10 Best Ways to Gain Real Digital Marketing Experience


Are you searching for the best way to get real digital marketing experience that can prepare you for a career change or success as a solo/freelance digital marketer?

Here’s a story that should be familiar for most people trying to enter the job market, especially in a new industry.

You want to apply for a new job, but every job posting is asking for years of experience. You’re searching for entry-level jobs, the most basic ones you can find, but every job posting wants at least two or three years of similar experience, and that’s just something you don’t have. You quickly realize that:

  1. You can’t get a job without experience
  2. You can’t get experience without a job

If this has ever happened to you, you’ll be excited to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Digital marketing is just one example of an industry where you absolutely can get valuable experience without being employed. As long as you’ve got access to a computer and a can-do attitude, you can start building your digital marketing knowledge and skills today. With anything beyond those bare minimum resources, you’ll have plenty of options available for gaining the knowledge, skills, and experience you need to start applying for digital marketing jobs.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of the ten best ways to get digital marketing experience. For each item, we’ll explain the key details you need to know and offer our best tips and advice for getting started. Your digital marketing experience doesn’t need to include everything on this list, but we hope you’ll find something that inspires you to start building your digital marketing portfolio.


10 Best Ways to Gain Real Digital Marketing Experience

Earn a College Degree in Digital Marketing


A digital marketing degree includes formalized instruction and the opportunity to gain marketing experience by completing practical exercises, either on your own or working in teams with other students. Some schools offer degree programs in marketing with the option to specialize in digital channels, while other schools offer diploma programs or post-graduate certificate programs through their school of continuing studies. 

digital marketing degree

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While going to college does come with the added benefit of earning formalized credentials, there are several reasons why it may not be the best way to get digital marketing experience. Taking courses is expensive and time-consuming, and you’ll need to take extra care to choose a course that focuses on gaining practical experience – not just reading a textbook.

How to Get Started

Visit the College Navigator tool at the National Center for Education Statistics to discover digital marketing programs that may interest you. Search Engine Journal also published an informative list of the top 28 digital marketing college programs in the USA.


Practice by Creating Mock Campaigns


Creating mock campaigns is a cheap and easy way to start developing your digital marketing skills without any of the normal expenses associated with marketing. The other great thing about a mock campaign is that you can add it to your portfolio and show it as a work example to prospective employers – even if it never went live. 

How to Get Started

To create your mock campaign, you’ll need to come up with a product and a promotion to inspire your creativity. You could choose a product that already exists, or invent one of your own. 

Once you’ve done so, choose one or more channels to focus on with your mock campaign – you could choose content marketing, social media marketing, PPC advertising, or others. 

Next, you can start to create marketing collateral (writing content, writing ads, creating display or video ads) to support your mock campaign. You can practice using a platform like Google Ads – but instead of configuring your ads to run, create a document where you explain all of the targeting options you would choose and why. Mock campaigns are a great way to demonstrate your marketing knowledge, creativity, and proficiency – and you can be as detailed as you want to show off your skills.


Take an Online Digital Marketing Course 

Overview: Taking a digital marketing course online is a great way to increase your digital marketing knowledge and start building skills that will prepare you for success in an entry-level marketing role.

digital marketing course

Source: Directive Institute

The best digital marketing courses set themselves apart from the competition by teaching you the most up-to-date marketing tactics and sharing a complete process for generating real results from your marketing efforts. 

How to Get Started: There are plenty of digital marketing courses available online, but we’d recommend first trying our course at the Directive Institute. We’ve created 4 modules to teach you the digital marketing principles and tactics we use to get results for our clients every day – and you can even try 4 lessons for free.


Market Yourself Online


Marketing yourself online has two huge benefits that really go hand in hand. 

First, you’ll gain real digital marketing experience through the process of creating your personal brand and promoting yourself across multiple digital channels. 

Second, you’ll establish an online presence that acts as a live demo of your digital marketing capabilities. Anyone interested in working with you can visit your brand online and see exactly what you’re about, and that’s a huge benefit if you’re planning to apply for digital marketing jobs or look for freelance work.

How to Get Started: How you choose to market yourself online really depends on how you want to position your brand. You’ll need a website where you can post content and host landing pages. You can practice writing SEO content for organic search or using PPC advertising to market a service that you offer. You can create business social media profiles and build a niche following in your area of interest.


Start a Simple Online Business


Starting an online business is less complicated than ever before. There are only three things that you absolutely need to get started:

  • A product or service that you can sell
  • A website or landing page where you can receive orders and payment
  • A marketing strategy to drive awareness and sales

online business example

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How to Get Started

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you can sell. It could be a physical product, a virtual product, a consulting service – anything that you can consistently deliver and charge money for. Once you have a product, it takes surprisingly little time to set up a landing page. If you’re not a web design expert, you could even hire a Freelancer to help. Once your landing page is set up, you can practice your SEO, PPC, CRO, and Data Analytics skills while promoting it to generate sales.


Offer Digital Marketing Services to Friends and Family


When you need to gain digital marketing experience, offering your services to family and friends can be extremely beneficial. Most of us know at least one person who could use our help with digital marketing. You might know someone with a business who isn’t maximizing their digital channels or someone with a unique skill or talent that they could be monetizing online.

Helping them set up a website, start releasing content, get some social media exposure, and even start advertising could bring that person huge benefits while helping you get real digital marketing experience.

How to Get Started

For this one, the most important thing is to find the right friend or family member that’s excited by what you have to offer and wants to cooperate. You can work for free, charge a basic project fee, or ask for a share of any profits you generate. 


Offer Local SEO Services to a Small Business in Your Community


There are literally millions of North American businesses that are underutilizing local SEO and missing out on valuable opportunities to win new customers through local search. You could gain valuable customer relationship management and digital marketing experience by approaching these businesses with the offer of local SEO services. You would support their marketing goals by managing online directory listings and ratings/reviews for a monthly fee. 

How to Get Started

Using Google Maps, Google My Business (GMB), and the SEMRush Listing Management Tool, identify local businesses that have not claimed their GMB and other online directory listings. Get in touch with them and school them on the benefits of local search. Convince them to hire you to update their listings and help with their online presence.


Find Freelance Marketing Work Online


As a freelance marketer, you’ll deliver digital marketing campaigns or marketing collateral on a contractual basis for real-world employers. Today, there are many digital marketplaces where you can create an account and get connected with employers who need your services. 

You can find freelance opportunities for SEO auditing, ad copywriting, digital PR/link building, content marketing/article writing, digital advertising management, social media management, graphic design, and many other digital marketing skills. 

How to Get Started

You can start your career in freelancing by visiting any of the major freelance marketplaces on the Internet:

You’ll need to create a profile, verify your identity, and sometimes provide work samples to get started – but it’s honestly worth the extra effort. 

freelance digital marketing

Source: Freelancer.com

Once your account is set up, you’ll be able to bid on projects posted by real employers and earn real money for your digital marketing work. You can also get positive reviews for satisfying your customers, which can help you raise your rates in the future. 


Apply for a Digital Marketing Internship


Getting the right digital marketing internship can allow you to learn about digital marketing in a professional setting, spend time around like-minded people, and really get a feel for what it’s like to be a digital marketer every day. 

digital marketing internship

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You’ll also have the opportunity to contribute in various ways to digital marketing projects, although that can be highly dependent on where you intern. 

How to Get Started

Check online job boards for postings related to digital marketing internships. Read the descriptions carefully and apply for internships that will give you real responsibilities and the opportunity to learn a specific role or platform. If you’re interested in social media management or content marketing, there are many internship jobs available that focus on those specific skills.


Work an Entry-Level Digital Marketing Job


Working an entry-level digital marketing job is the final item on our list of ways to gain digital marketing experience. Like we suggested in the intro, this might be hard if you don’t have any other experience yet – but if you’ve done some of the things on this list, you’ve already significantly improved your chances of being hired.

digital marketing job

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Even if your ultimate goal is to start your own digital business or become a freelancer, entry-level marketing jobs are still extremely valuable. You can search for a job where you’re responsible for marketing a product across multiple channels and customer touchpoints, or for a more specialized role with a single channel focus.

As an entry-level marketing employee, you’ll build a lot of great connections, learn the latest digital marketing tactics and techniques, and earn a salary for your hard work. You’ll also develop skills like project management, communication, teamwork, and customer service that will stay with you throughout your career.

How to Get Started

There are thousands of digital marketing jobs posted online. You can start searching on job boards like:

The key to success here is to find postings with descriptions that strongly match your areas of interest. Try searching for different job titles like:



Something we love about digital marketing is that it’s always been highly accessible to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. 

The greatest evidence of that is just how easy it can be to start getting real digital marketing experience and practicing your skills—even without getting a job or investing any money. Many of the items on this list cost literally nothing to get started, and most of them can actually earn you money if you do a good job. 

That means that you’re ultimately in control of your destiny when it comes to digital marketing—nothing is stopping you from learning the skills and practicing until you’re successful—whether that means getting your dream job or making a stable income from the comfort of your home. So what are you waiting for?

At Directive, we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional results for our clients through our proprietary Customer Generation approach—and our tech marketing specialists are the driving force behind our success. If you’re interested in becoming a part of our team and embarking on a journey of professional growth and development, we invite you to check out our careers page. Our team is committed to providing exciting opportunities for growth and learning, and we look forward to welcoming you aboard as we navigate the ever-changing tides of the tech marketing world. Join us today!

Garrett Mehrguth is the CEO and co-founder of Directive Consulting – a global search marketing agency headquartered in Southern California specializing in comprehensive search marketing campaigns for B2B and enterprise companies.

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