When you’re able to learn new computer programs without any formal training, it’s hard to consider taking courses. Some courses are expensive and college degree programs will force you to sit through classes below your skill level. However, there are advantages to learning the following programs in a structured environment.
1. Adobe Photoshop
Photoshop is a complex piece of software that takes a lifetime of dedication to master. There’s no easy way to learn Photoshop from top to bottom without taking courses. Individual, online tutorials are a great way to learn how to use tools you’re not familiar with, but you’ll miss an incredible amount of information without a teacher.
For example, one thing most DIY designers struggle with is text. Sure, you probably know to avoid using Comic Sans, but do you know how to make text appear smooth on an image? Most DIY designers end up with fuzzy text because creating clear text within a graphic image isn’t intuitive. It looks great until the image is saved. This puzzling experience is usually caused by creating the image in a low-resolution, 72dpi file.
Taking a Photoshop course will cover the basics you skipped when diving into the program. For example, you’ll be taught how to prepare your document with the correct DPI and color mode from the start. You’ll learn the difference between RGB and CMYK, and you’ll learn how to create a print-ready file.
If you don’t learn how to prepare your document with the correct DPI and color mode from the start, you’ll end up with designs you spent hundreds of hours creating that aren’t usable in print. You may not even realize this is a problem until a client asks for a high-resolution file and you don’t have one.
2. Microsoft PowerPoint
If you’re like most geeks, you probably learned PowerPoint by reading tutorials each time you wanted to accomplish something new. Over time, it’s easy to learn how to use the basic tools and features in PowerPoint. The problem with learning this way is that your skills are developed in direct proportion to the results you’re after. If you never need to animate an image within text, for example, you’ll never learn how to use text as a mask and apply background motion.
Unless you’re building presentations for clients, you can get away with not knowing how to use a majority of features in PowerPoint, but you’ll also sell yourself short on your own projects by not knowing what’s possible. Learning PowerPoint strategies and techniques from a structured environment will help you create presentations faster without having to look up tutorials for every issue you run into.
Perhaps the best reason to learn PowerPoint in a structured course environment is to learn how to build scalable slides that are easy to update and manage in the future. Similar to Photoshop, if you don’t create your slides correctly from the start, you risk having to do your work all over again later.
3. Microsoft Excel
If you’re an Excel geek, you can never learn too many tricks. The more you learn, the less likely you are to make costly errors programming your next sheet.
Whether you use Excel in the office or just for yourself, you’ll learn new tricks faster in a structured course environment. Head over to Inc.com to find 11 different places to learn Excel for free.
cPanel and WHM are fairly easy to learn, but there are multiple ways to accomplish the same task. The fastest way to learn cPanel and WHM is to head over to cPanel.net for some video tutorials that cover the basics. The tutorials will teach you things like how to create and manage MySQL databases, subdomains, add-on domains, redirects, and password protected directories. Advanced tutorials will teach you how to customize cPanel, edit logos and icons, and modify the user interface.
Infusionsoft is one of the most robust and powerful CRMs on the market. This program is capable of supporting intricate, conditional email marketing sequences if you know how to make it work. While it’s not the most intuitive program, that’s because the real power comes from knowing how to program the back-end.
Independent Infusionsoft coaches charge between $50-$500 per hour, but you can grab some more affordable courses from Udemy.com and get started in minutes. Learn everything you can from Udemy’s courses and then hire a personal coach when you need to get more strategic.
DIY learning has limits
Teaching yourself new software is a great skill to have. However, it comes with endless troubleshooting that can be avoided by learning from experienced professionals. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to learn on your own, but you’ll get better results by blending your DIY mindset with some structured courses.