Is It Better to Learn Digital Marketing for Free or Pay for a Course?

The internet is full of opportunities to learn new skills, and many times you can do it for free. Such is the case with digital marketing classes. If you’re a small business owner or budding marketer with a tight budget, you might be tempted to take advantage of these free resources. While there’s nothing wrong with saving a buck or two where you can, it’s not always the best approach. When it comes to digital marketing courses, remember that you will get what you pay for.

Regardless of which option you choose, there are some basic things that every digital marketing course should teach you. Your education should include, but not be limited to:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Viral Marketing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Marketing Automation
  • Digital Analytics
  • Webpage Design

Free Marketing Courses

Your first inclination may be to lean towards a learning digital marketing for free. You’re not alone, many other business owners and marketers choose to begin their education in this way. You won’t be disappointed by the number of options available. A quick search online will reveal a myriad of free courses available to anyone with the desire to learn. Before you dive in, however, it’s important to look at the pros and cons of taking this route.


The Pros

Zero Investment – The most obvious benefit of taking a free digital marketing course is that you don’t have to put out any money to get started. You can take as many courses as you wish and you never have to take out your credit card.

Self-Paced Learning – Another advantage to taking free courses is that you can learn at your own pace, without deadlines, homework, or other obligations. This is great for people who have a busy schedule already.

No Commitment – With free digital marketing courses, you aren’t under any obligation to finish. If you decide that the material isn’t up to snuff, or that you simply don’t like the course, you can stop anytime. There’s no hassle, and you won’t be penalized in any way.

The Cons

It’ll Take Time – While it’s easy to find free courses online, it’s going to take some time to weed out the good from the bad. Anybody can post a course online and claim that it’s the best, but you can’t believe everything you read online and you’ll need to do your due diligence.

Quality Varies – Much of the information that is available for free with regards to digital marketing is rehashed, old, outdated, or inaccurate. There may well be a few excellent gems you can glean, but the reality is, you can’t rely on a free course to be up-to-date and accurate.

No Structure – Learning digital marketing from free sources is a completely unstructured endeavor. There is no starting point, and no defined end to the material. You’ll find yourself bouncing from one topic to the next, and back again, which can be confusing and frustrating.

No Certification – Perhaps the biggest con involved with free courses is that there is no recognized certification at the end of the course. This may not be a problem for someone who simply wants to learn a little about the process. Someone who is serious about a marketing career needs a certification.

Paid Marketing Courses

You may be thinking that paid courses must offer some major benefits over free ones, and you’d be right. Considering the cost, you can rest assured that the course has been carefully crafted to benefit students. In fact, paying for your education ensures your success in a number of very important ways.

The Pros

A Clear Direction – Paid digital marketing courses are structured and finely tuned to help the student succeed. There is a clear beginning, a defined path throughout, and an obvious end to the material. Along the way, there are benchmarks such as quizzes and tests to help track progress and comprehension of the material.

Quality Materials – Producing high-quality, thorough coursework materials requires an investment in time, and money. Since they charge for the courses, paid course providers are able to create better user interfaces, top-notch immersive video lessons, workbooks, and other materials. In most cases, they also update the information on a frequent basis so it’s always relevant, current, and actionable.

Qualified Instructors – Paid marketing courses are generally taught by highly qualified instructors with a deep knowledge of the subject. They not only know the material well, but also apply it to their own businesses. They act as an educator and mentor to their students, and provide them with feedback, advice, and even tutoring. This individual attention helps students reach higher levels of success.

Meaningful Certification – The vast majority of paid marketing classes provide students with a certification upon successful completion of the course. This is important for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in marketing as it sets them apart from those who do not have one. A business owner with a certification may receive preference when applying for a loan, or other funding.

The Cons

It’s Not Free – Obviously, a paid digital marketing course has a price tag attached to it. A business owner or marketer will have to set aside the funds to pay for the course and any associated materials. In some cases, financial aid may be available for students who cannot afford to pay in cash. Most often, however, this is an out-of-pocket expense, or rather an investment.

It’s Not Easy – Paid digital marketing courses are a lot like a college class. You’re going to have to show up, pay attention, and study hard to get the most out of it. There aren’t any short-cuts, and you’ll be expected to not only complete the coursework, but also to master the material. You’ll be tested along the way just to make sure you’re absorbing the materials.

While there are some real benefits to taking digital marketing classes for free, there are also some serious drawbacks. You won’t get the same level of education, the material won’t be high quality, and you’ll spend a great deal of time just trying to find everything you need to know. On the other hand, paid marketing courses offer you a structured lesson plan full of timely, relevant, and actionable information. Your instructor will be an industry leader who is as invested in your success as you are. If you’re a business owner, manager, or marketer consider your options very carefully when it comes to digital marketing courses.



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