Don’t know exactly how it started. I have a shelf overflowing with books about writing, publishing, marketing, philosophy and many other subjects, both savory and unsavory. But I noticed that recently my non-fiction book purchases have been fewer and further between. Was I slacking? Was I falling out of love with writing? Had I learned all there is to know?
I logged into my Udemy account and there was the answer: over twenty courses. Twelve on Lynda.com And Skillshare? Twenty five. Writing. Marketing. Publishing. Productivity. I haven’t even started half of the courses, but like really good books, I can’t put them down, and the more courses I watch, the more I want.
It’s official. I’m a “course collector.”
It seems that online courses are the new textbooks, and if you’re an author, you’re in luck. Online courses for authors are BIIIG right now. If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to improve your writing, self-publishing or marketing skillsets, or if you’re a more visual learner, you need to check out the big three. Udemy, Skillshare and Lynda.com.
I’ll give a more complete review of each one later. But for now, here’s some things to think about to help decide if online learning is for you. Or if you just want to jump in, click my affiliate link to get 25% off at udemy.com.
What Can Authors Learn In Online Courses?
Holy Hannah, you can learn a lot from online courses. Authors especially are going to love all the great classes available. I’ve highlighted a few udemy courses below. I have personally purchased all of these courses and either taken them or look forward to using them to advance my writing career. [Yes, these are affiliate links, which help to pay for this lovely website. Thanks for your support!]
Online Writing Courses
- Helping Writers to Write and Keep Writing – Motivation for Writers.
- Secret Sauce of Great Writing
- How to write your great book even if you are a bad writer OK, I haven’t taken this one yet, just signed up for it. But it sounds like fun.
Online Publishing Courses
- How to Succeed with Kindle Short Reads – Publishing short stories for fun and profit. (but mostly profit!)
- How to Double Your Royalties – Get Your Ebook Into Print – Use Createspace to get your ebook into print and reach a new market.
- Amazon Kindle ebook Publishing – How To Succeed
Online Marketing Courses
- The Epic Launch: A 7 hr course on how to do an “Epic” book launch.
- Amazon Keyword Analysis using KindleSpy – How to do keyword research using the KindleSpy app.
- Goodreads For Authors – Master Goodreads for Author promotion.
Online Courses – Shiny!
Goal-Oriented Online Courses
Online courses are generally made with a goal in mind, and often the websites will help arrange and track your progress toward your goals.
For example, Lynda.com has a series of pre-determined “Learning Paths” that will help you to achieve real-world goals of mastering specific skill sets like network security management, or recording engineering or a Java programming. Pick your learning path and the courses are laid out for you in the order you should take them.
Skillshare.com has “workshops” where you work in the same class on the same schedule as other students. When you finish, you have a tangible, completed project, whether it’s an awesome Instagram account with hundreds of active followers, or a screenplay you wrote in a month.
All online courses will tell you the duration of the content up front, so you’ll know the minimum time you’re committing before you enroll. Udemy and Skillshare have buttons that let you skip backward 15 seconds for those ‘huh, whassat?’ moments. Udemy has a skip forward 15 seconds for those “yeah, get on with it!” moments. Best of all, Udemy and Skillshare both let you speed up or slow down the video playback, essential controls for those challenging/boring parts.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a thousand pictures. Especially for complex applications like photoshop or google analytics. To see it done live (or recorded live on video) can get the point across much better than flipping through step-by-step pix of a process.
Connection with the Instructor
Skillshare and Udemy allow you to ask questions in the course forum, which the instructor or helpful classmates can answer. The discussion can be a really nice addition to the content.
Online Courses – Beware!
Too many non-fiction books are actually a pamphlet of information that’s been puffed up and fluffed into a 180 page book. That can happen in online courses, too. There is no developmental editor (or line editor, or any kind of editor for that matter) for the instructors. Be wary of courses with an ungodly number of hours of content. “Over 45 Hours Of Lessons!” one touted. As you can imagine, it was a major snoozefest, even cranked up to 2x speed. Even when the teacher was on-topic (which was rare) he dragged and droned and repeated himself. The “bonus” content for the course was a series of out of date tutorials, which really should have been deleted.
I look for more realistic times measured in hours not days. If it’s more than 6 hours, the scope is probably too large. If it’s less than a half hour, it’s probably not large enough. When considering a course, consider how long it would take you to read a book on the subject and how much that book would cost.
Online Courses as a Gateway Drug
Be wary of instructors offering one on one consultation of the topics they teach. No doubt there’s a difference between teaching you how to make facebook ads, and actually managing a facebook campaign for you. But if you’re taking an online course to learn how to do it yourself, and the instructor wants to both teach you how to do it yourself, AND sell their services doing it… then it becomes a conflict of interest for them. If they teach you how to do it all yourself, then you will, and they lose a client.
I’m not saying all instructors are like this. And there’s nothing wrong with offering both training and consulting. I’m saying there definitely are people who consider online courses (especially FREE online courses) to be a way to load people into their sales funnel. They may choose to hold out the good tips for the upsell, or teach less intuitive methods to make you think the process is more difficult than it really needs to be, then pitch a personal consultation for your pain point.
If you do consider buying a consult with a online course teacher, make sure it’s because your time is better spent somewhere else. And do your research.
Online Courses With Dated Info
I saw a course that explained Facebook Ads in detail, but then Mark Suckerfish changed the interface, and now half the lessons are useless. Some teachers will go back and update their lessons with revised info, some will not.
Check the most recent reviews to see if they say anything about the info being out of date. And look thru the date(s) of the lessons, to make sure they are current.
Online Courses – Twitter Reviews
Visual Learner? Check out online courses! #AmLearning http://conradzero.com/online-courses-new-non-fiction-books/
Bored with Books? Check out Udemy, Skillshare and Lynda.com #AmLearning http://conradzero.com/online-courses-new-non-fiction-books/
Learn to increase your creativity and your word count with online courses! #WritingTools http://conradzero.com/online-courses-new-non-fiction-books/
Bonus Udemy Discount for Fans of conradzero.com
If you didn’t see any courses you liked from the above links, browse the catalog anyway! You’re sure to find something. And take advantage of my affiliate link here to get 25 percent off some great Udemy courses.