The 4 Most Important Skills for Online Entrepreneurs

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Below is a video and written post from Stories of Scale about 4 critical skills for digital entrepreneurs. If you haven’t already, I recommend checking out our guide to digital entrepreneurship plus our long list of other posts about digital businesses.

As I’ve discussed before, while skills are important when launching a business, the most important thing is to get started! Most people spend far too much time trying to perfect their skillset when they should just focus on becoming an expert at building businesses.

The Written Version:

As an employee, it is often obvious what skills to invest in for your job. But what if you want to start an internet business?

In this video, you’ll learn four hugely useful skills for online entrepreneurs. You’ll also get specific examples of businesses that use each skill and resources you can check out.

1. Digital Marketing

The first important skill is digital marketing. This is the marketing of products or services through digital technologies, mainly on the internet. As PayPal co-founder Pata Teal says, “customers will not come just because you build it.”

Digital Marketing involves techniques like search engine optimization, paid advertising, content marketing, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend checking out Noah Kagan, the founder of app Sumo and early Facebook employee and Director of Marketing at Mint. He’s a fantastic example of someone who parlayed digital marketing skills into a wildly successful business.

He’s got an awesome blog post about how he grew Mint from 0 to 1 million users. I’ll leave a link in the description below if you’re interested.

2. Copywriting

The second important skill is copywriting. In a nutshell, copywriting is using words to sell. In other words, writing text or copy to sell products. Whenever you stumble across a sales page for an online product or open an email from a business, you’re dealing with copywriting. Is that really a skill? How important can a few word changes be? The answer is “yes. And quite important. ”

Take, for example, coming up with a headline for some sales copy. Legendary advertising tycoon David Ogilvy says that on average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. if you haven’t done some selling In your headline, you’ve wasted 80% of your money.

In one case, he says putting a new headline on an existing ad increase the selling power of the ad 10 fold. Bad headlines are easy to make. Veteran copywriter Robert Bly lists the example of clever or cute copy. He says many copywriters fall into the trap of using irrelevant gimmicks and wordplay in their headlines instead of sales appeal.

Remember, McDonald’s used to have a slogan “Mac your day,” which I thought was great at the time. I always wondered why they changed it. But now I think I understand.

If you want to see a good example of copywriting in action, check out the sales page for internet growth. an online course created by entrepreneur Melissa Griffin, just a random example I stumbled across but I thought it was a good one to check out. There’s a link in the description below.

You’ll notice how Melissa immediately paints a picture of the benefits you get from the course and then lists out the specific frustrations of her target market.

3. Programming

The third useful skill is programming, specifically either web development or mobile app development. You want technical skills that directly allow you to build things people can use. You’re not trying to become a Google engineer. You’re trying to ship a product.

Also, focus on learning these technical skills on an as-needed basis. Do you need a search box to autocomplete functionality? Google how to do it.

One great example of leveraging web development is Pieter Levels, the founder of Nomad List. I’ve talked about him before, so if you’re interested, check out my video on his story. If you just want to see his website, I’ll put a link in the description below.

4. Utilizing Online Tools

The fourth important skill is using online tools to automate and offload work. This sounds a little vague, but I’ll explain what I mean. Whenever you’ve got work to do, stop and ask yourself, “do I need to do this myself? Or is there a tool that does this for me?”

For example, building a landing page to collect emails? Do I need to start digging into HTML or CSS? Or can I just use a landing page service like lead pages, which lets me use conversion-friendly templates.

Other examples might be type form for interactive forms, MailChimp for email list management, or the Wix website builder to get your site up quickly.

Check the description for links if you want to check any of those out.

That’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed this video. Keep in mind the importance of each skill will vary depending on the type of business you’re starting. That’s it. I think they’re all wildly useful.

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