Chatting about Porochista Khakpour’s Brown Album with Porochista Khakpour

I’ve loved Porochista Khakpour’s writing ever since I picked up her book Sons and Other Flammable Objects. I remember doing a double take when I saw her name—what a magnificent name! Weighty and kind of grand, just like mine. I’d never seen a name like mine on any book (outside of the Middle East History or Politics section) at my local bookstore. But this? This was a name like mine on a work of FICTION.

I devoured Sons and Other Flammable Objects and have loved reading Porochista ever since. Which is why I was so excited with she reached out to me on Twitter (it’s not a complete hellsite) to ask if I’d like to be in a convo with her about her new book, The Brown Album.

Hanging out in the “Green Room” before the convo.

Originally, we were planning to hold this conversation at my beloved Powell’s City of Books in Portland, but due to COVID-19, we had to move the conversation to an online platform. Massive thanks are due to Town Hall Seattle for hosting our conversation, with many thanks to Candace and Josh for making sure we were set up and running!

Make sure to pick up a copy of Porochista’s The Brown Album when you have a chance. It’s a wonderful collection of her essays and is a wonderful read!

I had so much fun chatting with Porochista about her book. If you have an extra hour or so, give it a listen–she does a reading from her book, we talk some trash, and we also get real about growing up Iranian-American. My favorite part was definitely the audience questions!

Check out the conversation on Facebook or watch it on YouTube:

Marketing Education Resources for People without a Marketing Degree

Photo of colorful marketing books on shelves.I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications in 2005–the same year Facebook started. So I didn’t get any collegiate instruction on Facebook, not to mention any of the other social media tools that dominate. In fact, my Mass Communication degree concentration was in Editorial Journalism, not marketing related at all.

That hasn’t stopped me from landing in marketing. A lot of trained journalists have been making the jump to marketing as a result of a very tumultuous journalism industry: fewer news outlets mean fewer journalists, not to mention the internet’s disruption of news industry revenue.

I’ve loved writing my whole life. And I’ve always been fascinated by the ability to influence public opinion, through news, advertising, or education. But by the time I figured out that I liked marketing, I already had two degrees and a lot of student debt. I got on Facebook and Twitter early and used my interest in them to promote the website I’d created, cutting my teeth on social media community building and marketing without even realizing it. Eventually, I was able to leverage this into a marketing career. But what do you do if you can’t go back in time? How do you learn about marketing without going (back) to college?

You can learn about important marketing basics without adding to your student debt or getting a degree. There are literally hundreds of great resources out there, many of them cheap. I’ve put a shortlist together to help you get started:

Free Marketing Certifications & Courses

Certifications are a great way to prove that you know your stuff when it comes to marketing. They’re a great way to learn specific marketing strategies and skills while building your resume; you can even put certification badges on your LinkedIn account!

  • Hubspot Academy: Much of my marketing education has come from HubSpot. I’ve never even used their CRM or marketing automation products, but I am a huge fan. They have dramatically expanded the certifications they offer, and many of them are free:
    • Email Marketing Certification
    • Inbound Marketing Certification
    • Social Media Marketing Certification
    • Certifications for Sales, Design, and more.
  • Google Academy: Google is a huge player in the search and search marketing space, so it’s a good idea to learn from the masters. They offer several certification courses:
    • Adwords: master search marketing
    • Analytics: understand the data behind your web traffic
    • Digital Garage: this focuses on honing digital skills for business; it includes everything from basics for understanding websites to time management skills
  • Social media platform resources: Don’t forget about Facebook and Twitter! Social platforms themselves (especially larger ones) have their own resources to help you learn and use their tools effectively.

Cheap Marketing Courses & Resources

Okay, what if you have a little bit of money and want to learn about marketing?

  • has hundreds of professional courses for marketing and anything else you can think of, all for a monthly fee of under $30.
  • Udemy allows you to pay by the class, and many of them are under $15. They have every type of marketing you can think of!
  • MediaBistro offers several courses, ranging from $29 – $149. And it’s not just marketing: they’ve got classes on punctuation, influencer marketing, and fact-checking!

Independent Marketing Certifications

These are usually offered by marketing associations and should cost you less than $1,000. The upside to these is that they’re taught by marketing professionals and often train you on marketing tools that are currently in-use with your organization.

  • Content Marketing Institute University: CMI has a great magazine and a ton of resources. Enrollment in the CMI University is $595 – $995, depending on your tier.
  • Online Marketing Institute offers several certification programs, ranging from $359 – $1499. They’ve got everything from email marketing to B2B social media marketing.
  • Hootsuite Academy offers several certifications, ranging from $199 to $999. They’re all focused on the Hootsuite platform, but some offer social marketing components.
  • Moz’s SEO Bootcamps range from $199 – $2,495, with several levels and tiers based on beginner or advanced levels.

University Marketing Certifications

Okay, so you don’t want to go (back) to school for 4 – 5 years or incur several thousand dollars in student loan debt to learn about marketing or up your resume game. You can still accomplish everything with online courses offered by universities. Price tags vary but are always cheaper than getting an entire degree. These courses are often created for working professionals, so they’re usually online-only and are over within a year. Plus, a university-level certification can earn you some serious resume cred.

I hope this list gives you a place to start if you’re looking to learn more about marketing.

This list has been updated as of December 2019.

Have you taken any of these courses (or any courses that aren’t featured here)? Leave me a comment and let me know! 

Getting Settled in My New Home


Image via Dave Bassett.

I recently moved to be closer to my job in Eugene. The summer was a hectic one, but I’m finally settled and looking to get comfy in my new town.

In an effort to make a big new city feel smaller, I’ve been attending lots of networking events to meet people and learn new things. That’s difficult work to do as an introvert, but Lane county is such a friendly place that it’s already making a difference.

I’ve been haunting the Eugene Chamber of Commerce a bit–in September, I attended their Women Business Leaders lunch to hear Celeste Edman from Lunar Logic talk about mentorship. She gave a fantastic talk, focusing on the fact that mentorship isn’t just about the person being mentored, and that you can have more than one mentor.

Yesterday was a big day for me: I gave a lunchtime talk on content marketing for the Emerald Marketing Association! Content marketing is such a buzzword in the marketing industry, and so many still don’t know much about it, so I went over the basics, talked about a few must-haves to get started, and gave a few resources that have helped me in my content marketing education.

The talk was a blast and the Q&A session lasted almost as long as my presentation! The audience was fantastic! Their questions were wonderful.

I have to thank the EMA for such a welcoming and wonderful experience. And a huge thanks to Dave Bassett for photographing the event!


It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I look forward to working with the EMA again sometime soon.

EDIT: Check out the write-up of my presentation at the EMA blog!

An Introvert’s Guide to SXSW


SXSW is one of the largest tech conferences (and music festivals) in the U.S. It happens every year in Austin, Texas. There are panels, concerts, film screenings, meetups, corporate brand events, launch parties, regular parties… The very idea of SXSW can be very intimidating to introverts.

I am an introvert (or perhaps an ambivert), and I’m attending SXSW this year. I’m incredibly excited to be attending such a cool conference and speaking on a panel. I’m also very intimidated by the sheer amount of people and events that are going to be happening at the same time.

So I came up a with a guide to how I’m going to survive this wonderful opportunity. By sharing it, I hope I can help out a few fellow introverts.  (more…)

Instagram’s New Update Includes Good and Bad Changes for Locations

One of my most popular articles on this blog is how to add geotags to your photos so you can tag them in the correct location. Well, Instagram’s August 17th update (version 7.4) has made some of that post irrelevant. With the new update, you no longer have to turn off Location settings!


A new adventure


Today is my last day at brass Media. It’s been a wonderful few years here, and I’ve learned so much. The best marketing skills I’ve learned are in content marketing and marketing automation, which have sparked my passion to learn even more. Content marketing felt like a natural fit after so many years of blogging, and learning about leveraging content for marketing is fascinating.