Creating my self-guided learning plan

Currently I am working in the finance/real estate sector and trying to break into the creative industry. For the past couple of months, I had set my goal to learn all about digital marketing and develop new skills to add to my resume. Since digital marketing is so broad, I really didn’t know where to start. After some time researching and networking around, I took interest in search engine optimization (SEO) and decided to begin my self-learning journey there. 

I believe that learning new skills such as SEO would be a great addition to have in any communications and PR roles. SEO is the process of enhancing the quality and quantity of traffic to a web page from search engines, like Google. Because SEO specializes in identifying trending keywords and topics, a website or blog can write stories that use those keywords to create more successful campaigns and reach more audiences. Trending content can substantially increase search rankings and click-through rates.   

When I first got started, it was very difficult to stay focused and keep my mind going after a long day at work. I’m sure you know that feeling where it’s easier to sit down and turn on Netflix for the rest of the night. But I knew I had to keep myself accountable, so I created a weekly agenda on topics that I want to cover and each day after work I would schedule time to focus on it. I might tell myself I’ll just do five minutes, but once I get started that momentum can carry me along.

My total learning is about two hours a day (Mon–Fri), it may seem like a lot but let me break it down. Usually after work I’ll have some time to relax, grab some food and look through Instagram and TikTok. If I am on public transit, I take full advantage of my commute by listening to podcasts, reading lecture materials and watching helpful YouTube videos. Around 7pm is when I have my laptop opened and ready to dive in. From 7pm–8pm I begin with courses/lessons with short breaks in between. Around 8pm–9pm I’d do more research, identify any gaps, and watch tutorials to understand the topic in more depth. Then I would spend the rest of my night (depending on how tired I am) putting those theories into practice by playing around with my own website. For SEO, that means I’ll learn about integrating keywords and metadata into blog posts, then review and rewrite my existing content to help it rank for the terms people are searching for, using natural language. I’ll also need to strategize and build backlinks to my site. Overall, It was also important for me to set deadlines to have tasks completed so I would stay on track.

If you are thinking about taking courses to elevate your existing skills or add new ones to your resume and don’t know where to begin, there are many valuable online resources to check out and find something that piques your curiosity or solves a problem you’re experiencing. You may want to consider free online courses at Hubspot, Coursera, and Google Digital Garage. CPRS members can learn by joining professional development courses and webinars with CPRS. If you have a Public Library card, you can have free access to LinkedIn Learning or good old fashioned books! No matter how busy you are, there is always time in your day to get started. This is a great way to challenge yourself and discover new interests as well.

My tip for successful self-learning is to create a schedule to stick to and understand your purpose. Write out what you want to achieve, plan out how you can get there, and track your progress. Celebrate the small achievements and milestones, and stay  focused on your goal! As long as you are doing 1% better than yesterday, you will achieve 100% of your learning goal in no time.  

About the Author

Graduated with a BA in Communication from Simon Fraser University, Connie Lin is fascinated with all-things digital marketing and communications. She is driven and curious by the impact of the ever-changing landscape of digital media and technology for today's audience. When she’s not writing, you can catch her at the hippest food joints in Vancouver. Get connected with her on Linkedin.