Some of you looking to improve your skills in any given field don’t have the luxury of returning to school or taking expensive classes. Sometimes, you can’t afford what might be considered the best way to improve your resume. Luckily, there are some great free or inexpensive programs out there for self-study.
Being a freelancer involves many components outside technical ability. A key component is marketing. It is a broad topic that can tackle any of the following ideas and more:
- Social Media
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
It was this last idea that drove me to Google (for obvious reasons). I discovered this little online course about digital marketing and completed it in 2018. Ironically, I do not think the name Digital Garage really markets itself well as a marketing course. I took it in the hopes of gaining more knowledge around SEO and Analytics in particular, but I was also interested to see what tips they could provide in regards to marketing as a whole.
While you can very easily log in to your Google account and check all the information out yourself, I wanted to provide it here. It is much easier to find now, but before they did some merging and rebranding, it was hard to know Google even had courses you could take for free.
What: Learn the basics of building your online presence, advertising online, optimizing search, and marketing yourself.
Who: Google EMEA
How (long): 14 hours (approximately)
Google starts by giving you seven main “Learning Goals.”
- Take a business online
- Make it easy for people to find a business on the web
- Reach more people locally, on social media, or on mobile
- Reach more customers with advertising
- Track and measure web traffic
- Sell products or services online
- Take a business global
Each goal is broken into smaller topics. There are twenty-six topics in total, each containing two to seven lesson videos (most averaged around three or four). Each video is around four minutes long. After each video, you are asked a question about what you watched. You cannot move on until you answered the question correctly, but you can repeat it as many times as needed with no penalty. There is a transcript for every video, though keep in mind, you only get credit for watching the video if you have watched a minimum amount.
Each video is a person talking to you and delivering the message. Both the man and woman had a nice, smooth, and easily understandable delivery. Some of the topics could be considered very basic, which can often translate to a condescending tone. The video sometimes has nice animations to illustrate the idea, but often, it is just you staring at the speaker. This could be beneficial since it means you can listen without needing to view. Please note that while there may be differences in spelling or pronunciation for those outside the UK, the information seemed standard across Google.
At the end of the topic, there is a quiz of approximately five questions. Once again, you need to correctly answer all of the questions before you can move on to the next topic. At any point during the lessons, you are allowed to try the topic quiz. If you pass, you do not need to finish the lessons on that topic. This is handy if there is a topic you feel knowledgeable about. However, you are only allowed to try this once, and if you do not pass, you must watch all the videos and answer all the mini-quizzes before retaking the topic quiz.
For each topic, Google gives an estimated time it will take to complete it (watching all the lessons and taking the quizzes). Since I did not time myself, I used their estimates to figure out the approximate time it would take to complete the entire certificate. I rounded up to the nearest hour. You may find it takes you a little longer. Some may complete it at record speed, particularly if you are able to skip topics by passing the quiz.
After completing all twenty-six topics, you take the final quiz. Once again, it is repeatable, so don’t stress if you don’t pass the first time. But once you do . . .
You can now download the certificate. Here is what it looks like with my information blacked out.
As you can see, it is “signed” by the President of Google EMEA and the CEO of IAB Europe (the Interactive Advertising Bureau). It says you completed a course about digital marketing and has the date, which will be in European format if that matters to you. This is miles beyond what the original certificate looked like, which did not contain signatures. It feels more authentic.
As shown on the certificate, and should be inferred from the fact that this is a free class from a mega-corporation, this certificate does not actually certify you in anything. It is a “certificate of achievement.”
So Why Do It?
First off, it’s free, so what’s the harm? It takes up some of your time, but honestly, you could listen to the lessons in place of a YouTube video or podcast. The quizzes are simple and quick.
But what does it mean for you? Well, you can put it on your resume or website for starters. It may not seem like much, and maybe not everyone will know what it is, but these things add up. It also shows initiative. You took your time to complete an online course to gain additional knowledge in a growing sector. And maybe you actually learned something that you can put to use.
Who Can Benefit?
I’ll admit that the topics covered within this course are basic. It is definitely a top-level approach to online marketing and SEO. There will be more in-depth courses out there. So it will be more beneficial to someone new to these topics or someone just needing a reminder. It would also be a great primer course to those more in-depth ones.
It catered a little more toward people selling physical products. There were sections about showing your goods or finding local clients that didn’t really appeal a freelance service not restricted to people who live around you. However, they did not take up the majority of the course.
It didn’t blow me away with its content, but the value is there. I would have loved more actual marketing tips, but it was more of an introduction to the concept. The nice thing is that you can log in to your dashboard at any time to review the videos or download the certificate. It’s nice to have that option of a refresher.
I hope you found this informative. And even if you decide this course isn’t for you, consider looking into other ways to improve your skills. Step outside the box and think of things that might not seem like something you need to know but could help you and your business grow. I’ll continue to share my experiences with all the ways I am self-studying.