It’s humbling to reach a point in your life when people ask you for career advice. After giving a presentation on website optimization to small-medium sized businesses (M2Con 2013), a member of the audience asked me for some career advice and how to break into the field of inbound marketing. Here was my honest response.
Education is everywhere
As far as informal marketing education goes, my suggestion would be to find a host of blogs that interest you and constantly continue to read up on the subject of interest- HubSpot has some great insights and they update their blog on a daily basis, and SEOmoz has a very strong blog that’s currently leaning more towards inbound marketing as the industry evolves.
I have a list of about 30 blogs and industry resources that I’ll check out each night before bed. Every weekend I’ll look for an interesting book related to marketing, web design and even leadership. This, coupled with a drive to always be learning, is one of the best ways to keep a pulse on the industry trends and advance your knowledge.
Finding your niche
I’m a huge believer in almost all facets of online market, so inbound marketing was the perfect fit for me. Some people prefer to hone in on SEO or social media. Whatever path you choose to pursue, I recommend sticking with whatever suites your goals and interests (i.e. do you want to actually do SEO or social media marketing, or would you prefer to sell SEO and be the person who needs to convince a client on an overall inbound marketing strategy?).
Learn through application
One of the best opportunities to advance your skills in this (and basically any) field is to actually go out and apply what you’re learning!
I started out as the “marketing guy” at a small start-up and needed to reach a national audience and generate more leads. Naturally, this meant optimizing our website with SEO and creating content that mattered to our audience. How did I get their? See step 1.
Get active on the web
Join a few LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your marketing specialty and jump into the conversation. Do some pro-bono work on the side just to get your feet wet and see if this is something your could do full-time (small businesses are always interested in getting free advice). Start a blog- no matter what field you go into- because every role requires you to persuade others through writing, and you must be able to show that you’re capable of promoting yourself.
Be yourself and be ready to make some sacrifices
Doing what you love means not being afraid of what that makes you YOU. I spend hours each night reading through blogs, commenting (networking), sharing content on Google+, drafting blog articles, and thinking of new ways in which applying these strategies can help my clients reach their objectives.
Sure, it involves some sacrifice. But when you find your true passion any perceived “trade-off” feels like it’s in your favor.
And finally, don’t forget to breathe. Inbound marketing is a fast-paced industry and it never ceases to slow down, but you must learn how to make time for yourself. If you burn out, it’s your own fault- and there’s nothing worse than going sub-par due to a cold or foggy mind. Reach, Rest, and Repeat.
The work-life balance mantra doesn’t fit my lifestyle as I’m head-over-heels for marketing. I could (and plan to) do this for the rest of my life. I’d probably need to plan something 3-months out if I wanted to commit to it on my personal schedule. It’s not because I work too much, but rather, it’s because I love what I do so much!
Perhaps it’s a personality trait, but I see it as more of a blessing that I found what I was meant to do. When you lose track of time working on a project, task or campaign, you’ll know you’ve found your calling.