I start this off with a quote from a friend of mine who helped me set up a home office in 1998: “Steven, accept one thing. Computers are your best friend when you know what you are doing, and they suck when you don’t”.
I still remember him saying that because to me it simply meant, “I have everything to learn, and I will not like nor understand all of it.” How it applies to working online is that computers have their own language about them. You will find power buttons in the same place, USB chords look the same, Facebook & Twitter share buttons all seem to be in the same place, every website has a ‘Contact Us’ section, and there is a mainstream set of computer tools used by everyone (depending on whether or not they like PC or MAC). Here are some basic computer skills:
1. An ability to find instructions, or read directions: Sounds basic, but you would be surprised by how many people become intimidated by technology, even though the instructions may be very simple. I was once given a day off from work at a previous job in 2005, simply because I showed my boss how to make the MS Word paperclip smiley go away. A small tip: Realize that common sense is rarely common, and never makes sense in a global market. You have to because if you find yourself saying, ‘You would think they would know this…’, and getting frustrated, then the frustration stops the mind from picking up new information, which hinders the ability to progress.
3. Check these searches for basic Windows skills, and basic Mac Skills. I have given my family computer lessons on what I use, even though they were building computers in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. It can be intimidating at how quickly some learn, but let people who know how…show you how they do it.
So, let’s say the previous ‘Basic’ section bored you to tears. Dry your eyes for this next section on advanced skills. I offer this advice to start when it comes to advanced computer skills: There is something new to learn everyday. Working for a website like I do, I have seen software used by voice talent and clients globally, and many times I find myself saying, ‘I never knew that existed.’ The advanced computer user asks for forgiveness; not permission to try something new they have learned. They know how to do the following well enough, until they fully comprehend the scope of what they are doing:
- Write HTML code
- Use an FTP site to share files. Something like this here or Dropbox.
- Create their own website, understanding where important links should be placed and why.
- Use websites for sharing photos and videos of voice over work.
- Use Google or any search feature to find answers to questions with diligence
- Understands using various types of web software
- Understands why principles behind websites and the reasons they are commonly laid out a certain way
- Understands using web software for editing
- Understands online communication tools like Skype, instant messengers, and email follow-up tools like Constant Contact. After all, winning a job and saying ‘Bye, thanks for the job’ is not a way to create long-term business relationships!
- Easily adapts to changes in all of the above because trust me…Things upgrade and change all the time. Change is the only constant.
Advanced computer skills are helpful for saving time, and offering quick turnaround for clients. The amount of time you save others, and yourself, does help you win jobs, and get paid more. Even more so, if you know how to do something that no one else does, they will view you as some sort of ‘miracle worker’.That is a nice reputation to have with a client.