What It Takes to Build Digital Skills: The #1 Missing Ingredient Today Among Skill-Based Workers

In our digital-first world, everyone needs digital skills.

Everyone.

Digital skills include, for example:

  • Digital communication (social media, email, chat)
  • Online writing and content creation
  • Digital marketing and strategy
  • Programming and web development
  • Graphic design and data visualization
  • Data entry and digital recordkeeping
  • Online research
  • Computer literacy

If you work or run a business online, you probably need more than one digital skill in your wheelhouse.

But here’s the thing:

Do you know how to go out and get skills like these? 🤔

Do you know what it takes?

And…

Do you know the consequences of NOT building digital skills – especially if you’re a business owner?

Consider this:

Only 7% of business owners make it to $150k/year in revenue.

That means 93% make LESS than $150k.

Even further, 50% of businesses fail by year five. (Only about 30% will make it to year 10.)

A HUGE differentiator between the successful/unsuccessful? Digital skills.

Not just having them, but also understanding when you’re lacking in an area and acting to fill in that knowledge gap.

That’s exactly what we’ll talk about in today’s video and blog.

build digital skills

How to Build Digital Skills: The Ingredients You Need to Succeed

Knowing how to build digital skills is a skill in itself.

But, once you know, you’ll have the tools you need to level up in your work or your business.

Let’s start with the biggest problem I see all. The. Time.

1. Know What Digital Skills You’re Missing

This may seem like an obvious thing to understand about yourself, but it’s the #1 problem plaguing the digital skill world today.

It’s surprising how many people in the marketplace claim to have digital skills, but when it comes to demonstrating them, they fail.

That means they don’t actually have those skills – yet they believe they do!

This giant disconnect lies at the heart of the issue. Workers with below-par digital skills are flooding the marketplace and adding to the noise – and making failure and bad content the standard.

Watch me discuss this problem in this video:

What Does Missing a Digital Skill Look Like?

Here’s an example:

Sally is really good at writing college essays that earn her steady A’s. Once she graduates, she thinks she’ll immediately get a job as an in-demand copywriter. She creates a portfolio, applies to some gigs on a few sites, and patiently waits to get hired.

And then…

….Crickets. 😶

Wait a minute? What happened here? Sally is a great writer – why doesn’t anyone want to hire her?

Answer: The skill of writing essays is nothing like the digital skill of writing for the web.

Sally has no idea how to write SEO blogs that rank in Google. She doesn’t know how to write a web page that converts. She’s never written an email with the intention of earning clicks. She doesn’t have the first clue that the clunky walls of text she usually writes are the exact opposite of good online writing.

essay style writing vs online writing

Left: Essay-style writing. Right: Online writing.

Sally has a gaping skill gap she needs to fill before she can become successful as a digital skill worker.

By the way, she’ll probably figure out something is off when she struggles to find gigs, or when she gets hired but the client never contacts her again after the project is done.

How will Sally react to these failures? Will she blame the marketplace and quit?

Or will she realize she’s missing necessary digital skills that will help her get consistent, well-paying work and repeat clients – and thus go out and get those skills?

SEO writing is a mammoth digital skill to have these days, by the way. Luckily, I teach you how to do it in my Expert SEO Content Writer course. Get a preview of the course when you download my FREE cheat sheet:

seo writing

How to Identify Your Missing Digital Skills

To identify your missing digital skills, look at where you’re hitting brick walls with your job/career/business.

These are the puzzle pieces you’re missing. For instance:

  • Are you a digital skill worker struggling to get steady clients?
  • Are you a business owner failing to figure out how to do content marketing?
  • Are you a whiz at a specific digital service, but have no clue how to set up your website so it welcomes leads and converts them?
  • Are you starting a remote business, but don’t know how to manage a team remotely/digitally?

These are just a few examples. What’s important is to take a hard look at what you’re doing, especially what’s not working. It may feel like swallowing bitter medicine, but you have to face it if you want to turn things around and succeed.

2. Don’t Expect Free Content to Teach You Everything You’re Missing

I love free content. Absorbing it is a great way to get essential, valuable seeds of knowledge.

However –

Free content can only ever scratch the surface.

It’s just the start – the seed. If you want to get the whole tree, you need to go deeper. In fact, you need to hike into the depths of the forest. 🌲🌲🌲

Think back to times when you were being taught a skill like solving tough math problems or driving a car.

learning to drive a car

Would reading a single blog post or article have taught you what you needed to know?

No – the idea is laughable!

To learn those skills, you needed guided instruction from an expert teacher. And you didn’t learn in just one session or one sitting, but rather over many sessions, many classes, and many demonstrations.

Why would you treat digital skills any differently?

Sure, you’re an adult now, but that doesn’t mean your adult learning requires less devotion and time than the learning you received as a child.

If anything, the stakes are higher now than ever before. Your livelihood – your business, your work, your career – depends on you learning those digital skills successfully.

To put it bluntly, reading a couple of free blogs isn’t going to cut it.

That’s why the next point is so important.

3. Invest in Building Digital Skills

Invest time. Invest money. Invest effort.

It’s impossible to become proficient at anything without all three.

What do I mean by “proficient?”

  • You’re confident in your digital skill
  • You’re successful in using your skill
  • You don’t need hand-holding or cheat sheets or reference books to help you do it
  • You could teach that skill to someone else

Reading one blog on a topic or watching one video isn’t enough to get you to this level. That’s why investing is so important for building digital skills.

How can you invest in learning? A few ways:

  1. Enroll in a course
  2. Read books on your desired skill
  3. Invest in a mentorship program

In fact, #3 – finding a teacher or mentor – is one of the best ways to learn any new skill. The hard part is finding the right one.

free webinar

4. Find the Right Teachers/Mentors

A good teacher is worth every penny you invest in their mentorship.

Why?

Because a good teacher will not just teach you a skill; they’ll also teach you the right theory and approach to that skill.

Take content marketing: You can’t teach someone to do content marketing well without also teaching them why it works better than traditional marketing and the strategy you need behind it to succeed.

So, when considering teachers or mentors for learning your desired digital skill, find out whether they’ll give you the WHY and the HOW behind that skill (alongside the WHAT).

You also need to find an actual practitioner – someone who’s using that digital skill day in, day out with success. If your potential mentor is all talk and no walk, they’re most likely not a practical expert (in fact, they’re one of those people we mentioned who are merely adding to the noise).

You need to see actual proof they’ve mastered the digital skill, and that proof lies in their actions and body of work.

Look at what they’ve done and what they’re doing. Are they out there proving their expertise on the regular? Or do they just have a lot of fancy, persuasive copy with no substance underneath?

5. Understand You’re Never Done Learning

Technology changes so fast, that by the time you learn a new digital skill well enough to implement it, it might have morphed into something different – on a new platform, with different tools, with new techniques.

That’s why you have to commit to constant and continuous learning. It never stops, because technology never stops evolving.

There will never be a point where you know everything. Staying open to learning is thus essential for continued success as you build your digital skill.

By the way, this is where a lot of people go wrong. 🙈

They think knowing just enough about a skill is good enough. They don’t want to do the work involved to actually learn and grow. They want shortcuts.

Newsflash: These are the people who will never reach six figures in their businesses. (Remember that stat that only 7% of business owners will reach $150k/year? People with the mindset of “I know everything I need to know already” WILL tumble into the 93% who never get there.)

6. Remember: Digital Skills ≠ Business Skills

Finally, remember that learning a digital skill doesn’t make you ready to start a business around that skill.

Digital skills and digital business skills are two separate things.

You need both to start your own brand.

  • You need expertise in the digital skill you’re selling as a service (SEO writing, content marketing, web development, social media management, digital design, etc.)
  • You need business skills to run and manage that online business, including hiring, delegating, marketing, strategizing, and scaling.

Having one or the other, but not both, is a recipe for failure.

Listen to this podcast episode, Your Skill Is Not a Business, for more on this topic:

Build Digital Skills for a Better Future

No one is born with digital skills.

They must be learned, and you need to keep learning as technology evolves, as tools and platforms change.

It’s a big commitment, but…

You NEED digital skills to successfully run a business online, whether you’re looking for gigs as a freelance copywriter, designer, programmer, content creator, etc., or you’re an entrepreneur starting a company and scaling to sell your skill at a higher level.

Want to learn ALL the digital + business skills you need to successfully build a brand that lasts?

That opportunity exists inside my Content Transformation System.

This 12-month, 5-phase mentorship program includes one entire phase devoted specifically to skill-building. You’ll learn over 20 skills including:

  • How to choose a brand name
  • How to find your ICA (ideal client avatar)
  • How to put together a content strategy
  • How to build a targeted email list
  • How to write for social media
  • How to create YouTube content
  • How to price your services
  • And more

I built my own businesses to six and seven figures using all the principles I teach inside this mentorship. And it’s all waiting for you when you choose me as your mentor. ❤

Ready to work with me and my team of expert coaches? Apply today.

apply now for the content transformation system

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.