All night garage

For five years I've always kept a keen eye on how this blog is performing. This is partly to inform future content, probably partly to feed my ego and most importantly to see if it's still a good use of my time! However, over the past 6 months or so, I've noticed a decline in visits which is now an all time low readership of less than 800 people.

Initially this surprised me. Especially as we're supposed to be experiencing a digital skills gap so more people should be thirsty for knowledge than ever. I came to the conclusion that it's probably because we've reached peak saturation for marketing blogs (and internet published content in general!)

When I started out I was one of the few around blogging consistently on this topic. Now, there's a massive upturn in people posting longer posts on social media. In fact, when I started in my current role I was the most prolific employee on LinkedIn by just by posting a link to my latest post every fortnight! Now  the percentage of people posting regularly has increased massively.

I even read a lot less marketing blogs myself now. The sheer amount in existence means that the majority are either regurgitated, boring or uninspiring (all things I could sometimes be accused of too!) Either that or they're click bait focused with snappy headlines with not much substance. It takes so much effort to find good stuff I rarely bother now aside from reading more general business/creative thinking content. After all, good marketing is about keeping it simple and being creative.

This situation means the much publicised digital skills gap is likely to suffer as a result. Where do people who are just starting out go to get quality insight and advice nowadays?

It was with this in mind that I recently decided to check out the 'Google Digital Garage' in Manchester. This was put on my radar by a colleague and I felt compelled to check it out. Essentially, Google offer free local coaching on a massive amount of subjects in high street training centres in Edinburgh, Manchester (and sometimes) London.

So, last week we went along to a session on 'How to write a Social Media strategy'. On arrival we were very impressed with the facilities. For anyone starting up a business I'd almost say it's essential to go along yourself. Especially as they offer courses on writing a digital marketing plan, answering questions with data and getting your business seen on Google (among many others).

Our course lasted an hour and half and was excellently structured. I wouldn't say I learnt a lot, having written strategies in the past, but it was reassuring to know what I did was still up to date and relevant. I did get some great tips on presentation layout and a list of new tools to try though. I would have liked to sign up for a whole day of their courses (they also offer one to one coaching) to test against my own skills and see how other people teach digital marketing!

Farewell Google+ - we'd forgotten you were still alive!
Given this is all totally free to attend it got me thinking about the business model. The facilities were great and the staff very knowledgeable so how does this pay for itself? My guess is that it helps Google increase their own brand loyalty and corporate responsibility score. They also need businesses who value the internet so by upskilling them it helps them grow their platform (and collect more data on us!) Finally, it helps plug the gap in digital skills for their potential future recruits to create more quality apps like Google Maps and less like Google+...

I was inspired to almost go away and start to set up my own digital skills training academy in my local area. Only a fool or a hero would dare take on the might of Google though. Especially when they're offering quality courses for free!
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