This is the second 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. Here is Sian Thomas who writes about the thing she’s learned in her first two years in the industry.
I came into the Digital Marketing world in a pretty roundabout way. Back in 2012, I was fresh faced out of uni, running a personal style and lifestyle blog, Rebel Angel (http://www.rebelangel.co.uk/), in my spare time (still on a .blogspot.com domain back in those days!) and applying for jobs relevant to my degree: Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin). For almost a year after graduating, I stuck around in that area teaching Classics before realising that the world of the internet was a much more inviting and exciting proposition, definitely more relevant and moving more quickly. In reality there’s very little (to no!) natural progression between my education and my current role, but despite having no grounding in the digital environment, I’d still managed to build a blog which showcased my ambitions.
Through a Google search for “PR companies in North Yorkshire” in early 2013, I came across Bronco (http://www.bronco.co.uk/) (among others) and reached out to them via email, knowing little about the services they offered aside from some content writing. Fortunately my desperate plea for attention didn’t go unnoticed, and I was invited down to meet them. Apparently my complete lack of knowledge with anything to do with the digital world aside from my small contribution as a fashion blogger didn’t put them off; I’d like to think that they spotted that I had passion for industry that I had been developing on my own, but really who knows what they saw in me!
My first day was at Bronco was a Friday; the second I was thrown into the deep end at my first industry event (let alone my first ever conference), Think Visibility. I don’t think I’ve ever learnt so much in a single day before – can you believe I went into that conference not even knowing what Panda and Penguin were?! I found out that Google were both our ruler and enemy, depending on which way you look at it, rather than just the page that appeared when I opened a browser. I was taught to go back to the basics and look for quality rather than quantity, to do manual checks of sites, how to get links removed (even though I hadn’t quite figured out why we’d be wanting links removed just yet), the growing importance of social media from a brand perspective, and a bit about Bronco as a company from Dave and Becky’s talk on What’s Behind a Successful Agency.
So as you can see – I was definitely naïve to the industry but more than willing to learn. I was in the advantageous, but not unique, position of seeing blogger outreach, which was the main part of my new job, from both sides of the coin and am currently writing a series across my personal blog and the Bronco blog (http://www.rebelangel.co.uk/2015/06/words-from-a-blogger-pr-introduction.html) about the “secrets” that go on in the blogging and digital world.
So what have I learned over two years in the industry?
1. I was naive
Basic SEO, for one thing, doesn’t mean trying to get people to click on your link as much as possible and therefore including it as many times in a blog post as you physically can. Oh yes, I did include that on my application form and at interview. Surprisingly they did still hire me – must have somehow persuaded them that I had potential!
2. The digital world is more far reaching than I knew
Digital marketing isn’t just web design, search optimisation and PPC – it’s all of these things, and more, combined. It seems so simple, but coming in as an almost complete outsider to the industry, there’s far more to it than you realise.
3. There are always challenges
I quickly discovered that the digital world is an ever moving place awry with Google updates, Facebook updates and Twitter updates, just to mention a few; what’s accepted and works one day will more than likely be completely defunct just months later. The techniques I was taught when I started have evolved; some are entirely unrecognisable. More specifically, one of the larger challenges of my role is the ASA rulings seeming to contradict Google guidelines and the bloggers who I work with being fed misinformation about these. Keeping up to date with the latest guidance on this and feeding it back to bloggers we work with is really important.
4. Spare time is learning time
At first I wondered why a certain amount of our time was left unfilled during the month – now I know it’s to spend time educating yourself. The digital world is fast moving; my role has already changed significantly since I started the job, and I’ve moved away from generic link building and content writing into a team focusing on Digital Media Marketing, creating excellent content and getting that content out there into the world. I’ve found it’s up to you though to develop your skills and to keep up to date with the industry.
All the experts recommend it, everyone around me recommends it, so now I’ll recommend it. Read all the information you can, select the best, put it into practice and implement it – find out what works and what you’ve discovered, then share it to spark debates and gain valuable opinions.
5. At the end of the day, I’ve got a team behind me full of knowledge
Nowadays, my role has evolved into being more part of a team within the main team; that’s something else about working in the digital world – your role is likely to morph and flex. There’s no single hat that fits my role (*insert joke about white and black hats*). Even when hit with challenges such as changing rules and Google updates, the team I’m part of are behind me to bounce ideas off and to build solid ideas to keep moving forward.
About The Author
Sian joined Bronco as a Digital Media Executive in 2013 as part of the Digital Media Marketing team, bringing ideas for creative content and focusing on building blogger relationships for outreach. She also runs a personal style blog in her free time and may be otherwise described as a crazy cat lady.
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