Your 2024 software skill set

Software comes from heaven when you have good hardware.
(Ken Olsen)

The big picture – words and images. The images can be still, like JPGs, or motion, like mp4 videos. As a communicator, your words and images are there to sell your company’s or client’s product or service. Simple enough, really.

You’ll use software on a PC or Mac to create the images and words. Whatever software your employer has, not your own. Most use Adobe software for graphics... Photoshop and Illustrator. You'll probably also use Adobe Indesign to combine images and words into print media or digital media publications. Everybody uses Microsoft Word for text. And you will absolutely use Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations. If you practice and master these five programs, you’re in. Each has a free tryout download. Easy to do a crashdive late-night learning session before that job interview the next morning. They can be purchased individually or as bundles... see Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office 365. And, if you have more time, check out your local junior college for specific program skills classes -- worth every penny!

As of 2024, there’s no dominant video creation program. PCs and Macs come with easy-to-use video generators, like Microsoft’s Movie Maker and Apple’s iMovie. High end? Apple’s Final Cut Pro for Macs, or Adobe Premiere Pro for both PCs and Macs. Again, you’ll use what your company already has.

But it’s not about the tools

With intensive effort, you can get good enough to be dangerous in six months with any or all of the above programs. All have FREE tryout downloads. Free or VERY low cost junior college programs really help too. And there is a wealth of free YouTube ‘how-to’ content out there. And while you’re learning, you can always get by with free template-based tools like Adobe Express. Which can help you get by during your initial learning curve. Graphic design takes in a lot these days. Not just typography, designing for print, and making PowerPoint presentations. You’ll also learn design principles, idea generation, branding, and digital UI/UX (User Interface, User Experience) perhaps with a widely-used program called Sketch.

But it’s not about the tools. It’s what you make with them. Still images for ads or flyers. 1080x1080 square JPGs to post on Instagram or Facebook. Short 59-second mp4 videos for social media. Never lose sight of the target – creating a compelling message to sell a product or service. Sell with emotion. Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Sell with as much text and graphic impact as possible. Because your ability to sell is your most important asset – your most valued skill. Sales are the lifeblood of business! More about sales in an upcoming chapter, Freelance. But first in the next chapter, some tips about alternative sofware that can save you a lot of money.

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