If you’ve chatted to me at all over the last few years it’s highly likely I’ll have mentioned the Digital Garage. I first got involved in Google’s digital marketing training programme back in April 2016, with less than a week between applying and attending training, it was a fast and exciting start to what has becoming an ongoing journey.
What is the Digital Garage?
To sum up, the Digital Garage is an online training platform, a pop up mentoring hub and a touring training service, developed by Google in order to get more people (mainly SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs) interested and skilled in all things digital. The digital skills gap in the UK exists and Google are one of the organisations offering their knowledge and resources to try and close the gap, empowering business owners and individuals to learn the digital skills they need to be successful online.
The online learning platform is free (as is everything offered by the Garage) and is a library of short, bitesize video tutorials across a range of digital topics from starting a website, to search, to email marketing, social media, PPC and more. You can even get a digital marketing certification at the end of it.
The Garage is also a pop up hub, travelling across the UK, with stops so far being Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. I got involved at the tail end of 6 months in Manchester. The Garage will set up camp in a public space, often a library and stay there for at least three months. A typically Google space, there are throw cushions, seating pods, hanging chairs, toolboxes and various ‘garage’ related paraphernalia – a pretty cool space to be honest.
A local team of digital experts are trained up to become Google mentors and trainers. Twice a week there will be a range of three digital seminars, free for anyone to attend and learn. Anyone is also free to book in for a 40 minute mentoring session to talk one to one about their business.
On top of this this Digital Garage on Tour programme runs continuously, around the UK offering digital training in the form of seminars as part of existing events.
Once I had a month as a Google mentor under my belt at Manchester, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to follow the Garage up to my home region of the North East. The Garage’s next spot was Newcastle, perfect for both me and Lucy – so we became the first sisters to work in the Digital Garage together.
Being able to help hundreds of small businesses is a great feeling! Getting an insight into all kinds of industries is really interesting, I’ve spoken to psychic mediums, social enterprises, artists, dog walkers, and bigger companies such as local bus firms, basketball teams and water companies. My skills have grown and my knowledge boosted and updated by being surrounded by some very clever colleagues day to day, and teaching myself the answer to any questions I didn’t know the answer to! Having this experience behind me is a talking point and of interest to new clients, so I can’t deny the fact that it’s helped grow my own business. Being a freelancer can be lonely sometimes so I’ve also enjoyed being part of a team and speaking to new people on a daily basis.