I Attended a Webinar on Writing for a Living – Here’s What I Learned

viewing-a-webinarThe webinar was free, but I’m going to save you 1 1/2 hours of listening time by giving you his tips. I’m nice that way.

Also, I kind of figured there’d be a sales pitch at some point, and he didn’t disappoint. So I’m saving you from that as well.

You’re welcome.

The webinar was by Jeff Goins. If you’ve ever googled for information on being a professional writer or blogger, you probably came across him.

His site carries a wealth of information, nearly all of it for free. Here’s the link for his blog, but be warned, you get a popup right away. (I gave my feelings on that HERE.)

If you forgive his popup (I did, because of his freebie), you’ll find a ton of helpful articles. The webinar repeats most of it, but it was condensed into four steps. If you do these steps, he claims, you’re on your way to becoming a professional writer.

Step #1: Clarify Your Message

Most of us worry whether our writing is good enough, but Goins says there’s no such thing as good writing. It’s too subjective.
Consider how Dan Brown is a bestseller. (What the hell?)
Instead, you should focus on whether your writing is effective. Are you communicating your message clearly?

To do that, first figure out your Worldview.
Don’t know what yours is? Think about what angers or frustrates you. Try completing this statement: Every ________ can/should __________.

After giving it some thought, I decided my Worldview is:
Every person should stop taking themselves so damn seriously, just relax and find the humor in this strange world of ours, and while they’re at it, why not bake a batch of cookies and enjoy life for a change? Sheesh!

I’m still refining it. It’s a work in progress.

Step #2: Develop Your Platform Personality

If you’re a writer, Goins says you need a blog or website – that’s your platform. But you also need a personality. He states there are five distinct personalities for writers (there may be others, but these are the five he sees):

The Journalist – motivated by curiosity, asks questions, researches topics and shares the results
The Prophet – tells it like it is, exposes the ugly truth, isn’t afraid to start an argument
The Artist – creates Art (duh), has an eye for beauty, shares their talent
The Professor – obsessed with data, insatiable thirst for knowledge, makes difficult topics easy to understand
The Star – charismatic, likable personality, enjoys people and engaging in conversation

Goins believes you must select one, as you can’t be all things to all people. This is a mistake amateur writers often make. If you have your doubts as to which one you are, just choose one and work with it for a month. If it works, great, but if not, try another.

This one was tricky for me. Where does a humor blogger fit? Or food blogger?
I found it easier to determine which ones I wasn’t — definitely not a Star, and in no way am I a Prophet or Artist. That left Professor or Journalist. While I admit having a soft spot for Professors, I can’t say for sure I am one. So maybe I’m a Journalist? (I’m sure my Reporter Self approves.)

Step #3: Find Your Tribe

In other words, your audience. The amateur waits for the audience to find him, the professional tracks them down. This is a significant part of Goins’ message.

Fingers typing on keyboardHe believes the best way to develop your tribe is still through email. Facebook and Twitter might bring you some views, but it’s the email subscribers you want. They constitute your committed “Tribe.”

The key to doing that is through an email marketing service – he recommended ConvertKit. I’ve also heard of MailChimp and GetResponse (warning, GetResponse has a popup). MailChimp is free for your first 2,000 subscribers, past that you’re looking at a monthly payment of $30 and up, depending on your size and extra features.

Once you purchase the email service, you offer a freebie to encourage people to subscribe, such as a short ebook or tutorial, whatever compliments your website.

After researching various professional bloggers, I can say nearly all of them do this. It appears to work too, even for me. I mean, why else would I overlook a popup for a free ebook? (Of course, it was all for the sake of research.)

Also, once a week you send your subscribers something interesting, such a blog post, newsletter, another freebie, etc. According to Goins, the amateur writes for herself, the professional serves her tribe.

Finally, you need to encourage them to share. Make it easy for them, even spell it out — “If you liked this, click to tweet” – something like that. Make it really, really, clear. Begging is permitted.

Step #4: Create a Diverse Income Stream

Now we get to the heart of the matter. Somehow you have to cover the cost of your website and email subscription service. Plus, the whole point of the 1.5 hour webinar was to make a living from your writing.

At no point does he claim this is easy. Despite his bringing it down to four steps, he’s clear that this involves hard work. But as one of his success stories, Sandy Kreps, states, it’s good work.

He also doesn’t promise immediate or impressive wealth, but he does claim you can make a living. (Vague, methinks?)

The key is to create multiple sources for your income. If you’re a photographer, you’ll have links to your photographs, writers will have links to their books, etc. If your subscriber list is high enough, you might include ads (go easy on this one). You could also offer professional services or online classes, depending on your expertise.

Here’s where his sales pitch began.

What he’s selling is his TribeWriter’s course: an online writing course of 30 video lessons over eight weeks, to help you fine tune, publish, and market your writing. All for $684.

Or, if you want the premium package, it’s nearly $1,200.

Here’s the thing: I’m willing to bet none of the people watching this Webinar were independently wealthy. If they were, why were they watching a 1.5 hour Webinar on how to make money from their writing?

Yet as I watched the chat line on the right side of the screen, several people were typing “Just signed up!” and “Can’t wait to get started!” and “I’m so excited! I’m finally investing in myself!”

So I’m not sure what to make of this. I’ve no doubt what the guy offers is good advice, and he seems like a genuinely nice guy. Several in the chat line had taken the course before (once you buy in, you have lifetime access) and they only had positive things to say about it.

But gosh. Nearly seven hundred bucks worth? Couldn’t I just read his blog for free?

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, you can get all the information for free. He appears to be a pretty stand up kind of guy when it comes to that, despite his diabolic use of popups.

The real point of the course, as I understand it, is that you have a guide who will walk you through the entire process, step by step. As well as a community of both wannabe and professional writers who will offer feedback, advice, encouragement, and a kick in the pants when needed.

Also, it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked. In fact, he even says you’ll have enough time to read all the material, steal the content, and get a full refund. (Gotta admire a guy with that kind of bold assuredness.)

Even so… I remain a skeptic. I suppose if someone gave me $684, I might consider taking the course just so I could research it, ask questions and report my findings (as befits my journalist personality). But lacking such a gift, I’m sticking with the freebies.

Normally I don’t end my posts with a list of questions, but this time I’m genuinely curious (again, it’s my inner journalist):

  • Have you ever taken an online writing class?
  • Is $684 reasonable, or am I hopelessly cheap?
  • If you’re a writer, which of his 5 personality types fit you?
  • Do you think his four steps would work, or are they a bunch of hooey?
  • Isn’t hooey a great word?

26 thoughts on “I Attended a Webinar on Writing for a Living – Here’s What I Learned

  1. Wonderful! I’m reblogging this! And to answer your questions: I’ve signed up for on-line classes, but I always end up ignoring them (they were all free…); $684 seems a lot….except that that’s how he’s making a living….: I’m ‘an artist” (ha!); the four steps look reasonable, (after all, I’m answering this because I’m email-subscribed to your site!)…and ‘hooey’ is a wonderful word!

    1. I considered how paying $684 would make a person more inclined to do the work, but still not paying it. And I agree with your Artist assessment — no hooey there. 🙂
      Thanks for the reblog!

  2. Thanks for sharing. That price tag seems pretty steep but if you’re someone that’s invested a lot of time and money already (published a book, have a business, etc.) I guess it would make sense if you want to make writing a main source of income. I watch a ton of webinars, interviews, and read a lot because I love to learn new things. I find a great variety of free podcasts and webinars that provide excellent quality. I guess it’s like a sample, if you get that much out of a bite imagine if you buy the whole enchilada (sorry couldn’t help myself).

    Of his types, I think I’m a professor- kind of funny because I call myself a student- teacher of life.

    I think his four steps are a great recipe that simmer in lots of hard work but what would I know, it’s not like I get paid to write (yet) 😉

    Hmm that’s funny because I think you are a star. You’re incredibly funny, witty, and engaging.

    1. That makes sense – if you’ve already invested money, maybe a bit more wouldn’t seem so bad.
      Oh, and I love enchiladas. 😀
      Funny, I would have pegged you as the star because you’re so personable and welcoming. I think I have a bit of a meanie streak that prevents me from stardom, but I try to keep it under wraps. 😉

      1. Right? Eh I’ve spent $5k what’s $700 more 😉

        Me too!!! Especially with green sauce (nom, nom, nom)

        Really? Even outside of the blog I prefer to be behind the scenes teaching and helping others. I do love engagement but that has to fall into the teaching type by default, you have to be personable… Really? Maybe a cross between star and prophet? 😉

  3. His steps likely work, but I’ll bet you could do that all your own without the cash payment (or just send it to me and I’ll send you my course).

    And I am the artist type, but I’ll disagree on the beauty part. Not all art is beautiful nor should it be. Sometimes art’s only purpose is to get people to think and feel. Some art makes you feel good, some just pisses you off…

    1. I’ve gotten a taste of that myself, although his emails are tapering off a bit now that the course enrollment period ended. You’re right, the advice is good, but once I’ve had my fill I may move on to other pastures.

  4. I have taken online writing classes on Udemy for far less than $684, because I’m hopelessly cheap and I needed to learn at least something of writing before taking up blogging – high school English was a looooooong time ago. I’d have to say I’m a Professor on the writing side and an Artist on the photography side – can you only be one? I think the steps would work, but I suspect it might take quite a while unless Oprah discovers you.

    And yes, hooey is a great word, and perfectly describes much of politics, advertising, “expert” advice, and a few other things it would be politically incorrect to mention. (I’m not a prophet)

    1. I’ve not heard of this Udemy before, because apparently I live under a rock. Looks like a cool site that might help me with a few things. Thanks for the tip, as well as kicking away my rock.
      I don’t see why you can’t be both artist and professor — surely that happens? And what if you’re a really, really likable guy, thereby entering Star territory? (Though I don’t think a prophet is ever in danger of that.)

        1. Especially if you identified the rock and determined possible uses for its mineral content. Gosh, do a bit of research on it, share the results and you’re a Journalist!
          Dang, man, there’s no holding you back!

  5. Let’s see: Well, I’ve been tempted by online writing courses in the past, but I’ve never actually signed on for the ride. (Unless I did so accidentally, in which case there was a name on the roster who remained a ghost throughout the session.) The 700-dollar tag on this one does seem rather steep but, as Niki mentions above, it may be worth it if you are truly invested in changing your revenue stream or you just have loads of cash stacked about the house, forlorn and dusty.
    I don’t think I really fit firmly in any of the “personality type” categories. Instead, I think I ooze into all of them, with “The Star” perhaps being the least wet. And as for the Four Steps, they all seem to be sound advice, but none of them are really anything “new”. This information is available from a number of reliable resources, although it may not be as neatly packaged. And I’m always a little leery of anyone who wants to charge me in order to show me how to make money. Wouldn’t you make MORE money if you were out there doing whatever it is you’re teaching? Or are you really not that good?
    Finally, “hooey” is an admirable enough word, but I’m usually more attracted to words with a bit more dazzle. Maybe that’s “The Star” in me fighting to move up in the personality ranks.

    1. A ghost on the roster… makes me think of the stressful nightmares I used to have where I suddenly remember a class I never attended and wondered if I did well enough on the final, could I salvage my grade? Only in my dream the class was in a building I didn’t know, and I wind up walking endless hallways trying to find the room… ah, the torment of the overly zealous student. It was a heavy cross to bear.
      Maybe you’re a reluctant prophet, Brian. With an artistic flair. 🙂

  6. If I pay $700 for something, it has to be drive-able, recline-able, or can get me to Ireland in under 6 hrs. (OR, it would result in my ownership of a self-publishing package.) Thank you for sharing the tips!

  7. Wow, you could buy a lot of alcohol for that much money and PRETEND you are a famous, paid writer – be a lot easier 🙂
    Hooey is good, horse puckey is better, flibbertygibbets is bestest. You can tell I’m not a writer.

  8. Love “Hooey!” I’ve never taken an on-line course but just read Steven King’s book on writing. If I were to take a course, it would be his. Yes, I think anything beyond $35 is a rip-off!. Follow his blog.I think blogging in itself improves our writing and develops our style and our tribes. I’ve noticed my own writing has gotten better in regard to defining an audience and clarity. I don’t know what category I fit into. I know I really like the comment part and chatting with people. I actually fear getting too many followers because I won’t be able to spend as much time with the bloggers I am friendly with now. As it is, lately, I have to take time out from posting and reading to write and market my books. (But luckily I’m not in it for the money, so I work at my own pace. I wouldn’t turn my nose up to fame someday, however.) Maybe I’m a wannabe Star?

    1. I’ve not read King’s book, but sounds like I should. Have you read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird? Love that one.
      I’m with you on the money angle. When I was young I dreamed of fame and fortune, but with age comes wisdom and self-awareness. Fame and fortune would not serve me well, but a small dedicated tribe sounds just right. 🙂

  9. I like freebies too. I have enrolled for online writing courses. One of them required me to do weekly homework like writing fillers for magazines and journals and earning money from the process. I told them where I live, we don’t have such magazines. They told me to research and find such magazines. Seems like paper magazines are all being eased out and there is really not much scope for fillers in online magazines because by realignment of the paragraphs, all free space can be filled in. Looks like that highly popular course had not updated its course material to 2018.
    I would subscribe to your blog to learn humor writing. I like your style. I would hate pop ups too, particularly if I didn’t know how to get rid of them. I am subscribed free to the NY times and the Washington post since a previous life where I tried my hand at earning moolah through my writing. In this life, I have learnt that the only money earned through writing is through luck, through shameless PR or through ghost writing. The world is not kind to writers or there would not be so many writing courses out there.

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