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How To Become A Digital Marketer

Jade Gillham photograph for career interview blog series

There are many different routes to becoming a Digital Marketer. Some people approach the career after obtaining a relevant degree in the field, others complete apprenticeships, and some learn through entry-level positions. In this diverse industry, the commonality between all Digital Marketing professionals is their creativity. 

This blog post is the first in a monthly series exploring routes into a variety of careers. Through interviews with professionals in Tyne and Wear, we will provide a snapshot of how one individual became successful in their work. As well as getting a better understanding of our interviewees’ careers, we will explore how their job impacts their health.

This month, we interviewed Jade Gillham, North East-based Digital Marketing Freelancer. Jade is self-employed and focuses on providing Search Engine Optimisation, Pay-Per-Click and copywriting services to a wide variety of clients.

What education or training have you completed to become a Digital Marketer?

I followed a pretty traditional educational route. I went to university for four years after sixth-form where I studied marketing for my undergraduate degree and then my master’s.

I worked in general marketing roles for a couple of years after university but knew I wanted to focus on digital marketing specialities so I started a diploma with the Digital Marketing Institute. I had to work on this on evenings and weekends so it was quite a big commitment but I think it helped me move on to bigger and better things.

Is formal training necessary as a Digital Marketer?

I know many people in my field who studied a completely different subject at university and retrained or didn’t go to university at all but are doing amazing things so I don’t think having a degree is necessary in the digital marketing world.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of that many digital marketing apprenticeships here in the North East but there are plenty of online resources you can use for free to improve your knowledge and give you the necessary skills.

As with most things nowadays, there are tonnes of useful blogs and YouTube videos you can immerse yourself in. Search Engine Journal, Social Media Examiner, Moz, Ahrefs, and Copyblogger are just a few of the blogs that I keep an eye on.

However, it’s one thing to spend time reading and learning, it’s another to put what you’ve learned into practice. The term digital marketing encompasses a lot of things from SEO, PPC, and social media to web development, email marketing and copywriting.

If you want to focus on social media you could create your own accounts and test out what you’ve learnt as you build a following. If web design is more your thing, you could start off by designing your own website then reach out to friends and local charities to see if you could offer some help for free before approaching paid clients.

If you still want some kind of official certification to include on your CV or your LinkedIn profile, several companies offer this including Google, SEMRush, and Hubspot.

What personal qualities help you be happy and successful in your job?

Digital marketing is an ever-changing field so you definitely need a passion for learning to make sure you stay on top of it all. A desire to help grow other businesses will help motivate you too.

Being self-employed brings its own challenges. You need to be able to motivate yourself, plan and organise your work effectively to meet your deadlines, and never be afraid of a challenge.

Screenshot of Jade Gillham's website

Jade designed and built her website. This helps her promote her services and acts as a portfolio for her work.

How does your job impact your health?

My job mostly involves sitting in front of my laptop so it’s not the best in terms of keeping active. Staring at a screen all day doesn’t make me feel great either. It’s easy to get consumed by work and forget to take regular breaks but I need to keep reminding myself to get up and step away. Working from home is great for this. My ‘breaks’ involving washing dishes, watering my plants, and hoovering so I feel pretty productive.

In terms of my mental health, there’s quite a lot of stress involved in working for yourself. It’s all down to you. You have to do your own sales, marketing, and finance on top of doing the actual work for your clients. I used to find it really difficult to switch off at the end of the day too – it’s not like clocking off from the office at 5pm – but I’m getting better at that.

Despite the added stress, I still really value working for myself and being in charge of my own time and tasks. I can honestly say I’m much happier being self-employed than I was working for other people so it’s definitely worth it but not for everyone.

Tell us about an average day at work.

It’s safe to say that I’m not a morning person so my working day normally starts between 10 and 11am and I work through until about 7pm – some days it’s much later if there’s a tight deadline!

Most days I work from home so my commute takes less than 30 seconds. I turn my laptop on, open up my email, and start the day.

I tend to work on a mix of different projects for clients as well as doing any work that I need to do for my business in any one day. For example, I could set up some paid ads first thing for a luxury travel client, then write a blog post all about boiler repairs, before performing an SEO website audit on the afternoon and sending out a proposal for a new client.

What advice would you offer someone interested in becoming a Digital Marketer?

I would say the best thing you can do is put yourself out there more. It’s easier said than done and I’m still trying to work on it but I think that saying yes to more opportunities and reaching out to new contacts can only be a good thing.


Keep up with Jade on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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