In my opinion, learning internet marketing is a lot like learning how to swim. For one, you can read all of the books and information available, but, sooner or later, you’re going to have to ‘jump in the pool!’

For many of us that are learning internet marketing, our fear of the internet can, sometimes, be irrational (like our fear of water). But, these ‘irrational fears’ are ‘real’ to us (most significantly, they are barriers to our growth and confidence). The fears represent our ‘realities’, that is, until we are able to conquer our fears. We can usually conquer our fears by taking ‘baby steps’ of incremental growth.

Sometimes, I hear stories about how some people taught others to swim by ‘just throwing them in the pool – and they had to swim, or else!’ Oddly enough, many people think that this is a good method to conquer one’s fears. But the reality is very similar to the reality of learning successful internet marketing; it can’t be learned ‘overnight!’

Oh, sure, you can find plenty of people that promise that they have the “secrets” and that they can ‘help’ us to be ‘swimming with the big boys overnight!’ I’ve found that one of the advantages that such people have is that so many of us don’t know ‘anything’ about internet marketing. What we’ve heard we don’t ‘really’ understand! So, when we hear of all the “secrets” and “SEO tricks” and “other promises of esoteric tips,” we ‘jump in.’

And, the experience continues something like this: We’re in the pool and we aren’t drowning or ‘close to death’ as we had always imagined we would be. Of course, we then stay in ‘just-below-waste-deep’ (at the deepest level for us) water, cling tight to the side, and stay within screaming distance of the lifeguard. Our ‘fear-conquering’ coach (re: swimming instructor/internet marketing ‘expert’) proudly ‘convinces’ us that we are now “swimming with the big boys!” We are told that we are now ready to “do what the big boys do!”

This internet marketing urban legend is also similar to the myth of swimming. It goes like this: There are different and progressively more advanced levels of swimming. The actual definition of ‘swimming’ includes the ‘act of staying buoyant (staying afloat), etc.’ Competent and capable of ‘staying buoyant’ (staying afloat) in any water immersion situation, etc. etc. That, roughly, is the definition of having the ability to ‘swim’ and ‘swim well.’

“Pool-Safe,” on the other hand, is what the ‘fear-conquering’ coaches (re: above), unfortunately confuse with “swimming with the big boys.” Pool-Safe means that if you fell into a pool with your clothes on, you know enough about ‘how-to-swim’ to safely get to the side, and eventually, out of the pool without drowning.

“Pool-Safe” and “Swimming” are not the same. Doing ‘esoteric SEO tricks’ that you don’t understand and being confident in marketing are not the same. Knowing the difference will keep you afloat – if that’s what you choose to do.

Successful Internet Marketing, like authentic swimming, can easily be learned. It isn’t something that can be learned overnight, or learned because of secrets or due to the use of short-cut-tricks. No, you must get in the water and incrementally conquer your fears. And, like all of our fears, it is the incremental growth of our knowledge of what we don’t have enough accurate information about that diminishes our fears and makes us better at what we do.

Once we have confidently developed beyond our barrier of ‘fear’ of learning something new, where we go from there is dependent on what skill/knowledge-level we choose to spend our time developing. We can just do it recreationally. We can do it ‘semi-competitively.’ We can take it to the next-level (affiliate marketing, eBook marketing, information marketing, viral marketing, etc. [swimming at the YMCA/YWCA/Gym, joining a local community swim team, etc.]) Oops, I may be getting in too deep.

Also, please keep this in mind: If everything were as it seemed, there would be no need for research. Do your research. And, please don’t confuse research with web surfing. There is a major difference. One increases your real knowledge the other is a major distraction and a waste of your valuable time. Do your research.

How did I learn real internet marketing (and learn to swim)? I took my time to learn what marketing was and what it wasn’t. I then learned how I would get better if I regularly practiced what I learned. I leaned what marketing was and how I could practice it to get better at it. I then learned how to market online – which is simply another way of saying internet marketing. I then learned and practiced next-level knowledge and skill sets – each geometrically building (that’s my ‘hoity-toity,’ scientific way of saying that my confidence exploded) on the earlier skill sets, etc. I learned and practiced marketing methods such as email marketing, article marketing (what this article is a part of), content marketing, forum marketing, etc. With my gradual development and improvement, my confidence and skill sets development has helped prepare me to be very good at ‘viral-marketing’ concepts, strategies and activities. Viral-marketing is the next-level in marketing, for me, at least. I still regularly practice the knowledge and skills that got me to this level. But, I’m clear on what works and what doesn’t.