If you want to get new skills for a better job, to make more money, improve your business, or all of the above, your goals must include some type of learning. But what should you learn? The marketable skills today may be worthless tomorrow, so focus on abilities that will offer value for at least a few years. I’ve put together this list of 10 things that I personally feel will do you and/or your business a lot of good in the coming year.
1- Learn How to Write Well
Technologies will come and go, but the principles of effective communication will remain the same. The best way to learn to write well is to rewrite. Reworking something you’ve written a second time brings true improvement. Tighten up the language. Make your phrases clear and concise. Read great writing to improve your own. One of the best guides, in my opinion, is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
2- Learn How to Start Your Own Blog
An Internet presence has become an expectation for many professionals. A blog (web-log) can serve as a business card, resume, portfolio, and business marketing tool. You can learn how to setup and maintain your own blog at Blogger.com or Worpress.com – two popular and free blog hosting services.
3- Learn How to Get Out of Debt
This goes for your personal and business finances. Debt and the accompanying interest rates limit your opportunities. Two very helpful resources are Dave Ramsey’s book on getting out of debt, and a popular blog by JD Roth called Get Rich Slowly.
4- Learn How to Resist Persuasion
Hand-in-hand with getting out of debt means learning how to stonewall persuasive marketers or salespeople when they attempt to part you with hard-earned cash. Recognizing the psychological techniques they use helps you defend your finances. I’ll write more about this in a later post. For now, I highly recommend that you check out (or purchase) Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book about the psychology of persuasion. It will give you great insight about how salespeople get you to say yes, even when you really don’t want to. Identifying their techniques when they’re unleashed usually disarms them immediately.
5- Learn How to Make a Few Dollars Online
Many Internet marketers rake in millions of dollars using the World Wide Web. It’s a lot of work trying to do what they do. For every successful online business, there are thousands that never make much. If you dedicate the time to learn and apply what it takes to make money online, you can at least expect a little added income each month. If you’re really serious, I recommend Yaro Starak’s Blog Mastermind Program which only requires a $100/month investment over six months. There’s also free information out there, like the Become a Blogger program and Pat Flynn’s site. You can join free affiliate marketing programs from LinkShare and Commission Junction. These programs are very simple. If you have a web site or blog, just apply to the individual programs and paste the code for specific product links on your site. If one of your site visitors clicks the ad and completes a purchase, you get a percentage of the sale or a referral commission.
6- Learn to Use Google Reader
I’m certain that most the web sites you like to visit (well, except for those websites) have updates available through syndication (RSS). You can subscribe to each site’s RSS feed with a program like Google Reader and have all those subscribed updates appear in one place. You’ll save so much time because you won’t have to go to all the sites individually, sifting through pages and links to find the newest information. Google Reader is free to use, and tutorials for getting started are easy to follow. When you get your reader account up and running, don’t forget to subscribe to the HigherPayingSkills RSS feed!
7- Learn How to Create Media for the Internet
Anyone can turn on a video camera (almost anyone), but can you take your videos and upload them to Youtube or Vimeo? Do you know how to record, edit and upload an audio (mp3) file to the Internet also? YouTube’s got a great instructional section on how to do this with video. I’ll post a tutorial on how to do basic recording with Audacity – a free audio editing software.
8- Learn to Use Search Engines More Effectively
Most people don’t know how to use a few simple operators to refine their Internet searches. You can save time and locate much more useful information by taking a few simple steps. I’ve written a beginning tutorial on how to use search engines more effectively. In fact, you can use a search engine to find great search engine tutorials.
9- Learn What Free Resources Are Available to Increase Your Knowledge
I really believe the best learning experiences actually come from using free resources. You wouldn’t believe what things are “out there” for your learning and development. Your local library is a great start. Don’t miss MIT’s Open Courseware Project. Project Gutenberg offers over thirty-thousand classical books electronically. Use a search engine to find other free resources for increasing your knowledge.
10- Learn How to Set Up a Facebook Page
Similar to having your own blog for professional and business reasons, you also want to have a grasp on social media tools. You should learn to set up a Facebook page in addition to your personal profile. You’ll transform this time-consuming site into more of a professional presence for yourself or business. You can draw more customers to your services, or more potential employers to your resume. Mashable has some nice tutorials on how to set up a Facebook page. You can also checkout Pat Flynn’s how-to – he’s a recently successful Internet marketer.