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21 Months in Digital Marketing: Why I’m Still Here

This is the first post in our 2015 Summer Series, where we give young talent in digital marketing a chance to shine in front of State of Digital’s audience. First up is Bobby McGill who writes about his first 21 months working in the industry.

17043803305_03efaaca51_oLike many young ‘professionals’ (for lack of a better term) who have found themselves in a job almost straight after graduating, and having to watch friends, acquaintances, and those Facebook ‘friends’ you never talk to, pack up and head off to sun-kissed lands to ‘find themselves’, I often ask myself what I’m doing, or more precisely, why I’m doing it. The answer? Read on and find out.

I’ve been in the digital marketing industry now for just over 21 months. Starting back in October of 2013, I was fresh out of university, keen to shed the retail job I had slaved away at to help me through the previous three years, and excited to get stuck in to something I knew absolutely nothing about. On paper, 21 months does not look like a especially lengthy amount of time, but in the digital marketing industry, a lot can happen. Let me put it in some perspective for you.
While I’ve been a part of this industry, Google has (according to Moz) released 21 separate algorithm updates (ranging from minor unnamed ones, to major roll outs, such as Panda 4.0), Search Engine Land have published (at the time of writing) a whopping 3,426 posts on their website, and there have been (roughly) over 3,150,000 tweets containing #digitalmarketing.

That’s a heck of a lot to keep up with. In fact, if you want to even try and keep up with it, that’s one algorithm update each month to try and understand, five blog posts to learn from, and 5,048 tweets to read, every day. Add in a healthy dose of client hours each day, and for all intents and purposes, you’ve got yourself a pretty busy and potentially stressful job – not the simple one that many graduates expect when they leave university. So, I ask again, why am I still here 21 months on?

I’ve gained an invaluable skill

When I left university with a publishing degree two years ago, I expected (and was repeatedly told) that my first job would likely involve starting off at the bottom of the ladder, packing envelopes, or generally assisting with minor tasks on a daily basis. Instead, I now understand many intricate and technical aspects of why Google chooses where your website is positioned in the rankings, and how to begin improving these rankings. I get to talk to clients on a daily basis, impart knowledge that I’ve learnt (through both excellent resources and exceptional teachers and mentors), and I get to help businesses grow in a constantly growing market.

The ability to be able to go to a site owner and tell them that “x is wrong with your website, and if you just implement x, then you could see an increase in your rankings, which could lead to x amount of growth”, is truly invaluable, and I’d be a fool to not see that. Case and point I’m currently helping my mother (who doesn’t have a clue about SEO) set up a website for her business, while doing some local keyword research to help her rank in the area, and guess what, it’s working!

I’ve learnt more in these 21 months about SEO and digital marketing than I have about any one topic in the last five years, and it’s not about to become a redundant skill by any means.

I’m part of an industry that’s constantly changing

There’s always something happening in the digital marketing industry. Whether it’s a flashy new piece of content marketing that’s stealing the show, a new algorithm update, or a war of words between well-known SEOs, you’re never short of news. It’s also vital that you keep up with many of these snippets of news, because if you take your eye off the ball, you might just get left behind…

The most interesting change by far that I’ve witnessed in these 21 months is relating to guest blogging, and the immediate effect it had on the industry. Matt Cutts announced that we should “stick a fork in it” because it was done, while others argued that if done right it was a valuable SEO tactic, and great for providing relevant and contextual backlinks from credible sources. It still divides opinion today, and I would recommend reading what Paddy Moogan has to say about the matter.

This was an important event for my personal development during these 21 months, and it taught me that you can’t just look at one source for your answer: you have to do some digging, do your own research, and don’t just listen to those with the highest number of Twitter followers.

Besides actual news, there aren’t many industries that can put out dozens, if not hundreds, of new articles every day, all of which are teaching you something new, or something that might make you say “Oh! I hadn’t thought of it like that”. I get to learn something every day, and that’s awesome.

I go to awesome conferences

As an industry, we’re lucky to have a number of excellent conferences every year. Over these 21 months I’ve been to a whole heap of conferences, ranging from the Content Marketing Show (now bought by the CMI) to SMX London, but a personal favourite is BrightonSEO.

Besides the fact it’s free, BrightonSEO has helped me on a number of levels, and it’s a great opportunity to learn what industry leaders are saying, meet likeminded individuals, and importantly, it’s a great place to get inspired. I come back from every BrightonSEO feeling nice and inspired, because when you get to meet other people who work in this industry who are so excited about what they do, it’s hard for it not to rub off on you.

A favourite talk was from April’s BrightonSEO by Matthew Barby, where he shared 20 practical tips for link building. Half of these ideas I had never even considered, yet I was able to go back to the office on Monday, try them out, and gain some links for my client. Awesome.

I get to learn from some seriously smart people

Finally, there are some fantastic individuals in this industry, and what’s better is that they’re willing to impart their knowledge, so that we as an industry can improve. While there is always going to be a sense of competition between agencies, there is an overwhelming feeling that we as an industry are always willing to help. Look at the Moz community, Twitter Q&As, meetups – we love sharing knowledge! I also get to work in an agency, and a team, that push you to keep learning, to give that extra value to your client, and to be brilliant every day.

So, why am I still here 21 months on? I get to be a part of an ever changing, ever growing industry that is filled with hugely intelligent individuals who are more than happy to share their knowledge, so that you can do your job better and help people, businesses, and clients create the best website and user experiences possible, and I get to do that every day. I’m not going anywhere.

About The Author

Bobby McGillI’m Bobby, a Digital Specialist at White.net, based in Oxford. I enjoy the simple things – good cheese, good beer, good sleep. When not sleeping, I’m likely eating burgers or thinking about sleeping.



This post was written by an author who is not a regular contributor to State of Digital. See all the other regular State of Digital authors here. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of State of Digital.