Welcome to Day 6 of the 7-Day Mini Course, “Free Tools for Freelance Writers: Save BIG While Starting Your Writing Business.”
Today’s focus is on how you can find free learning tools to help you sharpen your writing and editing skills, learn how to create a new-to-you product, or even learn a new service to offer your clients.
Before you launch into this list, note that as you become familiar with other writers, and experts in your field or area of interest, you’ll run across free courses, webinars, teleseminars, ebooks, and other learning tools fairly regularly. You’ll also learn what you like, what you don’t, and who is and isn’t providing what you need.
(For example, over the last year or so I’ve discovered I really benefit from Karon Thackston’s Marketing Words Copywriting Blog, and she often provides free webinars and teleseminars. I haven’t caught them all, but the ones I have listened in on have been great.)
For now, though, you can jump start your writing training with these learning tools.
College and University Courses
- The Open University: The Open University, or OU, provides Open Learn, a section of the university’s website that offers more than 600 free online courses. Search the database for writing classes online like Start Writing Fiction, What Is Good Writing?, and Writing What You Know.
- MIT: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT, provides free online courses in a variety of subjects, including writing and humanistic studies.
- RMIT University: This school’s online learning lab provides writing skills tutorials related to topics like business writing, editing, and summarizing.
- Yale University: Via its Open Yale program, Yale University provides several free online courses in literature and poetry.
- Purdue University: Although not technically a course, Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) is from Purdue and really is your one-stop shop for damn near all things writing related – and free.
- The University of Warwick: From its Podcast Browser, you can download numerous writing challenges presented by David Morley, Director of the Warwick Writing Programme.
- Poynter’s News University: NewsU offers several free writing classes online in formats like self-study and webinar. Search the site’s course section, making sure to check the topic and price (free) you want, and you’ll find courses like Multimedia Reporting: Covering Breaking News, Cleaning Up Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More, and The Writer’s Workbench: 50 Tools You Can Use.
- University of Massachusetts Boston: UMass Boston’s OpenCourseWare offers courses in Critical and Creative Thinking and Critical Reading and Writing.
- Steven Barnes, UCLA: This UCLA instructor modified his Introduction to Screenwriting course so he could offer it for free from his website, lifewrite.com.
- Utah State University: USU’s OpenCourseWare provides a handful of free English courses.
- Wikiversity: Okay, I know a lot of you are iffy about anything beginning with “wiki,” but if you “shop” cautiously, you can find tons of valuable – and free information from these sites, like these technical writing courses, for example.
- E-Zine University: “E-Zine” might inspire the same kind of hesitance as “wiki,” but this school offers several free online writing training within its Content Development and Writing program, such as classes on conquering confusing writing, cleaning up your writing, and writing materials people understand and respond to.
Ebooks, Webinars, and Other Business and Writing Courses
- copyblogger: Lately, I’ve been picking up all kinds of cool freebies from copyblogger. For example, right now you can get How to Create Compelling Content That Ranks Well in Search Engines, a 27-page ebook to learn about topics like why SEO matters, how search engines work, and areas to focus on when writing SEO copy, and Internet Marketing for Smart People, a 20-part Internet marketing course – both for free.
- Lousy Writer: Lousy Writer is a learning tool unto itself, but the website also publishes a number of free ebooks for learning skills like writing website content, writing with clarity, and even how to write sales letters.
- Freelance Writing: Visit Freelance Writing’s Free E-Books for Writers and find books on everything from creative writing to SEO.
- write it sideways: In 2010, write it sideways listed The Top 5 Free eBooks for Fiction Writers, and the books’ evergreen topics are sure to keep them high on the list for years to come.
- Writer’s Helper: This site provides several free online courses, including web writing training.
- Writer2Writer: Writer2Writer provides a nice round-up of free writing training courses covering topics like magazine writing, copywriting, and writing short stories.
- 1-language.com: This site aims to help people who speak English as a second language. Some of the real gems are the online English courses.
- free-ed.net: The Free Education Network provides numerous courses in subjects like journalism, media studies, and language and linguistics. You can search the database, or check out these writing training courses.
- Press Releases Made Easy: This free 20-page ebook teaches the basics of writing press releases – especially those meant for Web distribution.
- The HP Learning Center: Register for free and get 24/7 access to a ridiculous variety of free courses, from business basics to how to make the most of programs like Microsoft Office. to
- U.S. Small Business Administration: The SBA provides a number of free training classes. Check out How To Write A Business Plan and Marketing 101: A Guide To Winning Customers to get started.
Educational Blogs and Websites
- Writer’s Digest: Sure, you can get a paid subscription, BUT you can also get tons of free writing articles and you can join the forum to get help from other writers.
- copyblogger: Yes, copyblogger makes the list twice. Subscribe to this blog and get daily tips on everything from email marketing and content marketing to keyword research and SEO copywriting.
- ProBlogger: ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse is THE go-to source for everything blogging. From using your blog to make money to finding freelance writing jobs with your blogs, Rowse covers it all.
- Freelance Writing Jobs: FWJ is SO much more than a site just for finding freelance writing gigs. Several freelance writers and editors work together to teach you a wide variety of aspects related to the freelance writing life – from grammar to taxes.
- FreelanceFolder: FreelanceFolder can stand on its own as a fantastic site for freelance writers to learn tips and skills, but its post 15 Sites for Learning and Mastering SEO is especially important to today’s Web writers.
- About Freelance Writing: I’ve been following Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing pretty much since I started my own freelance writing career. From her you can learn more about setting your freelance writing rates, dealing with money, and searching for freelance writing jobs.
- Men With Pens: Men With Pens offers a full range of services for people who need writing services – and tons of free info related to writing, blogging, and business for those who’re performing the services.
- The Renegade Writer: From this site you can find lots of for-pay educational tools – e-courses, e-books, phone mentoring – but you can also find free help in the form of teleclasses and information packets.
- The NextGen Writer: Ali Abbas left his career as an IT professional to become a freelance writer. He owns and manages The NextGen Writer, which features a regularly updated blog and a writing resources section.
There are A LOT of opportunities here. I recommend bookmarking this post, or the links within this post that jump out at you, and visiting them at your leisure, deciding what to take on now (such as a blog subscription) and what to plan for (such as committing to a course).
Missed last week’s class? Head over to Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Reference And Research.