There was no better way to finish off a year of interviews than with a special episode featuring not one, but two guests! Rejoice Ojiaku and Wilhemina Gilbertson-Davis joined us to talk about the future of BDigital – their digital marketing platform to showcase and inspire Black talent, and how businesses can take steps to improve their own diversity, with a fascinating side chat about Rejoice’s work in content repurposing. Continue reading or listen to the full interview for the whole story.
Rejoice and Wilhemina also discussed upcoming opportunities to engage with BDigital like sponsoring their upcoming events or sponsoring someone to go to BrightonSEO in April. If you or your business would like to get involved, email them at email@example.com.
Wilhemina: I got into SEO straight after I graduated. I had an interview for a different role, and I didn’t get it, but they offered me an SEO position. I thought, why not? And I’ve loved it ever since.
Since my first job as an SEO executive I’ve moved about two jobs. At first it was this whole new world and I learned so much, but then I found my niche – technical SEO. There’s so much to learn every day, and you get to do different things. When you change jobs and have different clients, the base is the same, but you find yourself doing things differently, and I love how different everything can be.
Rejoice: I started SEO straight after my Masters and went into a graduate scheme that was meant to be rotational. I spent three months in PPC, three in SEO and was supposed to move on from there, but I think the agency completely forgot it was rotational, so they left me there for 6 months!
After that they really wanted to rotate me, but I thought no, I’d rather just stay here because, at the time, I really liked SEO. I loved what I was learning; it was a nice mixture of data, a lot of content, and generic marketing as well.
I moved in-house after leaving the agency and I hated it. I left after a month and went back to an agency, which was exactly the same as where Wilhemina started, so I ended up becoming her manager, and we ended up growing really close.
Now I’m here at Incubeta doing SEO – mostly content – which is what I really like. I do like a mixture, but I think content is where my heart is. I don’t really like technical!
Why did you create BDigital?
Rejoice: I remember being at Women in Tech SEO and saying to ourselves, there’s not a lot of Black people here. That’s no fault of Areej and no fault of anybody. At the time we went, SEO wasn’t a thing that I believe a lot of Black people knew about as a career path.
When we were sitting there and counting how many Black people were around, we just thought, “Hey, I’m sure there’s a lot more Black people in this industry, but how do we get to them? How do we find them?” And that’s where BDigital was born.
Wilhemina: Yeah, we were at this amazing event that was empowering us in the industry so much. There was this community who support you, and you hear different stories…but we felt as Black women that we didn’t have a space where we could tackle being a Black person and a woman as well.
So we asked how we could bring more Black people together. When I started SEO, I didn’t know anyone who worked in SEO other than Rejoice, who I knew through social media where she’d mentioned SEO once or twice. So I DMed her like, “Hey, I see you do this job and I’m about to start it, can you give me some tips?” And that worked out great, because she ended up being my manager. So for us, that was the starting point of BDigital.
What’s coming from BDigital in the future?
Liv: This is why representation is so important and why I love BDigital. You both represent the future of what the digital marketing community could look like. It’s so exciting to know that Black and People of Colour digital marketers can look and see people that look like them, or that come from the same backgrounds as them and know that there is space for them in these industries.
So what does the future have in store for BDigital?
Rejoice: The ultimate goal is to turn BDigital into a digital, creative agency. We want to be able to run a Black-owned creative agency where we can champion diversity and help people come into the creative space.
We’re also looking to do events for BDigital, starting small then going bigger. And maybe when we’re speaking in the future, we speak as BDigital because now we have an amazing team – five Black women running BDigital. It’s been such a blessing and we want to continue that amazingness of bringing people to industry events, conferences and ultimately inspire the next generatino of digital marketers.
Wilhemina: That’s definitely the goal for BDigital. At the core of everything we do is how do we do things differently? And how do we make what we wish we’d had when we started in the industry?
So we remember our journeys, what we wish we knew, resources that we didn’t have. We especially focus on unis. For Rejoice and I, our journey was quite late once we’d either finished or were doing our masters, so we want to let people know what these options are earlier so that they can explore which area of marketing works for them. I remember when I was at graduate fairs it was all quite general. You’d just hear about marketing roles, you wouldn’t hear about PPC or SEO.
We want to go into university, enter societies, do workshops with students and show the opportunities that are out there to figure out what works for you in marketing, because it’s such a vast industry.
Working with BDigital on vacancies and sponsorship
Rejoice: We’re always happy to help if you have any job vacancies. Mostly we’re trying to push entry level level because we do have a fair few graduates and people looking to enter the industry. It’s hard if you don’t have experience in SEO or PPC to find the entry level jobs, but if you’re a company with these vacancies, please share them with us, and we’ll share them with BDigital members.
One huge thing we’re also looking for is event sponsorship. We’re trying to put on an event next year for BDigital members to learn about different aspects of digital marketing, whether it’s CV writing, paid ads, whatever, we’re trying to host an event. Events do cost money, but we’re trying to reach out to companies who can sponsor it and help us with this dream.
If you want to work with us and get involved in what we do, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to set up meetings to speak about our vision.
How can companies tangibly make a difference?
Rejoice: First and foremost, companies have to ask themselves the hard questions. It’s not just about asking whether you want to be diverse and inclusive, but whether you have the capability to be diverse and inclusive. If you don’t have the capaibilities as a company, if you’re not nurturing it and creating a safe space for people to be who they are, then you’re not ready for that conversation. And we have to be quite harsh about it.
So to really make a difference, ask yourself the hard questions and actually seek out people such as Women in Tech SEO, BDigital and the Black Young Professional Network to tap into what they’re doing. Partner with them and speak to them about how to combine efforts because, at the end of the day, diversity and inclusion is not a one-company effort, we have to pull ourselves together as an industry.
Also, share what you’re doing. If it’s working in your workplace, if you’re being transparent with salaries, if how you’re hiring is giving you more diverse people, share that information. There’s no point keeping it in because we’re trying to change an entire industry!
Wilhemina: Transparency is the key to everything. A lot of times when conversations are had it takes one person to start it, then everyone will add their views and opinions. Learning and seeing what other companies are doing can encourage companies and individuals to see what’s working for others, which helps to keep everyone basically on track.
A lot of companies promise things, and having that transparency means that everyone can see the progress that is being made over time. Everyone can be held accountable, and everyone can grow together.
Rejoice: We need to be open to change as an industry. We can’t scream about lack of talent if we’re not making the jobs to bring in the talent that’s there, but they just need to close that gap for people to know that this job is out there for them.
Let’s try and put our money where our mouth is. If we want talent, create the roles and look at things differently. The talent is out there, they just don’t have the experience. Let’s be open in training people from the ground up and start bringing in amazing people who see things differently, who want to be involved, who are eager and hungry. You just can’t be stingey with training.
Wilhemina: If you’re somebody who wants to support diversity and inclusion and you don’t know where to start, look for people who are already having those conversations. I realise a lot from Twitter that sometimes you might not be the one to start the conversations, but supporting those who are can make a big, big difference.
Not everyone is cut out to speak or write articles, but you can still support with things like a simple retweet, or sharing your opinion on conversations that are already being had.
As Rejoice and Wilhemina discussed, there are so many ways that you can engage with their work at BDigital in 2022 and beyond. The best place to start is to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can also reach BDigital, Wilhemina and Rejoice on Twitter at @BDigital_UK, @RejiYates and @willz_PB. Look out for their upcoming event, and to partner with them in sponsoring BrightonSEO attendance in April.
Join the conversation
To hear all of the content from Rejoice and Wilhemina’s interview, including Rejoice’s take on content repurposing, listen to the podcast episode using the player at the top of this page, or find the RankUp SEO Podcast channel on your podcast app of choice.
We couldn’t do Rejoice’s thoughts on content justice in this write-up, so watch out for a new article on that topic in January!
If you’re interested in being a guest on the show, please reach out to us on Twitter or via email.