Education is an important part of any professional’s personal improvement. In an area as diverse as digital marketing, it is important to keep up to date and look at how you can apply new (or sometimes old) ideas and methodologies to current problems. I also think once you have learnt something new you should try and share it (your comprehension of something can often be vastly different to someone else).
So why continue to learn? You might already be in the job you love – you’ve essentially already done the hard work. This quote sums it up for me:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
But how do you keep up to date with what is happening and apply the skills to change your world? I think the important thing with education is to never assume you know everything.
This quote for me sums it up — ‘the wise man knows he knows nothing, the fool thinks he knows all’. Even in areas that you feel you know well, there are still people who will teach you more, or approach a topic from a different angle that might give you new ideas, or open your eyes to opportunities that you didn’t know existed.
But there are a number of other great sources to keep yourself up to date and make sure that you continue to educate yourself. If you are new to the industry, it’s important to get a solid grounding and understand the key areas.
The first thing I read when I came into affiliate marketing (and one of the reasons I found this site) was Geno’s Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing. I think the great thing with this book was it was easy to get into, covered all the basics, and answered any questions that someone getting into the industry would ask.
He has recently published something towards affiliates in a similar format (questions and answers). You can get a copy here: Quick Start Guide to Affiliate Marketing.
Conferences are also a great source of information; and you will often see the people at the forefront of the market presenting their ideas and thoughts. My two favourite conferences affiliate-wise have been Affiliate Management Days (I attended and spoke at the London version) and Performance Marketing Insights (formally A4u Expo). The good thing about these conferences is that you get people challenging ideas and trying to present numbers and figures that point in different directions.
The most successful people are the ones that are constantly learning, but also thinking ‘how I can apply this to my current situation?’ Applying the knowledge you have is as vital as the learning itself. So when you go to these events or read books or blogs, think about the potential benefits for you. How can I apply it to what I am doing?
For example, I read The Game by Neil Strauss, having heard lots of people talking about it. I was expecting a light hearted, fun read. What I found is that most of the things they applied to chat up women were an extension of rapport-building techniques for networking. From using situational factors to approach people, without making them uncomfortable, to learning how to demonstrate value to the person you are speaking to. A little searching in most things and you can learn something.
As well as applying your learning, I also think it is important to share what you learn, and your perspective on information. One of the great things about being passionate about any subject is how differently two people will see the same information/event. And these differences create debate, and further learning as maybe you see something you didn’t realise before. Explaining something often means that you yourself gain a greater understanding of it, as you have to justify your opinions. I often find that people are scared to put their opinion out there unless they’re an industry veteran or a specialist. Often, the people without years of experience or specialisms are the most fascinating as they are thinking originally, uniquely and asking more questions.
Hopefully this has left you inspired to continue your education and share with others. I have recently followed my own advice and authored a book on affiliate marketing strategy. This covers the basics of affiliate management and while giving some tips on things to try for key areas such as recruitment, promotions and communication. Hopefully it helps to educate, but also creates some new questions and a further thirst for knowledge.