In the this lesson, we will discuss in more detail how to create your own website or blog and start practicing digital marketing.
Having your own website is important to learn digital marketing. I recommend starting your own blog (we will discuss about this in the future lessons).
If you want a good starter hosting package for your blog, go ahead and sign up for an account from BlueHost. They also provide you with 1-click WordPress installation.
You can go ahead and purchase the 1-year plan that will cost around $65. That’s just $5.5 per month (Rs.350 per month) and you will be able to host multiple WordPress blogs with the same account. If you purchase a 2-year or 3-year plan, the cost per month is even lower.
Digital marketing has many modules inside it as you would have learned in the previous lesson. And each module is an ocean in itself. As with any topic, the best way to learn something would be to learn a bit of theory first and then practice it.
But Digital Marketing is a little different from other topics because things change very quickly and rapidly. Which means that you have to keep practicing it. With more practical experience your understanding of the digital marketing concepts will become stronger over time. But you learn and stop practicing, what you have learned will not have any value as time goes on.
For example, if you have learned something about search engine marketing the last year, by now the concepts would have changed and if you have not updated yourself, you are as good as someone who doesn’t know about search engine marketing.
Think about other areas such as the study of the human body, or the study of construction or manufacturing.
Here the concepts do not change that fast. The human body is complex, but it has been the same for 1000s of years and will be the same at least for the next few 100 years. Construction technology also doesn’t change that much. If you graduated in structural engineering, your knowledge would be good for at least 5 to 10 years even if you don’t update yourself.
However there are downsides in other areas of study. To become a doctor, you need to practice treating people. And you cannot do it on your own. You have to join a medical college which will give you access to patients along with other doctors so that you can practice it.
Similarly if you are learning about manufacturing, you have to intern at a manufacturing company to learn the practical part of it. So someone who is sitting at home can learn the theory of human body or manufacturing but to start practicing it he has to depend on others.
Though digital marketing is changing rapidly, the advantage is that you can practice digital marketing from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is start a website and do things that you are learning. It doesn’t cost much to get a domain name, hosting and install a website on it.
You can open an adwords account, a social media page for your website, create a facebook ads account and so on. Adwords, Facebook and Bing advertising platforms come with free $50 or $100 credits that will help you try their platform before you become a serious advertiser.
Most of the digital marketing tools that are available online come with a free trial and you just need a credit card to sign up. You can try out the product and write about it on your blog. This will showcase the fact that you know how to use these tools. For example, I tried out heat maps on my website and also learned how you can use heat maps to improve user experience on your website.
Today I am considered as one of the top digital marketing experts in India but most of the digital marketing concepts I have learned is by running my own websites. I have also learned by working in other companies but I would consider that 70% of the practical knowledge I have today is from my own projects.
When you go through a paid or free training course, you will get a course completion certificate. However this certificate only shows that you have learned digital marketing.
People do not hire you for your knowledge. They hire you for the results that you can bring.
Knowledge is available online with just a few clicks and anyone can learn something from Wikipedia, YouTube or one of the websites online.
When you want to work with a company as a consultant or an employee, you have to bring results for them. And before you can work with them and bring results, you have to get hired. And c ompanies will hire you only if you show them that you can bring results.
To show them that you can bring results, you need proof. You can’t tell them that you have a certification in digital marketing – that would only prove that you know digital marketing.
If you are working in a company as a digital marketing manager or any other digital marketing role, then it is easy to show your work or project to them. However if you are just getting started in the digital marketing field, the only way to show a proof would be to show the results of your own website or blog.
If you start a website of your own and start driving traffic to it, you will not only have a platform to practice, but it also becomes a proof that you know digital marketing. When I get consultancy projects or job offers, the person who wants to hire me has already seen my website and the other projects I have done.
I get 10,000+ visitors a month to my personal blog. That becomes a proof that I can get results.
In the last few job interviews, no one asked me questions. They are hiring me for what I know and what they don’t know. Also, I never had a resume. My website and projects become my resume.
Such showcase of expertise is not just limited to digital marketing. One of my friend got hired as an iOS developer in Instamojo (I used to work in that company). He got hired because he had developed an iOS app as a freelancer. His website, portfolio and his projects became his resume.
When it comes to marketing online, you’ve probably already heard that “content marketing” is one of the best ways to spread the world about your site and position yourself as an industry expert. But content marketing is not the same as churning out blog posts day after day.
There’s more to a great blog post than just words on a screen. What follows is my list of essential ingredients for a successful blog post. If you’ve been focusing on just publishing words each day, step back, consider this list, and find out how your blog might improve.
1. The article needs a point
I’m surprised at how many blog articles have nothing to say. Well, maybe they have plenty of things to say, but they don’t have a point. An article is supposed to communicate a point.
When your article has a point, it gives readers something memorable to latch onto. They are more compelled to share it, comment on it, and engage with it. An article with a point is an article that accomplishes a mission and is therefore successful.
There’s another benefit to having a point: Using specific keywords. As part of a content marketing effort, you probably went through the exercise of planning the keywords to target, and creating content that would advance those keywords. Now, you can implement those keywords by writing an article with a succinct point.
You won’t see an article on my blog without an image. It just doesn’t happen. I know that content is the most important thing for search engines and crawlers, but I’m not writing great stuff so crawlers can read it. I’m writing content so you can read it. And I know that you want pictures.
Your goal isn’t just to add eye candy, though that’s probably a good thing. Your goal is to add strategic images that help your readers, and enhance your content.
This is one of the most-overlooked aspects of an article. In order to communicate a concept, you need to organize your thoughts. Otherwise, you’re going to have a scattered assembly of sentences and statements. That accomplishes nothing.
When you have a structure, it will be reflected in the layout of the article. An article will have headings, subheadings, paragraph breaks, and maybe a bullet point or two. All of these features provide flow for the reader, and make it easy to skim and digest content.
Here’s the model you should follow:
- Introduction: Set the stage for your discussion.
- Make your point. Explain it.
- Make your next point. Explain it.
- Do this for as many points as you have.
- Conclusion: Wrap up the article with a call to action.
That’s the general idea. However, it needs some specificity depending on the type of article you’re creating. In my Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, I discuss 12 structures to help you have an organized approach to virtually any type of content.
4. Unique content
First, you need to have something unique to say, from a thematic perspective. In other words, you don’t simply want to make the same point that everyone else is making. You need to have a unique angle, approach, or spin.
Second, you need unique content. You hopefully wouldn’t copy and paste content from another site onto your own. But you may be tempted to do a link roundup or “best of the web,” in which you curate a list of articles that you’ve found to be interesting.
I think this is a fine idea, and it can certainly help you to establish thought leadership and gain readership. However, because of the risk of duplicate content, I’d suggest doing this infrequently. Unique content is more likely to be linked and shared. People are going to go to your content because it’s one of a kind.
5. Substantial length
Ah, the perennial question: How long should my blog post be?
The short and easy answer is, as long as it takes to say what you need to say. But — and this is a significant “but” — longer is better.
My research, experience, and data all point to long-form content performing better in social sharing, search indexing, organic traffic, and conversions. If you’re regularly creating content that is in the 1,000- to 1,500-word range, you’re doing well. If most of your articles are about 200 to 300 words then you could probably beef up a bit.
6. Internal linking
An internal linking strategy — for which you link to other, related posts within your own site — and can serve to enhance and deepen the overall value of a website. It isn’t complicated. Here are the basic points:
- Create enough content throughout the site. You’re going to need stuff to link to.
- Create text links with diluted anchors. No optimized anchors allowed. In other words, the text of the links (the part people click on) shouldn’t contain keywords.
- Link internally to “deep pages.” The deeper the link is within your site, the better. A good example of this is linking to pages that are not your home page, or any other major page on your website.
- Use links that the reader will be interested in. You want them to engage with your content and site.
- Link to relevant data on your site. Topical relevance between the pages will bolster the authority of both pages.
- Use enough internal links to make it worthwhile. I’d suggest anywhere from 3 to 10 internal links per post.
7. Attention to proper spelling and grammar
When I first drafted this article, I wrote this point as “Make your article grammatically impeccable.” And then I changed it. It needs to be proofread and copyedited…at least.
Let me share a thought or two about mistakes. To err is human. Mistakes happen. Now and then, a typo will slip through. Work to avoid it, but be prepared to accept it. Being human has its drawbacks.
Here’s a helpful approach to proofreading and copyediting your articles:
- Just write the article. Don’t nitpick, parse, check thesaurus, or fix your spelling. Simply put the content on the page — structured, organized, but not proofed.
- Wait a few hours. A day is even better. You’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes when you go in for the copyedit phase.
- Copyedit the article. Here’s where you give the article a renovation. You may change entire paragraphs, elide sections, alter wording, and adjust your approach. Your goal is to make the copy read well.
- Proofread the article. Examine every comma, apostrophe, capital letter, and spelling issue. This is where you make sure your article will pass muster in a college-level composition course. When you’re done, proofread it again.
8. A call to action
The call to action is the magic ingredient that makes a blog post worth it all. You have all this wonderful long content with an amazing point, a beautiful structure, internal links, great images, and flawless style and grammar. Now what?
Every post needs a call to action. The reader is ready to respond, to do, to click, to engage. What do you want them to do? Whether it’s capturing an email address, visiting another page, purchasing a product, or downloading an ebook, you need to have an explicit call to action for each article, every time.
Call to actions are the key to bringing in more conversions. Truly effective calls to action begin and end with strong, compelling copy.
So, write your copy, but don’t stop there. Write your call to action as well.
I could have ended this list by telling you “Write a conclusion.” Of course you need a conclusion. Any article needs to have a clear ending. But somewhere in that ending needs to be an appeal — the reader should be invited to take the next step or do the next logical thing.