Digital Skills You Can Learn at Home

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How to Get the Most Out of Digital Upskilling

Like most of us now stuck at home, you might be confronting some unexpected downtime. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed by this newfound “freedom.” But the good news is, there’s no shortage of digital skills you can learn to help pass the time.

And they’ll serve as more than just a distraction – new virtual skills can help you grow your resume, start a side hustle, and of course, have some fun. In that spirit, we’ve identified four digital skills you can learn right now:

Top Tech Skills to Learn

  1. Design – how to create stunning visual work.
  2. Copywriting – how to maximize the impact of your words.
  3. SEO – how to optimize a website to rank in search engine results.
  4. Coding – how to learn the basics without a computer science degree.

The internet is full of resources on all of these topics, but we’ve done the research and separated the good from the bad. And most importantly, we’ve found the best free resources for digitally upskilling. Let’s take a look!

1

Design

First impressions of a website are 94% design related, and nearly half of all users cite website design as the number one factor that shapes their opinion of a business. Clearly, design is a lucrative skill that’s not going anywhere – and this is a perfect opportunity to enhance your knowledge of it.

You’ve heard of design giants like Photoshop and InDesign, and you might have had some experience with these platforms in the past. But did you know that the internet is actually crawling with free design resources you can use to get informed, get inspired, and even teach yourself new skills?

We asked designers for the best free materials they plan to take advantage of while stuck at home – and received a treasure trove of virtual learning opportunities in response.

The American Institute of Graphic Arts has curated a list of 16 free ebooks for designers that you can read in your own time, on your own computer. The books on offer cover everything from introductory logo design, to typography, to simple inspiration. And since they’re free, you don’t have to face that classic bookstore decision of which to purchase – this knowledge is priceless!

More of a hands-on learner? That works, too. The online academy DesignDesign.Space is offering free digital workshops in response to coronavirus lockdowns worldwide. Multiple dates are scheduled throughout the coming months, and you can book yourself a place for courses on typography, sketching techniques, and even improving your current workspace.

designdesignspace homepage
DesignDesign.Space workshops usually consist of several sessions, and include an online forum where students can share work and ask questions.

If, after all of this newfound study time, you’re excited to put your design knowledge into practice, then we’ve found a great way to do so. InVision, a digital product design platform based in New York, is offering free resource kits full of reusable icons and templates that you can use to revamp your own design projects.

Ready to get started? Check out our guide to Designing a Website to start putting your new skills into action!

2

Copywriting

Copywriting may not have been high up on your list of tech skills to learn. But every good website requires great copy, so whether you’re starting (or sprucing up) a personal portfolio, a business website, or an ecommerce store, it’ll be worthwhile to improve your writing. Not only that, but you can pick up some new tips about writing for the web in particular.

There are some excellent free resources available online, but first, we’ve identified two simple tips you can implement right away to create better web copy:

  1. Pay attention to headlines: 80% of website visitors read your headlines – even though only 20% read the rest of the page. For this reason, you’ll want your headlines to speak to the page-skimmers and dedicated readers alike. You can do this by ensuring that your headlines, when read in order, create an accurate and interesting summary of the rest of the content on a page. Try to keep them short, specific, and explanatory!
  2. Pay even more attention to CTAs: Personalized calls to action, or CTAs, convert 42% more visitors than untargeted CTAs. CTAs usually take the form of buttons on a website that link to a product page, a form, or additional information. They usually exclaim things like “Buy Now!” or “Find Out More.” CTAs don’t just apply to ecommerce sites – any type of website needs its users to take direct action. You can add some personalization to your CTAs by making them page-specific – in other words, why say “Read More”, when you could say “Read more about [insert topic here]”?

Now, let’s talk about some of the best digital upskilling resources available for budding copywriters.

ConversionXL’s Quick Course on Effective Website Copywriting is a virtual crash course on everything from conducting research to boosting conversions. Read this, and take notes – it’s as good as an in-person class! And once you’ve “graduated,” you can make use of KlientBoost’s Landing Page Copywriting Blueprint. It’s essentially a framework you can lean on to create great copy for a website landing page.

Want to focus on copywriting as your digital strong suit? Check out our in-depth guide to starting a blog!
3

SEO

At this point, you know about the design and copywriting basics that create a strong online presence. But what about promoting that online presence? Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important digital skills you can learn to help drive traffic to a webpage.

SEO is the process of increasing a website’s rankings in Search Engine Results Pages (or SERPs). And a good ranking is invaluable: 67% of all clicks go to the first five organic results on the SERP.

Check out these findings from Advanced Web Rankings, where CTR means click through rate, and Exact Position refers to each website’s ranking on a SERP:

seo example graph

Learning basic SEO can help you promote anything from a website to a single blog post, and it’s also an increasingly practical skill to develop as more and more work becomes primarily digital. Luckily, there is a wealth of free resources online to help you get started. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Software company Moz offers a comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to SEO, complete with seven chapters and a glossary, catered to rookies and covering everything from keywords to link building.
  • Moz’s Whiteboard Fridays video series will help you stay informed about new developments and theories in the world of SEO.
  • Studying Google’s SEO Starter Guide is a great way to learn about SEO from the most popular search engine out there.
  • The popular SEO company Yoast offers a free version of its SEO training, which covers what exactly Google’s role is, plus tips for “quick wins” to boost your site’s ranking. There’s more knowledge offered on the paid version of Yoast’s course, but we think the free version is useful in its own right.
Interested in gaining visibility online? Read our How to Promote Your Website guide for more tips, some SEO-focused and some from other areas!
4

Coding

We know, we know – coding seems like the kind of skill that definitely requires some painstaking labor or a university degree. And you definitely don’t need to know any code to create your own website.

But no one needs to worry about becoming a self-taught expert – instead, we’re talking about the various free opportunities to get acquainted with code. A little bit of familiarity will allow you to add more customization to your website. Plus, you can become a resource to help other people in a similar situation.

So, where to start? We’ve gathered up the best free resources to help coding novices get a jump start:

  • The Odin Project allows complete web development beginners to become programming experts. If the thought of becoming an expert scares you, don’t worry – you can learn as much or as little as you choose! The full scope of this project is broken down into digestible modules. For example, the Web Development 101 course will help you explore languages like HTML and CSS, which will come in handy if all you want to do is revamp your own website.
  • Codecademy is an interactive platform that offers classes in 12 different programming languages. With Codecademy, you won’t just be taking notes – you’ll be practicing your technical skills!
codecademy homepage
Codecademy is widely recognized as a great entry-level resource.

Using a website builder is a great opportunity to test your growing comfort level with coding. Because you don’t need to know any code to use a website builder, you can build a practice website before you start learning, and then gradually start tinkering with the code as you go. We’ve already ranked the top 10 best website builders of 2020, all but one of which offer free trials or free plans – you can start practicing whenever you want!

Not sure where to start? We’ve written a how-to Coding for Beginners article for inspiration!

We’ve also put together a full list of the 10 Best Online Coding Courses, whether you’re kickstarting a career or just looking to learn some fun new skills!

Digital Upskilling: The Wrap-Up

In the age of the internet, it’s never been easier to set yourself apart from the competition by learning something new. To recap, these are our top 4 tech skills to explore:

Best Digital Skills to Learn at Home

  1. Design
  2. Copywriting
  3. SEO
  4. Coding

With plenty of free resources and abundant time, you’ve got nothing to lose – and you might gain a new hobby or business idea!

About Maura Monaghan

Maura Monaghan

I grew up scribbling in notebooks, and until recently the thought of relocating my writing to the digital world seemed like an impossible goal. But when I finally took the plunge and created an online portfolio, I immediately saw the benefits of having my work out on the web. Since then I’ve learned everything I can about creating different websites, so that I can help those in a similar situation get online without a similar headache.

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