If there is anything I have learned when starting any of my online ventures, it's that things don't come easy...Especially when you're starting out. Finding good help can be hard, you often have a very small audience, and add to the mix that you generally have to do this on a very tight budget makes things....well....interesting (read: it can suck pretty bad).
When first starting out with a new business, we know two things. We know we want to build something great, and secondly, we aren't quite sure how we are going to do it yet, but have a TON of enthusiasm and passion towards it.
I would not be where I am today without the help of others and I don't ever recommend you try and do it alone, but in the beginning, that's generally the reality.
This post is designed to help you recognise some of the skills that have helped me with my online brands and businesses. These skills have helped me release and plan content much cheaper, quicker and easier along my path, and can hopefully assist you also.
They're basically all self taught, and as long as you have the ability to be resourceful (point number 5), you can achieve the same (and most likely better) in a relatively short time period.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of other skills you need, and maybe even some here that you don't believe are required...however, these were the skills that have helped me the most.
1. Basic Photoshop/Photo Editing Skills
I understand not everyone is 'graphically gifted', so when I talk about basic editing, I mean exactly that. Just enough for the bare essentials so you don't need to hire a graphic artist each time you want to make a change. That is both time consuming and costly.
You should learn the basics such as:
- Cropping an image
- Adding text to an image
- Resizing an image for web
- Placing an image over another image
- Using the 'magic wand tool' and the 'eye dropper tool'
- Adding layers, deleting layers, merging layers
- Rasterizing layers
- Saving in png or jpg
All of the above will have tutorials on YouTube which you can easily search.
As far as choosing software, I have always found investing in the adobe suite the best bang for buck. I'm aware there are free alternatives out there if you wish to search, but I find for $30 per month or $50 depending which set of programs you get in your suite, it's one of the best investments you will make.
2. Basic Web Design Skills
Read and Eventually Modify Code The quickest and easiest way to learn this is just to throw yourself in and give it a shot. I learned code by having two tabs of my browser open. One was my WordPress front end (what the public see) and then my WordPress back end (protected and only you can see). I would update something in the back end using the code, and then see how it looked in the front end. Trial and error is THE best way to learn this.
At the start it will suck and it will seem like a different language (because it is), but with a little research you can become better and better.
I also recommend checking out sites like W3Schools.com for a ton of tutorials on coding and to familiarize yourself with it.
Install Wordpress, Upload Themes and Other Basic WordPress Tasks To give you an idea on the usefulness of this skill, I have started brands literally overnight. Within 12 hours, which included 7 hours sleep, I had a website and a brand up and running (and that includes some of other back work before I even loaded wordpress or the theme).
To have someone else do this for you could take days/weeks and of course $$. Learning how to do this in the beginning will save you that time and dollars as well as helping you understand your website better later when you will need to make small changes. Why pay someone $10-80 an hour to make simple changes that you can learn within 1 hour of messing around with the site?
The best way to get familiar with WordPress is to play around with it. Press buttons, investigate different parts of the back end and just mess with it.
Add a new email address using your cPanel Essential for showing a certain level of professionalism. Stop using firstname.lastname@example.org and purchase a domain with some basic hosting today. For $50 per year (yes that cheap), you can have a small space on the net and your own custom domain. Highly recommended.
Learn how to do this by googling: "adding new email in cpanel youtube" and watching one of the tutorials.
3. Communication Skills
The reason this skill kicks so much ass, is when developed you will have the ability to speak with people and share your message with complete accuracy and effectiveness. Which is what all good communication is.
Writing With the internet becoming such a major part of our lives you need to know how to effectively write to communicate your message. This will be needed to accompany other content where you will need words to 'sell' the person on spending the time to consume your content. These will need to be real and convincing. Hence why I used the word 'sell'.
The way you get better at writing is two fold:
- Read More Read more blogs, books, articles, journals, fiction books, non-fiction books and advertisements. Get used to the sentence structure for different forms of communication and have a go at putting it into practice. Your audience will let you know if you are effectively communicating it or not by the feedback you receive. If you want a list of great books, go here, or join my book club here for frequent updates.
- Write More. Get better at writing by writing. It's that simple. Write blogs, share the information in your head and help others through your words. Also, buy the book: 'Everybody Writes - Ann Handly'.
Speaking (video, in person, from stage, podcasts) Believe it or not, I was a pretty shy kid when I was younger. It wasn't until I was 24-25 that I started to come out of my shell. Now, it's difficult to shut me up.
I put this down to one main factor. Practicing.
I started a podcast, I got a job in customer service, I started speaking on video, I started doing live speaking with people, I started talking to randoms in cafes and businesses I frequented. I threw myself in and literally forced myself to get better.
Add to this that in the future I will be speaking from stage, it's a fairly large turn around.
So from being a shy guy, to speaking in front of potentially thousands of people...all just from practice.
You can do the same. Apply yourself.
I have also read a few books on communication which can help to an extent, but I still believe the best way to get better is by simply doing.
Here are the books I recommend.
4. Reading and Research
Reading changed my life. I would not be where I am today without reading. The above is just one portion of my book shelf. I have 2 book shelves of physical books (nearly 300 books), over 100 audio books and nearly 100 more on my kindle. I do not claim to have read them all, but I have picked at over half.
In the last 12 months, I have read 40-50 physical books and listened to 40 audio books and programs (many multiple times too). I do not say this to brag. I say it to let you know just how amazing books are. I cannot believe the amount of value that is packed inside these books. The amount of mentorship available from within the pages at such a low price barrier.
All leaders are readers and you need to get familiar with the classics as well as the new stuff from within your industry.
The key to reading business books is learning to pick.
I was always so caught up with reading from front to back (which I learned from our broken school system) that I never grasped the concept of just taking what you need from books until quite late in my life.
Right now I have about 10 books I have open and 40-50 books I've started and never finished (and won't go back to for a while).
There is only one rule with books..."there are no rules".
Take what you need, and move on. If it captivates your attention, keep watching, if not, move on.
For a full list of my books, and the opportunity to not only read the notes I took from them, but also the rating I gave them, please see this page.
To get you started I would recommend most books from Brian Tracy, Earl Nightingale, Brene Brown, Tim Ferriss and Robin Sharma. Of course there are plenty of others out there, this is just a VERY small snippet.
5. Effective Thinking and Resourcefulness
Initially I didn't intend this list to have an order. But as I wrote it, I realised, this last point is the most important to have as an entrepreneur/someone who works for themselves.
I want to take you through both effective thinking and also resourcefulness. These are both closely related.
First, Effective Thinking. You need to know how to think for yourself. You cannot rely on anyone else. The world is a selfish place (which I learned the hard way), but the truth is, everyone is in this game for themselves. That means if you want to be at the top of your game you must embrace the power to think for yourself.
They say the average person only really ends up using 2% of the brain's capacity. That is crazy. And can be increased significantly with conscious thought and training.
The best resources I have found on this have come from a variety of books and mentors.
Most noticeably these have been my two favourites:
- Think and Grow Rich (Top 10 books I've ever read)
- Lead The Field (Again, Top 10 books I've ever read)
Besides books, I found a HUGE benefit from setting aside 10 minutes each morning to 'think'. This is one of the best investments you can make. Let the brain run, use a whiteboard or pen/paper if you need to.
I write down a problem I currently have at the top of the page, then I write the numbers 1-10 down the left hand side, and then I let my brain go to work to figure out possible answers to those problems. I do not filter the results and whatever comes to my head, no matter how ridiculous, I write it.
It is amazing what you can come up with when you have some peace and quiet.
The brain WANTS to help you solve problems. It wants harmony. Help it on that journey.
You may have noticed throughout the article I have pointed you in the direction of a lot of resources but I haven't necessarily given you the direct links to some of those. This is on purpose.
I am not here to spoon feed you. You need to learn the skills of effectively solving a problem. You need to learn how to use the appropriate key words within Google to get a result that you want, or how to watch YouTube videos that contain the answer to your problem.
This is the most under rated skill that any freelancer can possess. Truth be told, there is so much information out there....At the time of writing this the Big 4 (Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook) contain 1,200 petabytes. Which is 1.2 Trillion terrabytes. A terrabyte is 1,000 GB. And that's just for 4 companies.
*BTW: information was yielded from yes you guessed it, a simple google search.
There is just too much content out there (mostly bad) but it is your job to equip yourself with the tools to effectively 'mine' the diamonds out of the world wide web.
Lastly, you need to be aware if entrepreneurship is actually producing results for you. It's trendy to say you're an entrepreneur right now....but how much value are you really bringing into the world?
Do you struggle to find a routine, motivation or drive as an entrepreneur? Or are you pumped and excited for each day?
There is a law of life that states, you will receive income directly proportional to the value that you provide into the world. Not a dollar less, or a dollar more.
Question yourself everyday and never stop learning.