I’m teaching my first community college course in a couple of months. It’s exciting. It’s intimidating. It’s an incredible amount of prep work, since it’s completely online, so it’s tiring too. However, I’m already feeling proud of this course despite being nowhere close to ready.
The online course I took at DVC about teaching an online course (how’s that for meta?) emphasized how important it is to be authentic and let your personality through. In the online format, you almost have to go overboard with it. They say it helps students connect not only with you, the professor, but also with the course material.
To that end, I wrote this welcome letter to my students. I’m proud of this too.
How’s it going? Nice to meet you! This is the speech I’d normally give to you in person, except for two not-so-minor things:
- As of this writing, at least, times are (still) not normal, and
- This course was always going to be online.
So we wouldn’t actually meet face-to-face anyway. Therefore, this was always going to be done in writing or on video. Oh well.
I write this on a cold December night in 2020. There’s a fire in the gas fireplace, my dog is snoring next to me, and my family is in bed. I’m sipping on Angel’s Envy bourbon whiskey. Why? Because it’s been a long, long day. I was up at 4am and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I read Sam Walton’s Made In America until about 4:45am. Then I tried to go back to sleep, failed, and five minutes later was in my living room. I turned on the fireplace. My dog was snoring next to me then, too. I did my daily ten-minute core exercise routine, drank some coffee, and felt grateful that my kids didn’t come out of their rooms until after 7am. My day began and is ending on the same couch, with the same fireplace and same dog, but with a different beverage in my hand.
By day I am a professional entrepreneur. I build and run and sell businesses for a living. Just last month I sold three more businesses to a data company in Santa Barbara. Two years before that, I sold a website to a team in Texas. Next month, in January 2021, I hope to sell another business to a company in London right before they list their stock on the London Stock Exchange.
It all sounds glamorous, and maybe it is, but what it really is is very technical. And I don’t just mean bytes and code snippets. The marketing is technical. The negotiations are technical. The people I work with and work for are all very technical. And I suppose, by technical, what I really mean is data-driven. You can’t be a tech entrepreneur without at least an appreciation of and at best a deep understanding of… data.
This is especially true for digital marketing (a.k.a. search marketing.) The best marketers live and breathe data. Data all day, every day. They’re comfortable with spreadsheets, graphs, and statistics. They can ask the right questions and when they don’t know the answers, they at least know how to find them (hint: it usually involves collecting more data.) This is what it means to be a search marketer.
But if data is not your thing, fear not! There’s an art behind this science, too. And when you start to see the art in the data, the numbers begin to look far more friendly. I think you’ll find that “data analysis” is far less intimidating when you’re talking about clicks and views and what things cost. Put dots on a graph, draw a line through them, and that’s it. You can tell the story because you understand that there’s a story to be told.
And this is why, tonight, I’m tired, I’m cold, and I’m ready for bed. But I’m also really excited to be teaching this class and exploring search marketing with you at DVC. We’re going to learn a lot together this spring and I’m glad to have you in my class!
We’re going to cover a lot of ground together over just a couple of months. We’ll learn about the Internet, about with HTML and CSS code, and then we’ll dive into the guts of SEO and PPC and finally conclude with a real, honest-to-goodness search marketing project that you can put on your resume.
If you want to get good at search marketing for yourself or for people that pay you, this is the course for you.