How to learn digital marketing

Erik J. Olson
3 min readFeb 25, 2019

I recently gave some advice to an aspiring digital marketer which will be beneficial for anyone wanting to start in the industry.

I’m at a meeting of the American Marketing Association (AMA) in Orlando. The panel of CMOs from Wyndham, Tijuana Flats, and the University of Central Florida (UCF) had just concluded and we had moved into the networking portion of the evening.

I end up talking with Renea for a bit. She’s transitioning careers into digital marketing and is in the process of getting up to speed on the industry.

“I’m thinking of paying for a digital marketing course.” She rationalizes that if she pays for a course on digital marketing then she’ll learn better and faster than other options.

“Don’t pay to learn!”, I respond to Renea. “There are so many free ways to learn digital marketing. Do you listen to podcasts?”

“Well. Kind of. Not really.”

I proceed to explain that podcasts are a gift from those in our fields that are few steps ahead of the rest of us. Podcasts are free learning from the experts of our day, delivered directly to us. Podcasters are literally have our ears, and there are many of them that you can invite into your world. Take advantage of the opportunity.

“How?”, she asks.

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

“Open your phone. Now open the podcasts app.”

She fumbles around in her iPhone. She clearly hasn’t opened the Apple Podcast app before and it takes a while to find the app. Once she opens it I tell her, much more prescriptive now that before, to subscribe to following marketing podcasts…

  • GaryVeeGaryVee — He’s the #1 most influential digital marketer right now. He’s a no-BS kind of guy, tells it like it is, and has the historical perspective to accurately predict future trends in marketing and business.
  • Marketers Anonymous — My digital marketing agency, Array Digital, hosts a monthly marketing meetup. Each monthly, two invited marketers provide their insights on the trends affecting their business. We video eadh talk and make them available on our website and on YouTube.
  • Marketing School with Neil Patel and Eric Siu. They provide daily digital marketing tips and tricks.
  • Zack Miller Says — Zack has run business accelerators, startup competitions, helped countless startups and business owners, been featured in top magazines, and has even spoken at the White House. His podcast is a compliment to his book Anomaly. In the podcast he gives you bite size recommendations on small things you can do right now that will grow your relationships and improve your marketing and your business.

These podcasts will provide medium to low level detail about specific tactics and trends in digital marketing.

I then explain how there are industry magazines that provide high level information about the industry, as well as the companies, personalities, and movements steering the marketing and advertising world. I subscribe to multiple magazines and their daily newsletters, but it can be overwhelming. For a newbie looking to get up to speed I recommend…

  • Subscribe the AdAge email newsletter (subscription box is on their homepage)
  • Bonus — subscribe to the printed AdAge magazine too (for a fee)

Listen and read those things for 6 months, and study what you learn, and I promise her that she’ll know more about the digital marketing industry than most of the people in the room.

My recommendation of the above is based on how I learned digital marketing when I transitioned from a career in custom software development to digital marketing. Granted, I was also leading a company that was moving into specializing in digital marketing. So the final recommendation is…

  • Get a job, any job, in digital marketing.

Learn from podcasts, learn from the industry paper and newsletters, and do it daily, and you’ll know your shit within 6 months.



Erik J. Olson

Digital marketer. Founder & CEO of Array Digital. Host of Journey to $100 Million Flash Briefing and podcast. Organizer of the Marketer Anonymous meetups.