Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

Tag: life

7 Things I Learned in My First Year Working in Marketing

One day you’re setting up your new e-mail at your new desk, and the next thing you know a year has flown by. As the saying goes, time sure does fly.

2019 was once again, a year. It was supposed to be a relaxing, boring one. Boy, was it anything but. It brought different challenges than 2018, but challenges nonetheless.

The exact date when I started in marketing is somewhat debatable, is it when I started my blog years ago? Is it when I started doing volunteer communications work? Is it when I started my co-op placement? For the sake of clarity and a more appealing title, we’re going to work with the date that I started working full-time in the marketing industry right after finishing my post-graduate degree.

Specific dates and technicalities aside, I’ve come a long way in the past 365 days. Here are some of the top lessons I’ve learned in my first year working full-time at a marketing agency.

1. Fasten Your Seatbelt, Agency Life is Fast Paced

Enjoy the quiet times while they last, because they never last for long. Agency life can be tough for a lot of people, but I personally love it. My life in an agency is easier than most given that most of my work doesn’t revolve around strict deadlines, but it doesn’t mean my job is any less busy.

One of the favourite parts about my job, and marketing agency life in general, is the wide variety of clients I get to work on. Big and small, new and old, a wide variety of industries and at various stages of their campaigns, local campaigns and across North America…it’s never a dull moment.

Sometimes I do miss being able to immerse myself in everything about one company while working client-side. But overall, I love the diversity, range of topics and challenges that agency life brings.

My personal and professional life before I entered marketing helped me form the time management and organizational skills that are key to succeeding in an agency. In the job itself, two things that help me stay on track are scheduling out my time for each client per month (it’s not always realistic to follow this plan but it definitely helps!) and listing out my priorities for the next day before I leave the office in the evening.

2. WordPress Was One of the Best Skills I Ever Taught Myself

I was asked the other day when I first started using WordPress…it’s probably been 6 or 7 years now? I taught myself HTML about a decade before that as well. Now, I use it every single day.

I had the chance to go back to the college where I did my post-graduate program to talk to current students on two separate occasions this year. On both occasions I encouraged them to learn some basic web skills, specifically WordPress since it’s so widely used. I’m not sure I’d be where I am now without my largely self-taught web skills.

3. Never Stop Learning

Digital marketing is a fast-changing landscape, especially the search marketing world I specialize in. I may have walked across the convocation stage, but that was only the beginning.

It’s so important to stay up with marketing industry news and developments. The last thing you need is to fall behind on an algorithm update or not know about a new feature on one of your platforms and fall behind your competitors as a result.

4. You’ll Doubt Yourself

Did I choose the right career path? Should I have specialized so soon? Is this the right strategy? Is this the right working environment for me? Am I targeting the right keywords? Should the budget be higher? Should the budget be lower? Is this the right way to pitch this? Is my head still attached?

It’s okay. You’re doing great. You wouldn’t be where you are if people didn’t trust you and believe in you. Keep going. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance, but keep kicking ass, because trust me, you are!

5. The Coursework You Never Thought You’d Use? Oh, You’ll Use It.

That lecture about the history of the internet and how the internet, domains and website hosting work? Mindblowing at the time, now I use it on a weekly basis.

That course where we learned how to build a database? Well, guess who’s building a database?

Pay attention, because sometimes the most surprising skills and bits of knowledge are the ones that can really come in handy in a moment of need.

6. Find What Works Best for You

This will come with time, and you’ll have to work within the restraints of your environment which can be a challenge. Little things can make a world of difference, but figuring out what you need to be productive and produce your best work is important.

Noise can be a challenge for me in the office, so headphones have become important. I don’t like wearing them, but the reality is that they’re key to me being able to focus. I’ve also become more in tune with the days when I need to remove myself from the main office space to get work done, especially for large chunks of writing, and what days/moods I can tolerate (or even enjoy!) the background noise.

This will surprise a lot of people, but managing my energy can be a challenge. I may come across as being quiet, but sitting still can be a difficult at times! On these days, I break out the balance cushion (which doubles as a great core workout), listen to music to help channel my energy, or work in the other room and sit in one of the chairs where I can make it bounce up and down without disturbing anybody else.

Writing out my list of priorities for the next day has also become important. Some days it’s not necessary, but as my workload increased and I took on more responsibility just a few months after starting, this became more important. Listing out my priorities the day before helps make sure I don’t let anything slip and means I’m not planning out my day first thing in the morning while I’m still waking up!

7. This is Only the Beginning

There are still times where I’m just in awe at everything that’s happened since I made the decision to pursue marketing professionally. It was a lot of hard work, made much more difficult by family health challenges that emerged at the same time I went back to school, but boy was the hard work worth it because I couldn’t be happier with how things have turned out.

For as much as I’ve learned in year one, I know I still have so much to learn and so much ahead of me. I have confidence in what I’ve learned and what I’m capable of, but know to stay humble and never stop learning and reflecting.

It was hard to sum up everything I’ve learned this past year into just seven points, but for anybody who’s getting ready to jump into marketing full-time or currently navigating the early months and years of your career, this post is for you. I’m so grateful to be where I am, and if you’re not feeling that way yet, have confidence in your abilities and hang in there because I know you’ll find your marketing bliss soon too.

From professors and co-workers to clients and of course, my family, it took a village to get me to where I am today. Here’s to year two, and beyond!

Have any questions about my experiences? Did you relate to this post? Leave a comment or tweet at me and let me know what you think!

5 Things I Learned In My First Semester Studying Digital Marketing

After returning to school in January to begin a post-graduate program in digital media marketing, I often get asked, what the heck is digital marketing? What do you learn about? It was a whirlwind three months and I learned more than I could list here, but here are 5 key takeaways from my first semester.

Five Things I Learned In My First Semester of Digital Marketing

A whole lot of hard skills

Content marketing, Facebook ads, marketing strategy, Google Analytics, social listening, e-mail marketing, RFM, LTV, marketing research, building personas, paid ads, SEO…you name it, I probably learned it. Digital marketers require a multitude of skills and an extensive toolbox to draw from and I certainly got a good start on building mine.

Everything must come back to your marketing and business objectives

It’s easy to stray from your game plan when you’re focused on creating engaging content and making the most of all the tools digital marketers have at our disposal. But one thing that was really drilled into my head is that everything you do must help achieve your business objectives. The ultimate goal of marketing and business is to be profitable, and if that doesn’t happen then the only thing you’ll be managing is your own LinkedIn while searching for a new job.

Marketers are constantly learning

(I mean, this is true for everybody, but especially important in digital marketing) Our world is changing at an increasing pace, and marketing is no exception to that rule. Many of our courses didn’t even have textbooks, because they would be out of date by the time they were published. Digital marketers need to stay on top of changes and trends to make the most of what’s available and to be where their audiences are. Stay current by reading industry blogs and publications, and always find ways to keep upgrading and adding new skills.

You can’t be an expert at everything

As a professor once said ‘you don’t need to know how to do everything yourself, but you need to understand how it works so you can pay someone to do it for you.’ We laughed, but it’s true! You can’t do everything, but you need to understand enough to know what can be done and to communicate effectively with the person tasked with the job. You don’t need to code your own website, but you should know enough to talk with your web developer, and you should be able to do basic things like a blog post or update copy on a website without expert help! Stay informed, but know your limit and bring others on board when you need them

Data…data…and more data!

There’s so much data out there which presents many opportunities as well as nightmares for marketers. On the downside, there are increasing concerns and legislation about consumer privacy and use of data (Cambridge Analytica and GDPR anyone?), and even many marketers don’t know how to interpret the data and analytics available and how to act it it. On the plus side, data helps us better understand and segment our audiences, do incredibly targeted communications and understand the impact of our communications, from impressions and engagement to the all important ROI. Regardless, in an increasingly data driven world, data and analytics are two things digital marketers must understand and be able to act on.

It’s an exciting time to be in the digital marketing field, and I couldn’t be happier with my career choice. Do you have any questions about studying digital marketing? Do you need help with your own digital marketing? Let’s connect.

The Friday File: February 23rd

The first in a new weekly series sharing some of what I’ve been reading and watching throughout the week.

The Power of Sharing Your Story With Students by Beth Pandolpho

Educators are human beings too, the more you show this the more successful your students’ learning experience will be. Being honest about my experiences learning French with my former ESL students helped them see me on a more human level, especially as I was pretty much the first English speaker within their community they had met who wasn’t perfectly bilingual.

Can You Afford To Risk Not Aligning Corporate And Social Purposes? by Christopher P. Skroupa, Forbes

Nope, you can’t.

The Purpose-Driven Marketer: How Patagonia Uses Storytelling To Turn Consumers Into Activists by Jeff Beer, Fast Company

Social impact and mission driven brands have been capturing a lot of my ‘I should be textbook studying but it’s alright because I’m still learning’ time lately. Career goals, right there.

Millennials’ prolonged stay at Parents Inn is having a profound impact on housing markets by Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis, Financial Post

Honestly this one just made me really angry because it paints an unfair picture that ignores the struggles and obstacles my generation faces in affording basics such as our own housing. I WOULD BE 100% INDEPENDENT AND NOT LIVING WITH MY MOTHER IF I COULD. But worth a read nonetheless.

Advertisers warn social media to step up, or they’re out by Ramona Pringle, CBC News

Levels of trust in various forms of media has been changing in recent years, and Canadians feel it’s increasingly difficult to trust what they read online. It will be interesting to see how social media platforms continue to respond to problems of abuse, fake news etc. and how we can find an optimal balance between personal content, brands, news and paid ads as we move forward in this constantly changing and developing landscape.

Adventures in Jasper National Park

In need of a vacation and with my return to school in January pushed back by 3 weeks, from January 1-9, 2018 I set out on an adventure to Jasper, Alberta for a few days of adventures in beautiful Jasper National Park. I then returned home on board Via Rail’s The Canadian, which took me across 4 provinces over 3 nights and days. Enjoy the first of the photos and stories of my adventures, and stay tuned for more.


First real glimpses of the town on my first morning after breakfast at Smitty’s, with the sun still not quite above the mountains yet.


Jasper was, and still is, a railroad town.


The Two Brothers Totem Pole, found on Connaught Dr close to the train station. A beautiful sight, and I was pleased to see some presence of Indigenous art, but some research showed concern held by local Indigenous people towards it. I enjoyed reading the historical information signs around the townsite, and while there was some mention of Indigenous people and history in them, this is definitely an area where Parks Canada can and needs to improve.

IMG_8338 (1)

A bit of telescope iPhone photography from a wonderful experience at the Jasper Planetarium. A cool planetarium show followed by the chance to moon and stargaze using telescopes and binoculars, aided by well informed and very pleasant staff. 12/10 would recommend.


Medicine Lake. Or as my tour guide called it ‘the world’s largest bath tub!’.


Snowshoeing out on Maligne Lake. Thanks Paula at Walks and Talks Japser for a great adventure!


Sundog over Maligne Lake.


Mid-mountain at Marmot Basin. Never mind the skiing, I could have sat there and admired the views all day.


Finally got the confidence to venture to the top! Only fell once. And needed a break at the mid-mountain chalet (something we sure don’t have a need for in southern Ontario!).


After two days of snowshoeing and skiing I earned myself a latte, chocolatey treat and a few hours of reading in the cozy back section of The Other Paw Bakery Café.


Just a bunch of elk wandering through town and along the tracks!




Final stop in Jasper, the lovely historic train station, waiting for my adventure on board The Canadian to begin!

So there you have it, some first glimpses of my time in Jasper. A truly wonderful vacation that left me refreshed and energized to return home, I would absolutely recommend a visit. Stay tuned for some more detailed accounts of my time in the town and the park, as well as my time on board The Canadian all the way home to Toronto!

3 Months In

Three months. Trois mois. 91 days. No matter what way I put it, no matter what language, it’s hard to believe I’ve been here for 3 months. In some ways that time has absolutely flown by, while in other ways it feels like I’ve been here forever.

Now where is ‘here’ you may be wondering?

Here/home for now is a place called Rimouski, Quebec. Back on September 1st I dragged me, myself and 97 pounds of luggage onto an airplane bound for Quebec City. A few days later I was dropped off at a house full of people who don’t speak english, and life has been flashing by ever since.


Concierge (jokingly): Geez, do you have everything you own in here?        Me: Ummm, actually I do.

Work life these days consists of being an english language monitor in a francophone elementary school. I work with roughly 400 kids from grades 1 through 6 doing activities, both in the classroom and small groups, to help the kids improve their english and learn about life and culture in English speaking Canada. Madame/Mrs/Miss Natasha (said with a cute french accent) at your service.

I often get asked why I left everything behind to come here. And what I had back home was pretty good, but at the same time I know this was a good choice. First of all, to have a meaningful job that’s decently connected to what I want to do in the future that pays enough to be financially independent? That in of itself is a blessing for a 21-year-old and a reason to move 1000 km away. But the ultimate goal of my time here is to improve my french.

And oh, is it improving. Oh yes indeed. Because when you live in a house full of french-speakers, as well as in a community of fifty thousand people where a whopping 0.7% of the population speaks english as their first language (that’s 330 people), and only 22.7% claim to be bilingual in english and french, it’s kind of inevitable. (Check out the 2011 census if you don’t believe me!


But my time here is definitely about more than a pay cheque, work experience and linguistic ability. The program is called Odyssey after all. It’s been about adventure, about connecting with nature, learning more about the country I’m proud to call my own, and not following the status quo. It’s about getting a glimpse into life as a minority, making it through the tough days when your friends and family are a thousand kilometres away, and exploring the joys and treasures a new community holds. It’s been about learning how to refill the pellet stove that heats the house, being able to rattle off the times when the tide will be in or out, and finally understanding the Quebecois accent. And of course, it’s been about copious amounts of hockey, poutine, and maple syrup.

So that’s where life has taken me for the time being. For those of you who ask, no, it won’t be forever. My wandering and adventures of the past few years have been fun and I wouldn’t change them for anything, but I’ve also figured out what I love, my priorities, and that I would really love to live in one place for more than 8 months. Because I haven’t done that since I was 17 years old and I’m ready to do that again. So come summer, I’ll be back Ontario, and trust me, the wait for me to come back will be worth it.

“Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift.  Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club -the community of speakers of that language.”

Frank Smith




International Day of the Girl: A Message to a Younger Me

Dear Young Natasha,

In a way, International Day of the Girl isn’t the most relevant day for you; much of the focus is around education and empowerment of girls in developing countries. You were blessed to grow up in a community and family where your basic needs were always met (as well as most of your ‘wants’ as well), you were always loved, safe, and you always had access to fantastic education. So my first message is, don’t take this for granted. But even the most blessed lives aren’t perfect, and unfortunately some of these imperfections are solely because of your gender. So listen closely little one, please listen to what I’m about to say, and ignore the messages of the old boys club and the glass ceiling that are already being sent your way.

First, and very important for you, do not hide your intelligence. I know, it’s hard, especially hard when it’s the boys who are supposed to be smart, not the girls. The reality is that your mind will never be normal, and I know that’s not easy to accept and to navigate life that way, but you have been blessed with an incredible gift, so please let it shine as brightly as possible, or at the very least don’t hold back and attempt to hide it.

The reality is, because you are a girl, you are going to have to work harder. You are going to have to work harder to be heard, to be taken seriously, to get the same opportunities as the boys. For those nice events you’re going to be invited to, you’re going to have to spend more money on clothes, figure out how to do your hair, and suffer in uncomfortable shoes just to meet society’s standards for women. It sucks, and unfortunately I don’t have a solution. Just do the hard work, jump through the hoops, and try not to burn your fingers on your curling iron. But take care of yourself, take some breaks, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

In grade 7, you are going to write down your top 3 instrument choices for music class. I saw you erase trombone as your top choice and replace it with flute! Stop! Write it again. Don’t give in to the pressure to pick a ‘girly’ instrument when you’ve wanted to play trombone for years. And you know what? In 2 years, you’e going to have another chance to learn trombone. And you’re going to be really, really good at it, so please take that first opportunity when it comes. Yes, you’re going to be sitting at the back with all the boys, and some people will feel the need to say obnoxious things about that. But you know what? Those boys will become some great friends, music will bring you some incredible opportunities, and the low brass section is more fun than the flutes anyways.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!" -Dr. Seuss (And one day, you will literally climb a real life mountain!)

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
-Dr. Seuss
(And one day, you will literally climb a real life mountain!)

You are going to be told you are too impatient. You are going to be told you are being patronizing. You are going to be told you are too harsh. You are going to be told that you are a bitch. It will hurt. It will make you want to stop. But keep going. Keep going. Because you’re only doing the exact same thing as the boys, it’s just being interpreted differently because you’re a girl.

Raise your hand in class. Talk more. It’s okay that you’re not interested in makeup or Top 40 music. Don’t be afraid to let your interest in politics and sports shine through. You may be the only girl doing so, but if you persist, others will join. Run like a girl, whether it’s for office or out on the soccer field.

And those other girls I mentioned earlier, the ones who haven’t been blessed with the things you have? Never forget them. Keep up the work you’ve done to help others, and always do what you can to make the world a better place. Because if you don’t, who will?

And finally, only you can define who you are, and what you expect of yourself. All those things I just talked about? They are going to mess with your self-perception, with what you do, with what you think you’re supposed to do. Don’t listen to them. Make the most of the loving, successful, supportive people in your life, but at the end of the day make sure that you are doing what you want, not what society and others say you should.

So Tash, that’s what I have to say. Life as a girl is not always the easiest. There are traps along the way; traps of traditional gender roles, the glass ceiling, the old boys club. Traps placed by the haters, traps placed by the insecure, traps placed by those who only care about themselves. But it doesn’t have to stop you, and the lessons you learn from navigating these traps and challenges will only make you a better person. So take your crazy self into this crazy world; go play your trombone, go be bossy, and go show ’em what you’ve got.



What I’ve Learned in Seven Months of Physiotherapy

-no pain no gain. but not too much pain, back off when you need to, especially if you’re in the middle of a flare up.

-I will always take pleasure in the looks on people’s faces when my wrist cracks so loud that they can hear it.

-your physiotherapist is just as frustrated as you are that you’re still not better after 7 months of treatment.

-don’t take the medication that makes you drowsy before a 3 hour night class.

-it is a truly exciting day when you finally get to go to the fun area and do new exercises, even if those exercises are exhausting and boy have I lost strength in my entire arm.

-those times where I can’t feel my fingers? they suck. and they just won’t go away.

-sometimes, even the best doctors in the world can’t find a diagnosis.

-but your pain is still legitimate and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

-it’s fun to make up stories to tell drunk boys on new years about how you hurt your wrist, stories that involve bears, falling out of trees, Algonquin Park, and “that thing where you have to carry the canoe yourself, ugh”.

-i used to hate early morning appointments, but now i intentionally schedule them for the beautiful sunrises and morning peace that I get to enjoy on the walk there.

-the polar vortex is a legitimate excuse to cancel physio.

– life tends to take you down the most unexpected paths, and every cloud has a silver lining, some are just harder to spot than others.

-I have a whole new level of respect for anybody living with chronic pain or a physical disability.

-and the most important thing i’ve learned? Don’t go roller skating. Just trust me on this one.