by Sandra Ebejer
Do a quick Google search for “freelance writing” and you’ll pull up “about 178,000,000 results” on securing jobs, landing clients, and setting rates. You’ll also come across my favorite: the “I Built a Billion-Dollar Empire from Freelancing in Just One Month” success stories.
OK, so no one (that I’ve found) has actually stated they’ve made a Billion (capital B, natch) from freelancing, but there are plenty who have written articles like:
- “I Launched a $10,000 a Month Freelance Writing Business in Under Six Months”
- “How I Built a $1,000,000 Blog”
- “I Make Over $100,000 a Month Blogging”
Huh. Given the proliferation of high rollers in the blogosphere, you’d think parents would be nudging their kids toward WordPress instead of law school.
But, give a closer look at these successful entrepreneurs and you’ll soon discover that their money is made not through blogging but rather the dreaded online course.
So Many Freebies
When I decided earlier this year to transition from employed grant writer to full-time freelance writer, I knew I had to do some research into the market. Through a variety of Google searches, I stumbled onto a number of sites on Making It Big in the biz.
With each success story came an offer, always along the lines of,
“Get My Enormously Helpful FREE Tell-All Guide to Building a Hugely Successful Career in Blogging!”
Desperate to learn all the ins and outs of freelance writing, I’d sign up, happily passing along my name and email address in order to get my hands on the secrets of making it to the big time.
Within seconds, an email would arrive with a link to the freebie. Thus, I’m now the owner of over a dozen how-to books on selecting a niche, growing web traffic, blog planning for profit, boosting income overnight, and planning my morning in such a way that I can live in a peak state and successfully achieve all of my life goals within three months…which should work great so long as my kid doesn’t interrupt the required morning meditation, and I’m allowed to drink copious amounts of caffeine before hopping in the mandatory ice cold shower.
Anyway, point is, I now have a lot of e-books, a few of which have provided some decent tips.
After the Freebies, Come the Costies
Usually the freebie comes first, followed by a couple of additional emails with extra free tips.
More info on how to become a hugely successful blogger!
More insider advice on how to make loads of money in under a month!
You don’t even need a degree!
(A common theme of these success stories is the “I never even graduated from college, I’ve been fired from every job, I don’t even know how to write” tale. It’s a very effective inspirational tool. “See, I made it! You Can Too! Just follow my lead and you’ll be on your way!”)
So, the emails continue with the tips, and five or six emails in, it arrives: The Online Course.
Every. Single. Blogger. Making. A. Cent. Offers. A. Course.
Better yet: Every Single Blogger offers “THE ONLY COURSE YOU’LL EVER NEED!”
Sitting in my email this very moment are links to:
- The Only Course I’ll Ever Need on Content Marketing
- The Only Course I’ll Ever Need on Cold Emailing
- The Only Course I’ll Ever Need on Writing for Money
- The Only Course I’ll Ever Need on Building Email Lists
- The Only Course I’ll Ever Need on Pinterest Marketing
Each from a different Super Successful Blogger.
The offers for these courses all look pretty much the same — click on the link and scroll down the lengthy webpage.
First, you’ll see a list of reasons why you — yes, YOU — need to take this course.
Then, you’ll scroll past the photos of successful course graduates who are now reaping the rewards of this very course you’re considering.
Further down, usually at the very bottom, you’ll get to the section of the course offerings where you’ll learn that this is a $1,000 value for only *drum roll* $350. But you must ACT NOW.
It’s all very “as seen on TV” in its urgency.
Point is, these courses are everywhere. And I get it — blogging in and of itself is not profitable. Most writers have to hustle on the side to make a decent living, and for many, that comes in the form of “how to” courses. If you can create some kind of content or product and sell it to your already-engaged followers, it’s a win-win. You’re continuing to write AND you’re making a decent living.
But, man, I’m exhausted from all the info and tips thrown my way. It’s not just the number of courses available, it’s the hard-sell tactics. Lots of emails with bold, colored font screaming,
“There’s only 3 hours left to secure your seat in the Only Course You’ll Ever Need! Act now, before this course disappears forever!”
Unspoken: “(Or until I bring it back in a week.)”
Can we agree to lay off on the courses for a bit? Can we at least agree that readers might be a bit fatigued from all the hard sells coming their way?
I mean, if your readers are wannabe freelancers and you’re pitching them course after course on blogging, odds are they’re getting the same pitch from half a dozen other bloggers. Soon enough they’re going to get sick of all the offers, unsubscribe from every e-list, and decide to figure it all out on their own.
Of course then, down the line, they’ll be the ones offering courses on how they built an enormously successful career without following a single word of advice.
It’ll be the only course you’ll ever need. Really.
This article first appeared in The Startup on Medium.
Notes from the Honeypot editors
We wanted to rant about the freelancer courses that are sold via the funnel playbook 101 but Sandra was there already. Kudos, we are all made believe that overnight success is just around the corner. It needed to be said and Sandra did it: that story is getting old.