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Teach yourself a thing or two

Learning a few things about self-teaching with Digital Marketing Executive, Ricky Sayles.

self teaching

Industry intro:

I’ve worked in the Digital Marketing industry now for just over six months, three months of which have been with Fox Agency. I started with three months of unpaid work experience, working for a Leeds-based agency in the Paid Search team. My role within both agencies has been to support the Digital Strategists with things such as writing ad copy, keyword research, creating campaigns, and reporting.

What initially sparked your interest in the digital marketing scene? 

I originally started in recruitment, straight out of university, however quickly found this wasn’t for me. It was quite a difficult time when I left university due to Covid, so when I left the recruitment agency I thought about what I enjoyed and what I was good at. I’d always loved marketing modules at university, so I thought this was a key starting point. Traditional marketing isn’t as popular as it used to be due to digital platforms such as Google, Bing and social channels, so digital was the way for me.

And you taught yourself Digital Marketing right?

I did, yes. I have always enjoyed learning and been a big believer that if you don’t know something you need find a way to learn it. I didn’t really have much choice in terms of self-teaching, I’d just left university and there was no way I was going back to uni to learn the basics of Digital Marketing. I needed to learn the skills in order to break into the industry and luckily, that’s what I did.

Did you find any hurdles or downsides to self-teaching?

Not really, I still believe higher education is great but I didn’t pay a penny and learnt a lot about Digital Marketing. There’s so much out there that is completely free. The only downfall I’d note is motivation. Because you’re essentially learning everything on your own, you don’t have that motivation to learn like when you’re at school or university, in the sense that you’re paying for university so there’s that motivation to go to your lectures/seminars and do well. When I was self-teaching I didn’t have that, luckily I was hugely passionate about the subject so I didn’t struggle too much but it’s still something to consider.

What were and are they key benefits to self-teaching?

You can do it at your own pace, there are no deadlines. Looks great to employees, I have had great feedback because of it and it’s one of the reasons I initially got my job. I am constantly learning new things, both at work and in my spare time. I just generally enjoy learning new ways of doing things, especially in this industry, things are always changing so it’s great to stay ahead.

Have you found any particular methods of self-teaching that have really helped you (YouTube videos etc)?

I think this is down to personal preference, everyone learns differently. I personally liked videos. I found that a lot of courses online now offer a video with a transcript, for those who prefer listen and to read. One thing I’ve always done is write out everything, for me this is just how I learn.

Do you have any advice for anyone else trying to self-teach and would you recommend it?

My main piece of advice would be, just do it. If you want to learn something but feel a bit intimidated by it, just learn gradually. Set yourself realistic goals, even if it’s to just spend one or two hours a week learning something new. I also think it’s a tough world out there, the competition for roles is really difficult, more so with the backlash of Covid, so it’s always a good idea to learn new skills.

Do you think you are at an advantage, disadvantage or equal level within the workplace by being self-taught?

Good question, I’ve never really thought about this. I don’t think it matters where you learn really, everyone has to start somewhere, me personally I learn better hands on, the self-teaching was solely to break into the industry. I generally believe experience triumphs everything, no matter how much learning I did or can do, I still know the least amount within the digital team. All of my colleagues have 10 – 20 years of experience on me, hence why I love working with them so much because I’m learning from their experience all the time.

Final thoughts

I have learnt so much in such a short period of time, having already worked for two agencies, I have proved to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to and I would recommend self-teaching to anyone looking to challenge themselves or change career.

Cheeky plug

And if you’re looking for a career change up, head to our careers page to see the current vacancies here at Fox Agency.