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On March 11th I started self-isolation because of this pandemic. During the first couple of days, I used to check out the news way too often for my own sake. I had to make it stop. So I did what any (former) geek would do. I started learning. I took online courses. I am now working on course #5 and thought I could share what I liked and recommend here.

Facebook Blueprint Certification (105 minutes for the exam)

I got my Blueprint certification in Media Planning. Finally. I was planning (ha!) for that one a long time. The exam material is ok, it is a comprehensive approach to everythingyou need to know about advertising on the Facebook family of apps. But it needs a lot more structure and a guiding flow to help the user process all that info without getting lost.

One piece of advice: if you scheduled an exam, only focus on the media planning lessons. That’s all you need for the certification. The exam is full of ‘what if’ scenarios so make sure you understand bidding strategies very well and get ready to be asked countless times ‘what is the recommended budget?’.

Ahref course titled Blogging for business (5 hours)

This is an SEO centric and plugs in their product a little bit more than I’d like them toBut it’s a useful SEO take on why and how to blog for business purposes. And it’s now free of charge! (it used to go for almost $800).

I dug into the course expecting it to be a comprehensive take on blogging, more focused on the strategy. My mistake, the agenda, the approach does come from an SEO company. Do not get me wrong, I do recommend it to anyone doing content marketing. cool tactical tips & tricks on how to leverage SEO tools to get content ideas and help grow traffic and business. I would, however, change the course’s title to SEO for your business blog.

Getting a YES: How to Prep, Pitch, Persuade, and Close by Tom Goodwin (50 minutes)

To be honest, I’d take this one course in the kitchen while chopping off veggies for a meal (yes, isolation at home made me spend a lot more time in the kitchen!). There’s nothing groundbreaking about this course, only common sense insights on how to approach pitching a project/a business/a campaign. I’ll give them this: it is very well structured and there are enough pauses for you to properly stir the pot while you’re cooking dinner. I would not have paid for this course, nor do I recommend you do.

PIXAR’s The Art Of Storytelling (12 hours) : loved it!

I am in no way a story artist or movie maker, but I loved every hour I spent with the Pixar artists who explained how they create the amazing animations we all enjoy so much (think Cars, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Up, Inside Out, Monsters Inc, Coco, Ratatouille). The first lessons on character building and story structure are particularly useful for marketers as well as wannabe writers all over the world.

What’s next? Intro to Psychology from Yale on Coursera. I am already on week 3 of the material and enjoying every lesson. Yesterday I spent my evening learning about our memories and how we can use 2,000-year-old techniques to remember a speech. You can, too, just watch this cool science journalist give a talk on memory and how pausing to process everything that’s happening to us/around us helps us not just improve our memory, but our lives, too.

Do you want to take up some online courses, too? I found this neat list of online courses for digital strategists you can check out, it’s put together by Stephen Brooks. Think With Google also has an article curating free resources they recommend for building digital marketing and leadership skills. Pause the news cycle, close the social media apps. Geek out, don’t freak out! 🙂