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Some Marketable Skills You Can Learn Online for Free

For the first time in history, people technology gives people 24/7 access to most knowledge that was ever worth knowing.  This is really good for people who are comfortable accessing it and really expensive for people who don’t.  With that being said, here is a list of marketable skills you can pick up online for free.  You might even be able to make decent money doing these when times are tough.  I numbered them for dramatic affect, but you should know they are in no particular order or rank.

5. Adobe Creative Suite (with some html)

Even though web design is the first title on this arbitrary list, I should start by saying it sort of doesn’t really belong here.  I’ll write about it anyways though.   Adobe Creative Suite  is an extremely powerful set of programs.  They are multi-industry standards that most people can’t just pick up.  With the right amount of time on your hands, and some googling of course, you can be making your own web page layouts, or editing your own photos in a matter of days.  Where do you begin?  I started doing this with photoshop about 8 years ago by searching “Good Photoshop Tutorials.”  My result, good-tutorials.com.  Its pretty much a conglomeration of tutorials from all over the internet.  They lie, not all the tutorials are good, but there’s enough of them for you to get the gist of things.  I would suggest running through them multiple times and take into consideration exactly how each step alters the final product.  Why don’t I think this doesn’t fit on the list?  Some would say being good at the Adobe Creative Suite requires a certain level of artistic understanding.  In the very least you need to know what looks good.  Also, it requires a lot of patience.  All of this effort can certainly pay off though.  Good freelancers can charge upwards of $50; not to mention the perks of working at home on your own time.  Serious bonus points for people who manage to learn photoshop and basic programming skills.

4.  Car Repairs

My car needs new brake shoes.  I didn’t expect this to really be a big deal at first, but then again I don’t know anything about cars.  I went to a mechanic and asked for some prices.  Estimates ranged from $180-$500.  I came home (obviously with the same shitty old brake pads) and did some research.  This is what I found.  Most popular video sharing sites have a slew of how to videos on basic car repairs.  And as you can see (and probably already know) basic car repairs cost a shit ton of money.  You probably won’t be a professional mechanic or anything by the end of these videos, but you will have saved a few hundred dollars.  Thats perfect for spending on future SuperProfundo branded paraphernalia.  The hard part is finding out what repair needs to be made on the car.  How is this marketable?  I’d imagine since mechanics are expensive for everyone (not just me) people will be willing to pay you to do something along these lines.

3.  Small Electronic Repairs

We live in a throw away culture.  iPods, computers and even digital cameras are used until they break.  Once this happens people tend to replace the item rather than repair it.  Unfortunately, for most people this makes a lot of sense (electronics repairs are expensive!).  For better people on the other hand, it doesn’t.  Its very easy for find replacement parts for common electronics online.  eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and Google Product Search are good starting points.  Parts are usually pretty cheap and often don’t come with install instructions.

Four months ago I cracked the top glass on my iPhone 3G.  I was bummed about it, it sucked.  About 20 minutes later, I found a new top glass on eBay for $8.  This got me thinking, how hard could this be?  Worst comes to worst I break my broken iPhone.  Even broken iPhones go for a lot on eBay.  Anyways, iFixit.com.  Seriously an amazing place.  They have a database of tutorials that show you how to replace almost any part in a bunch of popular electronics.  I read through the tutorial, decided that I was going to take the risk and ordered the part.  It actually wasn’t very difficult at all.  Unfortunately there is a slight risk involved, but I would say that if you are even somewhat confident in yourself its a risk worth taking.  If you have the necessary tools and get good at it, you can offer to repair broken electronics for people.  Better yet you can buy broken electronics for cheap, repair them and do what you want.

2.  PHP w/ SQL

For those of you who aren’t sure what PHP or SQL are, I will paste in the first two sentences from their respective wikipedia entries to fill you in.

PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor is a widely used, general-purpose scripting language that was originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages. For this purpose, PHP code is embedded into the HTML source document and interpreted by a web server with a PHP processor module, which generates the web page document

SQL (officially pronounced /ˌɛskjuːˈɛl/ like “S-Q-L” but often pronounced /ˈsiːkwəl/ like “sequel”),[1] often referred to asStructured Query Language[2][3] (however, there is some debate about its expansion[4]), is a database computer language designed for managing data in relational database management systems (RDBMS), and originally based upon relational algebra. Its scope includes data insert, query, update and delete, schema creation and modification, and data access control.

If you’re reading this you are already at a huge advantage when it comes to computer programming, since most computer languages are based off of english.  SQL is a databasing language.  You can store enormous amounts of data into a “table” and then retrieve it dynamically with PHP.  Php.net has a very complete list of tutorials you can use to work with PHP.  When learning a programming language this way there is one very important thing to remember.  Don’t get caught up in learning syntax, the idea is to learn what it does and how to apply it.  The syntax can be referenced from the internet whenever you want!  This duo of programming languages alone can be used to code shopping carts, content management systems, account systems and even blogs (pretty much, it can do anything).  Freelance PHP work pays just as well as website design does but without the need for the “artistic understanding” I mentioned earlier.  If you can master both then you’re in good shape.

1.  Excel Macros

Most serious jobs involve working with excel at some point.  When most people go about doing this they end up doing a lot of mundane repetitive tasks.  Taking advantage of the Macros feature is an easy way to save time and impress superiors.  Heres a good resource to learn excel.

All of these skills require a lot of time and patience.  Even so, a college education is more expensive than ever and the return on its investment is dropping every day.  The ability to procure skills from the internet is more important than ever.  It will make you stand out from the crowd.  So get out there and learn by doing.