The Starter Academy is a free learning site created by a guy named Mike Johnson, who started his online business career about 15 years ago. His courses will teach you about blogging and driving traffic through content and social media. Here are 16 topics that you can expect to learn;
- 30 Day Authority Blog Blueprint (PDF)
- Email Copy That Sells
- List Building 2.0 Made Easy
- The 7 Step Affiliate Marketing System (video and PDF)
- Get Started with Twitter Marketing
- Get Started with Linkedin Marketing
- Get Started with Google Plus Marketing
- Get Started with Pinterest Marketing
- Get Started with Facebook Marketing
- Unlimited List Building: 6 Sources for New Subscribers
- Photoshop Expert: Learn Design Faster than Ever Before
- Webmaster Essentials: Getting Started with Website Management (video, FTP, cPanel and etc.)
- Using Amazon S3 for File, Image, and Video Management
- CSS Essentials: Design Basics for Website Owners
- HTML Essentials: Basics for Every Website Owner
- WordPress 101: Getting Started with WordPress (videos)
Seems like there are some hardcore topics going around here. Is it necessary to master every single one of them? Let’s dig further to find out what you can actually benefit from the Starter Academy.
1) The first aspect I like is the layout of the site; well organized and not too difficult to navigate around. The content is easy on the eyes without too much promotion as you would often see with other type of learning sites.
2) Most of the lessons are presented in short videos that runs for about 5 to 8 minutes (conducted by Mike himself) and PDF downloads/cheat sheets are available for topics that are more elaborate. For me, these two formats are helpful in the learning/revision process as compared to reading a long winded article.
3) The social media intro courses are pretty valuable to go through because I think most people (including me) who are new to online marketing would find these topics confusing and overwhelming sometimes.
4) Mike has also come up with a resourceful list of tools that he recommends for building an online business effectively. This provides relevance and saves you time from searching all over the internet.
As someone who picks up affiliate marketing from scratch (and inadvertently made a ton of mistakes for not knowing any better), there are a few things in regards to the content of the course, which I find could be misleading for newbies.
1) First of all, there’s no order to which topic that one should start with. If you follow the sequence that was listed above, you would find that WordPress tutorial comes at the very end.
]That shouldn’t be the case because if you want to create a niche blog, understanding WordPress is one of the most vital knowledge that you want to master earlier rather than later. The lack of a step-by-step module can create a lot of confusion.
2) In the Affiliate Marketing System for example, you are taught to create a squeeze page (aka a landing page), set up an autoresponder and promote through advertisement.
While these techniques are completely valid, it calls for some knowledge in understanding keyword research, traffic behavior and most importantly, having that extra cash to invest. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could end up spending a lot of money and not get any rewarding results.
Ever since Google implemented the Panda and Penguin update, this technique has devalued significantly and could potentially harm a website’s ranking.
4) Most of the information would tell you what to do, but Mike doesn’t really SHOW you how to do it right. For example, running a PPC campaign can be a daunting task for many people.
If he could create a video to show the step-by-step process, it would have been more helpful than just providing links to a bunch of PPC networks.
5) Speaking of link, most of the recommended tools are products/softwares that Mike is affiliated with. That is not a bad thing – after all, why would you think he’s offering these courses for ‘free’? But what concerns me is that he doesn’t provide a thorough review for each of them.
They are merely short descriptions, embedded with affiliate links here and there which makes it looks like he’s more interested in conversion (making sales commission) rather than helping the readers.
6) If you look through the topics again, you’d find a few that raise the eyebrows. Photoshop, Amazon S3, CSS – these are technical subjects that are good to know, but unless you are a web developer or designer, I don’t see the point to learn about them.
You can absolutely create a niche website with ease using the WordPress platform which doesn’t require a lot of (or even any) coding skills.
7) Like most free sites, the Starter Academy is purely a one way learning platform with no avenue for subscribers to interact with one another. You are literally absorbing all the information from Mike without any practical guidance or action taking.
It’s pretty much the same like reading an expert’s blog – you get the idea, but don’t really know how to implement them.
8) Although this last point is not related to the course content, I find it annoying that 1) there’s a pop up optin form for EVERY page that I visit and 2) I have to enter my email EVERY time I start a new topic, even though I’ve subscribed before. Pretty redundant, if you asked me.
So, Is The Starter Academy Worthy of Your Time?
If you are new to the world of internet marketing, these topics serve as a good introduction to the many segments that are involved in growing an online business. However, what Mike didn’t tell you is that you actually don’t need fancy tools to get things going.
You don’t need to invest on a squeeze page software because every piece of content that you create IS a landing page on its own. You don’t need to buy premium themes/plugins because most of the free ones in WordPress are just as good.
My point is – don’t spend your time learning outdated techniques or subjects that will delay your business progress in the modern marketing landscape. Instead, focus on these three things in the beginning – niche, keyword research and content creation. When traffic starts to build on your site, then we can talk about autoresponder, investing in paid traffic or monetizing from multiple blogs.
I hope this thorough review has given you a better idea what the Starter Academy is all about. If you want to start your online business on the right foundation, then I highly recommend to check out the training and resources at Wealthy Affiliate where you can benefit from the following features.
If you have any thoughts or questions about this topic, feel free to leave your comment in the space below and I’ll get back to you.
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