The 7 Best Skills You Can Learn Online

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”

— Henry David Thoreau

In the past 100 years, mankind has advanced more than it has since our species’ rise some 200,000 years ago. What were once science-fiction fantasies are now a stark realitys. As a prolific technology writer and fervent believer in all things digital, I’ve witnessed this firsthand. My earliest memories invoke the nostalgia of the digital era’s earliest days that saw birth to the computer, the internet and the smartphone.

And as our civilization marches forward, and technology continues to seep into every aspect of life, most of us can feel overwhelmed and left behind. As we go about our lives, living and working from moment to moment, we fail to realize the silent revolution that’s brewing, one that’s helping droves of people from across the world to live, work and earn money from virtually anywhere and at anytime.

Of course, it’s not easy making vast swaths of money, especially when we’re talking about online income. However, anyone that’s serious about making financial progress, needs to learn skills that will help them move forward. Some of the best and brightest individuals have learned to leverage the right skills to allow them to either supplement their current full-time income, or entirely replace it. However, this is no small feat. Learning skills, especially online, requires sincere dedication and effort.

The problem? No matter what resource we talk about when it comes to expanding your skill set online, the issue becomes more about self motivation and advancement rather than locating the right information. For some, not having that human interaction makes things learning incredibly more difficult. They take issue with not having someone constantly telling them when to work or what assignment to hand in.

As difficult as it might seem, however, learning skills, especially online, is one of the quickest ways to advance yourself towards your goals, whatever they might be. It generally involves less time, energy and effort than enrolling in a community college or long-term degree at nationally-accredited college anywhere in the world. It’s easier because you can do it online during your free time. Of course, that’s if you can get the motivation to do so.

The issue at hand here is that learning usually involves some pain. It’s difficult, especially at the outset, to learn any new skill. This issue is abundantly clear when you have to self-motivate and self-inspire yourself to do so.  However, if you set some clear meaningful goals and create a plan towards their achievement, while effectively managing your time, you’ll be more likely to succeed in the long term. Ignore that advice and you might find it virtually impossible to see things through.

What are the Best Skills to Learn Online?

While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great skills that you can learn online, there are 7 core skills that will provide you with the most long-term benefits. Not only can these skills help you to produce passive income, but they’ll also allow you to live and work from anywhere in the world while making money online. While it might sound idealistic by nature, by no means is it easy. It requires an incredible amount of determination, willpower and the ability to follow through.

However, for those that are serious about acquiring new skills, the internet makes the barrier for entry into nearly any field, incredibly low. There are a tremendous amount of online resources, videos, tutorials and articles that will help to guide you through just about any endeavor. Yet, while learning  the basic fundamentals of any skill is relatively straightforward, achieving mastery requires far more effort than that.

And if you’re going to earn money or become an authority in any field, you need to achieve mastery. However, mastery only comes after very long and extended periods of monumental effort. It’s not simple nor is it easy. It invokes every last fiber of your being. It includes ignoring the naysayers and pushing through, even when you feel like a failure. Sure, it’s not easy. But in the long term, it most certainly is worth it.

To invoke Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from Outliers, it will take you years and years to achieve mastery in any field, or 10,000 hours to be more precise. While you don’t need to concern yourself about mastery in the very beginnings of learning a new skill, it should be in the back of your mind. The point? Focus on one skill at a time and master it. While it will take a long time, it’s through that mastery that you’ll be able to gain the most benefits from your newfound skills.

So what are the best skills to learn in this coming age of digital and autonomous technology? Clearly, anything to do with computers is going to be powerful. Not only will computers pave the way into the distant future, but any realm of communication, design and marketing in the digital realm will be increasingly important going forward.

#1 — Web development

As technologies advance further and further, more highly-skilled developers will be needed to meet the needs of things like automation, software design, smartphone apps, internet of things, artificial intelligence and so on. Since much of our digital communications is occurring through the web, and will likely all occur through the web in the future, having a clear understanding of web development is by far one of the best skills to have as we march forward in time.

However, becoming a web developer is no small feat. It takes true determination to see things through. There are countless languages to be learned with new technologies emerging constantly. However, if you focus on the core languages such as HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Javascript and jQuery, you’ll create a solid foundation for pressing forward in this field. Find a great course or class that you can take and be sure set some solid long-term goals to see things through.

If you’re interested in web development, check out my course here >>

#2 — Graphic design

Another great skill to have, and one that’s easily learnable online, is graphic design. Clearly, visuals are important for any business, and those that can master the realm of design using tools like Photoshop and Illustrator, for example, will excel. It’s clear that, while functionality is incredibly important, the aesthetics involved in clean visuals is also very much important. If you have an eye for design, then this might be the best skill for you to start learning.

In order to really grasp graphic design, you need a clear handle on Photoshop. You could try downloading it and using the trial version for 30 days. Or, you could take a Photoshop Crash Course on the subject matter. And, while there are also loads of books and YouTube videos you could source, the best way to really learn graphic design is to simply immerse yourself in these two programs. Try copying any designs or layouts that you see to develop the knowledge it takes to master this skill.

#3 — Copywriting

Copywriting is a lucrative trade that commands excellence in your prose. It’s a highly-sought-after skill that, when wielded in the correct and proper way, can result in an endless array of sales and potential profits. But nothing worthwhile will come easy. To get very good at copywriting, you need to practice, practice, and practice some more. If you get a chance to shadow one of the greats, then seize the opportunity. Or, simply get out there and subscribe to email lists or read quality blogs.

While taking a course can help in copywriting, the skill of writing itself is developed with practice. It also helps to be well read. Institute the habit of writing at least 2,000 words per day, every single day, no matter what. Skill develops over time as long as you stick to it. Remember the 10,000-hour rule? Of course, you could read books on grammar, watch YouTube videos or take a number of courses or classes to also get very good at copywriting.

#4 — Social media marketing

One of the most important skills that you could learn today is social media marketing. While some argue that social media marketing takes a certain personality to achieve success in, there are some tried-and-true rules that could help anyone succeed in this field. First and foremost, there absolutely has to be a desire to learn and master it. Second, you have to learn how to connect with others.

While connecting with others might seem subjective, I can assure you that it’s not. You have to develop a relationship with your fans and followers, and also ensure that you add value in any way that you can. Engage in conversations, deliver insightful content, give compliments, and you’ll ultimately succeed. And while there are numerous courses you can take and books you can read, nothing quite beats good-old-fashioned experience. Learn the ropes, then get out there and start hustling.

#5 — Search engine optimization

Quite possibly one of the most important skills that you can have today is search engine optimization. If you don’t know what SEO is, you might have been living under a rock recently. Of course, SEO is the set of methods, principles and techniques used to organically rank webpages on Google or any other search engine. And we all know just how important it is to get free, virtually limitless traffic from one of the most important sources in existence today.

However, SEO is difficult. It takes a comprehensive understanding and the ability to wield sound principles and sincere effort over the long term. It doesn’t happen overnight. Also, much of what you’ll find out there about SEO might either mislead or trick you into thinking that it will be easier than it is. It isn’t. The point? Learn this skill and learn them well. Read a book, take a course or enroll in a class somewhere, anywhere, so that you can master the art of search engine optimization.

#6 — Learn new languages

Languages are an important aspect of communications. Being able to speak a language fluently, wielding excellence in writing and reading, is an important skill to have. Depending on where you live, certain secondary languages could not only be beneficial to allow you to further advance in your career, but they could also act as a springboard. Learning a new language could also open you up to the potential for travel and working in another region in the world without fear of a language barrier.

There are several ways to learn a new language. You could opt for audiobooks to get the basics down by using the Pimsleur systems’ books, which are some of the best ones on the market. Or, you could use a system like Rosetta Stone. And, of course, you could take an actual course on a site like Udemy or even at a local college. You could also hire a tutor online and meet via Skype, or simply find one to meet with you in person.

#7 — Trading and investing

One of the biggest problems that remains prevalent in society is a lack of financial education. In school, we’re educated on a variety of topics such as history, mathematics and science, for instance. However, we aren’t educated about the importance of things like debts and assets, balance sheets, trading and investing. We aren’t introduced to real estate, stocks, bonds, treasury bills, or other investment vehicles.

However, this is one of the best skills that you could learn for your future success. Learn how to trade and invest. Even if you start on a small scale for now, that’s okay. The point is to learn the ropes. Pick up a book, join a course or enroll in a class. Learn the ins and outs of investing in real estate or stocks and just how to judge a company’s valuation by looking at their balance sheet, quarterly or annual filings. This is all imperative to understand.