How to Become an Experienced Digital Marketer When No One Will Hire You?

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A look at how to get a digital marketing job or become an experienced marketer when no one will hire you.

Students in my digital marketing class at General Assembly constantly ask me one question about getting a digital marketing job.

For a while, I didn’t know how to answer it.  It’s the main reason most of them don’t break into a career in digital marketing or growth hacking.  The question:

How to get experience as a digital marketer when no one will hire you?

Hey! Did you know that we're hiring? Think you have what it takes? 
Check out our job posting for a Digital Marketer in Seattle.

Not having experience is the main reason they think they are unable to start a career in growth marketing.  These are smart people asking this question. The digital marketing class at General Assembly is usually filled with young professionals looking to get a digital marketing gig, experienced professionals looking to make a career change or veteran marketers from the print world wanting relevant skills to become more marketable.

It’s possible to get experience without having a job title of growth marketer or digital marketer because that’s how I started.

I have broken down my answer into two parts below.  The answer involves rolling up your sleeves and relentlessly pursuing this career path by targeting early stage companies or getting experience on your own.  Here are the steps I would take if I were starting today.

STEP 1: READ ABOUT DIGITAL MARKETING JOBS

Read. Read every book or blog you can find about growth hacking, technical marketing or digital marketing.

So what to read . . .

STEP 2: TEST THE SKILLS A TECHNICAL MARKETER NEEDS

Get any experience you can growing companies by applying what you’ve been reading. If you don’t have a growth/marketing job – offer to work for free. If they won’t hire you then launch a side project on the cheap with WordPress, Shopify or even just a social account. The key is testing the different growth ideas you’re reading about. Test driving traffic and then converting that traffic.

Then once you have learned a few interesting things find companies that could benefit from this new found knowledge. Reach out to these companies and demonstrate the experience you have and pitch how they could apply it to their business.  Seriously, this strategy works – Neil Patel has made his best hires from cold pitches like this.

Okay, so how to get experience applying what you learned from reading . . .

  • Look for growth jobs on Angellist, Growthhackers.com/jobs and Linkedin.
  • Launch a side project and try to grow it. Embrace your failures. Some half-baked ideas:
    • Witty Shirts on TeeSpring
    • A travel blog on WordPress
    • An affiliate site that sells Nerd Mugs
    • An Instagram account for foodies
  • What to test:
    • Running email capture tools like JustUno or Sumo
    • Setting up Google Analytics
    • Setting up Facebook lookalike audiences
    • A/B testing landings pages with Unbounce
    • Optimizing for search with 3rd party tools like Yoast and SEMrush
    • Building digital tools to generate users or leads
    • Creating a content strategy based on Buzzsumo’s results

Thanks to Youtube videos, Google and Podcasts you can learn as much as you want for free. Then you can actually test these ideas for as little as it cost to buy a web domain.  You can do it. I credit this self-taught approach to everything I know in digital marketing.

Hey! Did you know that we're hiring? Think you have what it takes? 
Check out our job posting for a Digital Marketer in Seattle.

SUMMARY

Want to learn more?  Check out The Growth Marketer’s Playbook.  It’s the step-by-step growth plan we use for our startups.  After mentoring Techstars’ startups and Fortune 500 brands about growth marketing we decided to create a growth strategy book that details all our “secrets” to scaling a startup the right way.  Use the promocode “10bucksoff” for a limited time $10 discount if you order here.

We’ll also include our Master Growth Marketing Spreadsheet we use to manage our clients that has over 100 growth tactics.

Jim Huffman

Founder & CEO GrowthHit. Startup mentor at Techstars, General Assembly, and Sephora Accelerator. Author of The Growth Marketer’s Playbook #1
Take Our Free Growth Marketing Course