So I take it you’re looking to start a career in social media? Well unless you’re one of the lucky few who can “blow up” with a viral hit, it’s going to take some hard work and passion. I should know- I’m not writing this from some ivory tower. I’m writing this with the belief that what I’m about to share with you will continue to propel me forward as well.  There’s a lot of opportunity out there in online marketing and I’m guessing you want in as well. Businesses are finally taking social seriously, and now is the time to learn the tools, theories and people to set yourself ahead of the competition. Are you committed? Are you serious? And most importantly, are you ready?

T- TODAY: Is it bad to start an acronym with the word itself? I don’t have the answer to that, but I digress… Social media is both an art and a science. To become knowledgeable, you have to both study and practice regularly, starting today. Read up from sources like Mashable or Social Media Today and listen to thought leaders like Michael Stelzner and Brian Solis. Trust that other people are smarter than you and use the internet to your advantage to learn from the best. After a while, you’ll begin to internalize the best practices and make them your own. When the ideas become your own, you can reflect them back into the world and help to grow the thinkers of tomorrow. For all we know, you may even write a book someday- but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

O- ORIGINALITY: If your plan involves being a copy of someone else, why would anyone follow you over them? Instead, bring your own dip to the party and be happy that a career in social media allows your creativity and personality to show through. There’s only one right way to change the oil in a car, but there’s countless ways to build a following on Facebook or Twitter. Experiment and find what works for you. Though it may take some time to find your niche, you can already cross off copying “that guy” with a million Twitter followers, because what he did to get there has already been done.

D- DATA: Data is your friend with online marketing- Learn to love it. Sooner or later someone is going to want to see behind the curtain of your work and you’ll need to come up with sexy-looking reports to show your progress. Previous generations have had to struggle finding and collecting data, so be thankful that now it’s just a click away. Find ways to interpret meaning from the numbers and use them to your advantage in future planning. Ask yourself “Why?” again and again, and test your hypotheses to see if you were right. You’ll know when you are, because the data doesn’t lie.

A- ALWAYS: Here’s a list of a few things you should always do: Create what you’d want to see, share your content, cite your sources, being engaging, network with like-minded individuals, stay on top of the trends, accept that your know nothing and continue learning, go to meet-ups, update your profiles, keep it classy, have fun, keep trying and most importantly- be yourself (I said it twice because I mean it).

Y- YEARNING: There are plenty of jobs out there, but is this what you want to be doing? If I were to search Google and ask what you’re all about, what would show up? I’d hope to find employable social profiles and see some initiative on your part- Otherwise your talk is just fluff. It’s easy to say you have passion and drive, but if you’re truly passionate, then start putting your name out there. Spend the time to build a website, show the world the plans inside your head, and develop a deep understanding of all the social tools and the tactics that drive them. Faith is an action word my friend, so take the plunge and get started following your dreams today.

How are you getting started? Tell me in the comments below and share your success stories.

For more information on starting a career in social media, check out Mashable’s What Does It Take To Be a Social Strategist? [INFOGRAPHIC]