I hope you’ve all had a good start to the week. I’m back in Sheffield and ready to share a new Career Inspiration interview. For those of you who’re new to Career Inspiration, the aim is to help people looking for career ideas, a career change or simply an insight into what others do.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always loved finding out about what others do and the journey they took to get there. So, I hope you enjoy today’s inspirational interview with Mike, a Digital Promotions Analyst in London.
Did you always want to work within the world of digital marketing?
Nope! I honestly didn’t even know much about it until 3-4 years ago. I was freshly back from a jaunt around Australia and really needed a job. Ended up working in a bar in Leeds that was directly opposite the offices of Epiphany, and they’d come in most days, so I got chatting to a few of them and really hit it off with a couple in particular.
How long have you been working within this field?
I started working in Digital in September of 2012 so about 2.5 years now. It’s changed a lot in just that space of time.
What did you study at university and how has it benefited your career journey?
I originally started on Electronic Engineering, but after getting most of the way through my first year I realised it really wasn’t for me. I looked at a few options, from Civil Engineering to Computer Science and opted for the latter. I stuck out Computer Science for the duration, but again wasn’t overly keen. It lends itself to more technical sides of digital, but as I’ve ended up in a more creative role that hasn’t mattered as much.
What has been the most challenging part of your career path?
I think the changes to digital over the last few years and how to adapt to them. Especially having to sell this in to clients and making them realise that it’s not as easy anymore as saying “I want x number of links of such and such a power pointed at this page to get my rankings boosted” and more about tactically working out the best way to earn engagement and moving towards a more PR lead approach. It’s still a fight that has to happen today.
What skills are important as a Digital Promotions Analyst?
This seems to vary from company to company based on the focus. At my old job, being more creative and imaginative with the way you approach campaigns and problems. Whereas my current role they want me to be more analytical and technical. This means that at my current one, having strong understandings of more technical matters helps. In both, and for anyone that works in digital, having a strong understanding of SEO and at least a partial understanding of PPC is essential.
In this role it helps to be a willing networker, and to be good at building relationships, both with bloggers and journalists. If you can’t do this you’ll really struggle.
What is the most interesting client you’ve worked with?
These would probably be at my old job (as things are still getting going at my new one). I worked on Waterstones and absolutely loved it. They basically kept me sane in that job. Being an avid reader they leant themselves well to the sorts of campaigns I could come up with and I actually came up with the most successful campaign we’d ran as a company.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do as part of a campaign?
Hmm, tough one. I suppose donating a storage container to a burger van kickstarter so they can make their permanent restaurant out of it? Have a search for Burger Bear, who should be opening soon. Unfortunately any promotion on the outcome started after I left, so I don’t know how its gone.
What keeps you motivated?
In work – being on a brand I can really relate to and working on campaigns that excite me. When I really get behind one my motivation goes through the roof.
In my personal life – generally anything that allows me to see my friends or the world (or both).
Is your blog, Bearded Bakery a side project or has it played a part in your career path?
Well, my blog started as something that was completely on the side. I started it because I was baking often and people suggested I do it. I think they’d just meant something like a Tumblr, but as I’d recently started in digital I wanted to get to grips with something a bit more proper and have a play around with html/seo type things myself.
In the long run, while it is still very much a side project, I think it helped me get my new job, as well as really helping me to build relationships with a large number of the UK bloggers. When you’re a blogger chatting to people it’s easier than a PR just sort of muscling your way in.
When and where can we buy your delicious cakes?
Well, at the moment you can get them from me directly (just pop me a tweet or an email), via post (I like to send a Cake Care Package once a month to a friend), or from the table in the office when I have baked.
I am aiming to make a proper go of this at some point this year though. I’m going to investigate the London markets and also approach a couple of Coffee shops near where I live and where I work and see whether they’d like some cakes once a week. Check back with me soon and hopefully I’ll have a better answer for this.
What direction do you hope to take your career in 2015?
My current job really got me to London. My aim is to push on within the company and try and work my way up. I’ve already had talks about my progression and it all looks positive. I’ve also been given a few key things to focus on that could help lead the team in different directions.
Also, as I said above I’m hoping to push the baking and take it up a notch. Really start turning the Bearded Bakery into some form of brand.
Finally, do you have any tips for others wanting to pursue a career within digital marketing?
Well, it completely depends on the area of digital marketing you want to get into. For my own area I’d say a few key ones would be to brush yourself up with SEO, read some of the various blogs and get up to date with where Google stand on different things. I couldn’t recommend setting up a blog more, it helps you a lot (especially if it’s good). Also get yourself prepared with a good understanding of PR. If you can’t put together an email pitch then this definitely won’t be for you.
Look at internships, most agencies will run them and importantly, a lot of them are paid. Many offer very good graduate schemes or apprenticeships.
Thanks so much to Mike for taking the time to be a part of Career Inspiration. It’s important to know that it’s ok not to have a career plan at the end of university. I think a person is very lucky if they know exactly what career path they hope to take in life but not many of us do. Mike fell into the world of digital marketing and has managed to create the start of a successful career. I wish Mike the best of luck for his career in 2015 and I’m keen to see where he takes The Bearded bakery.
Have you created a career through your passions? Let me know in the comment section below.