We’ve all been there. You see a marketing position that will give you the experience you need to start your career. You click on the job posting and inevitably the last thing you wanted to see is staring right at you, “1-2 Years Experience Required”. It’s a frustrating cycle of needing to have experience to get experience. I spent countless hours last year looking for anyone to give me the experience. Reaching out to local businesses that wanted to see my work, and having agencies tell me that they will keep my resume on file but my experience doesn’t match the position. How did I manage to break this cycle, and get the experience I needed? Two words.
By hiring myself I was able to create work I enjoy making on my own schedule, while still getting the experience I needed. Hiring yourself is a simple process, but so few actually take the action needed. This is why I’ve not only included the steps you need to take, but put in the appropriate links to help you get started.
Step 1 – Choose Your Medium
The first step you have to take when hiring yourself is choosing your medium. For example, I prefer to research a topic and write long-form post, so I decided to create a blog. Blogging has given me a voice in my industry and allowed me to improve my writing skills. If you enjoy conversations and the art of asking questions, a podcast would be the best medium for you. With a podcast you’ll be able to have conversations and make connections with people you wouldn’t dream of meeting before. A lot of my friends are into video editing, so starting a YouTube channel is their medium. While blogging and podcasting take a decent amount of time, you can create and have a video on YouTube in 10 minutes. Do a self-analysis of your strengths and what you would enjoy making, then run with it.
If you want to write posts and not worry about the design of your site, Medium.com is an excellent starting point. Medium.com has an existing user base which will allow you to reach a larger audience faster, and you’ll be able to focus on your writing instead of everything that comes with maintaining a website. The downfall of Medium is that the amount of marketing experience you get is limited compared to running your own blog. You won’t be able to build an email list, fully optimize your post for search engines, or have calls to actions.
To maximize the amount of marketing experience you receive I would recommend starting with WordPress.com. WordPress.com allows you to create a free website hosted by them, and you’ll have much more creative control over the site. WordPress hosted my first blog and it was an excellent starting point. You’ll have access to an email list, along with other marketing resources. The downfall is that you won’t have access to third party plugins.
Once your blog begins to grow third party plugins become more important and most bloggers (like myself) then switch to WordPress.org. Yes, there are separate .com and .org versions of WordPress which is very confusing. With WordPress.org you’ll have to find another site like HostGator to host your website, and then you can install the WordPress.org plugin and your interface will be identical to the one you saw on WordPress.com. I would not recommend starting with WordPress.org as just the cost and confusion that comes with finding a host for your site will defer you from blogging.
- If all you want to do is write and not worry about maintaining a website, start an account on Medium.com
- If you’d like to maximize your marketing experience and start with a free website, signup for WordPress.com
- If you want to have full creative control, your own domain, and access to third party plugins, visit WordPress.org and host your site on HostGator.com
When you start a podcast, you’ll truly get to learn about digital marketing. Getting people to read your article for a minute, while harder than you think, isn’t too bad. Getting a stranger to listen to you speak for 10+ minutes is a whole different beast. I say this not to discourage you, but to let you know the challenge in front of you. To start a podcast you’ll need a few things: a microphone, an audio editing software, and a Soundcloud.com account. Any microphone will do although investing in a nicer microphone like the Audio Technica ATR 2100 could set you apart. Once you set up your microphone you’ll need to download Audacity, which is an easy to use audio editing software. You’ll be able to record, edit, and export your episode all inside of Audacity. The final step is uploading your episode to Soundcloud.com, a website that will host your audio and allow you to advertise your channel (think YouTube for audio). The key to a podcast is to start small, interview your best friends, and get a grip on the style you are going to use. If you’ve never been introduced to podcast before there is no better place to start than with Tim Ferriss interviewing Jaime Foxx.
- Buy an entry level mic (like the Audio Techninca ATR 2100)
- Install and learn how to use Audacity
- Sign-up for a Soundcloud.com account
Link: How To Start a Podcast
Creating videos and uploading them to YouTube can be extremely easy. On the most basic level you record a video on your phone and upload the entire file to the YouTube app. Creating a lasting channel with watchable content, is a completely different process. Many of the great YouTube channels have professional cameras, expensive editing software, and a budget for their projects. I won’t be focusing on that style of YouTube channel today, instead just how to get started making videos. I recommend either A) Starting a Vlog or B) Creating short videos ranting on a topic.
A) Starting a Vlog
A Vlog (or video blog) is just a quick insight into your daily life. If you’re a college student you could vlog about your classes, organizations, and whatever else you’re going through on a daily basis. Basing your vlog around your school would be helpful as other students at your school would start to take notice and those looking at choosing the school could see a day in the life. All you need to do is carry a camera around with you throughout your day and shoot updates as needed. If you’re interested in learning more about vlogging, please start with Casey Neistat.
B) Creating Short Videos
An option for someone who doesn’t want to carry around their camera all day and routinely shoot videos is to create short videos ranting on a topic. The master of this form of YouTube is Gary Vaynerchuk. Whenever there’s something that he feels he needs to say he goes on a 4-5 minute rant just putting his thoughts out there. If there’s something frustrating you or an idea you want to put in the world, you could hit record and have it up on YouTube in 10 minutes.
- Create a YouTube account
- Begin recording your days and start a vlog
- Or, record yourself ranting on a topic and put that on YouTube
Step 2: Choose Your Topic
Step 2 is where a lot of the discomfort with starting something comes from. We don’t know what in the world we are going to write about. Most people respond to starting a blog/podcast/YouTube channel by saying “But I have nothing write about!”. While that statement is never true, if you’re reading this you are in luck, you have something to write about. You want marketing experience which means you have in interest in marketing, choose that as your topic. Do you want to have the respect of industry professionals and show agencies you have a body of work that is relevant to their business? Then you could start creating based around what you learn in your marketing career or the top campaigns that stand out to you.
Last year I was impressed with Chipotle’s summer rewards program after it took over my internship groups lunch hours. Instead of just noticing it was working, I did some research on the program and wrote a blog post about what made it so successful. Make your first post/episode/video about why you love marketing, and what you hope to get our of creating something around it. That’s an easy step that you all can do.
While marketing is a great topic to consider, there are many others you could base your medium around. It all depends on what you would enjoy making. The only way to great work, is to create work you love. If you dread blogging about marketing, it won’t represent your best work and you most likely will drop the practice. Think about how you spend your days, where do your interest lie, and how can you create a successful community around them?
Step 3: Create!
Now that you’ve chosen your medium and your topic, it’s time to create. When starting out I recommend just creating, don’t think too much about what you’re doing. After a series of blog post you could decide to take it in a different direction. You could decide after your first 10 podcast that you’ve found a new formula that works, the only to know is to begin. I won’t go too much into the creative process, because what you create is up to you. If there was one creative formula then we would all blog about the same thing and nobody would push boundaries.
The best time to start was yesterday, the next best time is today. – Seth Godin
Step 4: Market
At this point you’ve started creating and you have something to share with the world. It’s up to you to figure out how to get the world interested, this is where marketing comes into play. The majority of my marketing experience comes from running my blog. I’ve learned how to use an email service like MailChimp, optimize my post for search engines, use influencers to help me reach more people, and push my posts through social media. This is why hiring yourself to get the marketing experience works so well, you get to create around a topic you love and get the experience at your own rate. Most local marketing internships will you have focusing on one area of marketing. You could be doing event promotion for a sporting team, designing graphics for a frozen yogurt shop, but rarely do you have sole control over the entire marketing plan. So how should you get started gaining the marketing experience you need?
It’s a common belief that you need to have a product or service to start building an email list, “I have nothing to sell, why would I create an email list”. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to build your list BEFORE you have something to sell, so that you already have people to sell to? Once you have an idea for the community you’d like to build, start a MailChimp account. Start with your friends and family, tell them you’re starting a blog (or podcast, or YouTube channel) and that you’d like to keep them updated. This way once you make a post you don’t have to rely on people checking your social media accounts to see it, you can email it directly to them. Creating email campaigns is a skill that agencies look for, using MailChimp for your blog will allow you to speak on the experience. You’ll be able to build your list using CTA’s (Calls to action) within your blog post, enticing new readers to join the community.
For YouTube you’ll have to learn how to use links in the description and including text on your videos that will get people interested. A common email technique you’ll see used is offering value in exchange for their email, for example you could offer a free E-book download if they fill out an email form. Experimenting will different ways to get sign ups and showing results will give you the experience you need.
- Create a MailChimp account
- Learn how to grow your email list through calls to action
- Experiment with different email campaigns (then monitor analytics)
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing will be the most important skill you learn as you push your post. You’ll learn how to find the right hashtags that promote traffic, use influencers to re-post your work so their followers see it, and put out good content besides just promoting yourself so that you attract the right followers.
Promoting content using the inbound method means that instead of you spamming people with ads and tweets, you’ll be attracting new viewers through great content. My best advice for this is providing good content even on days when you don’t have a post. Your Twitter account shouldn’t just be links to your work, you should start discussions and join in on others. Being apart of the discussion is an under looked part of social media. Join different subreddits and give your opinion on other peoples post. Then when it’s time to promote your material, you are well known and respected. A good place to start for bloggers is a Reddit post about the 21 Ways to Promote Every Post.
Once your platform begins to grow you can begin to toy with promoted post on Facebook, Facebook and Instagram Ads, as well as other PPC (pay per click) methods. While this might be a little advanced to touch on in this post, I wanted to show you how far you can take the platform you create.
- Create Facebook/Instagram/Twitter accounts for your platform
- Or, use your personal accounts to promote your content
- Start and join in on discussions based around your topic, become respected in the field
Marketing is more than just creating and promoting content. The analytics side of marketing has grown in the digital age. This past week when I was working my last shift at my winter break job a customer took interest in my marketing background. He used to work in direct mailing, he was telling me how they would send out all these flyers and letters and would have no idea if they worked or not. There were no numbers updating on the fly about the success of their mailing. We live in a day and age where we can know instantaneously the success of our post. Setting up a Google Analytics account and tying it to your work will allow you to know things about your audience that you didn’t know was possible. You’ll know where they live, their age, and viewing habits. Analytics ties into your social media marketing as well, you’ll know which social sites are bringing you the most traffic, and which aren’t working so well.
- Set up a Google Analytics account, then tie it to your medium
- If Analytics doesn’t work with your medium, use the native analytics they provide
- Learn how to use the statistics given to better market your content
Links: Google Analytics
While email marketing, social media marketing, and analytics are the three skills that everyone will receive from this process, there are many others you can get as well. I’ve learned a lot about SEO (search engine optimization) from using a WordPress plugin.
I have laid out the steps to get marketing experience. You need to create something you care about, work at it, and learn how to promote it. This method doesn’t require any job interviews, sending mass emails, or refining your resume. All the information I’ve provided doesn’t do anything if you don’t take action. Start building something right now.
If you have ANY questions whatsoever about blogging, podcasting, creating content, or marketing, please do not hesitate to contact me. Send me a tweet @Gerow30 or Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to help.