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How To Get Into Digital Marketing (Step-by-Step)

There are things you don’t know you don’t know. Here are some of the things I know that you can know so you know now.

There are a lot of routes into digital marketing, but knowing a few key things will help you to start your journey in the right direction.

Most of the people I’ve known in my career “fell” into marketing. It seems to be one of those careers that few people choose!

However, myself and many others happen to find themselves in digital marketing anyway, love it, then stick around for the long haul.

Whether you’ve chosen the thug life, or the thug life chose you, here’s how to get into digital marketing.

The first steps.

It’s unlikely you’re going to get a job in marketing straight out of school.

Generally, you’re going to need some sort of applicable qualification to get your foot in the door.

This could be an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in marketing, journalism, English etc.

Alternatively, it could be an internship, or a marketing specific qualification like a diploma from the CIM.

Any of the above will grease the wheels to getting your first job in digital marketing.

Experience or education?

I’ve been asked a few times if it’s better to get a qualification in marketing, or just try to get an entry level job.

My answer is that it depends where you are in life.

If you’ve yet to leave college, I would recommend pursuing a degree in marketing. It will give you the foundational stuff to help you get your first job.

Going to university is also a wonderful experience if the opportunity is available to you.

If you’re transitioning from a different career, it’s potentially a better idea to just segue into the industry by moving jobs. Grabbing a CIM qualification or equivalent might help with the move, but not 100% necessary.

Ultimately, after you have a shred of experience (even just an internship), it will hold more weight than most marketing qualifications.

This is because qualifications tend to focus on theory, whereas experience yields tangible skills and results.

Ok, once you feel you have what you need to get a job in marketing, you’re going to be presented with a choice.

In-house or agency?

It’s unusual that a career path can have two vastly different routes. If you’re just getting started in digital marketing, you might not even know this choice exists.

Although your role would likely be doing much of the same things, these two options vastly differ in terms of structure and environment.

For the uninitiated, “in-house” refers to working for a company and marketing their specific products or services. For example, working for a clothing company and running campaigns to sell their clothing.

“Agency” refers to dedicated marketing companies who sell marketing services to other companies. For example, you would work on campaigns for a variety of clients with set hours per month.

Some agencies also have dedicated in-house marketers to advertise their marketing services! Confusing. 🤷

Choosing either of these routes can have wide-reaching implications for your career. Let’s delve into the differences.


In-house roles usually exist in small businesses who can’t afford a marketing agency or want full autonomy.

Larger companies often outgrow agencies and start to build their own team, so sometimes you’ll find a solo marketer working with a handful of outsourced freelancers.

Many marketers start their careers in-house, as agencies tend to require some degree of specialisation.

Equally, many marketers end their careers in-house, as the pay is usually better, and the workload is less taxing.

You’re now probably wondering “why bother with agencies at all then?”. Fair question, and I’ll answer it shortly!

Pros of working in in-house marketing:

Cons of working in in-house marketing:


Marketing and media agencies are the other route. These companies provide marketing services to other businesses. In essence, they act like an in-house team, but outsourced.

Why? It can often work out cheaper to hire an agency than to pay a full-time employee. Clients also benefit from a wider team, expertise and potentially services (like design, video and web development).

The client businesses will generally pay based on hours worked, or results. As such, you would work as either a generalist or a specialist and be allocated several clients to spend time on each month.

You’ll work with a variety of clients, from startups to giant corporates.

I personally recommend working in agency for a while. The experience you get is unmatched and agency staff are very desirable for job opportunities.

Pros of working in a marketing agency:

Cons of working in a marketing agency:

There’s no right or wrong choice here. It comes down to preference and your own working style.

I started my career in-house and learned the ropes. I swiftly moved into agency and that propelled me into management over a few years. I now work in-house again, as it has a better work-life balance and pay scale for my current situation.

Specialist vs generalist.

Nearly all marketers start off as generalists (they work on all channels). This is sensible, as you get to experience most of the channels and strategies on offer.

Many solo and in-house marketers are generalists, as they usually have smaller teams and must pick up the slack.

As you get to know the industry and expand your skillset, you may find one element of marketing resonates with you. You then have the option to specialise and become the expert in that given discipline.

Funnily enough, once you start managing a department, you have to become a generalist again!

Let’s investigate the pros and cons here.

Generalist: The Jack of All Trades

As a generalist, your marketing knowledge spans various disciplines. You’re a bit of a chameleon, adapting and learning on the fly. It’s always good to retain some generalist knowledge, even if you end up specialising.



Specialist: The Master of One

As a specialist, you choose one marketing area to rule them all. Be it SEO, content marketing, social media, or another field, you dive deep.



Making the Choice

Think about what excites you. Do you love diving deep into a topic, or do you prefer a broader view of things? Your passion will be a key driver in your decision.

Whether you choose to be a specialist or a generalist, you will find job roles matching your skillset. As such, don’t be afraid to specialise if it’s what ignites your passion.

Building your marketing toolkit and portfolio

If you want to make a long career out of marketing, you’ll need to hone a few key skills. Truly great marketers are always learning, even decades into their careers. The nature of digital advertising means it’s very fluid. If you don’t make an effort to keep up with the changing tides, you’ll find yourself stagnating.

Here are some of the foundational skills for every marketer:

Building a Stellar Portfolio

In some situations, you may be asked to present a portfolio at interview stage. I’ve found you can usually get by without, but if you love to be prepared…

How to Build Skills

Your skills and portfolio are never “complete”. They’re always a work in progress, continually evolving as you do. Keep building, keep learning, and soon you’ll find you have your choice of roles.

Nailing the interview

Many people find interviews as nerve-wracking as a first date, but with more at stake.

I’ve found throughout the year that’s I’ve come to enjoy interviews. It’s like a game where you get to showcase all the stuff you’re good at and grill prospective employers. If you’re not at that point, hopefully you’ll get there in the future.

Here’s how to charm your future employer:

Pre-Interview Prep:

During the Interview:

Smile. It makes a huge difference to your demeanour, and you look less nervous. 😁

Typical Interview Questions and How to Ace Them

Tell us about a marketing campaign you’re particularly proud of.”

Choose a campaign where you had a significant role. Discuss the goals, your actions, and the results. Numbers speak louder than words – if you increased engagement by 50%, say it! Also, in typical marketing fashion, take small numbers and convert them into big percentages. Turning 100 into 150 conversions is “a 50% increase”!

“How do you stay updated with marketing trends?”

Mention blogs, podcasts, webinars, or any industry resources you follow. Show them you’re always learning and evolving.

“How do you handle tight deadlines and pressure?”

Provide examples of your time management and stress management techniques. Show them you’re as cool as a cucumber under pressure. An example would be prioritising the work for a looming deadline over less urgent tasks.


Remember, every interview is a learning experience. Whether you land the job or not, you’re gathering valuable insights and honing your skills. So, suit up and be yourself.

Networking and building your personal brand.

Who you know can be as important as what you know. Here’s how to build a network that opens doors.

The word “networking” usually encourages yawning and immediate disinterest. I think most people think of a bunch of stuffy suits standing around in a conference room.

I think of it more of mingling with like-minded people and uncovering opportunities.

Why Networking Matters

Networking can lead to job opportunities, partnerships, or valuable insights. Many of these opportunities will only come to you because of your connections.

Thanks to a big of work on my LinkedIn presence, I am regularly contacted by recruiters with potential job opportunities. The time you spend here can really pay dividends throughout your career.

Networking also allows you to learn from peers, share experiences, and stay updated with industry trends.

How Does Personal Branding Fit into This?

Personal branding is a hot topic at the moment. It boils down to “marketing” yourself and your skillset, away from your day job.

Once you leave a job, all you have left is your CV and experience. If you’ve spent time on personal branding, jobs can be transient, but your “net worth” as an individual remains.

If you do a good enough job of making people aware of your existence and what you can offer, you may find opportunities come to you, rather than having to hunt for them.

Personal branding is basically a power up for your networking.

Building and Leveraging Your Personal Brand

Utilising LinkedIn and Other Platforms

Networking Events and Conferences

Your network can be your most powerful asset. Cultivate it, nurture it, and watch as it transforms your career. Good marketers know how to market themselves.

Go forth and conquer.

You now have the building blocks to get started in digital marketing.

If you feel like you need more guidance, you can book a mentorship session with me.

I also recommend subscribing to my newsletter (because, of course I do 😅). It will give you a lot more actionable stuff to help you drive your career forwards.

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Written By

Founder of Latent Clarity and author of the Clarity newsletter.

I help new and solo marketers be the best they can with practical, actionable, (and sometimes funny) advice.

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