Achieving Balance In Your PPC Career

Jan. 20

The online marketing career path is an intense one. There’s no doubt about it! It’s a career that involves true dedication, long hours, and an unbelievable level of responsibility. Of course, with intensity comes true opportunity and rewards. I wouldn’t want to be in any other career than this one!

Recently, my friend PPCknight asked some really great questions about achieving balance and longevity in one’s PPC career. Google AdWords and Bing Ads are 24/7 marketplaces. When you’re working long hours and have so much responsibility, are there any hacks and optimizations to make things a bit easier? Today’s post is all about achieving balance in your PPC career. From someone who’s thrived over the long run (8+ years in this great industry), I hope the following tips help!


  • Rely on your team. Paid search is a true 24/7 marketplace. It’s like Wall Street, except trading never stops. It’s impossible to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As such, it’s all about covering for each other. PPC is not a one-person sport, it’s all about working as a team. If you do not have budget to hire a team internally, check out some of the tips below.
  • Rely on your agency. Do you have an SEM agency? I recommend looking into SEM agencies, even if you have an in-house team. SEM agencies are always on call and can help you out 24/7 when you are in a true pinch.
  • Hire help on oDesk. If you don’t have budget to hire an internal team, you can always consider getting help on oDesk (or another outsourced marketplace such as Trada). The more talent on your side, the more you can divide the work and function as a true team!
  • View your search engine reps as an extension of your team. Search engine reps are amazing. Yahoo! and also Google are truly going above and beyond these days. They keep upping their game, and if you ever need help with anything, make sure to relay on your search engine reps.
  • Hire interns. The theme of this tip ties into the last few. It’s all about building out that team.
  • Automate and improve manual tasks with SEM software. I’m a huge fan of SEM automation platforms such as Kenshoo and InsideVault. Not only can they be huge time savers but they can also take your SEM operations to the next level. If you’re not using an SEM platform, chances are you will be working much longer hours for the same (or worse) results.
  • Get smarter and more efficient. Are there any tasks you work on that can be crossed off the list? Are there any components of your day that are consuming extra time? Sometimes it all comes down to efficiency. The advanced online marketing professional is looking for ways each and every day to improve efficiency.
  • Consider changing your location. In the world of SEM, it’s all about productivity. Don’t just sit at your desk all day. Visit Starbucks, travel between your offices (if your company has multiple offices), break up the days with work/meetings, and make sure to enjoy industry conferences. The more you break things up, the ore productive you will be.
  • Remember to take time off. I’m talking about vacations, staycations, and random days off here and there. It’s super important to recharge your batteries in the world of SEM. If you forget to take time off, you will not last the test of time.
  • Avoid making changes on Fridays and weekends. Also, avoid making too many major changes at one time. SEM can be quite unpredictable when you are not able to watch changes closely. Make sure to phase tests and changes for maximum ease of management.
  • Work at a world-class company. I cannot stress this point enough. SEM is so much more fun and powerful when you have an incredible product and team behind your marketing. It’s so much more fun and exciting to market a product that truly changes lives. Get behind something great! Marketing is difficult. Make sure to stack the cards in your favor as much as possible by picking a world-class organization.
  • Focus on your health. It’s all about exercising, eating well, and getting enough rest. If you push yourself too hard, you will not stand the test of time in the PPC industry. You have to pace yourself, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Bonus tip: If you’re ill, make sure to stay home and get proper rest.
  • Love what you do. PPC is an intense career path so you’ve got to love it. Make sure to do a sanity check from time to time, make sure you love what you’re doing.

Image of Balance © iStockPhoto – malerapaso

A Great Week of PPC Networking

Oct. 17

I’m a huge fan of networking, PPC-style. Building your career within pay per click is all about driving results. However, it’s also all about networking and building solid relationships. Because of the career benefits and also because it’s so much fun, I’m always looking for ways to network. Just last week, I visited the offices of InsideVault and also went on The Free COO radio show. This week, I focused on lunches!

I had two really great lunches this week. One was with my team and our good friends from Yahoo. We work with such bright and amazing people at Yahoo, they are true business partners and personal friends. I could not imagine a better team. Yahoo certainly has an amazing strength in account management, way to go Yahoo! My other great lunch this week was with my friend John Rampton, owner and blogger at is a great blog about, you guessed it, PPC. John and I had a true blast and chatted all about our favorite topic, PPC. Both lunches were in downtown Mountain View, a really happening downtown for anyone in the online marketing or tech industry. My advice for anyone looking to grow their PPC career: Get out there and network! It’s all about the people.

Lunch With Our Amazing Yahoo! Friends

Yahoo Lunch Mountain View

Great Lunch With John Rampton From

PPC Ian and John Rampton

Images in this post ©

LinkedIn Skill Endorsements & Your PPC Career

Oct. 09

From a PPC career perspective, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a great way to build your personal brand and obtain career opportunities. LinkedIn also offers a great way to give back and help out others! One of my original posts here on PPC Ian (and one of the really popular ones) is my post about Growing Your SEM Career With LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Skills Endorsement

Today, I wanted to do a quick post about a brand new LinkedIn feature. LinkedIn now allows you to endorse skills. If you go down to the Skills & Expertise section of someone’s profile and click that little plus sign, you will endorse their skill. Check out the screenshot to the right, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You may have already received a few emails about your friends and colleagues endorsing your skills!

I like this feature because it’s easy to use and fun. Personally, I think written endorsements are king. These are the original endorsements on LinkedIn that require a written statement/paragraph. They take a lot more effort to generate and mean a lot. However, as a way to supplement written endorsements, these skill endorsements are fun. I like to think of them as “micro endorsements”.

So, what’s my strategy when it comes to these skill endorsements. It’s really the same as my strategy for written endorsements: The more you give the more you receive. I try to help others by endorsing them for their best skills. In return, I have been organically getting quality skill endorsements. Really, LinkedIn is a great way to give back to the online marketing community. Get out there and use skill endorsements to thank others. Also, don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn!

Image of PPC Ian’s LinkedIn Skills Endorsement © LinkedIn and (the PPC Ian logo)

Landing Your First PPC Job

Apr. 26

Today I’m going to discuss PPC careers and specifically how you can land your first PPC job. It’s exciting: I’ve received a ton of emails lately from PPC Ian readers about breaking into the corporate PPC industry. Many of these emails have been from current college students. When I graduated Stanford, I really fell into this industry out of pure luck and never looked back. Back then, the corporate PPC industry was just beginning so nobody really got into this industry intentionally (because it really didn’t exist as an established industry). They typically found it by accident and then enjoyed the amazing rewards as the industry exploded. Today, however, our industry has truly grown and there are very clear things you can do to ensure you land your first PPC job. Let’s jump into them!

Tip 1: Pursue The Right Major For PPC

PPC Jobs

Pay per click is very technical, but at the same time creative as well. We’re creating bidding algorithms, crunching numbers in Excel, and building financial models but are also writing ad copy, brainstorming clever new strategies, and managing high profile relationships with search engines. It’s really the fact that PPC is so incredibly diverse that it stays interesting year after year!

So, what majors will prepare you for all of this? While there are many different options, I personally recommend going with a technical major and then a more creative minor (or at least picking up some creative activities). What do I mean by technical major? I’m talking about computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, economics, business, and other related disciplines. I personally went with a computer science major and economics minor. I flexed my creativity by functioning as co-president of Stanford’s investment club.

Tip 2: Get An Internet Industry Internship

Experience is everything. If you want to get into investment banking, it’s critical to get an internship at one of the big investment banks. Now that pay per click has evolved, it’s incredibly helpful to have relevant industry experience via internships. Ideally, I would try to get an internship at an SEM agency or at a large direct advertiser in an online marketing capacity. (You may want to check out my post about three PPC career paths. ) That said, there’s no need to focus exclusively on PPC when you’re still in college. Any internship at an Internet company (especially one that has a strong PPC and/or SEO presence) will help tremendously. The experience you will gain by simply working in the corporate Internet environment will pay incredible dividends once you graduate and look for your ideal PPC job.

Tip 3: Start Affiliate Marketing While In College

I’m a huge fan of my friend Dino Vedo. Dino is a college student, but is also an affiliate marketing mogul. I can tell you first hand: There is no substitute for first hand experience, especially when your very own money is on the line. Whether you approach the affiliate marketing game from a PPC perspective or even an SEO perspective (like myself), this first hand experience will prepare you tremendously for your first PPC job. So, how do you get started in affiliate marketing? One great option is to work with an affiliate network like CPA Tank. CPA Tank, run by my friend Vito, will connect you with the best offers and provide expert advice on getting your affiliate marketing campaigns started!

So there you have it! Three quick tips that will help you prepare for your first PPC job while you’re still in college. In my opinion, PPC is the best career around and it’s an amazing opportunity for anyone in college contemplating their first job.

Image in this post © iStockPhoto – francisblack

Three Different PPC Career Paths

Mar. 22

As you know, I’m a huge fan of the corporate pay per click career path. This career path has been extremely rewarding for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. PPC may sound like an extremely focused discipline and it is. At the same time, there do exist multiple career paths within pay per click (and online marketing in general). Today, I’m looking forward to discussing three of my favorite career opportunities and my thoughts around their strengths and weaknesses.

PPC Career Path 1: The Agency Route

Careers Achievers

A few weeks ago, I attended SMX West. If you’ve been to SMX or another search marketing conference such as SES or ad:tech, I’m sure you’ve noticed the huge number of search marketing agencies. Put simply, agencies such as iProspect are big business and are only getting bigger. So now that we’ve established that agencies are a huge force within online marketing, let’s discuss a few of the pros and cons of the agency career path.

The biggest pro of the agency career path, in my opinion, is the ability to work with a variety of clients. In the agency world, you’ll typically get several accounts across a variety of verticals and business models. Moreover, these accounts change over time! In my opinion, this puts the search marketer on the fast track to accumulating a very deep knowledge of online marketing. Another benefit of the PPC agency career path: You get serious client face time. If you enjoy the human side of things as much as crunching the numbers, the agency career path can give you that optimal mix.

So, everything sounds perfect, right? Of course not! There are pros and cons with all decisions in life. There’s one big con that comes to mind with the agency path. As an external party, you are one step removed from the core business operations. This typically equates to less day-to-day financial visibility and responsibility. Agency teams are given volume and CPA goals, but it’s sometimes not the same as living and breathing the numbers like an internal team. This isn’t the agency’s fault, it’s a data integration thing. Just think about it: As an agency, you’re not going to be hooked into all of the client’s back end data. An internal team, however, often has access to more intimate data which often equates to more precise financial responsibility.

Pay Per Click Career Path 2: The Startup

Another popular career path in pay per click is the startup route. Let’s start with the pros again. First and foremost, startups offer the ability to grow quickly. When I say grow, I actually mean growing several things: your skills, responsibilities, title, salary, and wealth (via stock options). It’s essentially a case of risk and reward. Startups are the riskiest career path because of their volatile nature (most startups fail). However, if you’re able to join a successful startup (like I did), the benefits can be tremendous! Startups, especially earlier in your career, can be the fast track to rapid pay per click career growth. Moreover, if you leave a startup at a senior title and are able to earn the same title (or even higher) at a more established pay per click organization, you are absolutely golden.

Of course, there also exist several cons with the startup career path. First and foremost, it’s much more challenging to launch brand new pay per click campaigns versus growing and maintaining existing ones (like many of us do at larger companies). This is a good challenge in the sense that you can master PPC much quicker launching a business from scratch. At the same time, it’s a con because campaign launches can fail. If the business model isn’t perfected, your pay per click campaigns could very well lose money for an extended period of time. Moreover, as the pay per click manager, you may get blamed for these losses even if they are not under your direct control. This is definitely pressure that you want to be ready to handle!

The second big con of startups: You may be on your own. Unless you’re rather senior, pay per click is a team sport. Startups, however, have limited budget and often have a pay per click team of one. If you’re super independent, this may be a great route for you. If you prefer a team, however, a larger company may make a lot more sense.

PPC Career Path 3: The Mid To Large Sized Direct Advertiser

All career paths presented here are awesome! However, if I had to rank them, I’d tie the first two as the (very close) runner up and I’d make the mid to large sized direct advertiser the clear winner. Let’s start with the pros of the mid to large sized direct advertiser. Remember in the agency section when I talked about data issues? This is rarely a problem at a large direct advertiser. You can hook directly into your organization’s immense data and leverage it for complex bidding decisions! This alone is the biggest advantage of the direct advertiser: incredible statistical maturity and opportunity.

Now, let’s talk about resources. At the agency, you’re typically working at a company that’s very biased towards one skill set: online marketing. At the startup, you typically have individuals spanning a variety of disciplines but rarely have access to them because everyone is very resource constrained. Now, at the mid to large sized direct advertiser, you frequently have the ability to work with legal, finance, engineering, sales, and product management. In my opinion, this cross-functional nature makes the mid to large sized company a stellar candidate. I said it before: PPC is a team sport. It’s not only a team sport in terms of having a team of PPC managers, it’s also a team sport in terms of working with the broader organization on landing page tests, site tests, ad copy tests, keyword generation ideas and more.

Moreover, let’s not forget budgets! Agencies are often given a fixed budget dictated by the client. Startups are typically budget constrained. Mid to large sized direct advertisers, however, will frequently have unlimited budgets as long as campaigns meet a profitability threshold. You want to be managing budgets in the multi-millions, right? Let’s also talk about budget for hiring and PPC automation. You’re going to have a lot more of it at the mid to large sized organization.

As said earlier, there are cons to every career path – no single path is perfect! In terms of this path, I’d say the largest obstacle can be speed. Let’s face it: The larger the company, the more checks and balances. You can’t just test any ad copy you’d like. You need to get full legal approval and your manager’s buy-in. Another con: Sometimes, career progression can be slower at very large companies. You’re just one person in a sea of many. You really need to stand out if you want to grow rapidly. At the same point, I’m confident that you will stand out if you’re taking the time to read this post!

Image of Careers Achievers © iStockPhoto – rjmiz