Course: Self-Directed, Self-Help with Journaling 101
Title: Digital Media Training for People in Prison (2022)
- Bill is a successful business owner. He founded an internet marketing firm that generates more than $1 million in annual revenue. Although Bill faced challenges as a youth, including expulsion from high school for selling drugs, he established a successful career based on his storytelling and artistic talents. Bill teaches us that, with proper preparation, anyone with a strong work ethic and commitment to success can overcome mistakes and prosper.
- Students should learn the basics of internet marketing as a vocation that offers potential for growth. Course participants should also recognize the value of communication and critical thinking skills for career and personal success.
- Watch the video that accompanies the lesson
- Write a definition of each word highlighted in bold and written in italics
- Use ten of the vocabulary words in a sentence
- Respond to a minimum of three open-ended questions by following instructions at the end of the lesson.
- Participants will increase their vocabulary by at least ten words.
- Participants will improve writing skills and their ability to contemplate how their responses to open-ended questions relate to their prospects for success upon release.
- Participants will add to their journal, demonstrating a self-directed, self-improvement pathway to prepare for success upon release.
Our team at Prison Professors thanks Bill for discussing his career success as an internet marketer specializing in search engine optimization (SEO). A lifelong artist, Bill pursued several creative career tracks before opening his business. He now runs a company that generates approximately $1 million annually.
We explore how SEO and internet marketing offer viable career options for anyone with strong communication skills. Bill stresses that people without college degrees can pursue internet marketing as a vocation. It does not require technical knowledge, such as coding. So long as a person develops strong marketing skills that can deliver more qualified customers, a criminal record will not stop a person from prospering. A steady stream of qualified customers will fuel any business, and business owners reward people that can bring those customers in. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to learn more about the vocation of internet marketing.
Bill told us that he had to overcome significant life challenges as a young man. Through artistic and creative pursuits, built confidence. Authorities expelled him from high school for selling drugs as a young man. Yet Bill turned his life around. He eventually attended college to study graphic design. He worked various jobs after graduating but later became a full-time entrepreneur. Bill discovered his natural gift for storytelling and he built a profitable business based on his communications and critical thinking talents.
In listening to Bill’s story, we hear how he constantly remained aware of opportunities and maintained positive support networks. Many people in Bill’s life recognized his talent and helped him pursue different professional and educational ventures. A high school art teacher recognized Bill’s talent in crafting sculptures, paintings, and portraits. Acknowledging his knack as an artist, his teacher introduced Bill to graphic-design software and helped place him in a college where he could further cultivate his specialty. Bill credits his teacher with “pointing him in the right direction” and leading him to the success he enjoys today.
Quick Takeaway Questions:
- What positive personality traits do you think Bill demonstrated to his high school teacher?
- Why do you believe that Bill’s teacher looked past his troubles as an adolescent and helped him get into college?
- What tools, tactics, and resources can you develop to persuade others to help your pathway to success?
In the early 2000s, Bill began building websites while playing bass for a local punk band. At the request of other band members, Bill created a website to increase the group’s exposureto audiences. He developed the website based on his graphic design skills and information he learned independently by reading books.
By developing proficiency as a graphic artist and web designer, others lavished him with praise. Through hard work, he built a strong professional reputation, leading his business to grow. Customers came to him through word-of-mouth. This new field also proved highly profitable: Bill estimates that he earned between $2,000 and $5,000 for every website he built. Those projects required about a day to complete.
As I spent nearly three decades in prison, I looked for inspirational stories from leaders who forged their paths to success. Like many people in our audience, Bill struggled academically and broke the law as an adolescent. Those challenges didn’t stop him from becoming successful. He overcame those obstacles by establishing a career based on his creativity and aptitude for storytelling.
Many incarcerated people have natural talents in art, writing, and design. We learn from Bill that regardless of what decisions people have made before, at any time they can strengthen their skills. They can plant seeds that lead to success, even if they start preparing while serving time in prison or jail.
Bill teaches us the importance of self-directed learning. He recalls reading books to learn more about what people are doing with graphic design and SEO. After reading HTML for Dummies, Bill took the next step of gaining practical experience by building his band’s website.
Our team at Prison Professors urges course participants to hone their skills by reading. Regardless of what complications a jail or prison presents, a self-directed student can always work to develop aptitude with communication and critical thinking.
Successful people like Bill avoid making excuses and remain committed to achieving their goals. People in prison or jail may complain about not being able to learn because they lack access to the internet. We encourage our course participants to shun this negative mindset and seize all opportunities available. Anyone can take advantage of resources to start:
- Enriching their vocabulary and writing skills – People in prison or jail can use dictionaries and textbooks to learn new words and become more effective communicators.
- Developing sharper critical thinking and communication abilities – Reading is crucial for gaining knowledge. As Bill showed us, books introduce readers—including those behind prison walls—to different thought processes, new ideas, and effective communication styles.
- Learning about emerging technologies – Even without the internet, incarcerated people still have access to newspapers, magazines, and books that describe emerging technologies. The most astute learners can use these materials to learn how different software works so they can operate different systems upon their release.
Bill tells us that “anybody can do anything” as he reflects on his journey to success. People preparing to return to society successfully can demonstrate the same positive attitude, work ethic, and goal-oriented mindset as Bill. The right mindset can lead a person to success upon release. Our students must think beyond their current problems and sharpen their skills to become more competitive in the employment market.
- What opportunities are at your disposal to help you develop more robust communication and critical thinking skills?
- How do you believe being a good communicator helped Bill maintain a strong support network with people like his high school teacher?
- How do you think Bill demonstrated a strong work ethic to others in his professional circle?
- In what ways can you work to bring successful entrepreneurs like Bill into your life as role models?
- In what ways does Bill’s story about turning his life around inspire you to make positive changes?
After spending several years gaining experience, Bill became a full-time business owner. During his first eight years, he grew the firm to around $1 million in annual revenue. His firm contributes to society by providing well-paying jobs to writers, editors, publishers, and other content creators. Bill estimates that his writers earn between $17 and $22 an hour.
As Bill discusses his career and business model, we learn several key terms:
- Search engine optimization – The process of attracting more users to a specific webpage. The companies that appear at the top of search results are the most likely to attract new customers. Bill teaches us how his company helps its clients rank higher in search results on Google.
- Ranking factors – The different factors that determine how search engines like Google order search results. Search engines like Google use algorithms to deliver the most valid results for customers looking for answers. Bill highlights that strong writing and an understanding of keywords can help a firm rank higher on a search page.
- Leads – A person or organization interested in specific products and services. Someone looking for car insurance would be a lead for an auto insurance company like GEICO. If GEICO ranks as the top result in a Google search for insurance, it is the company most likely to attract the highest number of leads.
- Digital marketing – The promotion of products and services via digital platforms, such as websites and apps.
- User engagement – A potential customer’s level of interest in a business’s products and services. Bill reminds us that well-written content attracts and retains the attention of leads and customers.
To succeed as an internet marketer, Bill tells us that a person should develop strong communication skills. Writing clearly and using words, sentences, and paragraphs to convey ideas will make all the difference for success in business.
He reminds us that readability—the ease with which an audience can understand a written text—is important for effectively sharing information with others. To reach the broadest range of audiences possible, Bill requires his writers to produce messages understood at the third-grade level.
Besides strong writing skills, good communicators must have solid critical thinking skills. Bill expects his writers to go beyond simply conveying messages to outsiders. His writers must research different subjects, interpret ideas, and break down content. Then, they must write to share messages with easily understood language. Talented writers must think critically to organize and summarize complex content in a way that engages other people’s interest.
Bill emphasized that SEO professionals do not require college degrees or specialized knowledge of computer language, such the hypertext-markup language known as HTML. The internet has evolved from the early days, when marketers needed to understand computer languages.
Further, internet marketers do not require a significant amount of capital to start a business. To get started in this field, a person would need a computer, an internet connection, and software. Besides those resources, a person should have an excellent command of the English language, and it would be helpful to gather more knowledge about how Google works. But every business could benefit from the skills of an internet marketer. For that reason, people in prison may want to consider preparing for this booming industry, with an infinite demand. Small and large businesses will always need skilled marketers to attract more clientele and revenue.
Besides writers, internet marketing agencies like the one that Bill owns employs videographers and user experience (UX) specialists. With video, sound, and good storytelling skills, videographers can create engaging content that may enhance customer-acquisition strategies. Likewise, UX designers work to make all types of content accessible and easy for the customer to follow.
People that build careers in marketing constently work to develop their skills. They’re in the business of telling compelling stories that persuade people to buy. Professional marketers work together with business operators to create captivating campaigns that attract qualified leads, and that persuade them to become customers of the company.
Bill encourages people in our audience to become entrepreneurs. People in jail or prison may face an unfriendly job market after release. But if they develop stronger communication skills, they may become better at marketing themselves. They can get their own leads, and close their own deals.
Building a business may offer unlimited potential to the most hard-working and talented professionals. Our team at Prison Professors recognizes that all our students will not become entrepreneurs. However, we believe that people can work as if they are “CEO of their own life” by setting goals and making incremental progress to achieve goals.
People in prison or jail may consider Bill as a role model. His story offers us an example of prevailing against the odds and defining one’s own success. Internet marketing offers considerable promise to anyone willing to invest in themselves and strengthen their skill set. By developing a strong talent for storytelling, a formerly incarcerated person can become valuable to any business looking to find more clients. Bill reminds us that “nobody cares” about a person’s criminal record if that person can attract new business.
Participants in our course should recognize how developing basic critical thinking, communication, and math skills open doors to success in virtually every facet of life. Bill capitalized on his talent as an artist and storyteller to become a successful entrepreneur. He used his artistic abilities to become an effective communicator. In turn, Bill developed strong critical thinking skills to build his firm, hire the right people, and create compelling messages. We can infer that he depended on his math skills for business needs like basic accounting.
Our team at Prison Professors has learned a great deal from Bill’s work. We produce new content every day, in many different formats, including video files, audio files, and text files. All of our work strives to help more people understand the collateral consequences of mass incarceration.
Without effective marketing strategies and tactics, we could not succeed in reaching our potential audience. We taxpayers, lawmakers, and government officials to understand the need for reform to our criminal justice system, and we want people in jail and prison to understand how to prepare for success—regardless of what government officials do.
- In your opinion, what defines a good communicator?
- In what ways do good communication skills influence critical thinking skills?
- Identify similarities and differences in how artists, writers, and videographers communicate?
- Identify similarities and differences in oral and written communication?
- What professional traits would you say a person should develop to become a successful internet marketer ?
Bill embodies the principles of success outlined in our coursework. As he describes his journey, we can hear the commitment he makes to his goals. We see that he has the right attitude for success, and that he has a self-directed work ethic. Despite being expelled from high school for selling drugs, he turned his life around. By developing storytelling and artistic talents, he eventually found it possible to start a profitable business.
Our audience members should follow Bill’s leadership example. Begin by defining success. Even while incarcerated, our students can start engaging in self-directed exercises to hone their skills in communication, critical thinking, and math. Anyone with basic abilities in these three areas can compete more effectively for jobs, succeed in their professions, and establish strong professional networks.
Internet marketing is an attractive career option for those leaving prison or jail. Bill tells us that the field has several advantages, including:
- A low barrier to entry – No college degree or coding knowledge is required for internet marketers. The field is also open to those with criminal records
- Constant demand – Because small businesses will always want to attract more clients, there will always be a need for effective marketers
- Diverse career options – Although our conversation focused on writers, Bill also mentioned opportunities available to other content creators like editors, publishers, UX designers, and videographers
- Strong potential for entrepreneurs – The most tenacious business owners can lead their firms to unprecedented levels of growth and success based on their work ethic
Lastly, our team recognizes firsthand the transformative nature of Bill’s work. As an SEO expert, he helps business owners deliver their message to prospective customers. That is a valuable contribtion to society. We appreciate him for taking the time to help more people in jail understand the importance of preparing for success.
Critical Thinking Questions:
Choose any of three questions below. Write a response for each of the three questions you choose. In your response, please write at least three paragraphs, with a minimum of three sentences each.
This exercise in personal development will help you develop better critical-thinking skills, and better writing skills. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. We’re striving to learn how to think differently, and how to communicate more efficiently. Try to use some of the vocabulary words from this lesson in your responses.
- Identify examples of your creative or artistic talents.
- In what ways will your creative or artistic talents help you establish a career upon release?
- How can improving your oral communication help you improve your written communication and vice versa?
- How do you define “good” writing?
- What are examples of poor communication?
- How does critical thinking help you to communicate more effectively?
- How do you believe Bill demonstrates strong critical thinking and communication skills as a business leader?
- How can strong communication skills help you persuade others to become a part of your professional network?
- What advantages do you believe good communicators have when looking for employment or networking with others?
- In what ways can internet marketing lead to a more viable career path for you?