Recently, I endured the gruelling 1-hour flight from Brisbane to Sydney and back to visit various friends, family members and Fluffy, the resident macaw at The Grounds of Alexandria.

When catching up with various relatives I was asked, naturally, about whether I’d finished uni yet (yes) and what I had been up to since the last family gathering. As someone who managed to actually get a job after graduating, I was excited to say that I dabbled in link-building and content development at a groovy digital marketing agency in my (adopted) hometown of Bris Vegas. The following response went something like this:

“So what do you actually do?”

And after trying to explain concepts such as domain authority, search rankings and the mystical Google algorithm to no avail, I had to concede defeat. Compared to other industries, the world of digital marketing is still quite new.  It’s constantly changing and adapting, and this means that new industry standards are always being introduced and implemented. And sometimes the older generations just can’t keep up.

So how do you explain your digital job to others? Whether it’s someone who’s not familiar with the industry or someone who just doesn’t have a great grasp of the World Wide Web, there are a few methods you can employ to make it easier to understand.

1. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Detail

Summarise your work in one sentence – no one really wants to hear about every precise detail of your job and how Google’s algorithm changes affect your workflow. Simply identify your end product/goal/output and briefly outline how you get there.

For instance, someone who works in link-building might say: “I place links on external blogs and sites pointing to my client’s website in order to boost their position on Google.” In most cases, your conversation partner will simply nod and move on. All you have to do is pray they don’t ask you what everything actually means.

2. Use an Analogy

Try to compare your job to something more universal – maybe you could say acquiring backlinks is like getting letters of recommendation for your client. Or if you’re an SEO manager, try describing your campaign as climbing a mountain: it’s a slow journey that requires you to optimise your own personal condition, research, prepare and utilise the help of others to get higher (on the mountain… or in the search results).

3. Show Them

Like all people in the digital career sphere, you probably have your phone glued to your hand… so why not use it to show your relatives the products of your hard work? Web developers are sure to get a kick out of explaining how smoothly their website transitions into a mobile-compatible format, while content writers can take the opportunity to bask in the glow of a particularly great blog post – it’ll be much easier for your relative to understand something when they can see a tangible product.

4. Relate to Their Job

Take it one step further and illustrate the similarities between your own role and your relative’s job or favourite hobby. Maybe you’re a web developer whose Grandma loves to bake? You could describe how building a website is similar to baking a cake – for both projects you need to have the right recipe, ingredients, tools and an intrinsic knowledge of your craft to create a fabulous final product.

5. Give Up

Chin up – there’s sure to be plenty more family awkwardness where that came from. If your relative is still looking baffled, direct them towards our quiz on digital marketing jargon and sneak away while they’re distracted and confused. You can’t win them all!