Google Digital Garage Sunderland

Have you heard of the Google Digital Garage?

The pop-up training centre has arrived in Sunderland to boost digital skills in the city – and there’s a wide range of free courses on offer for small businesses and individuals.

Google Digital Garage Sunderland
Google Digital Garage Sunderland

I’ve taken advantage of three sessions so far – a one-to-one on Google Analytics, Get Started with Digital Advertising and Get Your Business Visible on Google.

To be told I was “smashing it” during my one-to-one session was a great boost.

When you’re self-employed, there’s not really anyone there tell you if you’re doing a good job or not, particularly with the behind-the-scenes stuff.

But if you search for calligraphy north east or calligraphy workshops north east, Creative Calligraphy appears at the top of the results, so I know local people can find me online.

Google Digital Garage Sunderland notes
Taking notes during my one-to-one session on Google Analytics

I was keen to find out how to make better use of Google Analytics though, instead of just recording monthly stats and filing them away again!

Andrew Rafter, team leader at the Google Digital Garage Sunderland, took me through the various tools you can use and how to capitalise on trends.

It was quite a mind-blowing 30 minutes, but I came out of the session with a spring in my step and the beginnings of an action plan for the future.

Get Started with Digital Advertisng

I haven’t dabbled in digital advertising at all, other than boosting the odd post on Facebook!

It’s mostly because my workshops fill up and commissions come in quite nicely without me having to worry about creating online ads!

And, as I said, Creative Calligraphy ranks quite highly with Google, so if people are looking for a calligrapher, which is quite a niche thing to search for, they’ll find me.

Training room wall at Google Digital Garage Sunderland
The training room wall at Google Digital Garage Sunderland. (And they got Ha’way right!)

It’s always useful to know how these things work though and again, the session with digital marketing consultancy Alison Ellerbrook was an eye-opener.

She managed to cover search, display and social paid advertising in just over an hour and I definitely picked up some valuable tips.

Get Your Business Visible on Google

Like Google Analaytics, a Google My Business listing is something I have, but I don’t really use to its full capacity, so I was keen to learn more.

I didn’t know, for example, that you can post social media-style updates to your business listing, or create a one-page website hosted by Google for free!

And Google Maps is considered a search engine in its own right.

Google Digital Garage Sunderland

By the end of the three sessions I came out with quite the to-do list, which I’ll be tackling over the summer break. I’m sure I’ll be heading back to the Digital Garage too. It’s a really lovely space.

Google Digital Garage Sunderland Courses

Other courses include First Steps Online for anyone who feels like they need a helping hand getting online or using technology. I saw an older couple setting up their first e-mail addresses during my fist visit to the Digital garage!

There’s also courses about online safety, e-mail for work, spreadsheets for beginners, building effective presentations, writing a cover letter, building a CV, finding career goals and self-promotion skills, to help people gain confidence and skills for work.

Google Digital Garage Sunderland interior
A work area at Google Digital Garage Sunderland

Other business courses include Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media Strategy, Writing for Social Media, Answer Questions with Data, An Introduction to Coding and Start Your Own Business.

There’s also Build a Simple Website for Your Business, Get Started with Digital Marketing, Define Your International Growth Strategy, Build Your Export Operations and Scale Your Brand and Advertise Across Borders.

The Google Digital Garage Sunderland is based in Unit 48, The Bridges Shopping Centre, Sunderland. You can pop in or book a course online at

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