Do you want to learn How I Would Learn Digital Marketing if I Could Start over? Learn How Ahrefs Would Learn Digital Marketing From scratch with this step-by-step guide.
This Blog post is explained By Sam, The Founder Of Ahrehs. You Will Learn All about Digital Marketing because In this blog, the founder of the legendary website Ahrefs.com, Mr. Sam, has been guiding you on how He started Digital Marketing. He Gives you the Roadmap to digital marketing. So let’s see what he is saying:
Sam: 14 years ago, I started my career in digital marketing. Throughout that time, I’ve built and sold a handful of online businesses, consulted for everything from small shops to celebrities to the Fortune 500, and been recognized in business magazines like Forbes and Inc. as an “SEO expert.” To top it off, the United States government considers me to be in the top 1% of my field.
Now, despite any success I’ve had in digital marketing, I’ve also made a ton of mistakes along the way that have cost me valuable time and money. So today, I’m going to show you how I would learn digital marketing from scratch if I could start over, and I’ll also share some of my biggest failures along the way.
Choose just one area of digital marketing to Learn Digital Marketing From Scratch
Alright, so the very first thing I’d do is choose just one area of digital marketing to focus on. This is the opposite of what I did. So for context, in 2009, I started my first website, and I basically spammed forums and classifieds. That eventually slowed down, so I tried paid advertising.
I wasted my money because I had no idea what I was doing. But then social media was blowing up, so I pivoted to that and tried to go viral with coupon codes. Boy, was that embarrassing! But still, I was making a solid $2,000 a month. I was officially a businessman. So I decided to hire a search engine optimization company because this is what we do! And that was the turning point for me when my fire for SEO was ignited. They scammed me for everything I had.
The good thing that came out of that, though, was that it fueled me with rage, so much so that I committed to focusing on learning SEO and getting really good at it so I wouldn’t have to hire another company. And by around 2011, my company was worth over 7 figures and the main reason is because of SEO.
By definition, digital marketing is just marketing that happens over the internet. So you can choose to focus on just email marketing, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, social media marketing, etc. Digital marketing is just so vast that it’s impossible to become a master of all areas. It’s best to focus on just one area of internet marketing and to get really good at it.
Commit To Learning As Much As Possible
Now, after you’ve chosen the area of digital marketing you want to focus on, you need to make a mental commitment to learn as much as possible. Now, while there isn’t a single “right” way to learn digital marketing, what I’ve found to be helpful is to learn in 3 stages. So, for illustration purposes, let’s say you chose SEO as your focus area.
Understanding the fundamentals Of SEO
Now, stage one is to focus on understanding the fundamentals. So in SEO, that would include things like why and how SEO is important for businesses, how search engines work, and the main ways SEO is done, which include keyword research, link building, technical SEO, and on-page SEO, to name a few.
Fundamentals may not be exciting, but they’re absolutely critical to learning, whether you’re learning an instrument, a new recipe, or digital marketing skills.
Build connections in how the fundamentals work
Stage two is all about making connections in how the fundamentals work together. For example, you should be able to make the connection in SEO that content creation is reliant on keyword research and that on-page SEO is connected with both your content writing and keyword research.
Learn how to execute SEO techniques
Finally, stage three is all about learning how these techniques are executed – more specifically, you’ll want to get an idea of the workflows and tools that you’ll need to do your job. For example, you should at least know that keyword research is done with a tool like Keyword Explorer.
The way people find keyword ideas is by starting with a broad seed, going to a keyword ideas report, narrowing in on keywords with a set of filters, and then analyzing the search engine results pages to understand if it’s possible to compete.
These three stages are typically how courses are taught. For that reason, I think it’s worth taking a reputable beginner’s course on the area of digital marketing you’ve chosen, like our free SEO Fundamentals course. This is something that I was too young and arrogant to do when I was getting started with online marketing. I went with the unguided route and literally… Anytime someone said “advanced”, I was like Pavlov’s dog, and I’d give them all my attention.
I wasted tons of time and money because, for some reason, I subconsciously thought it would be more rewarding to figure it out on my own. Now, as you go through this learning stage and consume content, there’s going to be a time when you feel like, “Yeah, this all makes sense!” But I can guarantee you that when you actually get to doing it, it’s not going to feel so straightforward anymore.
Commit to practicing what you’ve learned
That’s why the next thing I recommend is to commit to actually practicing what you’ve learned. In my opinion, there’s no better way to learn digital marketing from scratch than to get first-hand experience. The best way to do that is to create your own site. This way, you’ll have a safe place to practice whatever and however you want. Now, as you commit to actually doing something, I highly recommend doing two things.
1. Cut yourself off from all new content.
You should have already consumed enough through a course or whatever resources you used to have a high-level view of what it looks like to execute the marketing area you’ve chosen. By cutting out new content, you’ll be able to stay laser-focused on actually practicing the fundamentals that will be an essential building block for your career.
2. Prioritize Things That Advance Your Progress
Don’t obsess over things that aren’t moving you forward. For example, if you decide to build a hobby site so you can practice SEO, don’t spend hours trying to fine-tune your logo, fonts, or blog layout. As an SEO, you’re going to want to focus on driving organic traffic through high rankings on Google.
Now, if you’re able to actually put all these things into practice, you will learn very quickly how to actually get results with SEO, social media, email marketing, or whatever area you choose to focus on.
Now, if you want to know the fastest way to accelerate your growth and put this “doing” stage into overdrive, then I recommend getting a job or internship at an agency.
3. Work At a Marketing Agency
When you work at an agency, you get the unique experience of being able to work on a diverse group of projects. Not only is the exposure great, but it forces you to stretch that creativity muscle and apply your learning in various scenarios. Perhaps the biggest advantage to working at an agency is that you get to be in the trenches with people who are ahead of you in their digital marketing careers.
You can ask them questions, watch them solve problems, and in some cases, people may be willing to mentor you. Thriving agencies are usually fast-paced environments, which obviously makes them a great place to learn digital marketing fast if that’s your goal.
4. Avoid Shortcuts
Now, while you obviously want to learn new skills as fast as possible, don’t make the mistake of taking shortcuts to get there. And I’m talking from experience here. Early in my career, I took an SEO shortcut that cost me seven figures. So my first company was an e-commerce store and I was driving the majority of its traffic through SEO.
Now, one of the hardest, but most important parts of SEO is getting backlinks to your pages. And back in 2010 and 2011, backlinks were pretty much all you needed to rank a page high in Google.
So I came across a private blog network called Build My Rank, where I could buy virtually an infinite number of backlinks. And without fail, throwing a handful of links at each product page would boost it to the top of Google for queries that were converting into tens of thousands of dollars every month. The thing is, buying backlinks was and still is against Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Now, while I was making a healthy living, I was getting ready to cash out. But without warning, I lost like 85% of my traffic and a ton of revenue. So when I sold the site a few months later, instead of getting a low seven-figure buyout, I ended up getting, much, much, much, much less.
Now, had I focused on learning link building so I could build backlinks whenever I wanted, not only would I have had a much nicer exit, but I would have been able to apply those skills to pretty much every other SEO-driven business I created.
Bottomline: Avoid shortcuts because they can be costly. And you’ll only really realize that in hindsight.
5. Build Relationships With Others
Another thing I would do differently is to actually build relationships with people. So, for the first 8 years of doing SEO, I literally didn’t talk to anyone about what I did because most people just didn’t understand. And it was lonely, and I was really just stunting my professional growth. So what I would do differently if I could start over is try to network with two different groups of people.
Like-minded people to learn together
So, Group 1 would be like-minded people who are trying to learn the same area of digital marketing as you. They’re basically a safe place where you can share your ideas, experiences, and insights without fear of judgment. And not only can you learn from each other, but you’ll also find motivation from each other to get better at your craft.
In fact, this is what Mr. Beast did with a group of friends in the early stages of his YouTube career. And in interviews, he frequently attributes his success to having this group of people to grow with.
People you respect in your niche
And the second group of people I’d network with are people you respect in your niche. All it really takes is an email or a DM saying,
“Hey, just wanted to let you know that I really admire your work. Thanks for all that you do!”
Now, that might sound weird, but at the end of the day, we’re all just regular people. In fact, in 2017, when I started sending these kinds of emails, I reached out to Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs, to just say that I respect what he’s doing as a marketer – no agenda whatsoever. To which he replied: “You’ve made my day!”
Fast forward one year, and I ended up working at Ahrefs. Relationships in digital marketing are important. On social media, these are people who can help amplify your work. On YouTube, these are potential collaborators. And in SEO, they’re a critical part of link building.
Now, as you continue to build your own sites, work at agencies or other companies, and network with like-minded people, you’re going to come to a crossroads where you need to decide what’s next. And I see three ways this can work, none of which I think are wrong or right.
Stay a generalist in your focus area
So option 1, you can continue to be a generalist in your focus area. This means that you’ll continue to build your knowledge and experience in most areas of your specific field of digital marketing.
The pros with this are that generalists often become managers and leaders within companies because they get more or less every part of what’s being done. The con is that you never really become an expert in anything, which obviously has its own set of limitations.
Niche down in your focus area
Option 2, is to niche down further in your focus area. So as you gain more knowledge and experience in your focus area, you’re going to realize that there’s too much information to become a true expert in your field. For that reason, you may want to consider narrowing it down further because each digital marketing strategy breaks down quite a lot.
For example, if you’ve chosen to focus on social media, you may decide to focus strictly on Facebook marketing. Or perhaps you want to go more niche and choose Facebook group marketing for software companies.
Now, the pro of niching down is that it’s much easier to become recognized as a niche authority because there’s less competition. If you’re viewed as “that” authority, your reputation will likely be lasting, and you can typically demand higher wages. The con is that there’s usually less demand.
Read more: The Top SEO Niches that are Suitable for AI.
To expand into other areas of digital marketing.
This is kind of the route that I’ve taken. The way I recommend doing this is to expand into areas where your skills are complementary and transferable. For example, starting from SEO and expanding to content marketing is complementary, and the skills from SEO are totally transferable. Even something like going from SEO to search ads would also be complementary and some of those skills are transferable too.
Life Journey: How SAM, The Founder Of Ahrefs, Learned Digital Marketing
Now, 14 years into my digital marketing career, I can confidently tell you that I’m still learning all the time. And that’s largely because I’m practicing a lot of the things that I just shared with you. I work with a ton of smart people at Ahrefs in various departments who I love learning from. I’ve had the opportunity to meet really smart people at conferences, through social media, and even through random cold emails. And I go through seasons of intentional learning, followed by intentional doing.
Now, while I’ve screwed up in many ways, I don’t look at anything as a waste of time because it helped me get to where I am today. I’m definitely not the smartest, richest, most recognized, or most successful digital marketer in the world. But this is a long journey that I’ve embraced along the way and I hope it’s one that you’ll enjoy or are currently enjoying too.
Now, if you want to start your digital marketing career in SEO as I did, then I highly recommend reading our SEO course for beginners, which will teach you how to get free organic traffic to your site from start to finish.
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The best SEO case studies by Ahrefs to dominate organic search and get more traffic to their websites is how Zapier.com Realize and gets 1.6M monthly search visits from their blog by use of Ahrefs. Also, Wise.com gets 6.4M of monthly search visits, and Grammarly reaches around 22M monthly search visits.
How We Learn Digital Marketing From Scratch as Ahrefs Does?
To Learn Digital Marketing From Scratch as Ahrefs Does, first of all, you must choose just one area of digital marketing to focus on then you need to make a mental commitment to learn as much as possible and Commit to practicing what you’ve learned. Also focus on Understanding the fundamentals Of SEO which would include things like why and how SEO is important for businesses, how search engines work, and the main ways SEO is done, which include keyword research, link building, technical SEO, and on-page SEO.
What are important steps to consider while learning digital Marketing as a beginner?
If you are going to start your career in Digital Marketing as a beginner you must follow some important steps to consider like Understanding the fundamentals Of Digital Marketing and SEO, Making relations in how the fundamentals work in digital marketing, Prioritize Something That Progresses Your Advancement in Digital Marketing, Dont get taking shortcuts, Niche down or give priority in your focus area to get better results and last you need to Build Connections With Others peoples in your field or market.