Online writing is already a booming business, and so many writers are making a lot of money from it. Be it freelance content writing, copywriting, blogging, or creating e-books, everyone seems to want a piece of it. But if you are new to online writing, you may wonder where to start and how to reap its benefits.
Looking for advice, you would most probably ask someone who is already making money from writing—either an old friend or a renowned writer on social media. Writer friends or colleagues have many ways of telling one how to become a writer, including what courses to take.
However, they won’t tell you whether the courses they suggest are useful to you and your writing aspirations. It’s up to you to figure out what course will help you launch your online writing career. But with a myriad of online writing courses popping up every day, the fear of analysis paralysis is always present.
So how do you choose a writing course that is best for you?
That is the question this post will answer. I will offer you all you need to know so that you don’t waste money on a course that will not deliver value.
Determine if the Course Goals Match Your Career Goals
When I ventured into writing, my primary goal was to make money from it. I didn’t have any specific goals, like to make $1,000 monthly. So I looked for courses that would help me earn money online.
Eventually, I realized I wasn’t scaling up. I had learned the tips and tricks regarding online writing, but not how to get clients, market my services, and even build a portfolio, which is important when scaling up. I had to do a lot of trial and error to get unstuck. Looking back, I realize I ventured into writing setting no proper goals.
What you must do before you commence your writing career or take a course is set up a goal and vision.
If you plan to create a marketing agency, you will not settle on an online writing course that teaches only writing and grammar tricks. It would be best to learn the business and marketing side of things, PR, client management, etc.
If your goal is to get more writing done and be featured in prominent publications, pick a course that helps you familiarize yourself with publications, and know what pitches to send. The writing coach should help you learn how to connect and cultivate relationships with editors and content managers.
Similar tactics should be used if your goal is to launch an e-book, build an email list, learn SEO techniques, write in a particular genre, replace a low-paying client, or derive a sustainable income from writing.
Therefore, first, identify the big picture (your goals and vision) and brainstorm all you want to accomplish as a writer (find what you want to do and how you want to see your writing future). Next, compare them with the course material and determine whether to buy the course. Use your goals and vision to say no or yes to a writing course.
Look at the Trainer’s Track Record
The fact that a friend or colleague has recommended a particular expert offering a course does not mean you jump in headfirst. It would be best if you also did your homework.
Before subscribing to any online course, the first thing I do is check whether the writing coach practices what they preach. If they are an editor, what types of books have they edited? If they train freelancers on scaling a business, identify freelancers who have landed clients and scaled their business owing to the trainer’s resources.
You may also look at the social proof, case studies, and testimonials from former students and whether they are genuine or just picked up from the blogosphere. Other places to find evidence of the trainer’s performance are comments from readers on social media or blogs. Comments from genuine readers or writers help increase the trainer’s score and probability of subscribing to the course.
Look for Group Interaction
Writers can gain a lot from one another. Our writing friends can be good critique partners, refer us to clients, show us how to scale or market our services, and even motivate us when feeling blue. All these benefits start from cultivating comradeship—something trainers have a higher chance of making possible.
While we would expect the course trainer to have a unique platform where writers can connect and learn from one another, it doesn’t have to be the case. It can be a small group on Facebook or another community platform. Another way trainers can help you build relationships is by introducing you to their network on LinkedIn or Twitter (commonly called a shoutout).
Note that not all writing coaches offer group interaction to their students. Even so, group interaction is one factor that should draw you to purchase an online writing course.
With such connections at your disposal, you are guaranteed to start your writing career on the right note, especially during this pandemic period, as you can meet or connect with other writers remotely to determine how to make your online writing career a success. Such networking opportunities, especially under the guidance of a trainer, instill a sense of community, removing the feeling of loneliness and isolation, and offering something to look forward to.
Inquire About Materials and Resources
Naturally, you won’t pick up everything during class, so ask if videos or slides will be available to you after the class is finished. The training materials for the class help you revisit areas you didn’t understand and help you seek clarification.
Note that you should inquire about materials and resources before and after the course. The materials you get before the course, such as training modules or topics, should help determine if the course is up-to-date or a rehearsal of past training.
So before you pay for a class, look at the materials like modules and topics used for past classes. Are they the same as previous years? You need up-to-date materials for the best learning experience. Using the same materials as in previous years is a huge red flag, and it’s likely you will not benefit from such a class. The digital landscape is constantly changing, and course materials need to be updated often to meet new needs.
Besides, you’re paying for the class, so it’s reasonable to expect or keep some of the learning material.
Engage With the Trainer Before You Buy
The first thing I do these days—before fully committing to a freelance writing course—is subscribing to the trainer’s newsletter. From the newsletter, I can get short bits of meaty information about content writing and the course.
Besides, with my contact already in the trainer’s database, I can easily reach out to the trainer to inquire more about their training methods. Course trainers are more than willing to respond to inquiries from their newsletter subscribers. Being a subscriber shows you are a serious student.
One of the most important things to discuss with the trainer is whether after the course they would give you a referral, an endorsement, or a letter of recommendation. Another thing to ask is whether the trainer can review your work and possibly offer suggestions and recommendations for improvement or an opportunity for one-on-one coaching.
Moreover, you may ask a trainer with a relatively expensive course if you can pay in monthly installments. If the trainer is willing to help you beforehand (e.g., sending you a bit of work or offering a short support period where he/she helps you to jumpstart your writing career), it is a good indicator you will benefit from the knowledge being shared.
Avoid Trial and Error When Picking an Online Writing Course
Online writing courses can indeed be a real boost to your writing career. They can offer practical solutions to both new and experienced writers. They can encourage you to push forward when you need inspiration or get stuck.
But getting the most out of a course starts by finding the right one. And to do that, you must dig into the genuine reasons for getting into writing. Is it to learn all the grammar rules you missed in school, build relationships, get published in your dream publication, or inspired to write again?
Your goals, vision, and how you relate with the trainer beforehand will determine if you will get the most from an online writing course and be on your way to becoming a better writer, developing confidence to pitch or market your services, staying updated with the current industry trends, and getting value on your investment.