand the impact much better.
Not everyone in digital marketing does this and that is often why you see some earning less. If you are a business owner it is all about understanding how your marketing dollars are spent and what the result is.
As mentioned that is often much easier online than with traditional marketing channels simply because we tools available that can help us allocate the sales and revenue to particular marketing channels and the ad budget being spent.
Flexibility or high impact?
Since most of the work is online there are also plenty of tools to improve online communication and promote remote work. In my experience, this is one of the careers that offers the most flexibility in terms of working from home versus working in an office. It is a career choice that offers both a lifestyle career and a career with high impact.
In a lifestyle career, you might chose to have business earnings of, say $150,000 per year, with a small group of remote contractors helping your out- along with extreme flexibility and fewer hours that allows you to travel or do whatever you enjoy outside of work.
On the contrary, a high impact career is often a career where you focus on making an impact in the world, society or somewhere that matters to you.
As the online world is growing you can actually do both. What I often see is that people are drawn in by the lifestyle but end up staying and changing mindset to the high impact career as they grow.
It is incredible how much you can do in this field compared to say with a traditional advertising team. In most cases, you often need fewer people than other ‘departments’ simply because there are so many tools available online to help you automate tasks and processes.
Meaning that after you’ve set them up once you either have to do very little or not much at all but check that things work and run smoothly.
No four-year-degree needed
I always smile when I see people arguing they have 10+ years experience in digital marketing tactics because the industry changes so fast that in the first five of those years the tactics were so different that they generally don’t apply anymore.
The fundamental understanding of people is still key though. My point is that you shouldn’t feel intimidated by that. This is a young and growing industry with enough space for everyone.
You can totally learn it on your own and I invite you to do that first. Just beware that you’ll save TONS of time by taking a training course. Where as it might take you two years to learn online with free resources you could learn it with paid training in say six months.
That means you can earn your money back and a lot more. I don’t know about you but to me that makes a major difference.
The Challenging Things
Now to be fair, this isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Digital marketing is a challenging industry too and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t show you both sides of the story.
Since most of the work is online you’ll be working mostly in front of a computer- or even your phone if you are comfortable with that.
Have you seen those photos of people on the beach with a laptop on their sunbed. I’m sure you know which ones I’m talking about..
They really don’t work- I’ve tried it myself and frankly you might get too much sun glare in your computer screen 😉
In all seriousness, some people get scared by the numbers. Although it is really not that challenging- most of it is 7th grade math, so it is much more about understand how the ecosystem works rather than doing hard math- in most of the cases you just plot numbers into a spreadsheet and let the computer do the hard work.
People can feel scared of tech- there are many companies and software to make things easy for non techy people, so I don’t see this as a challenge generally as long as one keeps an open mind. The amount of information available for free, or very little, online is amazing- you can often find comprehensive step-by-step guides on how to use certain software with a simple Google search.
How to get started
I’m glad you made this this far! Congrats.
The next step is for us to talk about how to get started. Within digital marketing there are certain sub-disciplines that people tend to prefer to start with. I’ll briefly cover each one so you have an understanding of what they do and following that I’ll talk a bit about how to figure out which one is best for you to start with.
Which ‘disciplines’ are popular within digital marketing?
One of the best places to begin earning with digital marketing is choosing one of the following subjects:
There a bunch more which I do not recommend getting start with so we’ll cover those another day.
SEO is short for ‘search engine optimization’ and is the field of getting your information visible on Google. Basically, it all comes down to people searching for certain keywords and Google trying to show the most relevant information based on what they think people are looking for.
The key areas within this field is finding (and understanding) the right keywords, writing great content, getting people to link to your work from other websites and optimizing the website so we help Google understand what the website is about the best.
2. Content Marketing
It is closely related to content marketing which focuses on the content side of things (such as this guide but also Youtube videos, infographics etc.). People often ask for ‘SEO articles’ which is sometimes misguided but generally means that you write content optimized for Google search.
This can be different from SEO in a way that a content marketer focuses on the content, they often also focuses on guest posting content on other people’s websites and getting people to share the work on social media or whichever platform matters the most to them.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing as the words say is well.. Marketing things via email. This is probably the oldest online marketing media that still is alive and well.
Every year someone declares email as a dead medium and often people claim that some new fad is here to take its place. It has yet to happen.
Email is the only media where you actually own your ‘following’. For example, if you have a Facebook fan page, Facebook can shut it down or change the rules with a moments notice and there is nothing we can do.
If someone decides to allow you to email them, nothing can change that beside that person themselves (or you). It is also one of the few -if not the only- media where you reach them in their own private space.
You might have heard the expression ‘the money is in the list’ which is somewhat true. It basically means that as long as you have a list of great emails you can earn money without a website etc. because you can promote products to them via email.
However, in reality it is only really in the relationship you build with them. Just like in real life.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing refers to marketing done on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and whatever people consider a social media channel.
For most social media channels that can be either organic marketing (e.g. free posts on Facebook that people might share organically similar to the traditional word of mouth) or paid ads which is like traditional ads.
Both have different benefits- e.g. you can get results a lot faster with ads plus you can generally track the performance (e.g. this ad produced X sales/revenue) but organic marketing usually have a higher quality but takes much longer to show effect and you usually never really know what gave the results.
5. Web Design
Web Design is a topic that isn’t directly categorized as digital marketing yet it is the glue to holds it all together.
A website is usually the front of your business- one that you use to connect with people via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Youtube by sharing your content and leading people back to your website.
You don’t necessarily need a website to do business online but it certainly helps as you own everything contrary to on your Facebook fan page or other media.
Often times people use it to attract an audience and build trust. For that, people often look for two things: optimizing it for aesthetics and conversions.
That means that while we might agree a certain design is beautiful it might not convert our visitors into buying or subscribing to our newsletter (if we have one of those).
That does not mean you need to use spammy tactics like big red flashing letters- at its core it is about understanding your audience, what attracts them and connecting that with your vision into a brand and how you specifically portray that as a website, so you can use your website as a tool to attract buyers.
Should you pick one or mix them?
One of the things that take people a long time to understand (which delays their success significantly- I know because it happened to me for YEARS) is whether you should focus on one subject or do a mix of all of them.
The broader you pick your topic, the more you have to learn and the less expert-y you feel. The easiest way is to pick a specific skill and match it with an industry. Then as you feel comfortable there, you can start exploring adding new things on top if you want to.
The challenge here is that we as human beings don’t like to close doors for ourselves which is why many people feel that this is difficult and wonder if they picked the right thing.
There is no way of knowing for sure but a great way to get a hint that you are on the right track is if you find other people doing the same or something similar- then you most often know that there is a market.
And I’d rather have a market with competitors and people ready to buy than no market with no-one who cares about what I have to offer- because you can always find a way to do things better or differently from your competition.
A few examples could be:
You get the gist. Fortunately, as you pick a mix you’ll not only learn things faster but you’ll also be able to charge more money and close clients/business easier because it will be clearer to them why they should work with you.
Think about it. If you were a tour operator, would you prefer to work with