As writers, we all struggle. Read any book on writing, you’ll see that doubt is common to all writers. Writers all say the same thing, that the blank page triggers a sense of existential dread. Ideas arrive by some seemingly mystical process delivered to us through the ether. It feels like that, anyway…as if we aren’t privy to the workings of our creative juices. And it doesn’t matter if we’re writing novels or digital marketing, it always feels the same.

As a digital marketer, one of your strongest skills needs to be your ability to communicate effectively so you can capture your audience’s attention. That’s the first step and it will help you attract the coveted organic searches.

But writing isn’t the only skill you need. You need to have a good understanding of SEO (and not the Black Hat, quick fix, tricks) and the analytic tools that you can use to track your online content.

Digital marketing courses can be expensive, but we’re lucky. We have the internet and you can find an incredible array of excellent courses that won’t cost you a penny. They’ll help you to hone your skills and excel in your field.

All you need is a pinch of grit, a smidgeon of determination, and an ability to overcome the procrastination that inevitably happens when the responsibility for completion rests solely on your shoulders.

So, which resources do we recommend for people who are serious about developing their digital marketing skill on their own time and dime? Let’s have a look…

Content Strategy & Copywriting Skills

Your ability to create effective content strategies and to write relevant, engaging, and authoritative content is paramount.

My three favourite resources that for understanding the principles of copywriting and content strategy building are:

Coursera’s “The Strategy of Content Marketing” by the University of California, Davis.

This is an excellent resource, and I’ve used it myself. They guide you through the principles of copywriting and the key features needed to create good copy, e.g., how to capture and hold a reader’s attention. In the last couple of lessons, they teach you how to create a content strategy, including how to define your target audience and how to create relevant copy.

You’ll learn how to write attention-grabbing headlines, how to engage with keyword research so that it delivers the results you need, and how to plan you content strategy from creation to execution.

It’s a five-week course, and it does take time. They say around 3-hours a week, but I easily spent 5-hours some weeks.

Copyblogger.com

Widely considered the number 1 online resource for content creators, you’ll find this information invaluable.

Depending on your needs, you can dip in and out of their advice and information pages, researching different issues you have around content creation. The advice they offer is comprehensive and accurate.

It’s well worth following if you work as a content creator.

Content marketing institute (CMI)

Another fantastic resource, much like Copyblogger with the added advantage of keeping up with industry events and gaining access to industry experts who can help you progress your career.

There are also two books worth reading if you want to improve the standard of your copywriting:

  1. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White – learn to write well in an authoritative and engaging voice.
  2. Ogilvy on Advertising – to help you write copy that sells.

Search Engine Optimisation and Analytics

The ability to develop expertise in digital marketing without paying for expensive courses truly blows my mind. I almost don’t want to share, because it will increase the talent pool within digital marketing and make it harder for me to find work!

But, here are the best resources on the web for learning about SEO and Analytics free…

Google Digital Garage

This is the gold standard for learning skills to advance your digital marketing career. They offer courses on all aspects of digital marketing, from beginner to expert.

They’ll teach you how to build strong online strategies, how to optimise your website, how to plan social media campaigns, how to optimise your site and content, and how to use Google Adwords and Google Analytics to establish and target your audience.

They even issue certificates that you can present to clients and employers.

Google Digital Garage is a one-stop shop for your digital marketing education. You choose what you want to study and you study at your own pace. It’s comprehensive, easy to follow, and effective.

Moz

Moz is widely considered the best resource for honing your SEO skills. They have guides and courses from beginner to advanced. There are quick-training sessions or in-depth training sessions, so you can tailor your learning to match availability.

As with Google Digital Garage, you’re learning from industry experts.

Learn the concepts, apply them, and develop your experience from the resources above and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the digital marketing industry. It will take time, but you’ll find everything you need to succeed and excel in your field.