I never thought I would become a digital marketer, doing what I’m doing right now. I would like to believe that me entering the world of digital marketing is a complete happenstance, but it’s not. It's a gift.
My journey to becoming a digital marketer meant overcoming stacked odds against my favor
My path to becoming a digital marketer is not just a story of escaping employment, making more money, or joining the work at home hype.
- This is a story of freedom, working on my terms, and controlling what I do more.
- It is a story of finding myself, making peace with my choices, and finding meaning and satisfaction in what I do.
- It is a fruit of me seeking for answers, battling my discontent, and confronting my fears and being brave.
Because on paper, I really have nothing to show for. I have ZERO marketing know-how. My education focused on learning the sciences as a mechanical engineer.
So how did I become a digital marketer in ONE month coming from a totally different world? How did I pivot myself from pursuing a career of a 9-5 worker to doing online work?
The discontent: A preview before I became a digital marketer
The work I do before requires long hours from one site to another and sleeping in hotels day after day during the weekdays. It pays well and I loved the technical aspect of what I did.
But after three years of doing engineering work, I had this personal feeling of discontent that I couldn’t shake off. I don’t mean to insult my profession or any of my peers, but I just could not dismiss the creative part of my being that longs for an outlet of expression.
I was a jack of all trades with a diverse interest in music and the arts. It was frustrating though that I felt like I can practice only one part of my brain when I’m at the office. I felt like a different person at work, and it felt like I could probably offer more.
I constantly wonder how I could utilize myself to the fullest potential. And I always thought, if only I could find a way to marry all my skills and interests together, it would be really great and satisfying for me.
Writing as my side hustle
I used to write my thoughts whenever I felt down, confused, or scared. These emotions that I cannot process on my head, I just feel better when I journal them down. I never thought something would come out of it and to be completely honest, I did not plan to become a writer.
One night as I scrolled through television channels, I thought, “Man, this can’t be it. This can’t be my life. Working, resting, and sleeping and doing it over and over again. I should definitely make use of my nights.”
So, to be productive, I started researching how I could make money online. I searched through job boards, and I found one that I can do. Reading the job details, I remember saying, “Yeah, I can write engineering content”, and so I applied.
I got my first side hustle writing for a copywriting agency that caters to industrial companies. I write about mechatronics, material sciences, automotive, and aerospace topics. Anything that my writing brief wants me to research on and write content for.
These ghostwritten pieces are not necessarily sales pages or copy. They were technical content, but there I learned about SEO. It opened my eyes to the trade happening online. And I thought, how could I take a slice out of the many opportunities available?
So, I learned how to position myself in the market and leverage my employment experiences as much as I could.
Taking the leap and letting go
Through time, I have acquired more client work on the side for more writing jobs. I wanted to put myself out there so I tried to get more work that will reflect my authorship, started my own blog to learn WordPress, and created a Medium profile.
I never stopped marketing myself through job boards. Then I created a business out of it by outsourcing some of the content that I cannot finish all on my own to some of my friends.
Six months in and I was able to earn a combined freelance income of $1500 to $2000 per month. It might not be much, but here in the Philippines, you can live pretty decently with it. With these opportunities, I considered focusing on doing online work full time, but I have a lot of apprehensions.
It feels like I have proof of concept, and I could make more if I go at it with complete availability, but from this point on, the fear of the unknown is holding me back.
“Can I really leave my job?” I studied for 5 years for it. Plus the board exams. Argh! So much time invested, and they seemed wasted, you know? Accepting that reality created tension within me, but ultimately, the desire for independence won.
From mechanical engineering to digital marketing
Since I quit my job, I knew that if I wanted to earn consistently and overcome my fear of inevitability making money online, I needed to add skills to my arsenal. I knew I needed to add more value to ensure my longevity. I could not leverage my background unless it’s somewhat related to the engineering niche; therefore I need a skill that is highly valuable, relevant to today’s culture, and applicable to all business landscapes.
So I searched and searched for the right skill that I wanted to invest my time into.
Time is of the essence, and I had to make sure that what I was going to do next would supplement my current skills, desired lifestyle, and work ethics.
I am stunned by how timely the message was! Rich Ux of the Rich + Niche channel is eloquent and on point on presenting how a full-stack digital marketer is the future of marketing.
Watching more of his videos, I finally visited his website. There, I took his free course on how to become a digital marketing consultant, sharing the overview of the skills required to become one, and I awakened.
I thought yes, the skills stack makes perfect sense! Building a career in digital marketing with the steps he presented is absolutely something that I can and want to do.
The challenge to accelerate my learning path
On January 20, 2020, two months after leaving my 9-5, I took Rich’s course on Full Stack Digital Marketing Funnels. By joining, I gained access to three essential things: the course itself, the community of other marketers, and a direct line with Rich. I know I can probably research my way into learning the skills to become a digital marketer. But I also know that if I want to speed through it and get the essential skills to get started faster, I need a mentor to strip down the noise and get into the meat of digital marketing and funnel building.
Halfway through the modules, I was thinking of how I can optimize moving forward and accelerate my learning.
I am a firm believer in learning through application, so I challenged myself to close one client—only one client where I could practice the things I learned. If I can’t close one, I am willing to go for a low pay internship, to pro bono if necessary, in exchange for a recommendation, just to get me started. I took another leap of faith pitching through my contacts and applying through job boards.
While applying, I sped through the course. I know even if it wouldn’t make sense a hundred percent now, it will in the future when I need it. It will make sense and I know where to find it. I made myself available to our “Office Calls” where the students could all virtually meet with Rich. We gather to discuss more digital marketing concepts, sharing any hiccups along the way, and how to work through it.
When preparation and self-knowledge meets opportunity
Where did I get the confidence to start finding clients right away? Well, I know what I know and what I don’t.
The course gave me a clear birds-eye perspective. I realized that there are overlapping principles and disciplines in mechanical engineering and digital marketing. Conceptualization, project mapping, management, process flow, logic, algorithms, and optimization are only a few out of many concepts that both share.
And similar to my engineering projects, I have a mental map of the project scope, where to go, and how it all connects.
Welcome to my mindset
I know I have a clear picture of what digital marketing is and here's my mindset that propelled me to get started:
- I know where and how to begin by identifying the vital few skills I need to learn first. The 90/10 rule- I believe 10% of the work takes 90% of the time and 90% of the work takes 10% of the time. Understanding your starting point matters! )
- The objective and key strategies I'll do to get there is defined. Knowing where to start is great, but planning out the strategies to achieve the objectives cannot be left out. I had to identify the tools I needed to manage my projects. From time-keeping, project management apps, and familiarizing a software's UI.
- I just need to be two steps ahead of my client. I’ll figure out the specifics of the work required by reviewing the modules and supplementing them by my own research.
In other words, I know myself well enough to see that I can make it work by utilizing the course resources, by asking the community, and I can ask Rich too if needed. I know the tools that I don’t know how to navigate yet, and I know that I have to work hard.
And with a hunger for learning, consistency, and pure grit, I have indeed booked my first client. He signed my proposal on February 20, 2020—exactly one month after I first took the course. That is the moment when I evolved from a freelancer, a writer purely delivering given tasks, to an actual consultant.
The difference: Why become a digital marketer?
How is it different from what I did before as an employee?
Well, I help my client, I am a part of his team, and we work together to expand his digital presence and offerings. I add tangible value to him and I am satisfied that I do. For the first time, I have a voice. They hear me. We work together.
In my 9-5, I struggle to put forward my ideas in the presence of a manager. In my content marketing projects, I know I provide value, but SEO is a long term strategy. I only receive the titles, often left out on the strategic planning part. Being a digital marketer provided me that avenue to think outside of SOPs and move past a hierarchical culture.
It provided room for my ingenuity. It is an arena where creative thinking is glorified, not suppressed.
Rich introduced the concept of Ikigai to me. It is a Japanese term for “a reason for being”. It is the intersection of the work that you simultaneously love, you're good at, the world needs, and people pay for. Similar to many in our digital tribe, I found my Ikigai by becoming a digital marketer.
My left and right brain are engaged, the constant problem-solving challenges me every day too. I find pleasure in waking up every morning knowing that I'm providing actual value to businesses.
Is one month fast or slow enough to learn a new skill? I'm not sure. We all have our pace and we have different circumstances.
But if there's anything I want you to take away from my experience, it's this: the combination of the right mindset, right motivation, and right resources provides a potent weapon that equips you to target and hit the goals you set out to achieve.