Good morning, friends, and welcome to the best corner of the internet. If you're here, you're probably lost, Youtube is two doors down.
But, since you've graciously decided to join me on this beautiful Sunday morning, I was thinking we could discuss a topic that I've been meaning to address for quite some time now and I hope I'll manage to do it in a way that doesn't offend too many trainers - copywriting courses.
In the following minutes, I'll be aiming to answer some questions I'm pretty sure you all have, too:
- Should I sign up for a copywriting course?
- Should I go for a free copywriting course or a paid one?
- How can I tell which copywriting course is the right fit for me?
- Are these courses a monumental scam or an investment?
- Should I choose a copywriting course here in Romania or look abroad?
- Can I get useful certifications or diplomas if I complete a copywriting course?
- Do I really need a copywriting course or can I learn by myself?
- Who are copywriting courses useful to?
Copywriting courses - a business taking advantage of beginner writers or a valuable resource?
For those of you who don't read my blog too often, my name is Cristina, I am a professional content writer/copywriter with a total experience of over 5 years (and counting). I have worked in an agency, but also on a freelance basis, therefore I'm going to try to bring some very clear arguments about the utility of copywriting courses and stay as objective as possible (although it'll be hard and I'll explain why).
Let's start with my views, since you're here, on my blog, practically in my backyard.
I have never taken a copywriting course. I learned everything I know on my own - I read everything I could find, from books to online articles and infographics, I wrote for free, for 1 Euro, on my own hand with a marker, on every blank canvas I could find until I learned the ropes of this beautiful world of copywriting.
This was my journey, so I won't pretend it can be anyone's journey.
For many people, an online copywriting course can be a viable alternative that saves them the hassle of having to search for info online. Someone has already done it and is ready to present it to you in an interactive format.
However, my very honest opinion that is about to offend a truckload of trainers is that most people who sell copywriting courses (but also content writing, online marketing and SEO), at least in Romania, don't aim to teach you the ropes of the industries themselves, don't aim to sell knowledge.
Instead, they sell illusions and shortcuts to success.
Disclaimer - I don't mean to generalize, it is not the case with all of them, however, there is a phenomenon in this beautiful industry that is starting to grow daily - and someone has to shed some light on it. I like to call it:
The false promises and intellectual imposture of copywriting courses
#1 We don't know how to write but we want to teach you how to
We've all seen them - ads that aim to sell you this great, great copywriting course...too bad they're filled with typos and grammar mistakes.
We're not here to name and shame - I don't want to expose people, on this blog, our goal is to only expose and sanction behaviors so we can all learn. To my mind, you simply can't promote yourself through these types of ads and then want people to take you seriously as a possible learning tool.
I've seen this happen in Romania a lot - agencies and so-called copywriting gurus sponsoring their ads to reach hundreds, maybe thousands of people on Facebook...without bothering to spell-check them first. I think these types of approaches only insult the intelligence of the potential audience.
If you show that you don't have any attention to details, if you allow these types of errors to slip during your "editing" phase....how can you then present yourself as a guru in anything?
If you didn't care about the package at all, then you can't possibly talk to me about copywriting or teach me to sell anything via words...you just failed.
#2 We promise you'll start selling...yesterday!
Another glaring example of overly optimistic exaggerations that I've found in copywriting courses is the promise that you'll sell your products and services INSTANTLY with some easy to follow copywriting strategy that is guaranteed to make you rich.
Forget about non-essentials such as niche, audience, budget, no, this will 100% work. Because we say so.
Ladies and gentlemen, repeat after me - no one can guarantee that you'll sell anything on the internet, there's no such thing. Sure, a competent team can help you, but there's no such thing as certainty.
Even with the best strategies, the most generous budget and competent team, campaigns can still fail or miss the mark or the competitor can always take out their hidden weapon and crush you when you least expect it.
The problem with such false promises is that these copywriting courses often downplay the complexity of the sales process, making it seem like this easy thing that anyone can accomplish.
The problem with these types of approaches doesn't boil down to the people who have them, but to the fact that it's simply unethical to give beginners such an unrealistic image of the copywriting industry, without presenting the less glamorous sides as well.
Copywriting, or selling via words, because that is what it comes down to, is not as simple as it seems, especially on an overly saturated market where everyone has a blog, everyone has a presentation website...but maybe 1% manage to still stay relevant to their audience in 5 years.
Instead, beginners are told they can create a blog and monetize it...yesterday, that they can make thousands of dollars a month, that they can reach the number 1 spot in Google Search results in 3 days using only 2 keywords, that they can launch a product today and have sold-out tomorrow..
They are told - you can work from home for a huge company abroad and they'll pay you double because you write like an artist...without mentioning "the fine print" - that you need to be at least twice as good as a local to have a seat at any negotiation table, especially if you're an Easterner aiming to work for the Western World. They never mention the lower pay for Easterners compared to Westerners for the same qualification level.
They never mention how the copywriting industry views Romanians similarly to Indians because stereotypes - "Oh, they write for 1 Euro too, so I, huge corporation from the States, will pay exactly that."
They don't mention how hard the journey is to get to this stage, especially for freelance copywriters:
Trainers never seem to take responsibility and present the full spectrum of reality - instead, they cherry pick and sell illusions in their copywriting courses.
However, that reality exists, too - for every professional rate there is, there are hundreds of clients asking you to write for 1 dollar - and anyone who is looking to learn about copywriting needs to be presented with both realities, no embellishing, no lies.
The illusion that you can start writing and you'll become a millionaire from your passion, that you'll sell via words and then live on an exotic island forever is also devoid of any logic, especially if a copywriting trainer is the one that sells it to you.
You know why? Because, if that was true, would that trainer need to sell any course to you or would they already be doing it?
Shouldn't they already be in Ibiza, enjoying a cocktail? Asking for a friend.
How can I tell if a copywriting course is worth my money?
My point of view is rather controversial but I'm ready for any backlash from the copywriting courses community, so here goes:
If all a copywriting course does is copy-paste info that you can find on the internet yourself...then it should be free.
Now, some of you may think I'm crazy or I like written hunger and sharing info for free without profit...but this is what I do with my blog. Maybe if you click on an ad, I'll get 10 cents, but my blog is meant to be a learning space.
And, in a way, so should most copywriting courses be - I'm talking about the type that literally don't bring anything new to the table, aside from rehashing what already exists. That doesn't take much effort, does it? That is why I believe this type of information should be free, especially if it presents generic examples and copywriting theory.
However, some copywriting courses should rightfully be paid and not come for cheap. I'm talking about those where the trainer brings added value - case studies you can't find anywhere else, special guests, foreign speakers that can present new, fresh points of view from other markets, accredited specialists from prestigious universities etc. Then yes - this type of copywriting course should be paid with big bucks because it'll be worth it.
The most important thing to do when choosing a copywriting course is to make sure that whoever holds it knows more than you, that they managed to become someone in the industry they claim to be an expert in.
Because words are beautiful but it's credentials that make someone not just talk the talk but also walk the walk.
To sum up, if you consider some of my arguments above, I really believe it'll be easy for you to spot the difference between added value and intellectual imposture and spend your money the right way - into an investment, not a beautifully packaged scam.
Who can benefit from a copywriting course?
- People who lack the time to search for info (a copywriting course already presents a synthesis of key info from books and online sources - that process would take you weeks, maybe months - since a trainer already did it and they also have their own added expertise on top, it'll enrich that info even more)
- People who find it easier to learn from someone else - a teacher/trainer/coach than on their own
- People who want to change careers and need a new specialization (many courses offer diplomas or other certifications - a good résumé booster)
- People who don't know for sure if copywriting is the right choice for them but would like to learn the basics out of pure curiosity, without wasting time getting into the specifics - thus, they are able to quit at any point
- Business owners who would like to learn how to better promote it/position it via words
- Those interested to build a personal brand
Copywriting courses - the pros and the cons
- You save time - someone else looks for the info, someone else structures it and presents it into a digestible and interactive form, you only get it
- You can take part in team exercises with the other participants
- Copywriting courses are a great occasion to network and meet new people in the industry - they can later become valuable contacts
- You can get certifications/diplomas
- There is a lot of intellectual imposture in this industry, many courses that lack substance, that promise illusions and don't even deliver that
- A copywriting course can be a significant financial effort, therefore they're not accessible to anyone
- The interactivity level might not be high enough, especially if many people participate at the same time (some things can get lost in translation, you may not get enough one-on-one time with the trainer)
Free copywriting course alternatives
In other words – can I learn how to be a copywriter on my own?
If I could do it, anyone can. You only need to put in the work, trust me. I'm not selling an illusion just now either, it's actually true.
Allow me to explain why.
There is a reason why there are no such things as "the content writer school" or "the copywriting academy", there is a reason why copywriting doesn't exist in a fixed, academic form that anyone can graduate from magna cum laude if they follow it to a T. Copywriting is an art and a science that is ever-changing and still so very new, especially here, in Romania.
Marketing in itself, broadly speaking, is based on both art and creativity, psychology, data analysis and SEO. That is why it's very hard to separate copywriting from the broader context it's integrated in and learn about it separately, in an easy-to-follow, academic manner.
It's like learning solely about the wheel without ever knowing that there's a bicycle, too.
However, since that is the main focus of our article today, here are some free resources that you can use to become a copywriter on your own - or, in other words, to discover the wheel first:
- Just write - the best lesson is your own experience. Just write. Anything and everything, write on a notebook, on the walls, on the window, on the cat, on the door, write for money, for a coffee or for nothing in return. Writing as a constant exercise will give you an infinitely more valuable experience than you'll realize at the beginning. Writing on your own as much as possible, even if it involves effort and you're lazy and you don't feel like it will reap many rewards. Try to integrate it in your daily routine in any shape
- Read Ogilvy on Advertising and any other books you can find from this guy, also named the father of modern advertising. I don't like to read too many long books because I lack patience in general so...if I could follow through with so many of his, I can guarantee they're worth a read
- Invest in acquiring knowledge from adjacent industries (SEO, marketing, consumer psychology, data analysis, statistics). What I recommend the most is learning about the psychology of persuasion because it'll be very helpful as a copywriter. Start with a light read - Cialdini and keep it up on the same line - you can find the book The Psychology of Persuasion online for free in pdf format. I also recommend the free digital marketing course from Google because you get a certification and it's really well structured in video + written format
- Follow the best online publications devoted to copywriting and let them become your bible. I fully endorse Copyblogger.com and Content Marketing Institute - read their articles and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date
- If you have any room left in your brain, read CristinaTudose.ro's collection of articles on copywriting. Why? It's free and you can always debate me in the comment section down below.
The bottom line...
The decision to sign up for a free or paid copywriting course is entirely yours - what works for one person might not work for the other.
However, I hope I managed to present all the angles as objectively as possible so you can make the best decision for you.