if you're playing open chords on an amp with a lot of distortion, then it's generally going to sound a lot like you're raping a cat with a violin bow.

But regardless, just keep practicing.

But what to learn...there's really a myriad of techniques out there. I.E. sweep picking, economy picking, various tappings, tremolo picking, different strum patterns

the list goes on and on and on and on

just keep practicing is the main thing though. You'll get it eventually
Scales are something that takes time. You will learn them eventually. If you try learning them for hours your will probably get bored. Scales are important, but if you don't find them fun, you shouldn't spend all your time practicing them. Guitar is about having fun. A good way to learn your scales might be to play them a few times each day.

I think you also wanted some things you could learn on your electric guitar.
Some techniques you should learn are - String Bend, Hammer on's and Pull off's, Tapping (this is a bit hard) and Palm Muting. There are a lot of other techniques to learn. You can find lessons on ultimate guitar. Go to the top of the screen, and there is a bar at the top. Click on lessons, its almost in the middle. There is a column of lesson categories on the left. I think you will find some of the lessons very helpful.