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7 Basic Digital Skills You Need In 2020
(Learn for FREE)

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7 Basic Digital Skills You Need In 2020 (Learn for FREE)

It’s a trying time for everyone with the outside threat of the COVID pandemic. We are plagued with uncertainty in our personal and professional lives, leaving many of us with even more questions about the immediate future. As the world changes around us we want to make sure we’re positioned to thrive and adapt to these changes or else we risk being left behind. As businesses shut down, unemployment rates go up, and technology rapidly evolves around us, how can we ensure that we won’t be disrupted?

I would argue that now more than ever, having a grasp of digital skills, even just the basics, will put you in a better position to face today’s challenges. Learning digital skills will significantly increase your chances of being employable, improving your digital literacy will help you communicate better, and mastering the basics will help you face everyday challenges as you’re asked to move outside of your comfort zone and solve problems remotely. Here are 7 Basic Digital Skills You Need to learn for free right now:

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1. Digital Content Production

Why? “Content is King.” Arguably the most effective way to reach an audience right now is through good, clear content production, and consistent output.

What? “Digital content producers work with a mix of words, images, videos, and other media to create content for websites, apps, and social media pages. Content Creator, Freelance Writer, Social Media Content Producer.”

For many businesses these days, their marketing strategies revolve around digital content production. Make noise, increase brand awareness, do it consistently, and try to stand out from the rest. It is the act of creating & designing consumable assets, usually in image, audio-visual, or text form, with the express purpose of engaging your audience, conveying a message, or evoking a reaction.

Advertising & marketing used to be an expensive business but with the help of online platforms and a myriad of tools at our disposal, this space has been democratized and power is given to the everyday person to share their message to a large audience at a minimal cost.

How can you learn up your content production game?

Research. “Success leaves clues,” as Jim Rohn says. Think about all the people you follow on social media or whose brand comes to mind when you think “engaging, emotional, valuable content.” Chances are you have a few brands that spring to mind, so they must be doing something right. Check out their social media pages and ask yourself “What is it about this content that makes it stand out?” Is it the design? The tone of voice? Are they speaking directly to you? Is it the simplicity in their message? Is it thought-provoking? Maybe a highly engaging or entertaining visual or choice of words? These are the tools that the top businesses and influencers are using, and you too can implement them into your content. For inspiration, check out people like @thechrisdo (see post on right) who create engaging, well-designed, and educational Instagram posts. Think about what message you’re trying to convey and build your content around that.

Try working with different forms of content video, image, text, slideshow, carousel, or even GIFs. The more you create, the better you’ll get.

Build your own portfolio of content on a social media platform or offer to build content for friends or businesses to help sharpen your skills. The more you do, the more you’ll learn, and the better you’ll get.

You can also try keeping a content calendar for posting on your different platforms. Keep it simple, attention-grabbing, and post consistently. Link to a free content calendar with a guide in the resources below.

Some free resources below can help you build better, more professional looking content.


Online Design Tools (FREE)

Canva is a great tool for beginners and those in a rush for producing content. They provide great looking templates for you to customize so half the work is already done for you.

Pablo also provides a simple, user-friendly way to design & customize image content. Perfect for the “Inspirational quote” posts.

Online Stock Images/Videos (FREE)

Pixabay is one of the best options for free stock images and videos. The quality and variety on their website is incredibly handy for finding the right image for our content.

Pexels is also a great resource for stock images and videos. Simply type keywords into the search bar and find images that you can build your content with.

Content Calendar (FREE)

Hubspot Content Calendar – Hubspot has provided us with a free content calendar template to help us stay on track with our posts. Download and follow the user guide to help plan out your social media posting schedule and content.

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2. Microsoft Office Suite (or other office productivity software)

Why Is Having Microsoft Office Skills Important? Communication is key… and being able to package that communication in an easy to understand, digestible, and digital way is an advantage.

What? There are now 1.2 billion users worldwide that use some kind of Office product or service.

By reading this on a digital device, you are very likely a regular Microsoft Office user, but if by chance you’re unfamiliar, Microsoft Office is a family of handy software which helps in productivity. Microsoft Word is mainly for word processing and making written documents. Microsoft PowerPoint for visual slideshows and presentations. Microsoft Excel for data & spreadsheets. For many businesses, this is standard practice for creating and sending documents. Needless to say, it is an essential skill in almost every workplace. From accountants to marketers to small business owners, a grasp of basic Office Suite skills or similar software is essential to productivity.

While Microsoft Office does cost money, there are free alternatives such as Google Docs to help you with these tasks. Developing basic skills in this kind of software I think is highly underestimated. Being able to produce work both of high quality and fast is a skill that can set you apart and can be a great advantage, especially in the business world. Your capabilities on this software I would argue can impact your career a lot. Imagine you’re listening to two companies pitch to you a delivery system for local delivery of your products. One pitches a business partnership with an outdated PowerPoint presentation with hard to read words on a bland canvas. The second company presents its delivery system with engaging, dynamic visuals, infographics, and a modern-looking aesthetic.

I’m not saying the first company with the outdated PowerPoint would provide worse service. In fact, they may actually have a better system, but on first impressions, the second business with a better presentation would likely get the account because their attention to detail shows competence, adaptability, effort, and care; which is exactly the qualities you want in business partners, right?

How can you learn to master the basics of Office Suite?


Online Courses

Download Free Templates to help get you started instead of starting from scratch. If you’re looking for great free resume/cv templates, for example, simply google search “download free word resume template” and you’ll be given a bunch of websites to give you what you’re looking for.

Watch Video Tutorials on YouTube

Google Docs (Free Online Documents) is extremely useful, especially since you can collaborate in realtime with other people. All you need to do is sign up free for a Gmail account and you will get access to these.

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3. Digital Graphic Design

Why Learn Digital Graphic Design Basics? Having a grasp of graphic design basics can help you immensely. From turning bland resumes into great first impressions, turning boring presentations into captivating visuals; it’s a sure-fire way to make you or your business stand out. Learning graphic design basics can help you contribute to the design and marketing process, as well as communicate with design teams in conveying what you need.

What? You know the mark of a good product is when it is commonly used as the verb to describe what it really is. “Google it,” “Skype me,” “Xerox this,” “Grab or Uber to the mall,” are some examples. Photoshop has taken a well-deserved place on that list of anthimerias. My one tip for anyone who wants to pick up a useful skill in the area of Digital Graphic Design is to learn the fundamentals of Adobe Photoshop. This versatile piece of software can help you produce better content, better images, and better designs.

Digital Graphic Design is one skill I wish I had learned earlier. I used to think that graphic design was reserved for exceptional artists who are naturally creative when it’s just as much as about complimenting that creativity with the technical know-how on digital platforms. In truth, we are all creative. We all have imagination and art is about refining those skills to turn your creative imagination into something tangible. Don’t aim for perfection, just aim to get better.

How can you learn the basics of graphic design?

-Play around with Adobe Photoshop & the other Adobe family of software. Check out the resources below to help to with Digital Graphic Design Basics


Check out this useful video for beginners to help you design better today

Logomakr – Just like the name suggests, Logomakr (no it’s not a spelling error) is a great free online tool to make simple logos in just minutes.

Rawpixel is a wonderfully useful resource for graphic design templates and assets to help you produce better digital designs & content.

Tutorial VideosThe Futur provides extremely useful content on graphic design. A lot of it is for intermediate to advanced graphic designers, but they provide golden nuggets of information that can help you build your design skills right away.

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4. Social Media

Why? Go where your audience is.

What? I couldn’t have compiled this list without mentioning Social Media. Whilst a huge source of entertainment and information, as well as a messaging platform, grasping the basics of social media skills is integral to anyone’s digital skillset.

In the Philippines alone, internet users between 16-64 spend an average of 3H 53M using social media per day, with 73 Million (or 67%) active social media users.”

How does having a Social Media Skillset differ from just being a Social Media User? Basically skill set will allow you to conceptualize and implement ideas to drive marketing campaigns and grow business. If the goal is to grow business or sell something, then it is important that you build a following and build awareness across different social media platforms. This is done by mixing multiple skills of content production, design, SEO, and more.


Free Tutorials on YouTube
Simplilearn provides an extremely in-depth and thorough resource in this social media marketing course. With around 6 hours of material, you can skip straight to the area of social media you want to learn about.

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5. Programming

Why? Mark Zuckerberg has been quoted as saying “In Fifteen years, we’ll be teaching programming just like reading and writing… and wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.” It is a highly useful and in-demand skill and the language of computers.

What? Programming is instructing computers to perform various tasks using specific programming languages, also known as coding. Programming and writing code is behind much of the technology that we now consider essential in our lives. If there’s one skill I think every child growing up today should learn, it is the basics of programming. Just like languages are learned to communicate and understand others, so too programming should be taught to understand the world around us. Children with basic knowledge in programming will be able to translate their problem-solving skills and critical thinking into real-world solutions with the aid of computers.

How? Just like all of the skills on this list, they require time and effort. The world of Programming and Coding can seem daunting but many computer programmers recommend learning the basics of HTML & CSS as a starting point. I’ve included a couple of great free learning resources below to help get you started.


Overview of Computer Science – One of the most prestigious schools, Harvard, has generously given this free resource to help us understand the foundation of Computer Science and Programming.

HTML Video Tutorial – Giraffe Academy provides an incredibly clear and effective tutorial on HTML coding that you can follow along. I highly recommend taking this as an introduction to coding a website.

Free Course On Coding Using HTML – Provided by Codecademy

Free Course On Coding Using CSS – Provided by Codecademy

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6. Copywriting

Why? Improve your copywriting, improve your communication.

What? Copywriting is an essential skill for any business in the digital world. Words are powerful things and can be used to convey an infinite amount of things. From the caption on a post to the text on an image to the content that makes up a blog, the skill of a copywriter is to effectively and efficiently communicate ideas to your audience. Copywriting is also an extremely in-demand skill.

How? Practice. Practice. Practice. Remember that, especially in brand copywriting, it is about the user. Think about your audience and try to understand their needs. Then write with empathy, be understanding of their problems, and communicate how you can provide a solution.


Quick Course On Effective Website Copywriting – This is a great overview of how to write better customer-focused copy

Complete Copywriting Tutorial – Examples, Tips and Formulas – Great useful tips on improving your copywriting to help you stand out.

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7. SEO

Why? SEO is a form of marketing that doesn’t cost a thing but reaps tangible, measurable rewards if implemented correctly.

What? SEO has become the buzzword around marketing. SEO is basically optimizing your page through various methods in order to rank higher in Google for certain search terms, and thus drive more traffic to your website or content. 91.75% of people use Google as their search engine so wouldn’t you want people to find you?

How? There’s a reason why I positioned this skill directly after copywriting as they are in many ways connected. There are may tips, tricks & tools out there to help develop your SEO skills but my advice is to always ask yourself “is this content valuable to my target audience?” For as much as you can short term tricks to get your articles to rank higher on Google, ultimately your ability to provide useful, valuable content in an easy to understand format will increase your chances of ranking high.


Video Tutorials
Basically I would recommend anything by Income School. Judge for yourself, but they provide excellent resources and insight into effective SEO and blog building techniques with success stories to prove they work. Check out their YouTube Channel here.

2020 SEO Strategy

E-A-T: An overview of building Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness online to rank higher with Google’s algorithm.

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Final Thoughts – Basic Digital Skills

Without a doubt, technology and digital devices play a significant role in our lives. They are tools to help make our life easier and entertaining. But there is great power in understanding the basics and using these tools to help you get where you want to go, both personally and professionally. I hope you got something useful from this article and if you want to find out more, check out other articles on this website and share this article if you found it useful. Good luck Building your Digital Skills!

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Laurence Mossman

Laurence Mossman

Hi, I'm Mossie! I have a keen fascination with digital skills and learning. So, I took this passion and created Build Digital Space to help others like me who also want to learn the basics or to be pointed in the right direction of building their own digital spaces.


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