STORY: How I started My Own Digital Marketing Company
This is how it starts, some struggles, hardships, and enthusiasm—life as a Communications and Digital Marketing Lead.
It always starts with getting the right college degree, university happens, and then boom: you land your dream job. But how do you decide what’s right for you without having enough life experiences?
I studied the business foundation at 16 and went on to pursue a university degree in Journalism. I was curious about global affairs, current and social issues, and I really like being able to report on what’s going on in the world.
Getting to speak your mind about certain issues and possibly influencing people’s opinions on them is definitely right up my alley. However, I had a part-time job at a gym to pay my school fees and a whole lot of responsibilities that to truly enjoy my studying time in university, I felt burnt out and didn’t feel that I was growing my mind or thinking critically.
Looking back, I really wished I took political science or dabbled in an environmental engineering course. But there were bills to pay, a life to live, and things to do.
After graduating, my first job was with a communications agency, and I was hired as a PR consultant. Journalism in Asia was poorly paid. I remember comparing salaries. The starting pay was almost the same as my gym job, almost a minimum wage. I knew if I worked in a leading communication agency and freelance as a journalist, I could manage my interests and selectively work on clients and industries where I am passionate. There my journey started into the corporate world and also took in a far better paycheck.
It’s always harder to carve your path at the beginning but think of it as strong character building.
I worked on men’s health brands, technology, corporate, architecture, real estate, and crisis communications. It was exciting, sometimes painful to sit at hourlong meetings with clients who do not know what they want, but overall, I truly enjoyed being able to brainstorm and propose campaigns that could change the way a brand was perceived.
Engaging with people on a daily basis and being able to cleverly put together a brand’s proposal and tell a communications story were some of the key skills that I acquired had shaped me to become a better communications consultant, writer, and storyteller.
At that point, digital was rapidly making its way onto the communications landscape. Communications agencies could no longer rely on traditional PR work, but we had to drive the conversation further and engage in different touchpoints. That was my first foray into digital marketing.
I helped in developing a B2B digital client engagement strategy across paid, owned, and social for IBM by leveraging internet marketing tools to generate qualified leads. We even initiated discussions on various social media platforms, developed a content hub, and leveraged on key events. However, when it came to SEO, marketing database, email, social media, and advertising campaigns, the technical know-how, it was always a third-party that we had to engage.
It was a good learning process, but I felt that working in a PR agency did not help accelerate my digital skills. Strategy, yes, but at the point, it came to technicalities, it was always passed on to another team or agency. That was food for thought for me, but I had put it on the back burner and decided after five years of being in the traditional PR communications space, it was time to take a break.
Taking a break meant climbing some serious mountains.
I had taken an interest in mountaineering, hiking, and the spirituality of life in the mountains. Working two jobs, and staying late nights, while trying to save money had exhausted my vaults. I looked back and realized that I hadn’t taken a long break, other than the leaves provided by my workplace, which only allowed a maximum of one or two weeks.
Slow travel, discovering the Himalayas, and getting to know people from all backgrounds was what I truly wanted to do. I took a 3-months break to go to India and backpack through the Himalayas alone. I didn’t know what I should do next, but I just knew I had to take a break and the thought of thinking over my options against the dramatic massifs definitely sounded like a cool plan (or a lame one if you consider the fact that it was -30 degree and in the end of winter!).
It was an interesting journey, and I met people who were photographers, marketers, volunteer workers, engineers, and nomads who had many different ways and lifestyles of making money while living a fulfilling life.
Inspired by these stories and the unique communities I met, I started a blog called The Gone Goat. While documenting these stories, and when I came back home to sunny Malaysia, I was still hashing out my plan on how to continue my career and keep my cash afloat. I upskilled, networked, and got serious about growth marketing and using my experience as a PR consultant to find clients who I was passionate to work about.
When you are inspired, you have just to start: I built communications and digital marketing set up, remotely
I wanted to build a body of work that I could proudly own. I reached out to all my past contacts, sent over 80 – 100 emails telling them about my services, and also used different platforms to build my clients.
From there, it started via word-of-mouth, pro-bono projects, and I managed to get brands like the United Nations Global Compact, Human Rights Constitution, and start-ups in the tech, lifestyle, pharma, and HR industry. Most of my clients are like my friends. The conversations and scope of work are all laid-out but we keep it flexible to ensure that they get the results that they need.
I realized that the fundamentals of building an online presence using digital marketing tools, from a principal point of view, securing a platform, creating content and promoting rapidly have not changed. The tactics, on the other hand, are always evolving.
So it was a natural step for me to merge my communication skills and digital marketing to solve business challenges for clients across different industries.
Marketing Booksand other reading materials are my constant companion.
It is important to read books that are not within your field. The current ones are:
I frequently browse subreddit threads like r/worldnews, r/todayIlearned r/IAMA and r/ppc
Pashmina is a digital marketer and a communication consultant with over 6 years of experience in running PPC projects and communications campaigns for non-profits, pharma and tech companies in the US and Asia. As of today she has worked with communities across the world and currently runs her own setup The Pinc Digital