It’s a bad business idea, that’s what.

But it was an important one for ATF guest Tommy Griffith, SEO nerd and founder of ClickMinded, to have had.

In fact, there would be no ClickMinded if not for Griffith’s entrepreneurial gaffe.

It happened like this: During a post-college stint teaching English in Japan, Griffith and a buddy came up with a business venture targeting “Americans looking for orthopedic surgery who were aged 45 to 65 in Taiwan.”

Obviously it crashed and burned. But in the process of failing, Griffith learned a lot about SEM and SEO, which ultimately landed him gigs at Paypal and then Airbnb.

To dig himself out of the debt incurred by his foray into medical tourism (which was really just a form of local SEO), he created a digital marketing training course that he administered on weekends. This course would eventually become ClickMinded – an online digital-marketing training program that encapsulates all of Griffith’s grand ideas about marketing on the web and education at large.

Griffith’s tale is fascinating and his views on higher-learning in an internet age subversively enlightening.

Earmark this episode for your commute home, because it’s a banger.

Listen now:

Clickbait: Not the hero your business deserves

“There’s using digital marketing to grow your business and then there’s digital marketing media,” Griffith advised Baker (lamentably sans Francis again).

A lot of the digital-marketing media out there is a black hole that uses FOMO and empty generalities (e.g., How to double your Twitter followers in a day”) to get people clicking lots and learning little.

And sadly, a lot of managers click to the detriment of their own progress.

“Get-clicks-quick” schemes sound nice, but digital marketing requires real knowhow. The stuff that’s actually useful asks a little more of your attention – something with utility, step-by-step tutorials, screen shots and ideas that deviate from the same tired rhetoric.

Yes, learning hurts. It’s growing pains for your brain. But it’s good for you. Ditch the junk-food media from Forbes and Entrepreneur. Instead check out:

There are plenty more, but that should give you something to chew on for a good while.

Out with the Harvard-educated managers, in with the WoW bloggers!

If there’s one thing you don’t need to succeed in digital marketing, it’s a $40,000-$100,000 master’s degree.

And yet, there is in fact such a thing – much to Griffith’s chagrin and Baker’s bewilderment.

Digital marketers want to see real-world skill – because let’s face it: digital marketing is a very young trade, one that was born in the wild. You’ll find the true mavens in the weeds, not in a stuffy classroom.

“There is a massive unstoppable machine bankrupting people and getting them to put their life on hold for 10 to 30 years for a vaporware degree that you can get if you fly to Costa Rica and hang out on the beach for three months and watch YouTube videos,” Griffith ranted.

His more realistic alternative to a 50k degree in digital marketing? A $10 WordPress fee and some time. Here’s the full curriculum:

  • Pick a topic you’re passionate about.
  • Buy a domain name.
  • Get hosted.
  • Set up search console.
  • Get indexed.
  • Do keyword research.
  • Create three pages of content.
  • Set up Google Analytics.
  • Create a way to collect email addresses.
  • Set up conversion events in GA.
  • Push the site live.
  • Promote it on social media.

There’s more than enough content on the web to teach you to do every one of these things and learn so much more in the process than you ever could in school.

If you really care about digital marketing, go do it.

Useful resources referenced in this podcast

  • “The 4-Hour Work Week”: Baker hates this book as you may well remember, and Griffith is well aware of its absurdity at parts, but admits it helped juice up an economy of remote workers.
  • “Trust Me, I’m Lying”: A manifesto by a media manipulator about why the internet is broken and how easily the media can be gamed that, incidentally, ties in well with Griffith’s views on clickbait (around the 19-minute mark).
  • “Web Analytics 2.0”: Baker’s Bible when it comes to most things digital marketing – this is likely the reason Baker is the way that he is.
  • “The Next Era of Web Marketing”: A SlideShare with a bunch of enlightening stats – particularly about social media – that Baker found fascinating (available here).

Free ClickMinded resources to check out

Context-free quote of the week

“I’m a cowboy coder.”

Dominick Sorrentino is a senior writer in Chicago. He's a wordsmith who endeavors to use language, story-telling and creativity to solve problems. He enjoys pizza, the musical styling of A Tribe Called Quest, traveling, a good conversation and, of course, putting pen to paper.