There’s no such thing as free career education, right? If you have learned some digital skills or are self-taught through YouTube videos, blog posts and a book or two, it is often difficult to measure the value of this somewhat sporadic education. How much weight does “self education” actually hold?
Enter the HubSpot Academy.
HubSpot, the Boston-based software company that first coined the term inbound marketing, offers free classes and certifications through their own HubSpot Academy.
These certifications are more than your average, “answer-a-few-questions-and-get-a-piece-of- paper” certifications. These certifications are comprehensive and well respected in the digital marketing industry. Many digital marketing agencies use these certifications as part of their interview and onboarding process. HubSpot Academy certifications are so well respected that, in addition to providing valuable knowledge, there are five particular HubSpot Certifications – (Inbound, Social Media, Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Email Marketing) that are worth 4 quarter hours of transfer credit towards a Masters’ degree at Northeastern University. These transfer credits are good at either their Boston campus or online. Needless to say, HubSpot Academy Certifications globally recognized and highly valuable.
When I interviewed for my current role with Pittsburgh Internet Consulting, I knew I needed to show up big time. The job description read: “must have knowledge of HubSpot or be willing to learn HubSpot.” I prepared and arrived at the interview with the HubSpot Inbound, Inbound Marketing and Social Media certifications complete - I was the only candidate that did this. Once I started working at Pittsburgh Internet Consulting, I continued my certification quest while applying what I learned each day to helping clients grow their business.
With so many classes and certifications offered by HubSpot, I needed a process to stay focused and keep myself accountable. I came up with the following plan to continue my education while working with clients, earning 18 certifications in 6 months:
- Download and Save Course Resources
- Make a Daily Study Appointment
- Create (and stick to) a testing schedule
- Plan For Continuing Education
Download & Save Course Resources
The first thing to do is to download the “extra” materials. For most courses, these can be found in the second tab, (next to About this Course), below the video. Typically, these resources consist of a transcript of the video and the slides that are referred to in the video. In general, the most important points can be found on the slides, which is very useful at exam time.
Next, organize and save these resources in Google Drive or Drop Box. Not only will this help you during study time, but will be available to you whenever you need to refer or review these again.
This will also make these accessible at any time or any place using the corresponding app on your phone. For me, Google Drive worked perfectly. I could easily take notes on important points while reading.
Make a Daily Study Appointment
Put it on your calendar. If it is on your calendar, you will make it a priority. For me, this was easy. When traveling into the Pittsburgh office, I would take public transportation and study on the way to work and on the way home. This gave me an extra 2 hours to read the transcript (via the Google Drive app) and go through the slides (these resources were downloaded in step 1). As an added bonus, I found that on the way to work, studying this way would set my mind for the day and what I needed to accomplish.
You can also find a number of HubSpot Academy classes on SoundCloud and on YouTube. Keep in mind that your progress is not recorded or transferred over to your HubSpot Academy account. If you’re learning on the go, remember to update your progress the next time you sit down at your computer. It would be great if the HubSpot Academy would develop a learning app - for learning on the go. If you are a HubSpot user and agree with this app idea, head over the HubSpot Community and vote it up.
Create a testing schedule
And stick to it. If you’re also busy with your usual day-to-day work, a good goal is to plan on completing one certification a week. Set a goal to take one certification exam a week and focus on studying for that exam during your daily study appointments that you have scheduled with yourself. Stick to your schedule, but also be flexible. For example: I knew the HubSpot Solutions Partner Certification was going to be a beast, so I scheduled to take the exam the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). I spent a few hours in the morning reviewing what I had studied earlier in the week, took (and passed) the exam that afternoon.
To help you with this process - I put together a study calendar to guide you, and keep you accountable. By writing down your plan, you are more likely to accomplish it, rather than relegating your goals to the "I'll get to it later" folder in your mind.
Plan for continuing education
Once you have a few certifications are completed – congratulations! Now the question is: what is your plan to keep your HubSpot skills sharp? No matter where you are or what you're trying to accomplish with your new HubSpot certifications, it is time to set up a continuing education plan. There are many blog posts that outline which HubSpot Academy Certifications should be taken next, but ultimately the path is yours to choose. There’s no shortage of inbound and digital marketing knowledge and staying on top of all these changes is a life-long learning project: THIS is why The HubSpot Academy is always expanding their offering of classes. Be sure to choose classes from The Academy that will help you in your day-to-day, which ultimately brings value to you and your organization.
One often overlooked part of continuing education is putting what you have learned into practice. Having a number of HubSpot certifications is impressive, but without daily practice, it is difficult to see new ways to creatively adapt HubSpot to a variety of situations. Understanding theory is good, but putting that theory into practice is vital. For example: you may know everything about HubSpot dashboards and why they are important, but if you don’t know how to create a dashboard that is useful…do you really know dashboards? Whatever HubSpot Academy certification you’re currently working on or have recently completed, find a way to apply this knowledge to what you are working on. If this is not possible, look for opportunities to put your inbound knowledge to good use. One way to do this is to participate in the HubSpot Community.
In the HubSpot Community you can:
- Connect with other HubSpot users and experts – connect with me here.
- Help other HubSpot users by answering their questions and concerns.
- Read how other businesses are using HubSpot and gain valuable insights into how their questions are solved by HubSpot experts.
- Suggest new ideas that help improve HubSpot.
- Upvote ideas that could turn into vital parts of the HubSpot platform. (Yes, HubSpot does listen).
The HubSpot Community is very active and always changing. Taking a few minutes a day to read the latest from around the community will greatly expand your HubSpot knowledge.
Another great place to "talk shop" and hang with other HubSpotters to gain very useful knowledge is the HubSpot User Slack. This slack channel is a great way to quickly get the hacks, troubleshooting help and HubSpot updates from other HubSpot power users.
Finally, if you have completed many certifications and are still looking to advance your HubSpot skills and strategy, connecting with a HubSpot expert is always a good idea. Your HubSpot expert will walk with you through implementation, adoption and daily strategic use of HubSpot. This type of training and ongoing coaching that is custom to you and your business ensures you are getting the most out of your HubSpot investment.
Whether you are using HubSpot within your organization, are a career digital marketer, or are looking to upgrade your skills, with the right plan and The HubSpot Academy, you can quickly learn how to grow your business and your career.