It’s the same old vicious cycle – experience needed to get a position, but you don’t have any experience without that position. When I started in pay-per-click (PPC) eight years ago, I got extremely lucky and I literally just tripped into it. I was chosen for the position not because of my previous experience in PPC (which was none, I thought it was called “pay clip marketing”), but because of the organizational, administrative, attention-to-detail type of work I had done previously as well as strong skills in written and verbal communications. To this day, those skills still serve me very well and I have built my entire PPC career on them. If anything, I’m living proof if you apply yourself in the right areas, you can build a PPC career off of no previous PPC experience.
So here are my top tips to get your foot in to doing PPC even if you don’t have any experience. These aren’t in any particular order of importance, nor do you have to do each one. They’re simply great places to start that also showcase initiative and will teach you solid PPC skills and not PPC skills that will help you “optimize” (excuse the terrible pun) your résumé to get noticed.
- Google AdWords Certification – This one you would think is a bit obvious, but for someone new to PPC, it’s not obvious as to how much this matters, or doesn’t. I recently lectured at a University of Washington extension digital marketing class on PPC and it was a great question – do you HAVE to do it? How much does it matter? The answer is if you are truly serious about doing PPC, do it. You’ll learn a lot going through the lessons and you’ll show off some of that initiative. (Super bonus points, do the Google Analytics IQ exam, too.)
- PPC Internship – If you can find one, paid or not, grab it. The hands-on experience is invaluable – no matter how many online courses, classes, or books you read, there is no substitute. If you can’t find one, do your research, find the person that it would be under like a director or marketing manager, and offer to be one.
- Find a nonprofit or small business that’s willing to let you take a crack at PPC on their behalf. (Do the certification exam first.) There’s a chance (or you could apply for) that the nonprofit is a 501(3)(c) with Google Grant money and while you’ll be limited in some of the things you can do, hands on is hands on.
- Lynda.com, Khan Academy, or other online learning resource subscriptions. I like these types of membership learning centers because of the versatility in content and the lower cost to entry. Online Internet marketing courses and degrees are out there, but they are pricier with a higher commitment level. Online centers like Lynda not only have courses on PPC (disclosure, I’m a Lynda author of two PPC courses), but there courses that can supplement your PPC knowledge like Excel (pivot tables!), SEO, building marketing strategies, and plans to navigating and using Google Analytics.
As I said, top tips, no particular order, but great places to start. PPC is a great career to get into and once you’ve got your foundation laid, you can build and build with knowledge from other channels of Internet marketing like social media (for social advertising), conversion rate optimization (for your landing pages and sites), and content promotion (for links/awareness) of your content. Good luck!