(4 minute read)
Photo credit: Anton Glavas www.antonglavas.com
This is part 2 of the "My Career Change" series. Follow me as I go through my career transition into the digital marketing field (don't worry, I'll still be here as your career coach, too!). Short-term contract work and freelance work are the name-of-the-game in the emerging "gig economy." As your career coach, I'm not just sitting on the sidelines--I'm playing alongside you in the game I teach you to play
**If you haven't already, check out part 1 of the “My Career Change” series.**
Wow, changing careers feels overwhelming! Entering a new field of work at the age of 30 is exciting and fun, but I’m learning for me how much it requires patience, positive self-talk, and a supportive network. Without these 3 things, I probably would have given up by now.
I finished my part-time digital marketing program in mid-September. Not to my surprise, it left me feeling like there’s more stuff I don’t know about digital marketing, than stuff I do.
This is where the positive self-talk comes in to play: I remind myself that this is a necessary stage in the learning process.
There are 4 stages any time we learn something new. This image sums it up nicely:
I would say I’m still in the conscious incompetence stage, but guess what stage is next?! That’s right, conscious competence. Can’t wait to happy dance when I’m there.
As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, I was doing some research to solidify exactly what I want to do with my digital marketing work. I was also beginning to interact with people on social media who I knew were already working (and successful) in the digital marketing field.
My next step was to set up some informational interviews, which I’ve done. I’ll be writing all about the process for requesting, conducting, and following up on informational interviews in detail in my next post (sign up at the bottom of this page if you want to get it straight to your inbox), but I want to share a bit more about my personal experience with them here.
Setting Up My Informational Interviews
Just a quick FYI—an informational interview is a meeting in which a job seeker or career changer sits down with someone already doing what they want to be doing (or might want to be doing), with the purpose of getting some advice, clarity, industry knowledge, and/or building a mutually beneficial connection.
For myself, before even conducting an interview, I started by determining the purpose of my informational interviews. For me, this was to gain clarity around the kind of work I want to do as a digital marketer, and to gain more insight into whatever avenue I choose to pursue.
Questions I wanted clarity on were:
Next, I began contacting people. Here are the types of people I reached out to:
I actually found enough people through these methods alone, that I didn’t even need to reach out cold to the people I’d researched online and had been interacting with via social media over the previous month (as I shared I was doing in part 1).
I sent out 2 “cold” messages, one on LinkedIn and another on Facebook, and both responded to me within a day and were happy to meet up and connect. This really reinforced my belief: people want to help you, and they love being positioned as an expert and talking about themselves!
Getting informational interviews is surprisingly EASY!
What did I learn from my informational interviews?
I very quickly learned through these conversations that I wanted to do freelancing/consulting work, rather than a part-time job at a company. This didn’t surprise me as my primary 75% focus is my career coaching business, and the digital marketing work is in addition to that.
Half the people I spoke to said it’s very hard to get consistent work as a freelancer, and to make a full-time income from it. The other half I spoke to said there’s tonnes of work out there and it’s really easy to secure contracts.
My conclusion? I should be able to do it just fine to secure at least 25% of my income (this is why I am a strong advocate of multiple sources of income if you are an entrepreneur, contractor, or freelancer!).
Everyone I spoke to said the best way to get business is through word of mouth and referrals, and that I will be more successful if I pick a specialization/niche in the digital marketing field.
I had 2 contacts outline steps for how to get my first paying clients as a freelancer, and they both gave me a good sense of what I should charge starting out.
I was told the biggest challenge working as a freelancer is communicating with clients, and helping clients understand and commit to the level of back-and-forth that needs to happen for the work to be successful.
So basically… these conversations were priceless! I learned SO much.
I highly, highly recommend informational interviews for ALL people at every stage of their career, particularly if you are seeking greater clarity on what you want to do, or your looking for a new job.
Informational interviews can be scary at first, but after a while they really do become fun. Although I’ve done informational interviews in the past, I hadn’t done them for years, and I was blown away again by how easy they are and valuable.
I’ve now got some great information to help me get started in this new field of work, and I’ve also made some amazing connections: I’ve been hooked up with a programmer to help me out if any of my future clients need help with their websites, I’ve got some people in my back pocket if I have digital marketing questions arise, and I have connections to people who work in the digital marketing field but with a different specialization than I’ve chosen… so lots of potential referrals and collaborations!
(FYI – After getting my own business on the first page of Google search, I’m specializing in helping other micro-businesses get on the first page of Google as well, using Search Engine Optimization and research-backed content strategies.)
Why I Chose to go into Digital Marketing
In part 1, I mentioned I’d be sharing with you about why I chose the field of digital marketing to pursue for my side gig.
It’s important no matter what work we are involved in, to know and understand WHY we are doing that work, and to connect with that regularly to propel ourselves forward. Knowing our “why” has the power to transform our work.
My big “why” in everything I do is to help bring out the potential in others. I do this clearly in my work as a career coach, helping people identify their strengths and their purpose and to align that with meaningful work they love.
In marketing, I want to help others discover their unique message, and then give them the tools to get that message out into the world. We need the power of marketing in the hands of people who wish to do good in the world—and people doing good are exactly who I want to help bring out their potential in through marketing.
Digital marketing is also a field where there's lots of work, and there's likely going to be lots of work into the future. This is SO important to consider when choosing any career: What are the trends? How much demand is there for this type of work? How much demand will there be in the future?
That’s all for today. Stay tuned for part 3 of the series, where I’ll be talking about getting my first bit of work in this new field! Yay!
If you’re looking to change careers, I encourage you to try out the tools and techniques I share with you in this series. To get the rest of this series straight to your inbox, plus career tips from me every 2 weeks, sign up below.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.