Thursday, February 01, 2007

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

In Part I, I discussed the basic essentials every freelance writing e-course should have. To recap briefly, they are: i) selling you - putting your background/experience on display; ii) offers - as in, piling on the freebies (websites, e-books, software, etc.); and iii) money-back guarantee - offering this makes potential buyers more comfortable.

Now that you have these in place, it's time to include the meat: eg, the heart of the course.

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What to Include in Your Freelance Writing E-Course

1. Concept: As in, what will your course cover? I believe in covering a niche; eg, How to Become a Technical Writer; How to Become a Medical Editor; How to Target the Legal Community with Your Freelance Writing.

Nicheing it makes your e-course easier to sell because you can get specific. Every discipline is different and has a different lingo. The more specific, concrete advice you can offer, the more valuable your course will be.

Exception: If you have years of experience as a generalist (a freelancer who's worked across various disciplines), teaching an e-course on freelance writing in general is something you can easily do. Why? Because you have the background to back it up. That's why it's important to sell you.

You can use simple case studies (eg, specific examples) from your past experience as learning tools in your e-course. Nothing sells like first-hand experience.

2. Organizing Your E-Course Material: Once you know what you're going to write about, then you have to organize the material.

How you organize your material is just as important, if not more so, than the topic itself because an e-course - or any educational venture - should present material in a learnable, usable format (eg, Step I, Step II, Step III, etc.).

Your e-course should at least cover the following: Marketing; Samples; Pricing; a Rudimentary Business Plan; & Freebies.

There is so much info that can go into an e-course that after you sit down to write it, you might discover that you have the makings of two or three courses. That's why it will take at least a couple of months to put one together.

Just like writing a book or an article, you will add, revise and cut material over and over to get it right.

3. After Publishing: After your e-course is published, you will have to market it. This is where the real work comes in.

Some of the easiest marketing I've done is via forums and article marketing. Beyond that, you can place ads on websites that writers frequent, newsletters they read and publications they subscribe to.

Remember, this is an e-couse; "E" standing for electronic. So, most of your prospects will be found online. I wouldn't even waste time or money on offline marketing methods - although they can be effective, it's usually more expensive to market this way and it takes a while to track the results.

Tips for Getting Sign-Ups to Your Freelance Writing E-Course

a) Start marketing months in advance: According to conventional marketing wisdom, a customer has to see your ad between 7 and 28 times before they will purchase.

If you start marketing six months in advance, this gives you plenty of time to reach them.

b) Take advantage of free and low-cost advertising: As mentioned above, freelance writing forums and article marketing are two of the best free outlets out there for this. It may be a slower build than paid ads in targeted newsletters for example, but if you start far enough in advance, it may be all you need.

c) Offer aftercare: As in, offer consultative time after the course ends. You can put a deadline on this - usually within a month after the course ends. This does two things: i) rids prospects of the "they'll take my money and run" fear; and ii) builds a rapport for future business.

Writing and publishing your own e- course can be a highly profitable income stream for years to come -- if you take the time to develop it correctly.

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