The Write Life Articles

9 Online Writing Courses That Will Help You Get Published and Paid

You used to have to attend a university to learn from a smart professor. And pay a lot of money. And get dressed and go to class.

Now you can access all sorts of experts from the comfort of your couch — at a fraction of the price. 

No need to Google “writing courses near me” and drive across town. Instead, sign up for an online writing course you can take on your own schedule.

We recommend these online writing courses

When it comes to online writing courses, there are so many options to choose from! You can really drill down into the niche you’re interested in, whether that’s fiction, memoir, freelancing or blogging.

Take a course on how to make a living as a freelance writer. Or learn all the grammar rules you should’ve learned in school, so your writing will be squeaky clean. Or get really good at writing compelling essays so you can finally get published in your dream publication.

If you’re ready to invest in becoming a better writer, we’re prepared to help. 

We’ve vetted each of the online writing courses on this list. We trust each instructor and the experience they bring, and we’ve reviewed the lessons and supplemental materials to ensure they’re high quality. We feel confident that if you put time and energy into one of these courses, you’ll come out a better writer.

Here are some online writing courses we recommend.

Online courses on freelance writing

1. Freelance University

Focus: Freelancing

What you’ll learn: This is way more than one course; instead, you’ll get access to 80+ courses. They’ll help you with all aspects of running a freelance writing business, and if you want to expand your skills, you can also learn about social media management, content management, web design, digital media and more.

Instructor: Freelance University was created by Craig and Kelly Cannings, a married couple who have background in freelancing and virtual assistant work. Some of the courses, including those about the business side of freelancing, are taught by Craig, while other classes are taught by instructors who specialize in those topics. They’ve helped 14,000 students through this program over the last decade.

Schedule: Enrollment opens three times each year. It’s open now until Friday, Sept. 20, 2019…and then doesn’t open again until 2020.

Cost: Join on a monthly basis for $67/month, or commit to 12 months of training at a significant discount: $597/year, which works out to getting three months free.

Our full review: Finally! A School for Freelancers

2. Creative Class

Focus: Freelancing

What you’ll learn: This class covers the business side of freelancing, so you can make a living from your writing. It was built for creators who need guidance on how to land and service clients, how to use value-based pricing (instead of hourly) to earn more, and how to set up systems to make running a business easier.

You’ll get access to more than a dozen video lessons, plus templates and an online forum.

Instructors: Successful freelancers Paul Jarvis and Kaleigh Moore, who together bring 25 years of freelancing experience lead Creative Class. Jarvis has a popular blog and is the author of “Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business.” 

Schedule: Readers of The Write Life can join anytime and get access to all the course materials at once. Public enrollment only opens a few times each year, so be sure to use this link to join:

Cost: $274, but The Write Life readers get a $30 discount, which brings the cost to $244. Use discount code THEWRITELIFE. 

Our full review: We’ve reviewed this course but haven’t published the review yet. Coming soon!

3. Freelance Writers Den

Focus: Freelance writing

What you’ll learn: The “Den” isn’t billed as a course, but it pretty much functions like one. When you join the membership site, you get access to nearly two dozen courses (they call them “bootcamps”) that cover all aspects of building a freelance writing business, including how to find clients. 

Membership also includes a resource library with hours of webinars and podcasts, a job board and a forum. With 1,100+ members and hundreds of threads, you can get answers to anything and everything related to freelance writing. 

Instructor: “Den Mother” Carol Tice has been working as a freelance writer for more than 15 years. In addition to earning a six-figure income from her trade, she also has a lot of experience teaching others; she launched the Den in 2011. She plays an active role in the forum, so you’ll have direct access to her there.

Schedule: Enrollment only opens a few times each year, but if you get on the wait list, you’ll be notified when there’s an opportunity to join.

Cost: $25/month

Our full review: The Freelance Writer’s Den

Online courses on writing well

4. Grammar Lion’s Grammar Refresher Course

Focus: Grammar

What you’ll learn: Writing well starts with good grammar, and this course will give you the foundation every writer (and editor!) needs. It covers commonly misused words, contractions and possessives, punctuation, run-on sentences and so much more.

Instructor: Editor Ellen Feld has been teaching this course for years, serving 43,000 students. Your tuition includes access to Ellen for questions as you work through the material.

Schedule: You can take the course whenever works for you, at your preferred pace. You have access to the materials for as long as you’d like.

Cost: $199 for unlimited access

Our full review: We haven’t written one yet, but we did join the course and the Facebook group to check for quality. While this course isn’t particularly pretty and could use a design refresh, the information included is excellent.

5. Personal Essay Writing Course

Focus: Personal essays, creative non-fiction

What you’ll learn: This course covers both how to write a compelling personal narrative and how to pitch editors to get your essay published. It includes writing and revision prompts, practice integrating vulnerability and dialogue, and examining examples of hard-hitting essays. 

As a parting gift, students get contact information for 130+ editors who accept personal essays. We nearly fell over when we heard that! Quite frankly, this list in itself is worth the cost of the course.

Instructor: Amy Paturel is a journalist who writes widely in the health and nutrition spaces; her essays have been featured in outlets like The New York Times and Parents. She has taught this writing course for about a decade and helped many of her students land impressive bylines.

Schedule: The course is six weeks long and available on demand, so you can enroll whenever is best for you. 

Cost: $225. Paturel also offers an upgrade for students who want a personalized critique.

Our full review: Write better personal essays

Online courses on other ways to earn money as a writer

6. 38 Expert Tips for Writers on Medium

Focus: Writing (and making money) on Medium

What you’ll learn: Dave Schools says Medium was the best thing that ever happened to him. His course shows you how to use Medium’s Partner Program and what types of content tend to resonate on Medium. You’ll also hear stories of writers who have been successful on the platform and what worked for them. As a bonus, every purchase includes an audio version of the course, so you can learn during your commute or while you clean the kitchen after dinner.

Instructor: Dave Schools is a writer who has contributed to CNBC Make It and Smashing Magazine. He also founded a top-50 Medium publication called Entrepreneur’s Handbook and earned a six-figure income writing for the platform — so when it comes to Medium, he has walked the walk.

Schedule: This course is available on demand, so you can enroll and begin whenever you’d like.

Our full review: We haven’t written a review of this course (yet). We have, however, vetted the course and were impressed with Schools’ instruction. To get a feel for his expertise, read this (free) post on how to make money with the Medium Partner Program.

Cost: $49. Schools also offers upgrades for coaching or consulting.

7. Transcribe Anywhere

Focus: Transcription

What you’ll learn: This course teaches the ins and outs of transcription, so you can land a transcription job. Most of these positions allow you to work from home on your own schedule, so they’re a good income option for writers who want flexibility.

You’ll also learn what equipment you need to succeed, tips for increasing your transcription speed and accuracy, and how to find transcription jobs.

Instructor: Janet Shaughnessy has served clients through her transcription business for more than a decade. She teaches general, medical and legal transcription, and she’s passionate about turning typists into transcriptionists.

Cost: $597. If you’re not ready to commit to the full course, get a taste of transcription by enrolling in their free transcription mini-course.

Our full review: We haven’t written a full review for Transcribe Anywhere yet. However, we have vetted the course, and you can read about how one student used the course to launch a freelance transcription career in this post about transcription jobs.

8. Proofread Anywhere

Focus: Proofreading

What you’ll learn: This course covers everything you need to make money as a proofreader. Not only will you learn the nuts and bolts of proofreading, you’ll walk away prepared to find freelance work in this field.

Instructor: Caitlin Pyle started proofreading academic papers while in college and turned it into her main money-maker through court transcript editing in 2012. Now she teaches others to turn their love of reading and grammar into a freelance income.

Schedule: Available on-demand, so you can start whenever you want.

Cost: $497. Before you invest, take advantage of their free 76-minute workshop to see if it’s truly a fit.

Our full review: One of our editors reviewed this course, and she said it made her want to start a proofreading business! This review hasn’t gone live yet on our site, but when it does, we’ll add it here.

Bonus: A self-study option for freelance writers

9. Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer (Ebook)

Focus: Freelance writing

What you’ll learn: OK, this isn’t quite a course, but if you’re good at self-study, you could do a whole lot of learning by simply reading an ebook we offer here at The Write Life.

You’ll learn exactly what the title promises: how to earn more money as a freelance writer. This ebook might be too advanced for beginner freelancers, but if you’ve been at it for a while and want to increase your income, the strategies in this ebook will go a long way.

You’ll learn how to ditch low-paying clients and replace them with new, better paying clients. The book even includes two templates: a sample pitch, and a note you can send to clients when it’s time to part ways.

Instructor: Successful freelancer Nicole Dieker, a long-time contributor to The Write Life, has worked her way up to a six-figure income. She’s incredibly generous about sharing her strategies, and we love how specific she gets in this ebook about the tactics she used to up her rates.

Schedule: The best part about an ebook is how accessible it is: you can read this on your own time, no matter where you are… and immediately implement what you learn. 

Cost: $23

Plus: If you’re earlier in your career, we also offer an ebook that covers freelance writing jobs for beginners, 71 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer. It provides tons of ideas for ways you can earn money writing and begin to build your portfolio as a writer.

Ready to enroll in some writing courses online?

No need to commute to the closest college or give up all your weekends to take a writing class. 

These online writing courses with knowledgeable instructors provide the training you need, and in many instances, a community of students to connect with as well.

If you know of other online writing courses we should add to this list, let us know!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Photo via Oleksii Didok / Shutterstock 

The post 9 Online Writing Courses That Will Help You Get Published and Paid appeared first on The Write Life.

The Write Life Articles

Want to Submit Your Personal Essay to Modern Love? Read These Insider Tips First

Want to get your personal essay published?
We recommend Amy Paturel’s online personal essay writing course. 

“Like many millennials,” says writer Laura Copeland, “I often romanticize turning a pivotal moment in my life into the next great American essay, as defined by its acceptance into the New York Times Modern Love column.”

Millennial or not, Copeland’s first step in this process was the inevitable: procrastination research. Down the research rabbit hole, she discovered that Modern Love editor, Daniel Jones, is a magical wizard providing an abundance of tips, via social media, on writing personal essays.

Confident other people would benefit from Daniel’s wisdom, Copeland collected all the tips she could find into a Google doc and made it public.

If personal essay is your specialty, you’re going to devour, bookmark and obsess over this doc.

And while I think it’s more than worth reading the entire doc yourself, I’m going to share the tips that resonated with me most. (Also keep in mind, these are amazing all-around tips for writing essays, no matter where you submit.)

How to submit to Modern Love

If you’re ready to submit to Modern Love, you’ll want to read on for tips directly from the editor of the popular column.

On writing: Tell the story

Jones has shared many tips on essay structure, but they can essentially be boiled down into these three categories:

  1. “Don’t underestimate the power of a reader’s curiosity” (this includes the editor — don’t give away the ending in your cover letter).
  2. “A happy ending is when the writer understands something he or she didn’t understand before.”
  3. “It’s more intriguing for us to be dropped into the action than to receive all the background information up front.”

Remember why people read stories: because we want to find out what happens.

When I read this tip I immediately went back into my essay and cut the first two paragraphs, moved my “what happened in the end” to the actual end, and added one sentence of clarification halfway through.

Turns out, we don’t really need all that backstory. Even though you want to draw people in at the beginning, that’s not a free pass to give away the ending.

On patience: Embrace the process of discovery

This is probably the most important, difficult, infuriating and comforting tip in this compilation.

I started writing an essay about a fight I had with my childhood sweetheart. It morphed into a story about emotional abuse. Which then turned into a story about how my first boyfriend is impacting my brand-new marriage.

Writing the first draft of this story was easy. I tied it up in a neat little bow and sent it on its way to my first workshop. I expected showers of praise. What I got was a lot of “I don’t buy it.”

What followed has been a hot mess. I re-write this thing for an hour every damn day and it’s still not close to being done.

I’ve learned that writing for Modern Love isn’t like journalism or writing a blog post. It’s therapy. “Ideally, writing a personal essay is a process of discovery,” Jones says. “You only understand the point of your essay after you’ve spent a lot of time and effort working on it.”

It’s different from how we’re often taught to write. Don’t come up with the pitch or the sound byte first. That’s not the point.

When I read that I actually felt relieved. This incessant editing and reworking is the work. And now, instead of getting frustrated every time I haven’t perfected this thing, it’s actually given me a lot of comfort in the process. My six-months-and-counting essay has been through a memoir class, a re-write, a professional editor, another re-write, two writer friends and now a third re-write.

Jones has emphasized that Modern Love stories are often the most important experiences in a writer’s life. These can’t be whipped up in a weekend. “The editor wants to think this is your best story, not one of 20 essays you’ve dashed off and sent out to dozens of outlets all at once,” Jones says. So take your time.

What if you’ve already submitted and were rejected, or told to rework? Don’t immediately send back a few minor edits. “The editor doesn’t want to see it back so soon, and, fair or not, he’ll think you rushed it and won’t view the revision optimistically,” Jones warns.

On editing: Words to avoid

The more I read Jones’ tips about submitting to Modern Love, the more I realize he’s not actually inundated with bad writers. That said, I love the polishing part of my job, so here are a few tips Jones provides on writing:

  • Remove words like “that,” adverbs, exclamation points and double spaces after periods.
  • Choose adjectives that will work harder for you (not filler adjectives like “amazing” and “terrible”).
  • Avoid overused transitions like “fast forward in time.”
  • Get rid of profanity.

On submitting: Be professional and humble

Before you jump on me for the obviousnessness of this tip, read the document.

I was shocked by some of the emails Jones gets when he turns down an essay. He’s received rejection responses like “your loss” and “lame.”

Just because that particular essay wasn’t right for an editor doesn’t mean the next one won’t be. Don’t let a hot temper screw up a relationship with an editor.

I was also pleasantly surprised to read about ambivalence towards writers who brag about their accomplishments. Jones says, “I pay little attention to someone’s writing background when I read an essay. I don’t even have time to read a cover note that’s more than two sentences long. My eyes glaze over at lists of books or articles. I judge a submission solely on the writing before me.”

I can’t tell you how much this speaks to my soul. I’m not particularly accomplished, and the fact that Jones doesn’t only want to publish successful writers fills me with hope. But even if I were, or if I did want to spew the few accomplishments I do have, I hate that bragging is the only way to represent the quality of your work.

Plus, is it just me, or is it obnoxious when writers list off every publication they’ve ever written for? I want to smooch Jones for being open and candid about this issue.

Other ways to be professional include immediately letting Jones (or any other editor) know if your piece has sold elsewhere. And don’t pitch a million places at once with the same story. This saves everyone a lot of time.

Right now: Stop your procrastination research

Before you leave to devour this amazing document: Don’t get hung up on every tip.

Read and absorb what you can, but remember to trust yourself and your writing. Copeland said it best: “In hindsight, I should’ve added a disclaimer to the top of the doc: ‘Use your time wisely. Each minute you spend reading writing advice is a minute you won’t spend writing.’”

Editor’s Note: Since this piece was published in 2015, the author of this post submitted her essay to Modern Love. She shares an update: “My Modern Love essay got rejected, however, I did get an essay published in the New York Times Parenting section!

To see all of Jones’ tips as compiled by Copeland, check out this Google doc.

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Photo via Vanilllla / Shutterstock 

The post Want to Submit Your Personal Essay to Modern Love? Read These Insider Tips First appeared first on The Write Life.