If you woke up tomorrow and decided you didn’t want to be a bank teller, fitness instructor, or even a manager of a small business and wanted to do something else to bring you back home, then this article might be for you. If you are a digital marketer, but don’t really know how to do it very well, this is also for you. If you are a digital marketing that makes serious cash and want a place to laugh at my ideas, then this is the place to be as well. Seriously though, I want to share my thoughts on learning how to digital market content, products, or anything else online. It can truly be challenging, but if you want something enough…you will do it.
The goal here is to outline what I would do if I wanted to work from home, and still have a shot to make money so I can put food on the table. The first thing we should all agree on is that the world of marketing is rough offline just as much as online because…numbers. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to break through, but it does mean you have to be better than most of the other options available to someone hiring a marketing specialist. Being better than most will take some time and wading through the giant sea of bullshit that is on the net about “making money online” will be the hardest part of the journey. I would estimate that 95% of “make money at home” courses, tricks, or whatever wares someone is peddling is garbage. They need you to buy their course for $29.99 so they can make money online. I have been doing this for years and I have spent thousands of hours learning, failing, and succeeding and it’s time for me to put my knowledge into your hands.
Step #1: Set the Baseline & Expectations
Let’s start off with the baseline. This is deciding which way you want to go. There are many choices such as email marketing, content marketing, social marketing, and all the way to offline using local marketing such as printed newspapers. Each goal has a set path and for this post we’ll be going with content marketing since we are using a blog to learn. I will still include a few things from the other examples listed through my “0 to 60” sprint. This path builds on a foundation that gives you many options to learn and refine over time. You don’t have to box yourself into one path, but it’s imperative to pick the strongest line and treat the others as options on an “as needed” basis.
I need a few things to get started and I am assuming a small budget. If you want to learn how to do it on a shoestring budget you’ll want to read my thoughts on it. Managing realistic expectations can be difficult for someone wanting a money stream quickly as they see so many websites and videos claiming how easy it is. Usually, there is some dubious activity going on if this revenue stream starts immediately, but it’s not impossible.
If I wanted to learn digital marketing by using a blog to create content that I could then market, I would pick something easy. I would pick cats or something about animals or food. Those are what come to mind, but I know there are more topics that certainly equal or better. Just look at what niche is hot out there and select something you feel comfortable writing about. Just pick something that you think will give you a good start so we can get the rest built and go live.
Again, assuming a small and reasonable budget of maybe $100USD, your time counted as labor, and then we can start by doing the following:
- Domain name. Make sure the URL has the .com version available. Buy it from a registrar like Namecheap or GoDaddy. This should be about $9 but look for coupons and deals too.
- Find shared hosting which is cheap and works as a starting point. Should be $3-7USD/month. Buy a year and you might get a discount. Note on this: build your own self-hosted blog so it can’t be yanked by a third party so don’t go cheap on this. For a whole year it should be about $36-84USD.
- You need a theme and you can start out by customizing a free theme from the WordPress directory or use the 2012-present theme that comes with WordPress. I use Avada on this blog and it’s $60 as of this writing.It is not necessary at all. $0USD
- Content, pages like Terms of Service, Privacy, about, blog posts…etc.
- Plugins to enhance your offerings. You can build a beautiful site with free plugins.
That’s really all you need to begin the path. I call this the baseline. I didn’t include graphics or a logo, but you can go onto SEO Clerks or something and pick up a cheap one if need be. The goal is to assemble what you need to start building this platform that will teach you marketing. During the first year you might grow slowly so I recommend building cheap upfront unless you have a bigger budget.
I went to an online school for college and that experience basically cost me $30K just for me to learn on my own. Same concept. You need this start so you can manually teach yourself how to write, design, share your content, what social media platform is best for your niche, and many other things. This blog right now is an example of this. I have taught myself how to market using previous websites and this one.
You need to set a frequency from the start to meet expectations. This could mean that you will post a new blog post each day, or do a vLog once per month. Whatever it is, is your baseline and you have to stick to it because your readers, listeners or viewers need to know that there is more coming every Tuesday for example. Having a baseline helps you by having a deadline and gives your audience an expectation to hold you to it. It’s like a diet in many ways. You can chose to diet for 6 weeks and then gain it all back, or you can make a lifestyle change and make that weight disappear for good.
The digital marketing part is simple: you develop content, learning how to share it, plus where to share it, and what content do people want to consume. So there are some considerations you need to make, and this is why I chose content marketing for this post. You create original content that is hopefully shareable and just push it out there in a way that helps solves a problem…and less like spam. Find the line and make it so! Here are a few considerations on how to build your website:
- How easy is your website to navigate, share content, and make visitors engage with your content?
- How well do you write?
- Can you create content that someone wants to share?
Those few questions will determine if you will learn digital marketing or not. People want the least amount of friction to share something, and it better be good because they will be judged by the content they share. That’s how you breach into digital marketing. If you have the right content, then your learning curve will be easier. Eventually, once you learn how to market through articles, press releases, social, and other methods, you might try your hand at a bit more difficult niche. Some niches are easier than other, but ultimately it’s the effort you put into it.
Step #2: Build At Your Speed
I know tons of content creators pushing content daily, weekly, or even monthly. Everyone goes at a speed that makes sense for them. I never commit to a schedule because my life is always busy. I publish when I think the content is solid enough for you to read. I don’t push garbage out there just for the sake of meeting a quota. This may turn some people off because they want more. Inversely, they could be turned off because you are publishing 5+ videos a day on YouTube and they are burnt out from the endless streams of content from one source.
You have a lot to plan in step #1 and you should set goals on building it. This post is #68 published on my blog and it took a couple years to get there. I could have written more, but I have obligations in my life so it’s not so simple. I built at a pace that I felt was appropriate considering I work full-time, have children, also a husband, and every day is crazy. Find the time and set goals to carry your timeline forward. People often quit before they make it simply because it was taking too long or they didn’t want to see it through.
Marketing is a bitch, and you have to stay motivated and keep building. ~ Adam Mulholland
If you have lots of time on your hands then blog, podcast or YouTube all you want. I caution you to stay away from pushing too much content out to avoid your audience unsubscribing because it’s too much. Doing too much can also result in poor quality content. I would rather take time, write something that reaches people, and stays relevant for years to come. Quality really is everything and focusing on that will slow down your pace, but it will be easier to market great content. I know that life can be hard too so choose what is right for your life, but try to stick to a routine.
I do tell anyone that wants to roll the dice in this digital age to immediately buy the domain and setup the website. From that point your website is born and this is how Google starts giving your site credibility. While they don’t say definitively how long it is till your site becomes trusted, most SEO pro’s say you get the sandbox for the first 4-6 months. If this is true then you need to create that site asap. With all of this said, it is only the existence of your domain not the content. Here is what I do and in what order when building a new site:
- Domain .com bought
- Hosting paid for and account cPanel open.
- Create MySQL database, upload WordPress .zip to files manager and run through setup.
- Go through all of the settings and make sure they are what I want.
- Create a Google Analytics account for my site, and add sitemap (after installing the Yoast SEO plugin) to Google Console so they know the site exists.
- Add plugins, pages, and anything else I want to start with. Less plugins equal fast site and less I/O on the database.
- Get all my images done. This includes logo, social covers, and article images.
- Build content when possible.
That is my basic run through and yes I left some details out. You can learn it as you go. It might be worth noting that I have used Joomla and Drupal CMS’s too and all of this can be applied to any CMS. Just simple replace the Word WordPress with Joomla or whatever you want. It takes me roughly 3 minutes to manually install WordPress and has become the only one I use because of the options I have.
Just know that some folks might be quick to build and others not so much. There is no right or wrong here, but there is a window of opportunity to get your content out especially is it is about current events or something.
Step #3: Find Inspiration for the Journey
This is a journey my friend. This is one that will keep you up all night wondering what the hell you are doing wrong and why people aren’t purchasing or reading your stuff. This is where you need to find a person that you define as successful and let them motivate you. Getting that inspiration that drives you to do more or try something else can absolutely put energy into your strategy. When I feel sluggish, I turn to a friend or just watch a TED talk to motives me and gets my neurons firing so I can develop solid content for you to read. Sometimes I need someone to tell me to stop feeling down and get out there and win!
If you want to call it a life coach or something like that then that’s fine. When you are feeling lazy or would rather go out a night drinking away the stresses, you need to know that you committed to this and you need to stay on target. Every time you pause, people keep moving. I know how this goes and I am warning you ahead of time to buckle in and find that A-type person to push you to do better things.
If you plan on doing affiliate marketing then take a few hours and YouTube “Affiliate Marketing”, “Make Money Online” and similar videos. Some of those guys can motivate you like the King Human channel. I don’t watch the channel anymore, but he does a good job. He just wasn’t working for me, but he might for you. There are many books out there that can assist you along the journey. One of my favorites is “Blink” because it discusses how quickly we judge something. I can make a decision on whether or not something is good or bad in 2 seconds. Sometimes judging a book by it’s cover it the correct thing to do.
There are countless other books to read as well so support & visit your local library and pick one up. Last recommendation is Zappos. It’s one of the best books I have ever read and it’s a bit older now, but the call to action is enormous.
Step #4: Don’t Let Your Guard Down
This step is all about control and knowing who is doing what. If you eventually grow into a business partnerships you will in no doubt find each persons commitment or productivity is different. Each person that you rely on becomes a risk and you absolutely need to be aware of all their obligations as well as your own.
A fine example is bringing on a partner can radically change over night if something happened to them. Maybe an unexpected heart attack, or waking up to someone that changed all the website’s passwords and locked you out with no recourse. I have seen both of those situations happen.
A dear friend of mine named Willie opened a gaming tournament center and there were about 5 of us that had some stake into it over the course of 4 years while I lived in Augusta, GA. This story is a bit more personal but I think it fits in here.
His wife was cooking dinner one night and she didn’t hear him have a heart attack and die from cardiac arrest in the living room. The next day we were all taken by surprise of the news. To this day we all celebrate his life each year. He was an amazing man. On the business side she had legal ownership of the business and decided to liquidate. We were all finished once this decision was made, and all the work we had put into the venture vanished in a matter of days. She needed money to live on and I don’t blame her decision. I think she made the right one and maybe the other could argue against my thought. Ultimately, 40 Xbox 360’s, 20 PS3’s, 4 Wii’s, and so much more were gone. I am thankful that I met some amazing people during that time but in the end I had hundreds of hours of creative ideas wiped away in a blink of an eye.
What’s the lesson there? Legal documents would have helped in getting something for the effort. This isn’t me wanting to take something away from a widow, and furthermore I didn’t want anything either. He was a big loss for all of us and a man that had a sincere personality. In a different situation though we should have something in legal documents so we have a stake in the remaining pieces. Without it we were left with no options. This was just one story and I have now understood the value of knowing what you have and what you potentially will lose if you invest without a deal on paper and signed as a binding agreement.
Don’t let that guard down because there are people out there that will take from the unsuspecting person in order to get ahead. Willie’s passing wasn’t the case. It was unfortunate and I do miss him as the others do. My emotions carried me on that journey and I am thankful for that even if the result is nothing. I built bridges to friends for life. That has value in itself.
Sometimes life isn’t about ownership or money. Sometimes it’s the relationships we build. It’s on each of us to weigh our risks on the scale, and in a way, this is why that show Shark Tank is heartless in many cases. They don’t let their guard down because they have already dealt with failure and loss. We see investing pro’s choose to add risk to their portfolio in each episode or not. Business is not always friendly, and family should never be business. Business to an overwhelmingly amount of owners are only about the bottom line. Knowing your competition is a good way to keep your guard up as well. Just make sure you have the right level of customer service, paranoia, foresight, and many other emotions and qualities on alert. As they say in the military, “I got your six”.
Step #5: Capitalize On It
Yes, after your hard work becomes a well-stocked content house, you will need to actually make it produce revenue. There is no equation that says you need 10 posts, 100 posts, or even a simple one page website to make money. You need to attract your audience and either cash out by selling advertising space, affiliate marketing links, merchandise, or something else. You need to take your effort and get people to support you and it’s not a bad idea to consider Patreon as a subscription type of support. It can add up quickly and if you have the will to do so, use all of these options. Nothing makes you only able to leverage one. Just move at a careful pace because you don’t want to over estimate your marketing chops and wind up with nothing being bought.
You also need to know your audience size and what you have to offer in order to gain money for your efforts. A good example of this is knowing how many people on average come to this site to read my long form articles, and knowing if it’s good by the comments, likes, shares and so on. Knowing that it’s not a hugely popular website, I could take this 4,ooo word post and go deeper with more examples and publish it on Amazon where millions might want to read it. I doubt that many would, but I have a greater chance of expanding my brand while selling an extended version of this post. It’s all about the long game for me. You will have to figure out what it is for you.
Go forward and create amazing content that gets shared across social media and drives people to your site to sign up for your email list, or buy a course on how to make money. Take your avenue and turn it into a reality. I will be doing that over the weekend and seeing if I can publish this post as proof.
Learning digital marketing is an enormous investment and I am doing it with this blog right now. I am creating content and putting my message out there for everyone to read or listen to. This post is part of that journey and helping me to prove that I can do digital marketing by providing free information, building an email list, offering affiliate opportunities and maybe in the future a membership-type of community. This is the same journey that I would challenge you to do in order to learn if you have the chops in digital marketing. Building trust and transparency is my largest focus in order to get to where I want to be. I want to be a trusted digital content creator that kills it on marketing my thoughts to anyone who will read it.
Put your wants on the line and build something that makes you better. Digital marketing isn’t for many because you have to float in a sea of others who want to do this too. If this inspires you to do something then tell me in the comments. You don’t even need an account here to do so. I want to hear your story or your view on learning how to do this. I will continue to improve this post as well as I have new ideas to share.