(Guest writer: Danny Groner)
Freelancers wanting to cut costs and maintain full editorial control will frequently and aggressively invest in honing their own skills. More often than not, these new skills will turn out to be extensions of their prior knowledge. But to really expand your business and broaden your horizons, you should look beyond the present moment or assignment, and envision your future.
What skills would be wise to take on now as an investment down the line? The more diverse and offbeat your skillset, the greater chance you’ll have of landing that coveted gig and letting your new startup fly.
It’s time to step outside our comfort zone and give some thought to attaining these 10 skills. When the time comes that you’ll need them, they’ll come in handy.
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1. Awesome viral videos
Youtube, Netflix, and other video platforms have taken the Internet by storm, making up for roughly half of all web traffic. What’s clear from this data is that video is more than a passing fad. We use it for both distractions, and for education. But by far the most popular (and sometimes perplexing) videos are viral ones.
Everyone and every company is trying to crack what makes a video go viral. Quite simply, some people are better informed and thus think differently than the rest of us. Those who get social traction from their videos can turn that interest and share into profit and loyalty.
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Pictures on all of your online and offline pages will keep people interested and keep reading. It’s easy to find inexpensive stock photos in this day and age, but if you can do it yourself, you can add your personal touch and tweak it to fit the content.
Camera costs have come down so much over recent years, and technology has advanced, so it doesn’t require a professional to get that great shot. Once you have your camera in hand, getting started is as easy as snapping the shot you wish. Experts can offer you the direction you need for dealing with shadows, taking action shots, and more, but at the end of the day only you can make your photos unique.
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3. Basic HTML skills
If you’re operating a business of any sort in 2013, you’re going to need to start with a dynamic website to attract new customers. Thanks to WordPress and other all-in-one blogging services, the days of hiring expensive IT guys to troubleshoot and solve your blogging problems are over.
But as a blogger, no matter what you write about, your daily life, a tutorial, a satire, a review site, having control over HTML gives you endless possibilities.
It can be daunting to dive into the code but once you know the basics of what’s happening beneath your pages, you can save yourself a lot of time and costs, or leave you better equipped to communicate properly with developers who can help you take your site further.
4. Love what you make
Yes, this can be taught. Everyone wishes to love what he or she does, but how many of us love what we create or publish? Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian offers an array of advice to help you connect with your customers and to build a network of people who will advocate and advertise for you, for free.
What you put into your work and business emotionally, will pay off in huge dividends. The best time to be thinking about these ideas is when you are creating a company and you’re closest to the original idea and momentum. As clients roll in, you can implement these tactics and strategies.
5. Begin video marketing
Looking to set yourself apart from others in your digital space? Video marketing is the hot way to achieve it. Turn traditional marketing mechanics into savvy messaging that will market your products and services online.
With so many people watching TV and other videos on their computers these days, there’s a real opportunity to make a name for yourself through paid advertisements or a successful Youtube channel of your own making. People should see you and feel like they’re getting to know you, and your service.
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6. Control your SEO
You’re probably looking to turn to Google or Bing to drive new customers to you. Knowing the relevant local search terms that apply for your business is the first step in executing a strategy to "win" those terms. In the short- and long-term of it, it is easier said than done.
To only focus on the content is not enough, SEO is absolutely essential to grow a business in today’s business world, and there are plenty of places where you can get up to speed on how to appropriately get Google to place the odds in your favor. Play the game right and you’ll walk away a winner.
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7. Customize your business cards
Freelance designers who are familiar with what Adobe’s InDesign can offer know how easily you can play with your company logo and other marketing materials.
Business cards in particular are important to consider since they function in the real world like how connections are made online via social media today.
It’s the weapon of first impressions and if you are doing any level of networking for your business, you’ll want business cards that reflect your personality and expertise. Even if you hire someone else to ultimately create your cards for you, you’ll want to experiment with some samples yourself and to see what different styles can offer.
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8. Excelling in accounts
Accountants and office managers can prove valuable at certain high-pressured times of the year, yet you can step in yourself for the typical daily needs.
With a little structure and planning, you’ll find an easy way to cut down on costs. Besides, if you’re watching your spending closely, especially at the beginning, you’re more likely to keep to your appointed budget.
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9. Care for your computer
We’ve all been there. On deadline, our computer goes haywire unexpectedly, and we don’t know how to proceed. It’s too late at night to call our computer guy to check it out. However, you can actually prepare yourself for the inevitable meltdown.
Learn how to back up your files (it’s a skill: something to be learned to deliver a purpose!) load anti-virus software that actually works, upgrade computer hardware, and how to speed up your machine.
So, when the dreaded shutdown does occur, you’ll be prepared and will be able to get things back on track rather than wait for help to arrive.
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10. Share your wisdom
Did you enjoy the tutorials you were introduced to here? Want to make money teaching others what you know? Well, like with everything, there are best practices to take note of and to be recommended. Uncover the secrets to making good online courses, tutorials or demos.
It doesn’t require a big budget to get started. Teaching others about your field or areas of interest will drive them to learn more about you and what you can offer them. It’s a great way to reinforce your credibility and authority on a subject. As consumers, we’re more likely to give our business to those who we trust.