You might be a good writer, but in today’s copywriting world, being a good writer isn’t enough. Copywriting requires a diverse skill set beyond the written word. Quality copywriting courses can help writers develop these skills and give them the best chance of success.
As a copywriter, you must deeply understand not just the company or client you’re writing for but also your target audience, their pain points, and the topic. You will also need an understanding of SEO. Even if your job doesn’t already require you to know SEO, there’s a significant chance that it eventually will. Other areas might include understanding marketing strategy and commonly used terms or even social media writing.
If you decide to work as a freelancer or contractor, you’ll need to understand how to run your own freelance business. Skills necessary in this area include: pitching yourself, earning clients, drafting contracts, sending invoices, and managing your time.
Overall, it’s important to find copywriting courses that augment your existing skills as well as help you build the skills you’ll be expected to have on the job. Yet it’s not always easy to find courses with the right topics. Regardless of whether you’re in-house, at an agency, or freelancing, you’ll want to find the courses that give you the best value for your time and money—especially since not all copywriting courses are built the same, nor do they have the same goals or results.
To help you narrow down the plethora of online courses available to you, we’ve highlighted six features to consider when selecting copywriting courses.
The best copywriting courses provide a clear alternative to higher education learning. They are designed and taught by professionals who know the business and how to teach it. Ensuring that whoever created and is teaching the course has experience that aligns with your own goals and expectations is essential to selecting the right course. But finding quality courses taught by people with experience in the vast sea of online courses can be challenging.
Before signing up for a copywriting course, check out the credentials of those who designed and are teaching the coursework to ensure they’re seasoned professionals. Then, examine their resume, LinkedIn, or online portfolio. This will help you find out what kind of experiences they have and where they’ve been most successful—whether that’s mastering SEO, increasing a company’s brand awareness, or building a freelance career from the ground up. Plus, if their clients have signed off on allowing their work to be shared on an online portfolio, this implies a level of quality and value that the work brought to the client.
Does their work reflect the type of copywriting you’d like to do? Have they earned any certifications (like a Hubspot badge or similar credentials) or awards that back up their experiences?
These credentials should be placed front and center, prominently available directly off the course webpage, or should be easy to find on LinkedIn or through a quick internet search.
If you’re struggling to find some of this information when checking out a potential course, this is a red flag. Either the course might have been outsourced rather than created in-house by the company or professional, or it could be a sign that the person who created the course doesn’t have the kind of experience that aligns with your goals.
Just like school, the best copywriting courses are focused on teaching you specific skill sets and learning outcomes. Courses that appear overly generic or don’t outline specific goals and outcomes will likely not help you improve as a copywriter. By centering the course content on specific outcomes, you can gauge your understanding of the material and your ability to apply that knowledge to specific skills and tasks on the job.
When deciding whether or not a course is right for you, start by examining the course description and, if available, the outline of each section, lesson, or module. The description should clearly explain the goals of the course, including the specific skills you should have at completion. The outline should be more detailed than the description, tell you what you will learn by the end of each module, and demonstrate how each lesson builds on the previous one to verify knowledge retention and skill building. Verifying knowledge retention and skill building is important because each lesson should build on a skill that is necessary for you to grasp before moving on to the next lesson in the course. For example:
For an SEO-focused course, you’ll want it broken down into digestible lessons on essential elements like keyword research, on-page SEO, metadata, alt-text, headings, and how these elements work together when writing a blog or other page for your client’s website.
For a composition or writing-focused course, you’ll want it broken down into sections on sentence structure, writing style, readability, audience awareness, tone, voice, and formatting along with how these elements might shift or change depending on deliverable and client.
However, regardless of the course’s learning outcomes or how they choose to organize it, the most beneficial courses focus on skills and knowledge that will make you more competitive and effective in your copywriting job.
Top of Funnel? Middle of Funnel? Demand Gen? Lead Gen? Know what any of these terms mean? If not, you’ll likely want to find a course to help you translate your already excellent writing skills into a marketing context to help boost your copywriting career.
Many of us who are getting started in copywriting are transitioning from other professions or degree programs, like English or Journalism, that did not necessarily prepare us for writing in a marketing context. Of course, you are prepared to write well, analyze your audience, do background research, and incorporate feedback effectively. Still, you are likely looking to learn the skills that are missing from your repertoire, such as understanding marketing strategy and the frequently used terms in marketing.
You’ll want to find a course that focuses on marketing basics as it will relate to your role as a copywriter or a course that specifically focuses on marketing copywriting. Outside of just understanding the commonly used terms in marketing, these courses should focus on the specific marketing goals for your content. You should also learn how to shift your writing depending on the sales stage or the overall marketing scenario.
Face it, we are all busy and have less time than we think, so having the time and bandwidth to prioritize a copywriting course with an inflexible schedule just isn’t a reality for most of us. Unfortunately, some copywriting courses have a rigid schedule or are only available for a limited time before you lose access to the course. Others require you to renew your subscription to continue to access the lessons, videos, and other resources.
The best copywriting courses are self-paced and available whenever and wherever you want to access them. These courses don’t require you to be at your computer at a specific time each day to learn. This helps ensure you don’t fall behind in class. You can also take your time with topics that are entirely new to you and breeze through areas that are refreshers or that build on existing skill sets.
The other benefit to single-purchase courses being available whenever and wherever is that you can refresh your knowledge and skills as needed.
Has it been a while since you wrote for a particular marketing segment and want a refresher on the lingo? Or are you optimizing blogs for SEO and need a reminder on best practices? With a self-paced course broken down into digestible lessons and learning outcomes, you can zoom in on just the content you need to refresh before tackling your new project.
Good copywriting courses should offer something tangible at the end of the course, outside of the skills you’ve learned, to provide an extra level of value to the course. Especially in cases where the course is either not self-paced or costs more than you originally intended to spend, ask yourself if the value you would receive from this course is worth the time restrictions and the cost.
One way courses can add value is by including a certificate or a badge, like an SEO certification or a Hubspot badge, which you can share with potential employers or clients on the job market. Any course that gives you a shareable certificate or badge at the end is using its reputation to back up that you have this particular skill set.
These certifications can set your application or profile apart from the other copywriters applying for that job or pitching for a particular project and verify that you have the skills you claim on your resume.
Along with certificates and badges, a copywriting course should also provide other tangible products from assessments and assignments throughout the course. Assessments, like quizzes and activities, should focus on allowing you to demonstrate whether or not you have a clear understanding of the course content and can implement it on the job. These assessments should also align with the learning outcomes of the course and provide clear metrics for success.
Along with quizzes and activities, the course should offer, when possible, the opportunity to draft writing samples since you can’t really learn to write as a copywriter without actually writing.
These writing samples also offer practical help in that they allow you to create or boost your copywriting portfolio. Especially if you have little to no experience as a copywriter, building a portfolio of samples of your work will be important to your success on the market.
Some examples include:
Sample blog posts. These blogs should be around 1,000 to 1,200 words and demonstrate your ability to write according to blogging and SEO best practices, including keyword density, headings, and use of white space and other formatting.
Long-form documents like white papers and ebooks. These white papers or ebooks should demonstrate your ability to research and write at length about more complicated and indepth topics.
Social media copy like captions for Instagram posts, LinkedIn, or Facebook. These short, pithy pieces of copy should demonstrate your skill with crafting engaging content with as few words as possible.
Practice keyword research or keyword implementation. This isn’t your typical writing sample, but sharing how you perform keyword research and how you will implement those keywords in your writing will be important for SEO-focused gigs.
Regardless of the deliverable you create as part of the course, your writing should focus on whatever niche or market segment you want to target. For example, your portfolio should focus on tech-related topics if you want to write for tech companies. On the other hand, if you want to write for social media primarily, your portfolio should share various types of writing that feature on social media sites, from captions to ad campaigns. Building a portfolio focusing on your niche or service offerings will be a great way to demonstrate your value in the market.
Not all copywriters work in-house or at an agency. Instead, many of you will work as contractors or freelancers, requiring you to find your own clients and projects. In this case, finding a course that teaches you how to run your own freelance copywriting business is essential, especially if you don’t have previous experience running your own business. Some areas that you will want courses to cover include:
Building a website or profile, which should include which elements are important to include in your portfolio and website, such as your resume, examples of your work, and rates, along with other important information about building a successful portfolio.
Selecting your services & setting your prices, including information about the difference between hourly, per-word, and per-project rates, how to select the services that best fit your skillset, and how and when to change your rates.
Project management & time tracking. These courses should cover project management techniques, how to set up your own project management system, best practices for time tracking, and how to manage others (if you grow your business beyond yourself).
Invoicing & contracts. This course might be built within another course on selecting services and setting prices, but it’s important to learn not only how to set your rates, but also how to ensure you’ll get paid once the work has been completed.
Starting with these fundamentals of running your own freelance business will allow you to spend more time honing your writing, editing, and marketing skills later.
All in all, finding good copywriting courses means finding the right fit for you and your goals. It also means not wasting your time and money on courses that take a one-size fits all approach to copywriting. Make sure you take the time to research courses thoroughly and find the best value for your money for the skills you most want to learn.
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