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:
- 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?
- Lynda.com 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.
- Oregon State University’s Digital Brand Management ($1,900) and Advanced Digital Marketing ($2,588) certifications. Full disclosure: I earned the Digital Brand Management certification, but nobody’s paid me to include it here.
- Georgetown University’s Social Media Management certification ($4,165).
- Pepperdine University’s Social Media Professional Certificate ($1,499 – $3,498, based on tier).
- Cornell’s Digital Marketing Certificate ($3,600).
- UCLA’s Marketing with Concentration in Digital Marketing certificate ($7,000).
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!