Mike Connell

The Big Question: The Best Online Courses

By: Mike Connell | August 18, 2017 | 
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The Big Question: The Best Online CoursesIt’s hard to be in communications and not discuss how to keep up with industry trends, how to sharpen our skills, or how to add new ones that could change how we do business.

Finding the time for course-work is a challenge in and of itself.

But finding the best online courses, which will help us be better at what we do and achieve our goals is just as, if not more, challenging.

So. There it is. This week’s Big Question asks:

What are the best online courses you have ever taken, and why? 

HubSpot is Trying to Rule the World

HubSpot content (eBooks, blog posts, case studies, webinars, online certifications, and courses) popped up a lot in our discussions around the best online courses.

Which is what I love most about HubSpot, itself.

The organization can be a little cultish in their pursuit of inbound marketing domination, but they offer a ton of free, value-add content and opportunities for learning.

What’s not to like?

Eric Johnson agrees:

The best online course I’ve ever taken was for the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification.

Shockingly, the course was completely free and offered a certification that has opened several doors for me in the digital marketing space.

The reason this course was the best, however, was not simply because of the certification.

The material covered in this course provides the most thorough, concise explanation of inbound marketing that is available anywhere.

In about four hours worth of coursework, any participant who completes the certification program will be fluent in the fundamentals of inbound marketing.

The lectures are engaging and packed with valuable information.

Make Money, Change the World

Based on our community, the content we produce, the training we provide, and the services we offer, it makes sense that some of the best online courses include business growth.

More specifically, Marie Forleo’s B-School is a strong contestant for one of the best online courses people in our industry have taken.

Gretchen Caldwell loved this one so much, she took it multiple times:

The best online course I have ever taken is Marie Forleo’s B-School.

It was pricey, but the course is put together so well it helped me get my business up and running quickly.

The fact that it includes lifetime access sealed the deal for me.

I didn’t have the pressure of needing to finish everything perfectly.

I have retaken the course twice as I had new business ideas come up.

Danielle Kunkle agrees:

Marie Forleo’s B-School is one of the best online courses I’ve ever seen.

It’s an incredible course that walks you through everything from your original business idea concept, soul-searching to create a brilliant product or service that you love, and then on to designing a website, creating content and lead magnets, and even more advanced concepts such as email marketing.

My only regret was that I didn’t find it years earlier than I did.

It’s well worth the money even if you are not a brand new entrepreneur.

Her homework assignments kick off incredible brainstorms and inspire you to dig deep on providing value.

Best Online Courses for Coding

Yes. Coding.

Some people take online coding courses for fun (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!).

Others take it because they wanted to improve or add to their skillset.

Either way, surprisingly or otherwise, coding courses don’t fall far from the PR and marketing tree.

Most of the people who raised their hand when asked if they had taken, or would take, an online coding course (in our particular focus group) were in marketing-related fields or organizations.

John Liston: Free coding for the win:

The best courses I have taken online have been the intro courses offered by Codecademy in HTML, CSS, and PHP.

The courses are free but still offer plenty of insights guided practice.

They’re great because they assume no prior coding knowledge, are easy to take, and leave you with enough baseline knowledge to immediately tackle projects.

These courses have been instrumental in allowing me to help improve our website and blog without wasting valuable developer resources.

Anyone whose role touches digital marketing and content strategy would benefit immensely from mastering the basics of these coding languages.

Shelby Williams has many hats:

In my job, I am required to wear many different hats, which means I am always learning and taking courses.

I take a course and become certified through Lynda.com.

I am currently taking a few different classes, and even one “learning path” to further my career in marketing.

1. Becoming a WordPress developer: This is so I can build websites and learn the coding required to make the site run and function properly.

2. SaaS: Ties in with being a web developer and learning how to code in common languages.

3. SEO best practices: How to better optimize our digital presence and cultivate more traffic to our website and social media outlets.

Learning is how we grow, and growth leads to opportunities. 

Shameless Self-Promotion

Howie Goldfarb is a fan of Andy Crestodina (who isn’t?):

The best two online courses were Spin Sucks webinars for SEO by Andy Crestodina.

They changed my whole view on content marketing, and as a result, I stopped using it for lead gen and SEO and instead focused on lead conversion (using my finance degree skills to analyze ROI and the speed of various lead gen tactics).

We did not pay Julia Carcamo for this endorsement:

Ha! Of course, it’s the Modern Blogging Masterclass. It really is.

There is not a week that goes by that I don’t use what I’ve learned from it.

Who, Me?

Personally?

Sure, I’ll weigh in.

I joined the Spin Sucks PR Dream Team before I started working here, and I came to this conclusion on my own with absolutely zero coercion or pressure from anyone.

Really. I swear.

As a solopreneur or self-employed consultant or whatever it is I did, I needed to keep up and stay abreast.

I needed, and continue to rely on courses and training specific to my day-to-day activities, but also online tools that could help me scale my efforts.

And I needed like-minded people working on it with me.

Not an easy thing to accomplish when you work for yourself.

Learning can change your life, so you want to make sure you’re doing as much of it, in the best possible way, with the best possible people, at all times.

So, with all that in mind, my choice for best online course is The Content Secrets for Closing More Clients Masterclass (to be clear, this is a vote for the best course, not the best-named course).

Proactive business development is hard. It’s the cobbler’s-kids-have-no-shoes conundrum… Creating my own content that would help me stand apart, rank for my chosen keywords and show my target audience that I practice what I preach was hard! I needed help.

I’m a good writer. I like to write. But I can always be better, and “good writing” isn’t always what gets it done. Smart writing. Tactical writing. What you’re writing about. These things get you noticed.

The Content Secrets for Closing More Clients Masterclass provided a process, constant access to Gini Dietrich, resources and a community to engage with. Sounds pretty good, no?

Up Next: Keyword Research

SEO keywords.

We’re always searching for…things. Services. Tools. Answers.

As an organization offering those things, it’s important we show up in the results Google serves up.

But the rules are always changing, and finding those keywords, creating content based on them, and ranking for them, isn’t always an easy exercise.

So, next time we will be asking:

What is your number one struggle when choosing keywords for your content?

You can answer here, in our Slack community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

About Mike Connell


Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative . Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I agree, the Content Secret Masterclass is the best online course.

    • It’s literally transformed how I create content calendars. Even one-off blog post ideas are so much easier and, more importantly, on target and effective.

    • Debbie Johnson

      I want to take this course

      • We’ll keep you in the loop, Debbie. As soon as we open it again, we will let you know.

      • You can take it now, if you don’t mind self-study. Email or message me and I’ll give you the details.

  • Debbie Johnson

    This is a great post. While I agree it’s tough to find the time for professional development, if it’s important, you’ll make it a priority.

    • Thanks @disqus_lGY1lBTB8i:disqus! And agreed. I can always tell how important something is when I make it happen, rather than trying to make it happen…

  • I’ve heard so many good things about Marie Forleo’s B-school From people in all sorts of industries and parts of their journey. Which is pretty difficult to do: To create a course which people find valuable from such a wide swath

    • I have, too. Almost makes me want to take it, but I’m not their target audience.

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