So you’ve heard about inbound marketing and decided that you’d love to land your first job in the industry. It’s quite difficult, isn’t it? There are a lot of misconceptions about the best route into the industry with recruiters, education providers and companies offering conflicting advice that can confuse more often than help.

We decided to pick the brains of 18 of the smartest inbound marketing experts in the industry today to find out what advice they have for a complete beginner hoping to land their first role. Enjoy!

Jon Cooper, Hyperlynx Media 

Jon Cooper - Hyperlynx Media

First, start by reading a few different resources on the Web. You can find out most of what you need to know, but don’t go overboard; you can easily get sucked into reading too much, and then it can be a bad thing. But at the first opportunity, start testing out your knowledge. That could mean launching your own sites, or by working on others that need help.

Bryan Adams, Ph.Creative

Bryan Adams - Ph.Creative

Immerse yourself with a training programme or thought leading brand such as Hubspot to quickly grasp the philosophy, processes and technology required to deliver effective Inbound marketing.

Take some time to understand the psychology of online buying behaviours and differences in behaviour according to where a prospect is in a buying cycle. Content for each persona needs to vary depending on their stage in the buying cycle and this is largely underestimated and overlooked.

Start a blog, experiment with video, record a podcast – set yourself some simple goals and then do whatever it takes to experience first-hand what it’s like to generate content and nurture leads along a process.

Be prepared to fail and don’t be afraid of it. You can’t learn if you can’t make mistakes.

Cyrus Shepard, Moz

Cyrus Shepard - Moz

Start a blog. It’s one of the first things I look for when hiring someone. While it’s not a prerequisite, it definitely helps. Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, Content Management Systems, social media, graphic design and analytics are all involved with running a blog. Bonus points if your posts are good and help teach people something. Also, tweet. It’s the second thing I look for.

My first few jobs were either pro bono or very, very cheap. There are literally 1000s of websites down the street that need marketing help. They can’t spend a lot, which is good because you can’t charge a lot at this point.

Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

Dr. Pete Meyers - Moz

If you’re completely new to it, I’d say find a personal project and get some skin in the game. The best way to learn almost any kind of marketing is to market something, especially when you care about whether you succeed or fail. The beauty of online marketing in general (including inbound) is that anyone can build something to market, even if it’s just a hobby blog. The barriers to entry are a lot lower than physical products.

Once you’ve got a project, explore your niche and participate. A big part of inbound marketing is building an audience, and a lot of that happens online. That’s not just about tweeting everything you create – it’s about getting to know people with similar interests and investing in a real give-and-take with them. Investing in an audience will pay dividends in any project or job you pursue down the road.

John Doherty, HotPads

John Doherty - HotPads

Ask as many questions as possible, read as many blogs as possible, and then go implement it. Learn how to launch a website, where to buy a domain, what it takes to get marketing done (content creation, building an email list, etc). Find a mentor to learn from – the best way to do this is to get an entry-level analyst job and work your way up. Work long hours if you can, engage in the community, and seek to be a resource for others.

Larry Kim, WordStream

Larry Kim - WordStream

I think the best approach to learning inbound marketing – that which leaves you with the most marketable skills – is to learn by doing.

Start blogging, even if you think you have nothing to blog about or suck at it. Write about your experiences and promote your work. Listen to feedback and learn from it. Follow influential folks on Twitter. Read industry publications religiously; I still make time each and every day to stay current with what’s going on in marketing. That’s how you’ll find new tools to try out, stay ahead of trends, etc. Land an internship so you can learn on the job. You just have to commit to getting to know the industry and do it!

There’s no magic bullet, it takes time and effort.

Neil Patel, NeilPatel.com

Neil Patel - Crazy Egg

The first is to read all of the marketing blogs out there and soak up the information. From Hubspot to Moz to Quick Sprout… there are a tonne of blogs with great information.

In addition to that, you need to practice inbound marketing on a site. You can’t expect to get good at something unless you practice it. Ideally, this should be done on a site you own and not a client/customer site.

Tim Grice, Branded3

Tim Grice - Branded3

You have to be a self-starter and be willing to read and test in your own time. It is a young industry and as such you will find little to no formal qualifications; attend as many seminars as possible, start your own website, test different ad platforms, read blogs and ask questions on forums.

When you have done this look for an agency and ask about training roles or even agree to do some free work. Experience is key when hiring inbound/digital marketing recruits.

Brian Halligan, Hubspot

Brian Halligan - Hubspot

As a general rule, my advice to people who want to break into the inbound marketing industry is to show not tell. Don’t tell me you want to blog, do it — between Medium and LinkedIn, there are countless channels to create and promote great content, so build your personal brand by blogging before you start applying for jobs.

My resume when I applied for jobs was a series of graphs showing how the company’s results improved during my tenure — I’m a huge fan of being able to show your results instead of just talking about them, and of quantifying your value to a company.

Mark Schaefer, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Mark Schaefer - Schaefer Marketing Solutions

I think you really need to have a solid background in marketing to be effective in a digital marketing job. That may seem silly but that is really being overlooked today. If you don’t have a background in traditional marketing, you are going to try to solve every problem with content or social media and that’s just not appropriate.

To really do the job well, you need to have an understanding of consumer behaviour, advertising, economics, finance, pricing, distribution, product development and even logistics, to name a few areas typically covered by a marketing education. To be effective, you need to have an appreciation for the bigger picture or you will be severely limited.

Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

Ann Handley - MarketingProfs

Understand the role content plays in an inbound strategy. You can’t have inbound expertise without content marketing expertise.

Paul Roetzer, PR 20/20

Paul Roetzer - PR 20/20

Differentiate by doing. Take the initiative to continually advance your knowledge and capabilities. Complete online classes from Content Marketing Institute, Online Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Get certifications from Google Analytics and HubSpot. Publish regularly to a personal blog, your LinkedIn account or Medium. Build a strong social presence and add value to the online community. Read books, attend webinars and listen to industry podcasts. Never stop consuming information and challenging yourself to improve!

Jay Baer, Convince & Convert

Jay Baer - Convince & Convert

Spend the time learning to truly understand customer needs. The inbound marketing that works is the inbound marketing that is hyper-relevant to prospective customers. You can never do that (unless you just get lucky) without possessing real insights into customer circumstances and psychologies.

Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Solutions

Andy Crestodina - Orbit Media Solutions

First, I would congratulate you on their choice of careers. It’s a good one!

Next, I would encourage you to really, truly know yourself.

It’s all about self-awareness. Many of the challenges you’ll face are interpersonal: working on teams, connecting with your audience and networking with influencers. Other challenges are internal: staying motivated and structuring your time. The key to success in both cases is to know yourself first.

Marketing is about empathy. You can’t really understand others until you understand your own perspective.

Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi - Content Marketing Institute

Focus on an informational niche to a targeted customer or prospect where you can actually be the leading provider in that niche. So many companies try to go broad with their content. To be successful, it’s better to go big in a smaller topic. You can always go broad once you start to get traction.

Second, don’t mistake activity for audience building. Put all your energy into building a long-term relationship with a subscriber. Email subscribers are more critical than ever.

Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee Odden - TopRank Online Marketing 

Run! Run away fast! Just kidding 🙂

A few things are important for someone starting out:

1) You must be a passionate about learning the disciplines that make up inbound marketing, which is basically anything that can attract buyers when they are actively looking for solutions – SEO, Social, Advertising, Content, PR, Email

2) Seek out experienced inbound marketers and follow them, read their blogs, books and see them present if you can. Become an informal apprentice if you can.

3) Experiment! Find a way to experiment with inbound marketing tactics and software that will help plan, implement, manage, measure and optimise inbound marketing campaign performance.

Ian Cleary, RazorSocial

Ian Cleary - RazorSocial

If you want to get into the inbound marketing industry you need to start creating content that will attract people! One of the best ways of doing this is starting a blog. Create high-quality content relevant to your niche and then promote this content. The best time to start the blog is now. It takes time to build an audience.

Mike Volpe, HubSpot

Mike Volpe - Hubspot

Read the Inbound Marketing book, take the free classes and complete the inbound marketing certification.

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Do you still have questions about to how to land the inbound marketing job of your dreams? Come along to the next Learn Inbound event in Dublin to mingle with the speakers, our community and the Learn Inbound team. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have! 🙂

Mark Scully

I'm Learn Inbound's co-founder, a geek and introvert at heart. When I'm not busying myself with inbound marketing, I'm relaxing with my Netflix account and a strong cup of coffee.

All articles by Mark Scully

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