Skip to content

SQL Slip-ups: 4 Common Mistakes Digital Marketers Make When Learning SQL (Plus Tips To Avoid Each One)

Today, I’m sharing 4 common SQL mistakes that digital marketers make when getting started (and how to avoid them).

You’ll learn:

  • 4 of the most common mistakes
  • Specific actions you can take (in 5 minutes or less) to avoid each one

Let’s dive in:

Special thanks to this Bright Data for sponsoring this week’s newsletter.

Only 17% of companies are utilizing Web Data for market research!
That means 83% are missing out…
Are you part of the winning 17%?
Access web data now

Mistake #1: Skipping the Basics

A solid SQL foundation makes learning advanced topics easier.

Unfortunately, many beginners want to rush through the basics. This is because the basics are “boring”.

And I don’t disagree with that.

But when you’re learning something new, you have to master the basics before you can move on to intermediate and advanced topics.

For example, SQL topics like syntax and data types are critical when you want to sort, group, and filter data later on in your SQL journey.

Imagine you have a database with customer names and ages. If you mix up basic data types like strings (names) and integers (ages) your results will be a mess!

Picture yourself as a master of SQL, able to create complex queries with ease. Your colleagues admire your skills, and you’re the go-to person for tough data challenges. By starting with the basics, you lay the foundation for this amazing future!

3 ways to focus on the basics when you’re getting started with SQL

  1. Follow a structured learning path that starts with SQL essentials
  2. When you learn something new, take 5 minutes to jot down key terms or concepts
  3. Share what you’ve learned with others on Twitter or in your data community

Mistake #2: Not Practicing Enough

Consistent practice helps you master SQL faster.

Reading tutorials and watching videos are great, but you need hands-on experience. Make sure you practice SQL exercises, like making tables and running queries on sample databases.

This will help you master the fundamentals of SQL more quickly and basic concepts will become second nature to you.

Learning SQL is like riding a bike. You can read about it all day, but you won’t get any better until you hop on and start pedaling!

Remember: set aside time for regular practice sessions.

Imagine you’re the SQL superhero, saving the day by quickly solving data mysteries. You’re a trusted expert, and your company relies on to turn raw data into valuable insights. It’s possible with consistent practice!

3 tips to build a SQL practice habit:

  1. Block time on your calendar dedicated to practicing SQL
  2. Daily practice is best (even 15 minutes!) but a weekly block works okay too.
  3. Set a 5-minute timer and challenge yourself to write a simple SQL query.

Mistake #3: Failing to Use Real-World Data

Real-world data helps you learn SQL better.

This is because sample data sets that you find on Google or Kaggle aren’t really useful in a business. They have data sets on Titanic casualties or C02 emissions from the 1800s. Interesting topics, but not useful for a business owner.

And they are a waste of time if you ask me.

Instead, use data sets that are actually related to digital marketing. And it’s easy to find them – if you know where to look.

For example, if you are already working in a job, get your hands on some real sales data. Find top-selling products, revenue by region, or customer trends.

The sky’s the limit when you take this “real-world” approach.

Imagine being the “Sherlock Holmes of data analysis”, using your SQL skills to uncover hidden trends and opportunities. Your insights drive your company’s success, and you’re recognized as an invaluable team member.

Practicing with real-world data practice makes this dream a reality!

3 ways to use real-world data to help you move from “data swamp” to “data oasis”

  1. Focus on using real-world, “portfolio-ready” data sets
  2. Take 5 minutes to write an email to your manager, asking for access to non-sensitive sales and marketing data
  3. Try to recreate an existing Excel report using SQL

Mistake #4: Not Asking for Help

Get help in online data communities, on Twitter, or by email.

Picture yourself confidently navigating the world of SQL, thanks to the support of your mentors and like-minded data professionals. You’re part of a thriving community of data enthusiasts who learn and grow together. You ask for help (and help others) and become an unstoppable SQL whiz!

Unfortunately, most SQL learners don’t bother asking for help. This is because they are shy or think there’s shame in asking for help.

But think back to when you were learning how to drive. Did you need help then? Of course! It’s no different when learning SQL. Asking for help from a friend or teacher is the best way to avoid struggling alone.

Getting help from others speeds up your SQL learning process and helps you avoid costly mistakes.

3 specific tips to get SQL help when you need it most

  1. Join an online data community
  2. Make connections at workshops and webinars
  3. Find a tutor, mentor, or SQL coach to help guide you

That’s it!

Now you know how to sidestep these common SQL learning slip-ups. If you take action on each one, you’ll be on your way to becoming an SQL expert in no time. Good luck!


  1. Mistake #1: Skipping the Basics
  2. Mistake #2: Not Practicing Enough
  3. Mistake #3: Failing to Use Real-World Data
  4. Mistake #4: Not Asking for Help

Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. View all past issues of my newsletter here.
  2. If you’re ready to build your online data analytics portfolio, my 14-day Data Analytics Portfolio Playbook is for you.
  3. If you want actionable data analytics advice on your specific situation, book a 1:1 coaching session with me today.

1 thought on “SQL Slip-ups: 4 Common Mistakes Digital Marketers Make When Learning SQL (Plus Tips To Avoid Each One)”

  1. Pingback: The Six Figure Data Analytics Tech Stack: The Tools You Need To Succeed In Data (And How To Learn Each One) - New Prediction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *