During the first lockdown, with a lot of free time on my hands, I took advantage of free or reduced online training from several providers and did some online marketing courses with providers who use the free course as a funnel for their paid courses.
I have been studying languages on Duolingo for a couple of years. At the moment I am studying Italian and German and have also used it to relearn Spanish, practice my French and to try to restart my Russian. The way Duolingo works is a good example for keeping people interested, having rewards for achieving certain milestones – doing a lesson every day, doing enough lessons to achieve a daily goal and leaderboards and so on.
Most of the courses have been useful, one way or another. I have learnt how to do basic art, use a tablet and drawing pen, draw characters (ongoing practice at the moment), use Gimp more effectively (it’s what I have been using to edit photos), do animation basics, do Blender animation basics and teach English online.
The teaching English online and the animation basics course were provided by free by Futurelearn. Had I wanted certificates and more materials I could have upgraded to either a course fee or a yearly fee for unlimited courses. The yearly fee seems good value for money if you need these extras.
I took advantage of a free month of LinkedIn Learning for the Blender and Gimp courses and I set up my photography website and this blog with the help of their WordPress courses. I looked at extending my stay on there to do more Blender and learn Da Vinci, by paying the monthly fee, but I wasn’t sure whether I would have the time as I was expecting to get a contract for work. However I’m still waiting for someone to employ me. I may pay for a month or two next time that I know I have time between contracts.
The drawing courses were reduced on Udemy and I have them to refer to for life. I have never been able to draw but having done these courses my confidence in my ability to draw has improved immensely. The aim is to tie that in with the animation, Gimp and Blender that I have learnt.
The reason that I have been doing the marketing is that I am aware that that was one of the weak points in my previous businesses. I know a lot about online marketing now, not just from these sources but others too. I’ve got to the stage now that I need to stop doing the courses and apply the knowledge. The advice online is quite varied and some is fanciful and some advice will contradict someone elses advice. I am also very aware that what will work for one person and their business may not work for someone else.
The online video marketing training came from three sources, a UK based business person, an American high end wedding photographer and a couple of American wideboy types, both with successful businesses. The UK based one was most useful of the three to me as it was pitched at the level of business I am in. The US photographer provided some useful insights but it’s not the level or type of photography that I am aiming at. The two wideboys most useful lesson was making sure that you do the 5Ps, their presentation crashed shortly after the first session started. They also overloaded their mail service. On the second day, doing the material for the first day, they waffled and when they finally started providing useful information, 90 minutes in, I realised that it wasn’t going to help me much, if at all. It was a shame because their pre-course homework was well thought out and useful (and used rewards).
Why am I doing all this? Firstly I like learning and I want to keep my brain active. Secondly I want to build my photography and filmmaking business, not just shooting but also teaching online.