How I went from Blogger to Digital Marketer in 10 weeks

How I went from Blogger to Digital Marketer in 10 weeks

Back in March, I questioned my choice of career.

It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my current job. Quite the contrary – I absolutely love being a freelancer. It’s the only job I’ve ever had that I’m actually excited to do every day.

But alas, freelancing was not bringing in much money.

As a creative person, it’s hard to put a dollar value on your skills. Photographers, Writers, and Graphic Designers all struggle to get paid what they’re worth. There’s so much competition for creative jobs that people just aren’t willing to fork out much for those services.

So, I decided to re-evaluate my skill set. I listed out everything I was somewhat good at, and to my surprise, I realised that 2 years of blogging has given me a fair amount of expertise in social media management and content marketing. I could definitely freelance those skills!

There was just one problem – I couldn’t just say “Hey, I’m a Digital Marketer now! Hire me!”. I’d only ever used those skills for my personal blog, and never for a business. I needed a way to build on my knowledge and show potential clients/employers that I had the ability to help them.

To fix this, I started a 10 week part-time Digital Marketing course at General Assembly in NYC. This week I had my last lesson, and just received my certificate of completion.

A few people have asked me about the Digital Marketing course, so I’d like to share my experience in the hopes that it might help some of you decide whether General Assembly is the right path for you to take.

General Assembly notebook

What’s the course about?

I took this Digital Marketing course, which was held on campus in New York City. Classes were held two evenings per week, and we were also given about 4 hours of homework per week. Some of the subjects we covered were:

  • Brand strategy
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • Google Analytics
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Facebook Advertising
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • UX (User Experience)
  • Mobile Marketing
  • A/B testing
  • Retargeting
  • Referrals and Winbacks

The course actually changes slightly every time it’s taught, because the world of Digital Marketing is constantly developing. I think this is very valuable, because it means that I’ve now been given the most up-to-date and relevant skills.

I felt like a got a decent overview of how to be a Digital Marketer without going too deep into any one subject. Some of my classmates wanted to specialise in different areas, so this allowed us to go forth and learn more about the part of the course that we liked best.

General Assembly NYC

how difficult was it?

The lessons were made up of presentations and group activities. I found some lessons easier than others depending on the subject – the lessons on Google Analytics and Adwords were the hardest for me!

The course required us to complete a ‘final project’ which meant selecting a real-life company to work with, and completing a campaign for them. I chose to do an email marketing campaign for a local small business that does key exchanges and package acceptance for nearby residents.

The course is intense as it compacts a lot of information into 10 weeks. As a freelancer, I was able to put aside time to complete the homework assignments and lessons, but I imagine that for someone taking the course on top of a full-time job, it would be a big commitment of time.

If you take the course, be prepared to that your evenings and weekends will be partially tied up for 10 weeks!

What were the teachers like?

I actually did some online research before I took the course, and found some opinions that having a good teacher (or ‘instructor’ as they’re referred to at GA) makes a big difference. I checked out the course page on the General Assembly website which said that the instructor was a woman named Kimberly.

Well, it was a bit of a surprise to find out in my first class that my instructor was named Jon and he was not listed on the website at all. I was a little worried as I’d based some of my decision on the instructor, but luckily Jon knew what he was doing, and I found him to be very competent in both teaching and Digital Marketing knowledge.

We also had 2 teaching assistants who sat in on most of our classes, and were available for us to use for help with any of our classes or projects. They were great and had different Digital Marketing specialties.

General Assembly NYC

Did it get me a job?

Before I took the course, I wanted to know whether I would receive assistance in getting work afterwards. I think this might depend on how invested your instructor is in their students, but here’s my experience:

  • Jon regularly posted in our group Slack channel with job opportunities that he’d seen around.
  • There was also a noticeboard board in the General Assembly campus where job opportunities were posted.
  • The course included one optional extra lesson, which went over interviews processes, resumes, online profiles, and best practices for job searching. I found this lesson very useful.

As for getting a job, well, I’m still working on it – I haven’t been fully invested in job searching just yet as I’ve got a 3 week trip to Europe coming up, but when I get back I’ll get right onto it.

Was it worth it?

I was apprehensive of the price tag – $3500 is no small investment. However, Robert did point out to me that this is about the same cost as one semester of a university course. When you think of it that way, it doesn’t seem all that bad.

I wanted to know that I would get enough experience to apply for jobs or get freelance work afterwards. Even though I haven’t had the chance to look for work yet, I’d say that my chances of landing something are probably pretty high.

I’ve been taught the most recent Digital Marketing practices, I’ve got a widely recognised educational institution on my resume, I have teachers who would be willing to give me references, and I have a network of people to connect with in my job search.

Sure, there are cheaper courses online, but I felt like going into the classroom twice a week drove me to learn more and do better. It was nice having classmates who were going through the same experience as I was. So while the on-campus course was the most expensive, I’ll say that it was definitely worth it.

By the way, I did not receive any compensation for this post. I paid the full course fee, and was not asked by General Assembly to do a review. I wrote it purely so that you might get a decent idea of what the Digital Marketing course is like at General Assembly.

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15 Responses to “How I went from Blogger to Digital Marketer in 10 weeks”

  1. Nicole

    Congratulations on finishing!

    I am about two weeks away from finishing my course at GA and just began drafting my blog post about it for the same reasons, not because I was discounted or comped (because I wasn’t and my bank balance still hates me, haha!) but because it was an interesting experience which, for me, was about testing the waters to see where I want my career to head next.

    I’m studying in Melbourne, and the only comparable courses would be those of a similar price which are run through the professional institutes for marketers. Even then, GA is definitely on the forefront of up-to-date content.
    Good luck job hunting 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thank you Nicole! My life feels kind of empty now that I’m not going to class 2 times a week. I’ll have to find some work to fill up my time 😛 Did you do the Digital Marketing course too? Or one of the other courses? I think each campus might have a slightly different selection.

      Totally feel you on the bank balance issue – I haven’t been able to save any money for 3 months because of it! Still, I’m hoping that the investment will pay off soon enough. Link me your blog post once you have it finished, I’d be interested to compare your experience in the Melbourne campus to mine in the NYC campus 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It was a really interesting course, and I feel like I know a lot more about Digital Marketing now that I’ve taken it. Thank you Kate! 😀

  2. Tatiana

    Hi Ashlea,
    thank you for sharing your insights! I’ve been thinking myself of doing some kind of course in digital marketing as I feel I would need a more academical background if I’d apply for a job. I’ve learned a lot by myself while writing own blogs or maintaining an online shop but working for somebody needs some deeper knowledge, I think.
    And your post confirmed also my point of view, that an on-campus course probably makes more sense than just online. The ‚offline’ interaction with other students or the teacher is priceless.
    Good luck on your further journey,
    The Happy Jetlagger

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your comment, Tatiana! It sounds like your situation is very similar to mine – we learn loads while running a blog and online shop, but we just need a little push to take that knowledge to the next level. Best of luck with finding and taking a digital marketing course that will help you improve on your current skills!

  3. Veera Bianca

    Oh cool, I’d love to do this course too! So many things i’m still hoping to learn, like all things SEO for sure!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh, SEO is just an endless learning process! You can get by pretty well with the basics or you can go really, really deep into it 😛 The course was super good for giving me the basics of everything digital marketing. I’d definitely recommend!

  4. Raelene

    Hi Ashlea! Thanks for writing about your experience at GA. I’ve been tossing and turning, wondering if it is worth doing and upskilling as a project manager, and this is really helped provide some insight into the course. It’s November now, and I wondered if you had eventually found any work that was DM related post-travel and post-studies. Would love to hear what you are up to now!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad you found it useful, Raelene! I’ve been searching for some part-time or freelance work ever since I got back from Europe. I haven’t had a lot of luck, BUT I think that’s mostly because 1) New York is a difficult place to find work that isn’t full-time or an internship, and 2) I’m being rather picky with the work I’m looking for. The GA course definitely has helped companies take me more seriously when applying for jobs, so it’s definitely worth doing if you don’t have a lot of education or work experience in that area already 🙂

  5. Devonta White

    Great post. I came across your post as I’m looking to increase my marketing scope from traditional to digital especially with me blogging and doing photography now. So I’m trying to make my brand more marketable. Thanks for your insight!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great, Devona! It’s definitely a good time to be getting into digital marketing as this industry is bound to grow over the next few years. Best of luck!

  6. Megan

    Hi! This is an old post, but I’m literally in the same situation as you were. I want to switch to digital marketing, but I’ve only done it for my own small business. Since it’s been a year since you completed GA, did it change your career path? I’m considering taking this course in SF.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hey Megan, thanks for your comment! The course definitely helped me get my first social media management contract job (you can read about it here). I wasn’t applying for any full-time or permanent jobs, but I definitely think it’s helped me gain credibility for the contract jobs that applied for afterwards 🙂

  7. sanjit mandal

    What other programs did you consider?

    I am looking at Udacity, Springboard, and Simplilearn.

    Thanks very much.


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