Today, elite marketing involves having a wide variety of marketing tools and abilities at your fingertips. The more adept you are at using each one, and choosing the best strategy for the situation, the better.
That said, specialization is valuable. If you try to master every single aspect of marketing, you’ll get bogged down without ever becoming elite. Since you’re already working with social media and SEO, for example, digital marketing is a logical focus for you. That’s a very broad category in itself! You can narrow it down further as your career moves forward.
Staying on the cutting edge of SEO is absolutely an elite marketing skill. Since Google’s rules are always changing, the more you can stay ahead of the curve, the more marketable your skills will be. To prove your chops, consider getting relevant certifications, like the Google Ads certification or the Hootsuite Social Marketing Training.
Another of the most important, and often overlooked, elite marketing skills is to be able to support your strategies with data. Do you know how to test your marketing attempts to see if they’re working? Can you support your results with hard statistics? The best marketing concepts mean next to nothing without metrics. Work on skills like ROI tracking, and testing and organizing data, to really set yourself above the competition.
Focus on all things paid advertising (media buying). Plenty of agencies, high-end startups and big brands (taking their paid advertising in-house). Neither SEOs nor social media community managers make a lot of money and the career growth ceiling on those is pretty low.
Start with SEM (most massive and will give you a good overall performance marketing basis). If you learn SEM it'll be easy to learn anything else (Paid Social, Display, etc.). Once you master media buying, learn analytics and data science, product managment, project management, learn how to work with engineering. That's what a senior level to senior exec or C level digital marketing professional has to know nowadays and that's where your big buck is ;).
I dont think you're going to make big bucks fast, even in this field, unless you just started hourly consulting at a high rate. And even then, you've got to go find people willing to pay you that.
You need to build a personal value proposition. I.e. Why would I hire you rather than someone else for _____________?
With that being said, there are two sets of skill sets you need to get there.
First... I agree on specialization. You need to focus on become a master at something. Jasper, for example, reads I believe an hour or more each day on his subject of mastery.
Achieving mastery level in anything usually means a lot of memorized case study knowledge, your own case study experiences (lots and lots of data basically...) and then NUANCE. Nuance is what makes a master a master. I know this not just from my digital marketing specific mastery, but also mastery in martial arts. It's the little things that command 80% of the difference in certain situations... and the only way you discover that is from a) finding people that already know it and are willing to share, and / or b) from your own experience. Usually it's a combination.
For example... even though martial arts is something I do on the side, and as a nonprofit community service cause, I pay a very high hourly rate to get all the first-hand secrets from a Korean that himself has dedicated his entire life to it, has the success to show it, both competitively and commercially, and is called on constantly academically to return to his country and lecture on the university level (there is a PhD in my martial art available...). I have years and years of my own experience, yes, but I combine that with his.
So that means the same thing for what you want to focus on.
Second... you need to learn how to manage people, their egos and their situations.
If they don't like you, none of your mastery matters. They have to like you if they are going to trust their stuff to you.
In other words, you need to learn to market yourself and to have good communication skills.
Part of that, too, is being and staying relevant, being able to find value to add in less than ideal situations, knowing how your mastery has to interweave and work with the other digital disciplines... so as much as you want to hole up and focus... you still have to know a little code, a little SEO, a little what not to help support your mastery in whatever it is digitally. This includes knowing some MS Excel, understanding KPIs, which ones matter, and basic scientific method.
Knowing tools helps and all, but that to me is table stakes.