A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the difference between internet marketing knowledge and skill. Today, I'll follow up with a few thoughts about how to develop both the knowledge and the skill.

1. Get The Big Picture

When most people first jump into internet marketing, they're like the proverbial blind men trying to figure out what the elephant is. They may focus on blogging, affiliate marketing, copywriting, product creation, etc., without first having gotten a view of the big picture and how what they're learning fits into it.

That's certainly not a fatal mistake, but the sooner you get the big picture, the sooner you'll be able to put all the pieces together in the most effective way possible. You'll also be quicker to recognize holes in your marketing that need to be filled and opportunities to expand by reusing what you've already done to branch out in new ways.

One quick example: If you've written an eBook, but have never heard of article marketing, you'll miss out on all the traffic, links and recognition you could have been getting by posting excerpts from your eBook as stand-alone articles in a variety of free article directories.

To help you see the big picture all at once, I've created a free PDF called The Great Picture of Internet Marketing (that's the download link -- no opt in required).

2. Study

Once you've seen the big picture and decided which parts of it to implement, find some good resources, study them, and decide how you're going to apply what you've learned to your marketing.

The internet is full of free information that can help you learn. Also, don't be afraid to spend money to buy courses that teach the things you've decided to focus on. Just be sure to read a variety of reviews to be sure you're getting quality material, and don't fall into the common trap of buying every course that catches your eye -- pick something on the topic that'll fill in the most important hole in your business, study it, and go on to the next step...

Reader Comment:
Tom Horton said:
Hi I have not visited your site before but I am glad I found this post about ways to become a better online marketer. You have put across some valuble points and I will use what I have learned in my own online ventures. Thank you Tom
(join the conversation below)

3. Implement

There's nothing wrong with gathering tidbits of information and ideas and storing them away for later use. But if that's all you ever do, you're going to leave a ton of money on the table.

Once you've studied something that can help your business, implement it before you move on to the next thing. If you've already made a habit of buying every "shiny object" that comes along and never implementing more than a few little ideas from each, you might make a strict rule for yourself that you are not allowed to spend another penny until you've 1) made a list of things you should implement from the last course you bought, and 2) have implemented them.

You'll get more value out of implementing the lessons from one course than from learning and not implementing the lessons from 100 courses. Plus, it's a lot less expensive. The other courses will still be there waiting for you to buy them once you've finished with the last one.

4. Correct Your Mistakes

As you're learning, you're going to make mistakes. Everybody does. Don't let fear of mistakes slow you down. You'll be more successful if you make mistakes and correct them than if you never do anything at all, right?

That's not to say that you should release shoddy work, thinking you can come back and fix it later. Laziness will come back to bite you. Just don't let yourself get paralyzed by fear or excessive perfectionism.

How To Recognize Your Mistakes

You can't fix your mistakes till you know what they are. But if you're still learning internet marketing, how can you tell what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong?

Obviously, if you're not seeing success, you must be doing something wrong. But do you just need a better headline for your squeeze page? Are your autoresponder messages written wrong? Does your AdWords ad need a rewrite? Is there something wrong with the product? Did you pick a bad niche? Do you need to find the right affiliates or JV partners? Do you just need to keep at it a little longer?

The fastest way to find your mistakes is to get feedback from other people. Ideally, you'd like feedback from someone with more experience and knowledge than you, but even that isn't always necessary. Sometimes, the only people qualified to reveal your mistakes are members of your target market.

If you can afford to hire a qualified mentor, they'll be the best equipped to help you uncover big holes in your business -- things that are immediately, glaringly obvious to them because they've been around the block a few times and filled those holes in their own businesses.

Mastermind Groups

Another invaluable resource that won't cost thousands of dollars, like many mentors, is a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a group of people who get together to share their insights and experience to help each other's businesses.

Some gurus are offering to let you into their mastermind group for several thousand dollars. Unless they're hand picking members who they believe they can benefit from masterminding with, I seriously doubt you're really getting into "their mastermind group". More likely, you're joining a group coaching program.

I'm not saying that group coaching isn't valuable, nor am I saying that masterminding doesn't happen in their groups. But if anyone with a few thousand dollars can get in, that's a group they're going to teach, not a group they're going to bring their problems to. If they're not going to coach -- if all you're getting for your money is the chance to mastermind with a bunch of other people who may have no other qualifications than that they paid a guru thousands of dollars -- then you've been had.

How do you find a good mastermind group?

That's a question that's been stewing in my mind for a while now. You don't want to mastermind with just anyone. You want people you work well with. You want people who are qualified to make a contribution to your business, and whose businesses you can bring value to. But you don't want to take forever to find a good group. And you need a convenient way to meet with them.

I've come up with a plan to solve those problems...and I'll tell you more about it in my next post!

Update: here are links to three follow up articles: How and Why to Build a Powerful Mastermind Group, Internet Marketers, Start Your Webcams and What You Can't See Can Hurt Your Conversion Rate.