Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How to Put Together & Sell a Successful Freelance Writing E-Course (Part I of II)

If you're a freelance writer who others turn to often for advice, you quite possibly have the credentials to publish a freelance writing e-course - and charge for it.

The beautiful thing about this is once the course is written, just like a book, it can be sold over and over again without any additional work on your part. It is a constant revenue stream that can pay dividends for years to come.

If you do decide to publish a freelance writing e-course, following are some pointers to ensure its success.

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1. Sell YOU: Freelance writing is something that everyone thinks they're qualified to do. Hence, there is lots of competition. What makes you different? Why should a prospect buy your course.

This is where YOU make the difference, or rather, your experience.

If you've been a full-time freelancer for 3 years, have worked in publishing for 10 years, have been published (eg, articles in major magazines, self-published e-books, etc.), have a degree in English, etc., then you probably know what you're talking about.

While anyone could ostensibly put together a freelance writing e-course, what's going to sell it is the experience of the publisher.

2. Offers: As in, make the purchasers an offer they can't refuse. Rarely will a course sell on its own.

The Psychographics of Buying

Most consumers can say no once, but 3, 4, or 5 times is hard to refuse. What do I mean? Think of infomercials. Most of them pile on so many incentives that they make it seem like you're crazy if you DON'T order.

What kinds of "freebies" can you offer in your e-course? Websites, free e-books, free software, free consultation, free newsletter, free articles - the offers are endless.

However, make the freebies pertinent to the course at hand. For example, I offer a free writing site with my e-course. Why? Because many freelance writers don't have a website, especially when they're just starting out. And, many will delay getting one for years simply because they don't know where to turn to get one and/or can't afford one.

Again, the psychographics of buying are at work here. It's human nature to put off what we don't know how to do and/or have to research to get done. So, while many freelance writers realize they need a website, what keeps them from getting one is finding a web designer and/or learning a do-it-yourself software.

By offering the free website with the purchase price of the course, I make it easy to kill two birds with one stone. Many times, a purchaser will buy just for the incentives offered.

NOTE: Don't offer what I call "garbage freebies," eg, common things that can be found on every other website. Offer something unique.

3. Money Back Guarantee: Although some will disagree, I strongly believe that money-back guarantees should come with online courses. Sure, you will have some who will take advantage and want a refund.

BUT, if your course is truly useful and customers come away with even one piece of concrete knowledge, you shouldn't have a problem with requests for refunds.

Unless you get a person who is brand new to the field of freelance writing, some of your material they will already know. BUT, it's that one nugget that they didn't know that will be worth the price for them.

So, be thorough in the preparation of your e-course. Don't just throw something together. I thought about my e-course 6-8 months before I ever wrote one word of it. I then spent another 5-6 months pulling it together.

A lot of this had to do with the fact that I was way busy. My point in bringing this up is that when people are spending their hard-earned money for something that is supposed to teach them something, you want to make sure that you provide that.

And, rarely is this the case if you only take a week or two to throw something together.

How Long Does It Take to Write/Publish a Freelance Writing E-Course?

That depends primarily on how much time you have to devote to it, what your niche is and what it covers (eg, how broad or narrow is your material).

Generally speaking though, I'd say it should take at least two months to pull together a cohesive, in-depth presentation.

Tomorrow: Part II, which covers how to know what to include, how to organize the material and what to expect after the e-course is published, among other pointers.
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