25 Skills to Learn For Free Online This Year

With the new year slowly clicking into gear, there’s never been a better time to commit to learning a new skill. Who knows, it could prove to be the key to untold riches, or more realistically a slight improvement in your quality of life. Either way, it’s worth it…


There’s a reason why ‘Photoshopping’ has become the modern synonym for ‘Airbrushing’ – it’s the go-to tool for image processing and creation. It’s powerful – but it’s also pretty easy to use, at least compared to the competition. And it’s useful in a variety of situations, from tarting up your avatar to designing a company logo.


One of the reasons that Photoshop is such a household name is because so many people know how to use it. If you really want to impress people, though, you should learn a bit of Illustrator – which is a much more refined tool for creating original graphics, and if you’ve used Photoshop already, you won’t feel too far from home.

Web Design

The formalised pre-set designs of leading platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have had a stifling influence on the once-burgeoning art of web design, but if the rumours are true, it’s set to make a comeback. Even if it doesn’t, it’s still a useful skill to have, and even if you only grasp a few of the basics it’ll still stand you in good stead.


In 20 years time, we will look back on infographics and chortle about how ‘of their time’ they are. But for now, these often-formulaic web posters are performing startlingly well for content marketers, so you’d be foolish not to at least learn the easy way to do them.

Video Editing

If infographics are the soon-to-be-past of web content, video is undoubtedly the future. Smaller displays, unsuited to detailed (info)graphics coupled with higher bandwidths will make video content the de facto web standard within a matter of years. So, if any part of your business involves creating content, then this is a skill that you might want to look into developing.

Grammar and Punctuation

If there is one thing that internet trolls pick up on more than anything, it’s incorrect usage of grammar and punctuation. While you could be well within your rights to take a dismissive attitude towards these snobs, it would be better if you didn’t give them anything to feed on in the first place.

Social Media Analytics

If you’re not careful, you can waste a lot of time and effort on social media without achieving many of your stated goals. The difference between people who waste time on social media and those who leverage it efficiently lies mostly in the use of analytics. After all, if you can’t see where you’re going right – and where you’re going wrong – how can you know how to focus your energies?

Making Podcasts

It’s all about shareable content these days, and despite a shift towards video, podcasts are still a widely-shared form of content on social media. Also, they can be a lot of fun to make!


Ask any wizened old business mogul, and they’ll tell you that the key to business success is networking. After all, it’s often a case of who you know, rather than what you know. And it’s something that all of us can improve – although half the battle is just getting out there and doing it in the first place.


It isn’t just salesmen that have to be good at selling. Whether you’re running a small online business, attending a job interview, or running for President, you’re always selling something. And it pays to be good at it – just ask Barack Obama!

Cold Calling

With text-based communication becoming more and more prevalent, the art of cold calling – once a prerequisite for anyone involved in business – is being lost. But like so many of these declining business disciplines, it’s still incredibly valuable to have. Even if you aren’t directly selling something, being able to present yourself well on an unsolicited call can be an invaluable asset in terms of your personal development.

Anger Management

Life is innately stressful. Especially professional life, which is why it can pay to learn a few techniques for calming yourself before you blow a gasket at an inopportune moment. That’s why so many highly-charged executives play squash. Do you play squash? You should. While we’re on the subject of sports…


What is it about the corporate world and golf? Whatever it is, it’s endemic at the higher end of most industries, so if you want to get ahead, dust off that old five iron and practice your swing – you’re going to need it!


If you’re still frazzled after a hard day on the squash court/golf course, then there is only one thing for it. A hefty dose of meditation can really help to focus the mind and help to prevent stupidity – and you don’t have to wear loose-fitting white robes or beads to do it (although they undoubtedly help!)


Even if you manage to resolve all your inner conflicts – and good luck with that – there are always going to be conflicts going on around you that it would be advantageous to diffuse. By learning a few tricks of the counsellor’s trade, you can help to make your world a more harmonious place.

Event Organising

Organising events is the key to successful networking. Ever noticed that it’s the people that do this that seem to know everyone? Sure, it’s a hassle, but it can be very rewarding if you go at it with the right amount of gusto.

Pitching to Investors

For most small entrepreneurs, the thought of someone with deep pockets coming in to bankroll your business is a dream. And it does happen. But you need to show them that you’re made of the right stuff – and the very least they expect is a convincing pitch.


One of the best ways to personalise your brand and create an organic following is to write a blog. Even if you only post one thing a week, as long as it’s worth reading it will help to get your message out there, and boost your online presence in a wholly organic way.


As anyone with any business acumen knows, the oft-derided art of blagging is one of the most valuable skills anyone that is looking to get ahead in a hurry can have. Not many successful people got where they are without employing a little of what they call ‘common sense’, and if you can’t get something for nothing, you need to work on your negotiation skills.


Strategy is the key to success in any competitive endeavour, and there are few better ways to learn strategy than by acquainting yourself with the finer points of Chess. It’ll sharpen your mind – and get you into the way of thinking more than one or two steps ahead.

Wine/Whisky/Art/Cheese Appreciation

Sometimes in business, you have to mix with rich people, and they tend to have expensive tastes. Trouble is, once you’ve got past the basics of supporting yourself, you have nowhere to turn but to learn to appreciate ever-greater luxuries – otherwise, what’s the point of having all that money? By learning a bit about these ostentatious luxuries, you can help yourself to blend into lots of potentially lucrative situations.


Just a few days ago, China surpassed the USA to become the biggest economy in the world. Therefore, it stands to reason that learning Chinese – even a very basic amount -might be quite a big help if you want to get ahead in business in the coming years.

Forex Trading

The currency markets are worth over $5 billion a day, bigger than any other capital market. They’re also one of the most accessible and easily understood markets for private investors looking for aggressive capital growth, and even if you don’t become a trader yourself, learning about global currencies and macroeconomics can stand you in good stead for future international business dealings.

Basic Electronics

Downtime is the enemy of productivity, and a significant amount of downtime is caused by people failing to have a grasp of basic electronic maintenance. For instance, do you know how to wire a plug, or change a toner cartridge? Being able to solve simple practical problems such as these can save a lot more time than it takes to learn them.