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Skills to pay the bills

So you want to start a blog site that makes you money and you’re wondering what skills you need for this…

Well…I’ll tell ya. You don’t absolutely have to have an amazing skill set of any kind, but you definitely need a desire to add value to the web, and you need to be able to commit yourself to the task.

And you’ll need a bit of patience.

No one ever gets rich overnight doing this, but if you keep laying bricks each and every day, then eventually you’ll build an empire.

Alright…so what do you need to know?

First of all . . . know that running a successful affiliate marketing site is a lot easier now than it was 5 years ago, and it’s a heckuva lot easier than it was 10 years ago, but…

Making money at it is harder these days.

The technical barrier for entry is much less stringent than it used to be, mainly due to WordPress becoming so darn easy to use; however, the competition is much more fierce now, and to stake your claim you need to be great. Tons of people have gotten into affiliate marketing and a lot of niches are highly competitive and overcrowded. In order for you to pull away from the pack, you’ll need to either possess or develop some amazing knowledge and abilities.

If you’re thinking of getting into affiliate marketing, here’s a list of skills that will benefit you – in order of importance.

1.  The ability and desire to write

If you can express yourself well and in a way that is professional and grammatically correct, you will have a huge leg up in all of this. Content creation makes up the lion’s share of the work, so if you can write -and- you enjoy writing, then you’ve already got a head start.

If you don’t feel all that comfortable or confident in your ability to write, then you can outsource this. I’ve used eLance and TextBroker in the past – both of which are fantastic for finding qualified freelance writers.

2.  Effective marketing and copywriting skills

This is similar to item #1, but only this time we’re strictly talking about sales copy and the art of persuasion. Being able to write is one thing. Being able to write conversion copy is a whole ‘nother story, but if you can write in such a way that prompts visitors to take action, that’s a huge asset.

This is another aspect of IM that can be outsourced, but if you lack experience here it would do you good to learn a thing or two. There are a lot of great resources out there, including some low-cost ebooks like the Kopywriting Checklist.

3.  SEO Prowess

Understanding what SEO is and how to effectively optimize your content for search is definitely a good skill to have going into IM. Although it’s not as important as the quality of the content itself, getting people to see your content is next in order of importance.

Effective SEO can be learned, but it’s a broad and experience-driven are of study. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and with so much to learn…having some SEO know-how on your list of attributes is a definite positive.

4.  Ability to spot profitable niches, i.e., money-making opportunities

If you can easily identify a need, desire or a hole that needs to get filled in a particular market, then you have obviously got some business sense and that will help you a ton. There are tools available to help you do research for things like this, but an inherent ability to smell where the money is will pay dividends…literally. 🙂

If you have this ability, along with some SEO knowledge and project management skills, you could assemble a team of outsourced freelancers to help with the rest.

5.  Web design experience

Affiliate sites don’t need to be fancy, but they need to be professional. If you have some experience with html, css, php, etc…this will give you a distinct advantage since you’ll have more control over the layout, functionality, and optimization of your site’s code, plus the ability to troubleshoot it if something should go wrong.

A background in web design will give you more freedom and flexibility with your layout, which means less restrictions on things like ad placements and site functionality.

6.  Familiarity with WordPress

If you’ve dinked around with WordPress before and have a basic understanding of how the CMS works, then you’ll be able to get going a bit quicker than others. Knowing how to add posts and pages, create menus, configure sidebar widgets, install and configure plugins, etc… All of that is a plus.

WordPress can be learned by an eight year old, but it does take time. If you already know the basics, then the next step will be to delve into the more advanced features and extendability of the platform.

7.  Competency with photo editing programs

You don’t have to be a rock star with Photoshop, but knowing your way around image editing programs is helpful from the standpoint of resizing, cropping, adjusting and enhancing your images. Images are an important part of the content, so having the ability to optimize them is a good skill to have.

Although it’s not necessary, it’s a good idea to properly optimize each and every image you upload to your site. You want your images to look sharp and load fast.

8.  Graphic design chops

If you are a whiz with Photoshop, Gimp, or in my case…Fireworks, this is a handy talent to have. It’s not absolutely vital, but just as with web design experience, some talent in graphic design will enable you to have more control over your brand and will allow you to be a bit more creative.

Having some graphic design skillz can allow you to create your own logos, site assets and creatives. Attractive graphics not only look professional, but they can also improve conversions.

9.  IT Skills

Nerdier even than web design skills are IT and server administration skills. It’s not necessary that you know how to identify and troubleshoot issues on a server level, but it can be helpful. Websites must be hosted, so being competent in this area will leave you a bit less frustrated when things go awry.

Having the ability to troubleshoot DNS or database issues is a nice feather to have in your cap, but it’s low on the list. That’s what 24/7 technical support is for, right..?!

If you possess any one of the top 4 skills you are golden

If you can write, write great sales copy, get rankings or identify profitable niches, or even better yet… possess a combination of 2 or more of those skills, you are set. Those are the most valuable skills by far. The rest of the stuff can be outsourced or learned in time.

None of these skills are absolutely necessary

…but you should have at least one or two of them when getting started. If you have a couple of these skills, along with a huge desire to learn and apply yourself, then you will be fine. The good news is, this is something you can learn as you go along. Provided you get started off properly, most anyone who’s even somewhat capable with a computer can build and grow an effective affiliate marketing site.

The key is to focus on what matters most (the quality content) and don’t overwhelm yourself with the details at first. Concentrate on creating good content and making your visitors happy…that’s it. In the beginning…just think content, content, content and more content.

Keep producing and keep publishing, then worry about the other stuff second.

If you don’t know a damn thing about building and maintaining a website, and you hate to write, then I think it’s safe to say that IM probably is not for you.

Do not get into affiliate marketing solely because you heard there was money in it. There is only money in it if you put in the time and effort.

I hope this list was helpful. It’s not intended to be an all-encompassing list of recommended skills for internet marketing, as I more or less just jotted down a few of the first things that came to mind.

If you have any questions about anything on this list, or feel you have something to add, please let me know in the comments below!

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