A version of this article was originally published on Unsettle.org.
Did you know that there are over a billion websites live on the internet right now?
So it might seem daunting - like if you want to learn online marketing you might never be able to rise above the crowd. Even if you get really good at it.
But don't worry. It's more than possible to rise above the crowd, stand out (even in a crowded market), and build a website to support your business.
And you do this through learning marketing.
- You can be the most amazing personal trainer in the world but you'll fail if you can't market yourself.
- You can be a great writer but it will fall flat if you don't know how to get your target market's attention.
- And you can sell the most popular products at the best possible prices, but guess what? You'll be closed in no time (and stuck with all that inventory) if you can't drive traffic.
But you're not the type to wait around and get noticed. You're in control of your own future. So here's how to learn that super crucial skillset - the smart way.
Strategy #1: Stop Making Excuses
I'm a good at marketing, so I get the same question over and over:
You must have gone to school for this, right?
But this isn't the case. I started my career in Business but my major was Human Resources.
I learned marketing completely organically.
It's been only over the past two years that I've learned everything I know about about how to generate traffic to a brand new website, how to explode growth on social media and rapidly build your email list, and generate a steady stream of sales, clients, and customers.
And you can do the same. You just have to have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the assumption that your abilities and qualities are flexible and could grow over time - rather than a fixed mindset, which is the assumption that your qualities and abilities are set in stone and can't be changed.
In this context, you have to believe that you can learn about marketing, and that you can become good at it. You might not be now, but that's not a business death sentence.
Mostly though, a growth mindset is rare. I see this over and over with coaching clients, friends, and even family members. Unfortunately more often with my female clients, and with Boomer clients and older (though this is not exclusive to them):
They believe they either have it, or they don't. And this is just not true.
So if you want to master marketing, believe you can. You're not a tree. You can change.
Alright. Now that we've set some ground rules, let's get to more learning.
Strategy #2: Look At Why You Act
One question I always ask myself when I'm trying to figure out how to do something is this:
Why did I do X?
So for example, if I want to get more eyes on my articles, the question would be:
"Why did I read the last article I read?"
And maybe it's because I:
- I saw the headline on Twitter and thought it sounded interesting
- I clicked on a sponsored Facebook post in my news feed
Or if I'm trying to sell something, the question might be:
"What made me buy the last information product you bought?"
Even if you don't have the same psycho or demographics as your target market, chances are you still act on things in similar ways. If a webinar or awesome bonus worked for you, chances are it will also influence your audience to buy your product or service.
If an amazing headline made you another pageview on the last website you visited, or a sponsored Facebook post compelled you to click, it'll work for your people, too.
So next time you're stuck on a marketing problem, ask yourself...
WWID (what would I do). Or, more accurately - what have I done in the past?
Strategy #3: Study Successful Companies
I learned what I know about marketing a lot like I learned how to write bomb-diggity content:
Through copying other people.
And I don't mean plagiarizing.
When I wanted to improve my writing -- trust me, it wasn't always pretty -- I chose to study a couple of writers I admired. And I chose those writers based on what I wanted my readers to do. I wanted them to:
- Find the content engaging and interesting enough to read the entire article and get to the bottom of the page
- Take action on the content, rather than just reading it passively and doing nothing with the information when they finished reading
- Be inspired, motivated, and learn something new from each piece I published.
I loved their writing and always found it engaging, and I almost always read the entirety of the articles they wrote. I found myself inspired after reading each piece, and often implemented what I learned from the article after having read them from these writers.
Then, I reverse engineered how they made me behave that way.
And this is what I did when I decided to learn about marketing, too.
One of my coaching clients has an eCommerce store. She was struggling with not knowing what to order to increase her sales and so she wouldn't get stuck with a bunch of unsold inventory at the end of the season.
In one of our sessions, I encouraged her to look at how other companies get customer feedback without being knee-deep in unpopular inventory. I sent her some resources, and sent her in the direction of Modcloth, which lets customers vote on product before they order it.
It works for uber-successful Modcloth. You can likely make it work for you.
Strategy #4: Have Just One Focus
If you're one of my clients, you'll know this phrase (because I say it all the time):
If you chase two rabbits at once, you'll catch neither.
This is a native American saying that applies to more than just Elmer Fudd. It applies to anyone trying to learn marketing, too.
If you're trying to learn anything - whether that be a skill, a sport, or (especially) a language, the best way to do so is through immersion. Why would marketing be any different?
So if you have 4 hours each day to market your blog or business, spend it on just one or two things that will have a high impact.
Choose a marketing platform -- whatever your target audience responds to the most -- and tackle it with fervor.
When I say tackle one channel, I mean one extra channel. Email marketing is absolutely non-negotiatable.
So is content marketing (unless you have an eCommerce store or focusing on mostly client work).
For the first little while, email marketing is the one channel you need to tackle. Then, content marketing. But once you have the hang of those, pick a social media marketing platform, or a paid platform and make that your singular focus.
Strategy #5: Make Learning Your Job
Want to hear something crazy?
Before I even launched Unsettle, I spent probably 65 hours a week learning about marketing.
The time that I invested into my marketing education gave me a huge edge when I did launch Unsettle. From that, I was able to launch and on my very first day see 3,276 pageviews:
I was able to land guest posting spots on Fast Company, Huffington Post, and later, Elite Daily, Smart Blogger and Buffer.
My self-taught marketing education landed me freelancing gigs for awesome sites like Foundr, and eventually an amazing marketing career. It's helped me earn $10,000/month in affiliate income and with products, and make an impact.
This meant hours each day consuming information, catalouging studies, and going down rabbit holes.
After all, when you're in college, you learn about a quarter of what you learn on your own, and you spend the equivalent of a full work week each week at school.
Take this just as seriously.
Strategy #6: Take Massive Action
So you've committed to learning.
But you might have been wondering after the last strategy -- if you take in all this information, how will you have time to action it? Won't you be battling information overload?
This problem arises when you take in so much information that they're paralyzed by analysis). You don't know where to start, and sometimes you try to do everything and therefore achieve nothing.
So after you learn about the basics of marketing, you can go onto taking action.
Yes, there's a body of knowledge you should have before you start taking massive action (and you can click here to get the resource sheet that taught me almost everything I came to know about marketing initially). But after that, you can move onto tackling the strategies you're learning about.
Stop taking in information, and start actioning what you already know.
You might not be here yet, but when you are, make it a policy to never read a guide, article, or listen to another podcast episode unless you have capacity to try the strategy out and see it to the end.
You learn the most when you're actually doing the thing, so don't just consume. Create, too.
Want to Be a Pro Blogger, Freelancer, Online Entrepreneur? Marketing Is Non-Negotiable
Sure, you could try to succeed without marketing.
But it will be a battle. You'll struggle to drive traffic to your website, to get grow your email list, and earn any money.
But if you learn marketing?
You'll understand why people behave the way they do. And this knowledge is indispensable for growing your business, website, or blog.