Whether you’ve given writing content for the web a shot or not, it’s safe to say that in most situations a little bit of training is needed. Writing content online definitely sounds easy enough, but there are actually many different kinds of content that get published, all with different marketing needs. You have to think about more than just the words on a page. Consider:
- Are you going to try to optimize with keywords, semantics, cocitation, internal linking?
- How are you going to determine the audience responding most, and then how are you going to write for a diverse audience?
- If you’re writing for another blog or you have multiple writers for your one blog, how are you going to make sure all of the writing has a consistent tone and style?
- Should you hire writers who are experts in the subject matter, or writers who are experts at writing content online? In certain industries, it can be tough to find both.
- How much are you going to pay writers?
- How many articles are you able to write and publish per week?
- Who is going to manage the content? You have to think about responding to comments, making sure links are not broken, etc.
- When it comes to content marketing, what Analytics reports are you going to use to make conclusions? Who will be posting content online?
- How will you incorporate different content types—video, infographics, eBooks, polls, reviews, interviews, etc.?
The moral of the story, there are so many different things to consider when someone talks to you about “content marketing and writing.” It sounds easy, but even the points above barely scratch the surface of questions you need to ask when creating a strategy.
Fortunately, there are tons of free online courses that can help you learn.
Top 8 Free Online Courses on Content Marketing & Writing
Often a simple article with information (or even a guide) isn’t going to be enough, and it can be nearly impossible to gather a bunch of articles together to create a cohesive lesson on your own, so a full course is in order.
I’ll start out by saying that I have not taken all of the courses listed below, but I have taken a few, and I know at least one person who has recommended the others.
Without further ado, below are some of the best out there:
Skillshare allows you to start free for 14 days, and then after that it is a yearly fee of $96.00. Once you pay for the membership, all of the classes are free within Skillshare. If you don’t want to purchase a membership, the courses below can be purchased separately for anywhere from $10-20. Still, I’ve added them to the list because you can get quite a few courses done for free during your 14-day trial.
This course is great because of the person running it—Seth Godin. He discusses shows you how to create a modern marketing strategy from nothing. Even if you already have some sort of strategy in place, the course is designed to have you generate a marketing project using Godin’s 11 questions to help guide you. You will also have to identify your priorities, concepts to use, and write descriptions and your story.
It’s great because by the end you have something ready to go as opposed to just having the knowledge to put something together later.
This is a course by Andrea Goulet Ford of BrandVox, a company helping business leaders develop business personality and ensuring you’re getting the right message to the right people (so essentially content marketing with a big focus on the actual words on the page).
Ford was an unknown name to me, but her loyal followers seem to swear by her advice so I gave the course a try, and was very impressed. She has worked with government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and many more across the board. This subject matter is one that seems fairly simple, but planning can be very intricate. Like Godin’s class, she helps you create a resource library to refer back to in the future and makes sure that you walk away with three months planned for your online content.
Udemy is probably the most popular avenue for online marketers when it comes to taking free classes. They have free options, (all mentioned below) as well as paid options, and offer more than 32,000 courses, 18,000 instructors, and 80+ course languages.
This course is obviously best for B2B companies, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s one of the few good Udemy classes that are free. The course is by William Flanagan, CEO and Founder of Audienti, and it’s great because it uses actual scenarios that Flanagan has dealt with in his own business as well as his clients. There are six sections to the class, including Creating Interesting Relevant Content, Publishing Content for Conversion, and Getting Content in front of Your Audience.
This might seem unconventional, but part of content marketing is knowing how to take advantage of all WordPress has to offer. This is important for SEO as well as user experience. The course covers posts vs. pages, the Content Editor, media files, categories and tags, content widgets, and more confusing little options you have. It’s definitely a basic course and best for beginners, but necessary if you have any questions about what WordPress can offer.
Coursera courses are on the rise. The education platform partners with top Universities and organizations worldwide and makes it easy for anyone to sign up (similarly to Udemy, except it’s a bit pricier and works with colleges and universities). Coursera also has one of the largest libraries of courses in all different categories, so this is one of my favorite platforms.
There are actually two parts to the course, the first titled “Engaging Audiences for Your Organization” and the second titled “Expanding Your Content’s Impact and Reach.” Both are six weeks of study and completely free, although you do have the option of getting a Verified Certificate from Northwestern University for completing the course for $49.00.
The course says that it is designed for entry-level of for-profit, non-profit, volunteer, and government enterprises and it’s a great way to learn some of the basics of content marketing and how it can relate to a business strategy as a whole.
This is the only course on the list that isn’t actually free, but it’s only $35 for 8 hours of videos, readings, and quizzes, which is pretty inexpensive for a Coursera course from the University of California, Irvine. This course is unique because it’s one of the few options that puts a heavy focus on the actual act of writing as opposed to content marketing.
It teaches you how to write and communicate effectively in the business world. Naturally, a lot of this is writing for an online audience and online publications (although it does get into writing business proposals, memos, etc.). If polishing up your writing skills is what you’re after, this single-course is a great option.
This course is actually part of a 10-course series called Career Success Specialization, which you can opt to take from the link above.
General Website Courses
If you keep an eye out you’ll notice different agencies and businesses around the web oftentimes offer courses taught by their professionals. Below are two of my favorites:
This course doesn’t focus on writing or content marketing specifically, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re interested in how those two areas help an online strategy as a whole. You learn everything from creating landing pages, closing sales, and more.
HubSpot is one of the leading marketing resources on the web with some of the best content featured on their five blogs, so their course is no doubt top-notch. Once you pass the course, you get a personalized badge and certificate that you can display on your website, email signature, LinkedIn profiles, etc.
Online Marketing Institute: Content Storytelling Rules for the Digital Marketer
Much like Skillshare, the Online Marketing Institute offers a free trial that allows you to try any courses you wish. They have 70 different content marketing classes to choose from all sorted by Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced level.
The Content Storytelling class is pretty unique because it helps you understand storytelling fundamentals and how you can get creative so your content is more engaging. Creativity is something that many businesses are lacking, so this is a cool course if you’re looking to step outside of your comfort zone.
Of course, this list is not an all-inclusive list. I recommend visiting here for more options, and if you know of other free online courses on content marketing and writing that helped you in the past, please share in the comment section below.