Growing a very successful career in SEO, and digital marketing as a whole, is an incredibly hard thing to do.
Sure, if you have great technical skills, and great team management skills, you can soon find yourself leading a team of digital marketers in a management position. However, I am talking about that illusive ‘next stage’ of becoming a successful digital marketer, becoming someone that people listen to within the industry. Or, if that just isn’t your thing, becoming the marketing and SEO lead for one of the UK’s (or the world’s) larger companies.
I pride myself everyday in the fact that I am able to take companies from doing okay with their marketing efforts, to really bringing them into that next stage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have made a lot of mistakes as well! But there is no better learning opportunity than when you get to spend time figuring out why these mistakes were made, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes again.
Whether you are looking to become one of the world’s most well known SEO influencers, or you want to have a team under you that will help you create amazing SEO strategies, follow my tips below and you will quickly find yourself exploding up the ranks in SEO and digital marketing.
Read a Lot, but Talk More!
Now, this one might be very obvious, but if you want to be successful in your career in SEO, you need to be someone who reports on new trends and strategies first within the industry. To do this, you need to be learning as much as you can, as often as you can. I have found that the best way to do this is to subscribe to reputable SEO and marketing blogs and read the posts when they are released. This will give you a great knowledge base for when you are creating marketing strategies.
However, here is a tip that most people don’t think of. Try and make sure you engage in conversation in the comments of these blog posts. This is where you will find some of the best information from other marketers around the world. In some cases, I have found the conversations I have had in the comment sections of blog posts more beneficial than the blog post itself! If you are willing to learn from others, you will go far!
There are some great online tools that will help you achieve this. I am in particular a huge fan of Reddit and Quora. These sites let you select your topics of knowledge and interest and answer questions from the public. If your answers are thorough, in depth and really answer the public’s questions, you will quickly find yourself becoming an influencer on these platforms.
Then, when you feel you are ready to take the next leap, you can start your own blog. Your followers from sites such as Reddit, Quora and Medium will often follow you to your blog if they think you are a voice of knowledge within the industry.
Don’t Chase a Salary, Chase Problems
I have to thank Matthew Barby for this tip. When you first start the world of work, especially in marketing, it is very easy to become entranced by these high salary graduate marketing roles. My advice, don’t take these kinds of roles. My first job role was an apprentice position in which I was paid not a lot of money to do a lot of work! Despite this, I was actually very happy. I certainly wasn’t in a high paying role, but I was constantly exposed to new problems where it was up to me and my peers to come up with ways to solve them.
Doing that kind of work for 18 months gave me a fantastic, comprehensive knowledge of a range of marketing tactics that can be used to solve many problems! I still use almost all of this knowledge today. It needs to be said that nearly every single one of my friends earned around double my salary at this stage of my career, but most of them were extremely unhappy and unfulfilled in their roles, whereas I was given a base to take control of certain things and be accountable for a large number of clients.
My current role involves working with the directors and my peers within the business to come up with marketing strategies for our new and existing clients, and I wouldn’t be able to do as well as I am without the knowledge that my first role gave me. Find a role, or amend your current role to ensure that you are constantly exposed to problems! In my current role, I am in charge of creating marketing campaigns and materials to increase the brand awareness for my clients. If these fail, I am responsible for both the mistake itself, and fixing the mistake.
Inevitably, there will come a time in your career where you start to think you need to move on in order to progress. This is natural, it is almost unheard of for someone to stay with the same company their entire career anymore. However, each opportunity to move employers should also come with a step up in your responsibilities. There are some exceptions, of course, if you are changing industries for example. But in reality, most of the new roles you apply for should be a step up.
It is very easy, and I have done this myself, to get an idea in your head that you should be in charge of a large team sooner rather than later within your career, especially if you have the technical knowledge required to help companies progress with their marketing efforts, but in a lot of cases (especially earlier on in your career) this won’t be the case. However, a step up in a job role doesn’t mean moving from being someone who follows instructions to being the one who gives the orders.
In my book, and I’m sure in your book as well, a step up is a step up in responsibilities and accountability. For example, each role I have accepted has been a step up in my book, as each role has come with new responsibilities I haven’t needed to think about in previous roles. This is great, because it means I am still able to use all of my existing skills, while learning new ones at the same time!
Never underestimate the power of accountability. I have often found myself doing some of my best work when I am in charge of a project. If something goes wrong, then you are the one responsible for fixing it or taking responsibility for it going wrong in the first place. If you are aware of this, you will concentrate on your work more and end up achieving some incredible feats of marketing!
Just because a new role doesn’t come with the chance to lead a large team and have an amazing salary, it does not mean that it is not a step up. Even if you are wanting to stay with the same company, ask for more responsibility in your role. Often, your peers and superiors will be more than happy to give you more responsibility in your work. Your performance evaluations are a great time to mention this.
Work For Smart Marketers
Let’s give you two examples to analyse here. You have two interviews for the same job, one interview is conducted with a marketer who looks to be going places. They are smart, passionate and extremely helpful in the interview. And one is with a mid-level marketing manager who seems contempt with earning their salary and doing acceptable work. Which person do you think will give you the best chance of advancing your career?
You chose the first one, right?
And that’s exactly what you need to be doing with your marketing career. Of course, you should also be passionate about the industry and looking for as many opportunities to learn as possible. But if you are doing all of this for a manager who doesn’t care, there really isn’t any point. However, if you are doing this with a marketer who is loving your ideas, implementing them as much as they can and really trying to help you achieve something in your role, this is beneficial for you in both the short term and the long term!
In my various marketing roles, I have worked for both these kinds of managers, and I can tell you for sure, that you will progress a lot quicker if you are working for a manager who is as passionate as you are about the work you are doing. You will feel more valued and often feel excited coming into work every day! When you get to work with someone who truly cares about the work as much, or more than you do, it is one of the best professional feelings in the world!
My advice, if you are not working for someone who is passionate about the work, move on and find someone to work for (or work with) who is!
So, there you have it, my top tips on how to grow a truly successful career in digital marketing and SEO. Why not make use of some of these tips and start expanding your careers today!
About the Author
Ryan Jones is a top-level digital marketing executive at UK based marketing agency, Imaginaire Digital. He loves blogging about SEO, digital marketing and increasing conversion rates and takes pride in his ability to take websites from ‘good’ to ‘amazing!’.