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Free Education, Free Money
by Melissa Mayntz

When writers think about online courses to sharpen their skills, they automatically think of the wide range of writing-related classes available: poetry composition, grant writing, e-zine publishing, screenwriting, and an entire library’s worth of genre courses, from romance to science fiction.

The classes many writers overlook, however, are those that can help enhance their writing by adding more pizzazz to their business or opening new areas of marketing and networking that can lead directly to higher profits. Best of all, many courses are offered for free, letting writers earn more money without spending their hard-earned dollars on tuition, books, or campus parking stickers.

English Language Courses
The most obvious writing-related courses are those that deal with language, even if they are not specifically targeted toward writers. English language courses include grammar classes, vocabulary building curriculums, or courses to give students better public speaking skills. Even book study and literature classes can help writers by giving them insight into superb writing examples and teaching them how to critically examine their own work. By learning how to use the language better, writers will find themselves writing more quickly with fewer rewrites, dramatically increasing their per-hour profit margin.

Photography Courses
It’s no secret that editors prefer writers who can deliver a complete package of text and artwork. By learning different photography techniques such as using the advanced features of a digital camera, cleaning up images in Photoshop, or basic methods for motion or night shots, writers can boost their profits to the next level by offering more than just expertly written articles. Many classes teach techniques suitable for any camera or experience level, making them perfect for a wide range of writers. With magazines and websites paying extra for exclusive photos, this is the perfect way to increase the number of dollars each byline brings.

Web Design Courses
As internet writing opportunities grow more lucrative, savvy writers know that establishing their own presence on the Web is vital to visibility and promotion. Learning how to design their own webpage will help writers avoid hiring expensive services, and understanding how web design works can also help internet writers discover the secrets of keywords, search engine optimization, and other tricks of online writing to help them break into new electronic markets for additional revenue streams.

Home-Based Business Courses
Business-oriented courses offer instruction in a variety of useful topics, including tax preparation and deductions, home office setup, self-employment health care options, networking and marketing, and business licenses. These topics are vital to a successful home writing business and can help writers make the most of their income.

Organization Courses
As writers grow more successful, they may be dealing with multiple clients, contracts, and manuscripts, not to mention proposals in various stages of acceptance, pending invoices, and upcoming marketing events. Organization is a necessary partner to productivity, and a personal organization or de-cluttering course can help even the most swamped writer find a system to keep on track. Being organized means less time – and money – lost while scrambling through clutter to find resources, paperwork, or contact information.

Subject Specific Courses
When most writers research a new topic for a book or article, they head to the library, not the classroom. Taking a subject-specific course can offer far greater insight than any reference book, and the instructor is a ready-made expert on the subject, perfect for a quote or interview. Interacting with classmates can provide revelations into what readers want to know about a topic, and even if the writer didn’t initially enroll for research, simply learning about a new topic may rejuvenate their enthusiasm and inspiration. By learning a new skill or subject, writers can also take advantage of their new expertise to break into new markets and sell more articles.

There are thousands of online courses available that extend far beyond the writing craft. By thinking creatively and looking past the writing section of a course catalog, writers can discover innumerable ways to enhance their writing and sell their work more quickly and profitably than their non-classmates. Enroll today and get ready to earn a free degree in making more money writing!

If you’re ready to enroll, these resources can help:

© Copyright 2009, Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a freelance writer and editor from Utah. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including About.com, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, ByLine Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, the Orlando Sentinel, LoveToKnow.com, and WritersWeekly. She has edited more than 20 fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for publishers and independent writers; for current project rates and additional details, visit www.MelissaMayntz.com.

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