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Since picking up that one course I mentioned in a previous post -- Writing with Flair 2.0 with Shani Raja -- I've bought twelve more writing courses.
And here they all are, in order of purchase:
- Writing with Flair 2.0 -- Shani Raja
- Copywriting White Papers: An All-levels Strategy -- Len Smith
- SEO Beginners: How I get 1,000 visitors a day with SEO -- Len Smith
- Copywriting: Become a freelance copywriter, your own boss -- Len Smith
- Copywriting Secrets: How to write copy that sells -- Len Smith
- How to Start Your Own Freelance Copywriting Business -- Eric John Campbell and Dan Johnston
- Copywriting: Become a freelance copywriter in 7 days -- Ivan Westen
- Report Writing Made Simple -- Dr. Clare Lynch
- Freelance Copywriting: How to Succeed as an Elite Copywriter -- Dr. Clare Lynch
- Writing with Impact: Writing that Persuades -- Dr. Clare Lynch
- Ghostwrite: Live the Writer's Life -- Joanne Reid
- Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection -- Shani Raja
- Business Writing for Busy People -- Dr. Clare Lynch
So far, I've already finished Len Smith's course, "Become a freelance copywriter," his course on white papers (#2), and Dr. Clare Lynch's copywriting course (#7).
One thing I love about Dr. Clare Lynch's courses is that she gives discount codes at the end to help you save money on her other Udemy courses.
I was able to get her $200 course, Writing with Impact, for $9.99 -- which is quite a bit lower than even the current sale price of $49.99. I found that discount link (among others) at the end of her course, "Freelance Copywriting: How to Succeed as an Elite Copywriter" -- for which I paid $19.99 (the day after the New Year's sale ended) and which turned out to be worth more than that to me.
That course made me want to buy more of Dr. Clare Lynch's courses, so I was only too happy to take advantage of the discount codes.
Len Smith's courses have, so far, been engaging and helpful. I particularly enjoyed his course on white papers, and I'm looking forward to going through his course, Copywriting Secrets.
I picked up the ghostwriting course today (Monday), and paid only $9.99 for it, using a Chrome extension called Wikibuy -- which applies coupon codes to see if any money can be saved. It's free, and it just saved me $10. It's similar to the Honey extension, but it's faster.
Also, if you're a Swagbucks member, don't forget to activate Swagbucks savings before you check out and buy your courses. Swagbucks will pay you a quarter of your purchase price back in Swagbucks. When I bought a $20 course the other day, I earned 500 Swagbucks ($5), which I'll most likely redeem as an Amazon giftcard (book money!).
There are still some sales going on right now, if you'd like to hone any of your skills -- writing, editing, transcription, formatting, book cover design, copywriting, ghostwriting, fiction writing, etc. -- now's a great time to find a few that appeal to you, watch their preview videos, maybe read some of their customer reviews, and use that Wikibuy extension to save even more money on a course (or courses) that could help you reach your goals for this year (and earn some Swagbucks while you're at it).
When Matt Landry, author of Forward, Upward, Onward, told me he'd chosen a course on editing, a seed was planted. Then Sue Waterworth, an experienced copywriter -- who commented on my previous blog post on Udemy's New Year's sale -- shared her regard for Shani Raja's course, Editing Mastery (#12), and I had to check it out.
Oddly enough, when I went back to Udemy, several hours after buying the ghostwriting course, Wikibuy had already applied some coupon codes and brought the prices down on Editing Mastery and Business Writing for Busy People down to $9.99 each, saving me another $40, since both courses were on sale for $49.99 and $19.99, respectively.
I'm not ruling out picking up some more courses before the year's up. I'll update this post if I buy one before the end of this month.
Create a Captivating Resume / CV
I promised to update this post if I snagged another Udemy course, and I ended up doing so after taking advantage of a free appraisal of my resume. It turns out it may be the main reason why that resume hasn't led to any writing jobs.
I have been getting phone calls and emails from several insurance agencies, though.
Apparently, the software that many companies use to quickly scan resumes for pertinent information misinterpreted my resume and classified me as a "Finance <something I forgot> Architect" -- which explains some of the other strange job listing emails I've been getting.
So, I went back to Udemy, watched the preview videos for several options, and ended up buying "(2018) Career Hacking: Resume, LinkedIn, Interviewing, +..."
It cost me only $14.99 (regular price, $194.99), since Udemy is having a sale on some of their courses right now.
If you're not sending out resumes to anyone right now and are focusing on your online portfolio, feel free to skip this section. I decided to invest in this course because many of the freelance writing positions for which I've been applying ask for resumes and cover letters.
And I need to improve my skills with both.
Also, the more I learn about this, the more I can help others wanting to do the same thing. And what I learn could be a very helpful addition to a future book in my Books for Writers Series.
Speaking of my next book for that series . . .
I've been rethinking the idea behind Writers in the Red. I do want to help fellow authors avoid expensive mistakes when they're self-publishing, but I'm thinking mainly of book marketing services that don't deliver or that aren't cost-effective, and many more experienced authors are much better equipped to write about this than I am.
And quite a few already have.
I'm not going to tell anyone, "Don't pay for professional editing" or "Don't pay to have someone else format your book for you," because while I want to help those who've chosen the DIY route to learn what they need to learn in order to do it well, I also know that -- in some cases -- it just makes more sense to pay for professional editing and/or formatting.
After all, not everyone has the time or the inclination to learn how to rock the DIY route.
Yes, I chose to edit and format four of my own books and to design covers for them myself, but I know it's not the easiest way to self-publish. It costs more time and energy, and while those don't deplete your bank account, they can cost you in other ways.
I don't begrudge anyone the experience of having their work professionally edited and formatted and matched to a beautifully-designed cover. I'd love that for everyone, to be honest.
Many of us (myself included) can't afford to do that for every book -- or even for one -- but that doesn't make it a mistake for those who can.
While I regret some of the debt I incurred after using a credit card to pay for professional editing, professional formatting, and professional book cover design for my first book, I don't regret the "new author debt" that came of investing in those three things. I still believe they gave my first book its best possible start.
I learned things I would not have learned if I'd started out with the DIY approach.
I look back less fondly on some of the marketing services I paid for that cost more than they helped -- which is why I like to share links to those that truly help authors sell more books.
But when it comes to the "expensive mistakes" I want to help fellow writers avoid, I'm discovering (through free-writing) that I don't have enough useful information to fill a book. I had to delete a lot of what I'd written for the book, because I didn't like the attitude behind my own words.
When it comes to the self-publishing industry, I have more reason for gratitude than for resentment, and I don't blame the industry for my own mistakes. They're all mine.
So, if I have anything useful to share about expensive new author mistakes, it makes more sense to share it here in a blog post -- at least until I have enough material to fill a hundred pages.
With that mind, I'm working on other ideas for the third book in the Books for Writers Series:
- Writers Working from Home
- Writers Getting Technical (for technical writers)
- Writers Invisible (for ghostwriters)
- Writer for Hire
That last one is for those who want to be hired to work from home as a writer for a business -- not only for an income but for benefits and more stability. Here's where instruction on creating an effective resume and cover letter would come in handy.
Freelance writing has its benefits, but so does working as a company's staff writer -- especially if your employer allows you to work from home (at least most of the time).
I could also change the subtitle of Writers in the Red to focus on getting out of debt and helping fellow writers avoid it. The trouble with this idea is that even if I went back in time and had the chance to not spend money on the things that didn't help me earn more money, there might be a few courses, but most of the debt came from recklessly buying little things like ebooks (so many, many ebooks). Man, those add up!
It didn't help that I was also using the same card to finance my subscriptions to Spotify Premium, Audible, and Canva For Work.
If you're interested in earning some affiliate income by monetizing your blog and/or sharing affiliate links on social media, the Skimlinks bar makes it ridiculously easy to share affiliate links for Udemy and countless other products and services on the web.
I didn't earn more than a few pennies until I recently shared links to the Udemy New Year's sale in a blog post and on Facebook and Twitter. Most of the income came from the blog post, and since the minimum payment threshold is $10, I can look forward to an actual payment (to my PayPal account) at the end of this month.
It won't pay the mortgage or anything, but it'll help me pay next month's PayPal bill. And if sharing a link to something I've bought that I can honestly recommend brings in a little extra each month, I'm all for it.
Once you sign up for a Skimlinks account, you'll need to add their tracking code to your site's footer. The best way I've found to do this -- for a WordPress blog -- is to install the "Insert Headers and Footers" plugin (free) and paste the code right into the "Footer" section on the plugin's settings page (once you've installed it).
Quick tips for newbie installers:
- Click on the link for the "Insert Headers and Footers" plugin in the previous paragraph.
- Click on "Download."
- When you see a box for your download on the lower left corner of your screen, right-click on it and select "Show in folder."
- Click and drag the zipped folder to your desktop icon.
- In your WordPress dashboard, roll your mouse pointer over "Plugins" (on the left-hand menu) and select "Add New."
- Click on "Upload Plugin" and select the plugin's zipped folder from your desktop.
- Install and activate.
- Roll your mouse pointer over "Settings" on the left-hand menu, and select "Insert Headers and Footers."
- Copy your Skimlinks tracking code into the field for "Scripts in Footer."
Once that's done, you can install their Google Chrome extension, which you'll click on to activate the linking bar on the web page of a participating product or service. The bar will give you a choice of links to use -- one for your blog/website and one for sharing on social media. You can also click on the Facebook or Twitter icons to share directly to them.
So, if you find a course you like on Udemy, you can activate the bar, click on the Facebook or Twitter icon, and create a post to encourage others to check out the course for themselves.
The Skimlinks bar will also tell you the current commission rate for the product or service you're sharing. So, if the commission is 50% (which it is, right now, for Udemy), you earn half the amount your social media contacts and blog readers spend when they click on your links to check out your Udemy course.
Not bad, right?
The only other affiliate programs that have generated more than $10 affiliate income for me are Amazon and Ultimate Bundles.
Finding your niche
During Udemy sales -- when you can buy $200 courses for $10.99 -- you can sample a variety of writing courses to help you get a taste of what it will be like to do different types of writing every day. By immersing yourself in one type of writing after another, you get a better sense of the type of writing to which you're best suited.
And this helps you choose your niche.
"But why limit myself to one niche?" you may ask. If you want to be able to earn money writing for a variety of clients and on a variety of subjects, you should know that many of those clients prefer writers who have experience writing just the kind of material they want.
So, being a generalist isn't in the best interest of either or your ideal client.
That said, for many of us, it's a challenge to narrow our writing focus -- either because we're afraid it will cost us opportunities to earn significant amounts of money or because we honestly don't know (yet) what writing appeals to us most.
Or it could be for both reasons. That's where I am, right now, but I've been learning much -- thanks to the Udemy courses I've bought -- about the kind of writing on which I'd rather spend hours every day.
Aside from my book-writing, I've narrowed it down to these:
- Business report writing
- White papers
With the ghostwriting, I suppose it makes sense to focus on a specific subject category (like health, technology, entrepreneurship, etc.). I'm thinking of health or health technology as an ideal focus for me, but I have varied interests and would welcome the opportunity to write about other things, too.
One thing I deeply appreciate about white papers is that they do not sell; their main purpose is to inform or educate. It's something I appreciate about writing nonfiction books, too.
I knew so little about white papers -- what they are, how to write them, and what I could earn by writing them (once I found paying clients) -- but I was curious enough to buy a Udemy course on them by Len Smith.
And after finishing that course, I bought a couple other courses by the same instructor (God rest his soul).
The student becomes the teacher
Another way to earn money on Udemy is to create your own course and become a Udemy instructor -- sharing something you know that could benefit other students.
I realize that, with all the sales going on at Udemy on courses, you might wonder if you're likely to earn more than a pittance off a course you worked so hard to create, but if skilled course creators the world over have seen fit to host their courses on Udemy, at least you know you're in excellent company.
So, here are the pros:
- Excellent company
- Excellent platform
- A chance to build a Udemy course library, to surprise and delight all who get to know you through your books, your blog, or one of your courses.
And here are the main cons:
- the frequent sales do affect the amount you can earn from sales in a given month
- stiff competition from the previously mentioned "excellent company"
To learn more, check out their course-creator page, and learn what it takes to get started.
Now, it's your turn.
Have you taken any Udemy courses that helped you earn more money -- either with your current job or with your writing?
Please share in the comments or on Facebook. I look forward to reading something from you, too!