The 9 Best Content Marketing Courses in 2021 (Beginner to Advanced)

The amount of free or affordable education online is insane.

I’ve taken everything from dance classes to deeply technical A/B testing courses, and I’ve gotten so much value out of most courses I’ve taken.

If you’re here, it’s because you want to learn content marketing.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of content marketing courses out there.

Unfortunately, there are actually *so many* courses that it’s hard to wade through them and figure out which is worthwhile and which is a waste of time.

I’ve taken (and created) a lot of them. One of the coolest benefits of working at HubSpot was I had a $5k education stipend, and I regularly maxed it out taking great courses. I’ve also invested lots of my own money and time into supplemental education.

This list will help you build out your content marketing skills in whichever areas you’re hoping to level up.

The 9 Best Content Marketing Courses in 2021

  1. Content Marketing Strategy Course by Omniscient Digital
  2. CXL Institute’s Link Building Course
  3. SEO That Works by Brian Dean
  4. DGMG University
  5. Blogging for Business by Ahrefs
  6. Traffic Think Tank
  7. HubSpot’s Inbound Certification
  8. Tommy Walker’s Content Operations Course
  9. SEMrush: Content Marketing Toolkit Course

1. Content Marketing Strategy Course by Omniscient Digital

Obviously, I’m biased here. If you buy this course, I’ll make money. But you’ll make money, too.

But I really believe it’s the best content marketing course out there because it’s focused on one thing, often overlooked: content marketing strategy.

It deliberately doesn’t cover many things: social media marketing, building buyer personas or customer personas, content writing (how to create content, put it into WordPress, etc.)

It covers, in-depth, how to build a complete content strategy. It starts with content audits and research: where do we stand today and where do we want to go?

You map that into a SWOT analysis that aligns with your target audience, which helps you decide on a strategy that you uniquely can win. This isn’t the plug-and-play copy HubSpot strategy that many companies employ. It introduces you to frameworks I’ve written about here, like Product Led Content, the Barbell Strategy, and Content Economics. We even cover a bit of content marketing analytics.

The goal is that by the end of this course, you can build a revenue generating content program, whether you’re a solo blogger or running seven blogs with thirty employees at a multinational enterprise.

We actually initially made the materials as a training course for our new employees and repurposed it as a course you can buy. I’m proud of the content quality. You can take it at your own pace and also ask us questions that help us improve the next version of it.

Note: I’d feel bad if I didn’t also mention here that we have a podcast where we interview next level marketers.

2. CXL Institute’s Link Building Course

Irina Nica is the best link builder I know. I worked with her at HubSpot and she helped us build our agency’s link building program as well in the beginning.

Her CXL course is incredible. It covers how to:

  • Set campaign goals, so you can track and prove your success
  • Plan an effective content and outreach strategy that gets attention from the right people
  • Use advanced tactics to improve your backlinks profile, which means more high-quality traffic

No matter what any thought leader says, backlinks still matter for organic traffic (and the vast majority of content marketing programs benefit by organic distribution).

Link building is easily one of the hardest, most underrated, and most important aspects of content. It’s something not many people can do well, so if you can do it well, you’ll stand out. Your content program will speed up faster than the competition, and you yourself will be indispensable as an employee (if that’s your goal).

CXL Institute, in general, has a ton of great courses. They’re my go-to resource for education on marketing, experimentation, UX, and analytics.

3. SEO That Works by Brian Dean

Brian Dean sits at the top of the SEO and content marketing mountain.

His teachings — writing skyscraper technique content, focusing on building links, frequently updated and relaunching content — are now popular and commonly talked about.

He has also proved this through his own websites, both backlinko.com and explodingtopics.com. Proof is in the pudding: he’s not just a vapid thought leader; he knows his shit.

His course, SEO That Works, is awesome. I took it when I first started at HubSpot, and it really influences how I looked at organic growth.

I could be wrong, but I believe Brian also got his start in education, working with Neil Patel at Quicksprout University. So he’s also an incredible lecturer and speaker. Generally, he’s an all around nice guy and clearly ahead of the pack when it comes to leverage (he’s only written a few dozen posts for his blog but gets millions of visitors from Google).

I’d say this course is best for beginners to the content marketing world, though even veterans will get a lot of value if they don’t know the arts of SEO-driven content marketing.

This one is cool, too, in that it covers content creation in-depth. Not only will you learn how to generate better content ideas, but he teaches you how to actually craft an article worth linking to, complete with SEO copywriting tips to drive better on page engagement and rankings.

4. DGMG University

DGMG University isn’t just for content marketers, but it’s an invaluable resource for content marketers who work in B2B.

Dave Gerhardt, the founder and creator of DGMG University, is one of the biggest influencers in B2B marketing. He has built powerful brands for Drift and Privy, and his personal brand power is unmatched in this space (also one of the best copywriters that doesn’t call himself a copywriter).

The course itself isn’t linear; rather, it’s a collection of resources on topics ranging from building your personal brand to social media marketing to building content marketing programs. Not only are there videos, but also templates and case studies.

It also includes access to the DGMG Facebook group, which is a super active forum with other power players in the space. Just for the networking alone, it’s worth the price of admission to this course.

5. Blogging for Business by Ahrefs

I’ve gushed about Ahrefs many times before. We even use it primarily in our course when illustrating keyword research and content planning.

I’ve always found that their blog is a true educational beacon. Sure, they hit some keywords and get organic traffic. But they’ve always led with customer pain points, so their articles are actually incredibly informative.

So of course, you’d expect the same from their course. It’s one of the best free online courses I know.

If you work in content marketing, especially SEO focused content marketing (Google is still the best traffic driver), it’s likely you’ll use Ahrefs. It’s the go-to platform in the industry today.

This course is a masterclass on the product. Taking it will help you become a power user. It’s also just generally a great SEO primer, covering topics like search intent, content promotion, content gap analysis, and SEO audits.

By the way, check out this quick interview I did with their CMO, Tim Soulo. He talks about how he’d approach building a blog from scratch today:

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6. Traffic Think Tank

Traffic Think Tank, like DGMG University, is more of a collection of resources as opposed to a specific linear course.

It’s first and foremost (in my mind at least) an SEO community. The best in the space are all in the Slack channel talking about the latest and greatest trends and tactics in SEO. This is the stuff you won’t read about on blog posts; it’s the closest you can get to secret insider knowledge.

The courses themselves are pretty good as well. Sometimes a bit high level, but they do cover a variety of topics within and around SEO, such as digital public relations, link building, the surround sound strategy, and keyword research.

I find, though, that after a certain level of education, the best value comes from direct conversations with other SEO and content experts. The founders, Ian Howells, Nick Eubanks, and Matthew Howells-Barby, are all SEO legends who are still practitioners. Good crowd.

7. HubSpot’s Inbound Certification

I’m going to give my honest thoughts here. HubSpot’s Inbound Certification is excellent for true beginners, but it’s not my favorite course.

It’s quite high level and very broad, but if you’re just getting into content marketing (or marketing in general) it does give you a good understanding of what marketers talk about with buyer personas, social media, search engine optimization, the many types of content you can create and how they align with marketing campaigns and marketing channels, and writing your first blog post.

If you’ve been in the space for longer than 2 years, you’re not going to get a ton of value from this. In that case, I’d recommend a course like mine or a community like Traffic Think Tank.

But if you or someone on your team is just starting out, this is a great resource and a very quick and easy place to learn the basics. After all, HubSpot sort of built and invented a large amount of content marketing best practices that we all follow today.

8. Tommy Walker’s Content Automation Course

Alright, now for some specialist education. Content operations and automation is so underrated. This is especially true at scale; Tommy, the creator of the course, ran content at Quickbooks for instance. They had like 10 blogs and dozens of writers across different regions. Takes a lot of overhead to run that sort of an operation.

So Tommy naturally gravitated towards business automation software to solve his time and resource problems. Doing so reduced the cost of the content program by improving efficiency (a good way to maximize ROI), and this also allowed him, the strategist, to lift his head above the weeds and craft the higher level strategic narratives.

Anyway, I don’t think many content marketers do much automation. This, like link building or even content analytics, will make you stand out in a crowded market.

9. SEMrush: Content Marketing Toolkit Course

One last addition for this list: SEMRush runs a really great free content marketing training as well.

It’s short: just nine lessons and three hours of content. But it’s great at providing a high level overview of building an effective content marketing program, especially if you’re on a budget.

It covers the foundations: content analysis and research, content distribution, and content performance management and content analytics.

Of course, you’ll learn a lot about the platform as well (it’s also one of my favorite SEO tools).

While this course won’t make you an advanced level content marketing strategist, it will give you a good foundational basis from which to start (and it’s free!).

Conclusion

I probably missed a million content marketing courses, but that’s on purpose. I want this list to be helpful, not a directory of literally every content marketing course out there.

Also, content marketing has an expansive definition that sometimes includes public relations, product marketing, email marketing, viral marketing, and social media marketing.

I deliberately left courses that cover these topics off the list so I could focus specifically on the best content marketing courses. I’ve already got a post on the best online courses covering broader digital marketing topics.

Also, ignore the stuff on Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning etc. Stodgy and outdated stuff there mostly. They’ve got courses from Northwestern University and University of California, Davis. But your best education here isn’t going to come from Universities. Ignore certification courses; a marketing certification doesn’t matter to most people.

Many of the original inbound marketing blogs with great content also fall short for me (stuff like copyblogger, content marketing institute).

If I did miss one you think deserves a spot, shoot me an email or comment on this post. Happy to check out other new courses. Digital marketing is a neverending rabbit hole, so I’m also always still learning 🙂

 

Alex Birkett
Alex Birkett is a product growth and experimentation expert as well as co-founder of Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. He enjoys skiing, making and experiencing music, reading and writing, and language learning. He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog, Biscuit.

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