Thinking about bringing your business to the 21st century with some digital marketing? Or maybe you’re a marketing coordinator that’s been tasked with improving your company’s online presence. You’re going to want to stick with me until the end of this article because I’m going to go over what is the best way to learn digital marketing.
We’re going to go over a lot including, what is digital marketing, what are three free resources you can start learning from today, my personal recommendations in terms of the best way to apply what you’ve learned, and also will answer the question as to when you should, and when you shouldn’t pay for any digital marketing courses or certifications.
What is Digital Marketing?
The first thing we need to cover is what is digital marketing? Digital marketing is when we market, anything online. There’s a ton of different formats to it, but one of the most popular forms of it is inbound content marketing. And that’s because it was popularized by a company called HubSpot.
HubSpot has essentially built their entire business through the years by creating a ton of informational and relevant content to their respective products. And that’s essentially what content marketing is. It’s when we create pieces that are super relevant to our perspective buyers and in the process of giving them value in the form of content, they potentially get interested in our product, reach out to us as an inquiry and then become a lead.
From there, our follow on content marketing efforts, essentially SERP to continue educating our buyer, reducing the amount of time it takes them to make a buying decision while also building their trust in us as a trusted advisor. It’s a creative way to essentially empower the user to figure out their own needs before they actually reach out to you.
I think that learning inbound content marketing is one of the most effective ways you can use your time and money. The reason why is because if you do something like Facebook ads or PPC and paid search campaigns, you’re always going to be meeting to pay upfront in order to get eyeballs. Whereas in the case of inbound content marketing, you are essentially looking to rank for the longtail competitive keywords. And then you’re going to get organic traffic if you’re making evergreen content that lasts a long, long time.
So it’s way more valuable for you because you not only own an asset that’s valuable to your prospective buyer in the form of the content you’ve created. But also, you’re not going to keep paying Google, Facebook or whoever each time that somebody is clicking into your site.
The power of inbound content marketing is the flywheel effect. Pretty much once we get the snowball rolling at that point more and more of our posts are going to help us build up our authority in our space.
And as a result, we will be seen as an influential source of information for our particular niche. In my opinion, you first have to master the fundamentals of SEO or search engine optimization. The reason why is because this will help you identify what makes a great piece of content marketing versus a bad piece of content marketing. And then it allows you to essentially craft your content in a way that will get discovered by whatever search you’re trying to create for.
Let’s go over three places that would be great place to start when it comes to learning inbound content marketing.
Backlinko’s Content Marketing Hub
The first place I have for you is Backlinko’s Content Marketing Hub. Pretty much it breaks down a ton of fundamentals in terms of key concepts and principles that you need to know when it comes to inbound content marketing. The reason why this is so important is, because if you have a fundamental understanding of key concepts, the next time you read an article like this one, you’ll have a backbone of an understanding that you can build upon and then continue advancing your understanding of content marketing.
Backlinko’s Content Marketing Hub is not going to get into the nitty gritty of every single thing when it comes to the technical side of things, but it will provide you with a baseline definitional understanding of a ton of different concepts. It’s actually a great example of the flywheel effect that I was referencing earlier in the article, as all of these pieces, essentially build up Backlinco’s authority in the space of digital marketing, as well as SEO.
This expertise is demonstrated by the fact that they have all of these pages that essentially help educate you on the different aspects of SEO.
If you’re the type of person that needs an assignment, here’s your assignment from me. Go ahead and go through the content marketing hub and read every single topic that is covered that you don’t already know about. Then from there, I want you to go through the blog and read every single key post that’s outlined on the blog.
If you don’t like reading so much, you can also look him up on YouTube since he translates some of his blog posts into helpful YouTube videos. Whatever the case though is, I want you to make sure that you go through this entire content marketing hub, so you have a backbone understanding of everything you need to know.
MOZ’s Whiteboard Fridays
My second resource for you is to check out Moz’s Whiteboard SEO. This is a weekly SEO video that they put together. So essentially teach you about a particular topic of interest in the industry. And it’s really cool because it’s a 10 to 15 minute video typically, and they go really in depth on the topic.
When I was first starting out in SEO, this is something that I religiously watched, and I encourage you to build the habit of watching a Whiteboard Friday video, at least every single week. It’s a good way for you to continue to build up your chops and build up your fundamental understandings of all things, SEO.
They cover and great topics like which of my competitor’s keywords should I target? Which are at commonly ask questions that you and me would definitely want to learn more about? So check it out. They no longer publish every single video on YouTube so you actually have to go to Moz’s site.
Again, if you’re the type of person that does well from assignments, what I would tell you to do as general advice is go ahead and watch 20 to 25 Moz’S Whiteboard Friday videos, and try to summarize one to two key takeaways from each video. This will give you a ton of valuable information that you can start to use in your content marketing.
My third resource for you is to check out HubSpot’s blog. They break down a ton of interesting topics it’s related to not just content marketing, but all things, digital marketing, sales, marketing, and business.
So it’s a great place for you to go if you’re trying to learn, like how do you write a blog post? How do you structure a blog post? What are the fundamentals to SEO that you need to remember with your blog posts? A lot of their blog posts are much more tactically based and they actually provide some examples at a high level for you, which goes more in depth than something like Backlinko’s content marketing hub.
You can also check out HubSpot site, and look how they positioned different pieces of content, such as their freebies on things like SEO starter kits and things of that nature that essentially help engage their readers and then get them interested in their product. My advice would be to read 20 to 25 of the articles they put in the content marketing section of their blog.
Then take a step back and think for a second, how they might be marketing to you because trust me, HubSpot is always marketing.
By doing so you’re going to be able to apply what you potentially learned to an actual real world case study with you and HubSpot. So it’s a great way for you to apply what you’re learning while also mastering inbound content marketing.
Create a personal project
After you’ve spent some time reading about SEO. And once you feel like you have a sense of the fundamentals, I want you to start thinking about how you could apply them to a personal project. For my past experiences, having a personal project has been the easiest way for me to actually test my SEO learnings and see whether or not I know what it takes in order to rank well. So, if you’re going to take this challenge on what I recommend is you pick a niche or industry that you’re interested in writing on and then write 25 pieces of high quality content.
The reason why we need to do at least 25 posts is because it allows us to build at least enough clout. So that we can actually start to see if what we’re doing is working. If we just it’s released one or two posts, we’re not going to get it enough repetitions and practice in actually know, if we’re doing things right. It’s only by doing it at least 20 to 25 times and doing it well that we can actually have an honest assessment of ourselves.
Here are the four criteria that you need when you’re thinking about what content or write about.
- The first thing is you need to make sure that it’s a question that people often ask in this space.
- The next thing that you need to make sure is that there is a volume for this particular phrase.
- The third thing that you need to make sure your content has is at least 1500 words of content. Gone are the days in which you can just write 500 words on a topic and start ranking well for it. Google is much more competitive these days, and it needs more words in order to better understand what your post is about.
- And the last thing that you’re gonna want to look for is, you’re going to want to look for the fact that other people or already ranking for this term.
This is your opportunity to create a better piece of content. And from there out rank these competitors. When you’re doing this step, you don’t want to outsource any of it. You’re going to want to suck it up and just do it. The reason why is because you have to actually understand the. fundamentals of SEO before you go out and hire for help in this respective area.
If you don’t have a fundamental understanding of things, then you’re going to be easily fleeced by freelancer, or anybody that wants to pitch themselves as an SEO writer for you, just because you don’t know what to actually look for. So by doing it yourself and getting the practice in place, you are going to be better positioned in the future when you want to scale up your content marketing efforts.
Remember, you’ll need to be patient in this personal project. This will probably take you a couple of months, but after a while, if you commit to writing those 20 to 25 high quality posts, you’ll be able to search your domain on a site like SEMRush, Ahrefs or Ubersuggest and see that you’re actually ranking for particular terms.
When should you pay for a course?
That leads me to my last segment, which is when should you pay for digital marketing courses or certifications? The answer to that in my opinion, is when you’ve exhausted every single free resource that you can find, and your personal projects are no longer delivering the sorts of learning experiences that they were in the beginning.
In other words, when you feel like you can’t push the envelope any further in your understanding of digital marketing, that is the time that you can potentially explore courses. I’ll tell you something that a ton of digital marketers probably won’t tell you, which is pretty much anything that they’re teaching in a course is something that you can teach yourself or learn by yourself if you just do a little bit more digging.
Most of the value that these courses and certifications are giving you is the time that it takes you to potentially find alternate sources. For me, I like to learn from a ton of different places. So by doing so I’m able to cherry pick what I like from different places and merge it into my own unique style.
If you’re the type of learner that likes to have everything in one place by all means consider buying a course or certification, my only recommendation for you though, is to do your due diligence in whatever course you’re purchasing. And also try to learn a little bit with the free resources first. So you can truly understand whether or not you’re getting value in the course that you’ve purchased.
If you’re more experiential learner like me, then I recommend that you take the steps that I’ve outlined in this article, in which you first learned from the free resources and then apply it to a personal project. You’ll learn a ton more from this process than anything that you’ve learned in a course. The problem with these courses, that everyone thinks that it’s a fast track for success when ultimately it comes down to you doing the work and committing to improving when it comes to your digital marketing skills.
There are two big takeaways I want you to remember from this article.
- The first one is that when it comes to learning digital marketing, I highly recommend that you first master inbound content marketing. The reason why is because this way you’re going to own the full distribution channel versus something like paid search in which you have to pay to play.
- The second thing is don’t think that just by shelling out some money, that you’re going to be able to fast track your results. Digital marketing is very much a journey and very much a new skillset for many people. And so it’s not something in which you can simply expect to buy a course and start seeing results the next day. It will take time for you to master the principles and apply them to your particular business to start seeing results.
That’s it for this time though. I’ll see you guys next time in which I’m going to switch gears a little bit and talk about some principles of great customer success.
If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Feel free to share this as well if you know anybody that might benefit from learning, what is the best way to learn digital marketing.