If you’ve hung around the personal finance blogosphere, you probably have heard of Donna Freedman from Surviving and Thriving. I know Donna mostly as a supportive blogging buddy and friend, but she is known online for starting the Smart Spending and Frugal Nation blogs for MSN Money and was also a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly (I loved her posts!). She’s now at Money Talks News and freelances for lots of other sites and magazines like Consumers Digest and Woman’s Day.
And if you didn’t see her yet, she has been a speaker at the Financial Blogger Conference every year since it started – about writing, of course. After each talk, people come up to her or e-mail her later to ask lots of questions about how they can improve the way they write.
That’s why Donna created Write A Blog People Will Read, a 12-part online course that draws on her 31 years of professional writing experience (including eight years online). Because I’ve been so busy with pet sitting through Spring Breaks and recovering from my stupid back problems, I haven’t had time to read her course. So I’ll let a few other people give you the skinny:
Phil Taylor, PT Money and FinCon founder: “Don’t waste your time creating the wrong type of content. In this course…Donna goes the extra mile to teach you exactly how to create engaging content that is going to keep your readers coming back. As a bonus, she provides some solid strategies for sticking with it. New and experienced bloggers can both benefit from Donna’s advice.”
Will Chen, Killer Aces Media: “Donna Freedman is one of the best writers in the blogosphere, and a great measure of Wise Bread’s success is due to her tutelage and insight. Her wonderful writing course offers unique tips for bloggers in every genre. ‘Write A Blog People Will Read’ is required reading for anyone interested in taking their blogging to the next level.”
Liz Weston, Reuters columnist and personal finance book author: “If you want to be a writer, take this course. Donna Freedman has 30 years of writing experience, and it shows. The woman knows how to tell a story. She also knows about reporting, interviewing, generating ideas, developing a voice, organizing your time, and balancing your day job with your personal passion. ‘Write A Blog People Will Read’ can teach you how to craft an irresistible tale and also offers valuable info on how to create a writing life that meshes with your real one. P.S. The course is useful for writers of all stripes — not just bloggers.”
Linsey Knerl, Knerl Family Media: “One of the most challenging parts of blogging is coming up with fresh ways to share ideas with readers. Donna’s inspiring tips for projecting personality – while maintaining professionalism – are tools that bloggers at all levels can use EVERY DAY. I wouldn’t hesitate to follow her advice on anything related to writing; unlike many other “experts” with courses, she has years of success in an ever-changing industry with which to teach others. Learning to adapt is key, and Donna embraces change while never compromising on her values.”
Donna Freedman Q&A!!!
Interested? I’ve gotten permission to give away a copy of the course to one lucky reader! Read this Q&A with Donna and then I’ll tell you how to enter to win.
Q. Why a course for blog writers?
A. Plenty of info is out there about the mechanics of blogging, such as how to do a podcast or which plugins to use. But blogging isn’t just about tactics. It’s also about technique.
More than 152 million blogs exist. What makes the successful ones work? Those blogging mechanics, to be sure – but good writing is essential, too.
Currently the blogosphere is top-heavy with sites that are dull, wordy, badly organized or irrelevant. Why should someone take time out of his or her busy day to read this kind of thing? To be worth following, you’ve got to be worth reading.
Q. What does Write A Blog People Will Read cover?
A. Among other things, you will learn how to:
- Make your point quickly, clearly and irresistibly
- Focus, then flow
- Find a distinctive voice (without being annoying)
- Speak directly to readers
- Tell people why they should care
- Never run out of ideas
- Discover ways even the busiest person can find time to write
- Avoid burnout
Q. What’s the biggest misconception about blogging?
A. That it’s easy. Like anything else worth doing, creating a good website takes work. Some people still seem to believe you can slap together a blog, monetize it, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Q. Does that mean blogging is too hard for most of us?
A. Not at all. If you truly want to reach people, you can learn to do it.
Plenty of bloggers don’t have any formal training in writing or journalism. I don’t have any myself; in fact, I didn’t get a college degree until I was 52 years old. Although I’ve never taken a single writing course, I was an award-winning newspaper journalist for 18 years, freelanced for magazines, and then started the Smart Spending and Frugal Nation blogs for MSN Money.
Q. What makes blog writing different than journalism?
A. My editor at MSN Money told me bloggers have just 2.1 seconds to grab a writer’s attention. Sure, you can tease them over with effective SEO or a clickbait headline. But if you want readers to stick around, you need good writing. Powerful, intriguing, entertaining, impossible-to-ignore, all-around-swell writing.
That’s not to say that newspaper and magazine readers will spend a ton of time reading an article that’s slow to get started. But they’re kind of stuck with the source, whereas with the Internet a single click instantly takes readers back to their search engine results. If you don’t grab their attention right away, they’ll go look for a site that gives them what they need from the get-go.
Another thing that makes blogging different: Unlike print journalists, we have the blessing/curse of immediacy. We get to weigh on what happens while it’s still happening, instead of waiting for the next day’s issue. But that immediacy makes for fickle readers. If they’re looking for current info and you don’t give it to them in a readable way, they’re gone – and they might never come back.
The better you write, the better your site.
Q. How long will it take to get through the course?
A. That’s up to you. Write A Blog People Will Read is a 12-part course. You can move through the lessons as quickly or as slowly as you like.
Personally, I’d recommend doing a quick read of each section and then going back to focus on the key points to compare what you’re learning with the way you currently write. Those who haven’t started blogging yet can use those points to create their game plans, e.g., “How I will look for topics” or “Ways I’ll make time to write even though I’m already very busy.”
Another reason to do a quick read and then a slower focus is that it will make the course assignments easier to complete. You’re supposed to use everything you’ve learned that day – and also previous ones – to improve your writing. That’s harder to do if you’ve just galloped through the lesson.
Q. Assignments? Does this mean you have to turn in homework
A. No! Each lesson does have an assignment, but it’s not for me – it’s for you, the writer. Many of them could become blog posts you can publish.
Q. Can this course help entrepreneurs or those who blog for their day jobs?
A. Yes. Putting up a blog about your business is a great way to explain what it is you do. Obviously it will describe the services you offer, but it can also demystify your industry. Suppose you’re a financial planner. Your blog could include articles on topics like ways to save for your child’s college education, how much insurance a family needs or a proposed change in retirement funding options.
If you work for a company and your boss expects you to write for the company blog, the same 2.1 seconds apply. Create posts that read well and you will be well-read.
Q. Is it possible to get one-on-one instruction?
A. You bet. I have just added a “coaching” string to my professional fiddle (http://writeablogpeoplewillread.com/coaching/). It’s not a long-term commitment, though. Rather than keep clients in the teacher-student dynamic indefinitely, I’ve got a get-in-get-out-get-on-with-it model:
- We discuss (briefly, by phone or e-mail) what you’re trying to do with your work.
- You choose three samples (published or not) that you’re not happy with and send them to me.
- I read the pieces, critique them and send them back for review.
- Finally, we have a one-hour telephone conversation about issues that popped up in the critique, and brainstorm tactics to get you past those stumbling blocks.
Although it is possible for coaching clients to check back in later if they like, my goal isn’t to keep people on the string indefinitely. It’s to help them figure out, as quickly as possible, what’s keeping them from doing the kind of writing they want to publish on their sites. Thirty years’ experience + a fresh set of eyes on your words = a professional GPS to get you back on the road toward a website with a confident, unique voice.
Want to win a copy of this course? You can enter three different ways:
1. Mandatory entry: Leave a comment below about writing and what you hope to get from this course.
2. Optional entry: Follow Donna on Twitter and leave a separate comment below letting me know.
3. Optional entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment below letting me know.
This giveaway will be live from March 24, 2015 through April 7, 2015. Random.org will pick the winner on April 8, 2015.
Unfortunately I have only one copy to give away. So if you don’t win but still want to take the course, click on this link and use the discount code FINCON20 to save 20 percent on your purchase.