I’m just going to throw this out there and hope my degrees don’t spontaneously combust: if you want to learn marketing, you shouldn’t go to college. There I said it. And guess what. My degrees are still hanging above me in a their dusty frames.
Let me briefly mention why before we dig into the good stuff:
- The overpriced textbooks are all out of date
- Most professors don’t have any hands on knowledge
- You can read informed articles by people with practical knowledge for FREE
I should also mention that when I am discussing online marketing I am discussing the full gamut of what I feel like belongs under the broad umbrella:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Search engine marketing (SEM)
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
Learning From Experience:
When I was a wide eyed younger man going for my undergraduate degree, I took pretty much every course you can think of (seriously, I graduated with way more credits than I actually needed). During this time I ventured across the board: art, physiology, psychology, exercise science, business, marketing, linguistics, and pretty much every humanities class available. Which courses offered the least practical knowledge? My business and marketing courses. Even my art course taught me how to look at things from different angles.
Of course I didn’t know this at the time and I typed my notes vigorously from the moment the professor started to lecture.
Free Resources To Learn Marketing:
I am not affiliated with any of the following companies, however I have used their information and tools extensively. While this list isn’t exhaustive, I feel comfortable reaffirming their place as leaders in the field and starting your FREE education:
If you know anything about search engine optimization than you’ve probably come across Moz. If not, then here is your chance to become familiar with one of the most powerful tools for local and traditional SEO.
Moreover, not only do they offer a great product, but they have what I consider the single most resourceful SEO blog on the internet. They have a whole learning center dedicated to helping new and experienced users! I’m suggesting you start with Moz’s SEO guide and go from there.
Copyblogger is part of the massive Rainmaker Platform and their aim is to take over the world. But seriously, they offer some really invaluable information on pretty much everything regarding words.
The only down side to Copyblogger is their best content is hidden behind a paywall, which kind of stinks, but you can still learn a lot from reading their free blog.
If you’ve ever wanted to get more value out of the content you are writing, than Copyblogger is a good place to start.
So you still want the feel of a course by getting certified? HubSpot offers a freemium (most stuff is free) learning center for users who sign up (the free part). I consider several of their courses as freemium, because, while you can take the course free of charge, you have to actually pay for the software used in the course.
As of writing, you can become certified in the following areas:
- Inbound sales
- HubSpot marketing software (freemium)
- HubSpot sales software (freemium)
- Growth-driven design
- HubSpot design (freemium)
- Contextual marketing (premium)
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
Even if you decide you don’t want to use their software, definitely take the tests that interest you. It helps you stay alert to aspects of your learning that may need some polishing.
Search Engine Land:
Search Engine Land is probably the lone site on this list that actually comes across as a straight up blog. Some of their posts aren’t as relevant for learning content marketing, but they post so relentlessly (between 5 and 10 times per day) that you are bound to find something of value.
While I love their daily posts, it becomes a little overwhelming after a while so you have to kind of pick at it here and there.
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
CMI is probably the mother of all content marketing blogs. It’s the one I hear people mention the most when it comes to marketing topics. CMI’s been around since 2007 (under a different name), so you know it has years worth of content for you to dig through.
I’m not too fond of their site layout so I haven’t read them as much recently, but don’t let the 3,000 ads and widgets fool you, there is some great information to be had. You just have to get past the clutter.
Utilizing This Knowledge in 5 (Fairly) Easy Steps:
Some people believe that “knowledge gained is never lost.” I’m not one of these people. If you are really going to learn marketing, and I mean engrain it in your core understanding, than you need to actually perform what you learn. This means building a website (you probably won’t be getting hired just yet) and utilizing all of the marketing tactics you’ve acquired.
Don’t feel like you’re ready to make the commitment? The truth is you never will be completely ready. So bite the bullet and learn from your mistakes as you go.
So, where should you go from here? Well, let’s go over the five steps:
- Go to WordPress (.com or .org)
- Buy a domain name (this can range from super cheap to really expensive – it depends on you)
- Pay for hosting if you go the .org route (again, this can range from cheap to expensive)
- Use templates if you don’t have much experience (you don’t need to have a coding bone in your body)
- Read articles, take notes, and implement the actionable steps on your own website
There you go! You now have more practical knowledge than half of my college professors.I now have more practical marketing knowledge than most professors! Click To Tweet
Most online marketers I know have gone down this path and it’s really worked out for them. Trial and error is probably the closest thing I consider to be a surefire bet to learn marketing. Don’t forget, you have to “learn before you earn” and you’ll probably learn best by doing.