Digital marketing is a successful business model that can be run without the support of external funding. It’s vast, like an ocean, and gives one multiple opportunities to explore.
You don’t have to learn everything about digital marketing; just become the master of one of the following skills:
- Blogging and content marketing
- Video marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimisation
- Paid campaigns on Facebook and Google
Let me share the journey of Deepak, who excelled in digital marketing even though he is a civil engineer.
Deepak Kanakaraju taught more than 3,000 students online, and earned over Rs 1 crore in revenue from his digital marketing business last year. He was able to scale up his business because he started experimenting with blogging and digital marketing in 2008, when he was struggling to get a job.
The year 2008 was the year of global recession when companies were firing their employees worldwide. Deepak got a job offer from an IT company, but did not get a joining date for many months. Rather than getting frustrated, he started a blog - BikeAdvice.in – for his love of motorbikes, and to keep himself engaged.
He never thought a blog would change the direction of his entire life. His hobby blog became so popular that he started getting acquisition offers from auto portals just after three years. Finally, he sold his blog for Rs 12.5 lakh (approximately $25,000 at that time) in 2012.
He started his blog without any monetary expectations. He not only earned a lot of money from his blog, but he learned so much in those four years that he could get job as a digital marketer in top companies.
Digital Marketing became his second hobby, and he started another blog, DigitalDeepak.com, while at his full-time job. He published only two to three articles per month, but those were sufficient to attract more than 25,000 subscribers over three years.
Towards the end of 2016, he launched his first online course. The earnings from his side project were more than the salary from his full-time job, so it was no-brainer to leave the job to grow his digital marketing business.
His close friend Sanjay Shenoy, digital marketer of Thrillophilia, also left his job to join him as a co-founder.
I am fascinated with the process of how people leave their jobs to grow their side projects as full-time profitable business. That seems like a new growth hack.
- Start a side project while at a job
- Grow it to a point to replace your salary
- Break the golden handcuff of 9-5 job
- Grow your business without the need of VC funding.
I got a chance to understand his business model and future goals when I was in Bengaluru a few months back.
He said India has a lot of potential in the field of digital marketing. Marketing jobs will revolutionise India the way IT industry did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. IT industry was dominated by a handful of companies, but digital marketing will be democratised by digital marketing experts.
If you have to become a highly paid digital marketer, you should have knowledge of three things
#1. Content creation (blog, graphics, videos)
#2. Hold on at least one marketing channel (SEO, social media, paid campaigns)
#3. Setting up conversion funnels (website traffic flow, email funnels, follow up)
He learned all this by working at seven different companies over five years.
Deepak said you should keep changing roles if you want to learn at an accelerated pace. Don’t seek comfortable positions, always find something challenging in your job profile.
He worked with an early stage startup, but never thought of starting a product startup that would depend on VC funding. The answer is clear - VC funding is not the only way to establish an online business.
I feel that you have more control over your decision-making when you are running a bootstrapped business. You can take bigger risks with your business as you are not answerable to any investor.
Only a few dominating business models need VC funding. Most online businesses can be run without any external funding. Would you like to raise a few rounds of funding, and die without making profits? Or grow your startup by becoming profitable from the initial days?
I wonder why people kill their dreams because they fail to raise funding.
If a civil engineer can build a profitable self-funded business with his digital marketing knowledge, why can’t you?