There’s a nasty stereotype that exists within the world of small business – that of the stingey solopreneur, a relentless workhorse who scours their junk mail for deals on toilet paper and collects the receipt for every cup of coffee. Being a small business – or a ‘solopreneur’ – myself, I find both humour and take offense to this caricature. Yes, I’m hyperaware of all of my possible tax deductions and consider magazines a form of self education. But I also see the value in hiring a professional to perform tasks that I’m ill equipped to take on.
That’s not to say I haven’t attempted to just do it all myself. And if you’re an advocate for lifelong learning, you’re well aware of the bounty of online courses at your fingertips. Online courses mean you really can do it all, and in the comfort of your pajamas, too.
There’s an e-course for everything today – social media online courses, marketing online courses, online courses that teach you how to increase your confidence, and of course, online copywriting courses.
Doing it yourself, or teaching yourself to do it by way of Udemy or BSchool, is an alternative to outsourcing to a professional. At first glance, it’s a way to save on immediate overheads by up-skilling. Social media managers, web designers and copywriters all cost money. There’s also the concern that managing another person ends up costing you time, particularly if you haven’t hired the right candidate for your business.
But can learning to write your own copy really save you time and money?
Let’s explore your options.
So you want to learn how to write website content?
I’m generation Y, and in my time as a ‘digital native’ (whatever the hell that is), I’ve read some damn fine writing online. I’ve also read some terrible, terrible things. And one thing I’ve noticed is that women – particularly those who spent their formative years on Livejournal or Tumblr – have a natural flair for expression.
If writing creates a warm, fuzzy feeling in your gut, and you feel you have particularly pithy way with words, you might just need a guiding light to shine on areas for improvement. This is where online copywriting courses can help, especially if you’re not used to writing for a public audience. This is where improving your craft comes in, especially if you see that writing is going to be a large part of how you market yourself.
Online courses versus in-person workshops
In my experience, online courses can be more affordable and provide the same depth of content as in-person workshops. A lot of the time, IRL (in real life, you old timer!) workshops will include the cost of venue hire and catering in the price of your ticket. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. An online course might be a waste of money for you if you’re not the sort of person who can sit down at a computer and learn at your own pace. You might benefit from the level of contact that an in-person workshop facilitates.
Personally, I'm much more prone to opt for an in-person workshop if I can discern that the quality of teaching and content is high. Why? One thing that in-person workshops have in favour over online courses is the level of one-on-one attention. If you’re the type of person who values or particularly needs this level of treatment, I’d be opting for an IRL workshop where the instructor will spend time working with you, and only you. Even if only for 15 minutes.
How to choose a copywriting course
The first place to start? Forums and communities. Ask around online for first-hand experiences in Facebook groups, freelancer communities, LinkedIn Groups, etc. If you just start entering keywords into Google, you’ll likely become overwhelmed with the choices available. Ironically, the best writing and marketing courses aren’t search engine optimised, so your best bet is asking others like you for their advice.
In terms of price, courses range anywhere from $50 to $2000. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case that you get what you pay for. I’ve paid up to $1000 for full-day workshops which I can’t even remember, such was the depth of content. That is to say, there wasn’t any depth. If only I'd done my research!
If you’re on a budget, one option I can recommend is My Copyblogger. I’m not a member of My Copyblogger, but I am a member of Authority, which is premium membership-based resource centre for online marketers. They’re both run by Copyblogger, which is the Grand Pumbah of copywriting blogs. My Copyblogger is a free, easily accessible and smart way to kick-start your copywriting education.
FYI, I’m not an affiliate for Copyblogger. I just like what they do :)
When the course is over...
Writing is like a muscle - it's going to atrophy if you don't get out their and exercise it beyond crafting Instagram captions. Like with anything you learn, you don’t get any better unless you practice. You’ll only be able to get value out of a professional writing course if you implement everything you’ve absorbed.
In a perfect world, all courses would have post-learning support (plus vegan catering, free coffee and a bar tab). But if you’re completed a copywriting course, you’re going to have to go out there and secure this yourself. Enter an editor. An editor will be able to comb through your writing with an eagle eye and clean up spelling, grammar and nonsensical paragraphs. This ensures that it still feels authentically ‘you’, but it’s tidied up to a professional standard.
I moustache you a question!
Do you consider yourself a ‘writer’? What do you struggle with most when it comes to writing? How are you improving your practice?