My Self-Taught Experience Learning To Code
Some of the problems I encountered with my self-taught coding ways were I might get pretty far in implementing my self-hosted server on my computer using AJAX but then I would get stuck on one part and confused why. In another situation, I might add a piece of script or set up a comment widget on my WordPress site but then it was if I opened a floodgate of comment spam, causing my OCD to kick in every time I login to the CMS and see multiple spam notifications. Those kind of things bug me to no end and often keep me stuck for days or months on the same problem. Then there was the simple thing of coding something and it not looking or functioning exactly the way I wanted. Looking back, I do believe I could become a developer but I would have to go back to formal step-by-step (college level) training from the beginning and understand every aspect. I tried Codecademy and it helped some but not enough to be able to write my own code from scratch. I realized I would need to devote many, many hours to the discipline to become moderately proficient.
How I Use My Coding Training in Digital Marketing
After years of this coding knowledge being used to a limited degree mainly for personal use and experimentation, the fringes of digital marketing have started to bring these learnings back up. Where most account managers in digital marketing would need a developer, a front-end designer, or a data analyst for identifying concerns and implementing small tweaks for their digital marketing programs, a little bit of knowledge has proved to be very beneficial and eliminate the need for additional support for many minor issues.
Here is a list of ways that learning basic coding has helped me stand out in digital marketing (outside of doing my core job role well, i.e. managing clients relationships):
First, HTML is the language that search engines read to tag information and categorize it appropriately for search results. In other words, HTML is the language of Search Engine Optimization. Knowing HTML and it’s primary tags and attributes allows you to find and address initial SEO accessibility and indexability problems when observing a website’s source code as well as double-checking a developer’s implementations from a more technical SEO audit.
Second, speaking of CSS, it is a large complement to HTML. They go together like peanut butter and jelly for your pb&j. As mentioned, HTML is for structure of the website and CSS designs those elements. Particularly, knowing CSS with HTML will allow you to make tweaks to the front-end website design whether custom or templated and be confident you won’t break the developer’s work.
Third, a more direct benefit in a digital marketing manager role and where the self-taught development training has helped is in learning how to pull data into excel using API’s (Application Program Interface). Using Next Analytics, and a basic knowledge of Google Analytics and Google AdWords API protocol, I get to use words like ‘query’ and ‘prompt’ to aggregate data from multiple Google Analytics profiles and Google AdWords accounts into Excel. I can then align the data into useful trending and comparison reports across hundreds of website properties. This is beneficial for large ownership groups with many property websites to see account performance side-by-side.
Fifth, the developer training has helped me think more analytically and technically. As a digital marketing manager, there is a definite need to be able to use both the right and left brain in this job because you are constantly switching between the logical side and the intuitive side. Practice in both areas and you will excel when faced with complex problems.