I signed up to teach one class, and ended up teaching 46

twitterpicIn addition to writing a bunch of blog posts, the second half of my business in 2015 was teaching classes at General Assembly. This one kind of started on a whim. In late summer of 2014, just a few months after shutting down CD8A, I learned that GA was opening a campus in Atlanta and needed a PT Digital Marketing Instructor. Now, I have never been formally trained as a marketer nor have I ever held a title with “marketing” anywhere in it, but I learned content, email, social, and SEO the hard way: self-taught trial and error. I figured I had done some things that others could learn from. So, I threw my hat in the ring and got the gig.

That gig was teaching the 10-week Digital Marketing class, but it turned into a bunch of other classes. Here’s the list and a short description of each.

  • Digital Marketing – This is the class I originally signed up for. We’re now in the 5th cohort (DGM5), of which I’ve led three. I’ve met some great people, learned a ton, and have been really surprised at how much other business opportunities came from leading this class. (taught the 10-week class 3 times..ok 2 1/2 if you’re getting technical)
  • Digital Marketing Bootcamp – After teaching my first cohort of DGM, General Assembly asked me to write a blog series on the same subject as an inbound marketing tool for the class. You can read those blog posts here or here. It was while writing those posts that I came up with the idea of teaching this bootcamp: 60 hours of DGM training smashed down to six hours. (taught 11 times)
  • Advanced Social Media Strategies – I love teaching this class because it takes the basics about social media (that everyone thinks they already know) and blows them up into best practices for how to actually create a plan to use social media to effectively market your organization. Again, I learn a ton every time I teach this class. (taught 6 times)
  • How to Measure Social Media ROI – Lots of people know how to market via social media, but far fewer understand how to account for it. It’s just math, but “solve for X” in this case can be tricky. It starts with knowing your costs, learning the value of a social interaction and engagement, and tracking everything. Here’s the summary blog post. (taught 5 Times)
  • Blogging for Your Brand Bootcamp – We’re still trying to figure this one out. The first time we offered it, in January of 2015, we had 50+ people show up. The next time, we had maybe 5. What it’s become is a 0-60MPH WordPress bootcamp. The best part about this class? When I taught it, I realized that over the past year and a half that I’ve learned WordPress at a much higher level than I ever intended. (taught 5 times)
  • Google Analytics Certification Bootcamp – The first time I had to use Google Analytics, I hated it. It’s so huge and complicated. Then I took the time to actually learn it. That’s when it clicked. It’s no different than using Salesforce: you have to know what you’re doing to fully appreciate its power. I’ve taught one of these classes (to 40 students!) and we’ve got 4 more scheduled for Q1 of 2016. We got a ton of great feedback on the first class, which I’d consider “beta”, and I’m actively making tweaks and changes to make the second run even better.
  • Pitch Camp: This class is the 2-3 hour version of Pitch Practice. I’ve ended up delivering this class to several private audiences outside of General Assembly, and it always goes over really well. (taught 6 times)
  • Social Media Bootcamp – This one’s new! Haven’t taught it yet, but I will on December 30. We’ll be doubling down on the “Advanced Social Media Strategies” class by going deep into owned and paid content marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn, blogging, and branding. (taught 6 times)
  • Introduction to Digital Marketing – “DGM Bootcamp Lite” is a good reference for this one. Same exact subjects, but taught at a lighter level to test the student’s understanding and desire to pursue a career or other learning in this space. I’ve written a lot of blog posts on digital marketing. (taught 2 times)
  • How to Land a Job at a Startup – This class wasn’t a formal class. I led a panel of Recruiting Execs from Ionic Security, Pindrop Security, and SalesFusion. It was a great night and everyone – myself included – learned a ton about how high growth tech companies attract and retain the best employees. I wrote several follow up blog posts here, here, and here.
  • Social Media Strategy Mapping – We only ran this class once, because it turned into the Advance Social Media Strategies class. Much better name.
  • Digital Marketing: Key Concepts and Metrics – This class was kind of like the Intro to DGM, but focused on the terminology and specific metrics that we track in DGM. Here’s a good summary post.

I’ve always enjoyed leading small groups like at Pitch Practice, but, until this year, I had never taught a formal class. It’s been a great learning experience, and I’ve met so many great people, many of whom have engaged in other ways so we are still learning from each other. The main thing I’ve learned from teaching in 2015 is that preparation and repetition are the keys to success. Each hour of teaching requires 2-4 hours of preparation for the first couple of classes. Then, once you’ve delivered the full class a couple of times, you learn what teaching methods, exercises, questions, analogies, and tools work best. Then you can put more energy into making the class better rather than learning how to deliver it.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new skill – like Google Analytics – I highly recommend signing up to teach it. Doing so forces you to learn it at a higher level than you would otherwise have to. When you can teach it, you understand it much, much better. Also, General Assembly is very open and receptive to letting you teach what you know, and they are a marketing machine. You just show up and teach!

What do you think?