Should You Go Back to School?

Don’t fret, good people. I’m not here to tell you that you should consider going back to school for a second degree. Most freelancers have enough trouble scrapping together money for the rent without having to worry about paying another couple of tens of thousands.

Especially since no one cares about your degree.

That’s right. No one cares what degree you have. You’re a freelancer. People want to see your portfolio, your testimonials, and your professional-looking website.

But maybe you should go back to school. And what kind of school gets you more of what matters to your business?

The school you make yourself.

How to Start Your Own School

The nice thing about creating your own school is that you’re the one who creates the curriculum. You can structure it entirely around what you need to know for your business.

Some good general courses (the core curriculum of freelancing, if you will) include marketing, SEO, and copywriting, but you can specialize in something that’s just for your particular challenges in business, like this:

  • If you’re really shy about reaching out to new clients, you might consider taking a class in how to make cold-calling or cold-emailing a little less painful.
  • If you want your blog to get a whole lot more readers, you should think about taking a class in how to write better articles and be noticed on the web.
  • If you keep seeing clients come to your sales page and run off without buying, you probably want to take a class in writing killer sales copy that converts.
    • Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What do you mean, take a class? I don’t know anyone – or anyplace – offering classes like this! And I couldn’t afford them if I did!”

      That’s okay. You aren’t going to go find a class to attend. You’re going to create your own class.

      It All Begins with Textbooks…

      Don’t run off yet. It’s about to get really fun.

      For a long time now, I’ve been reading blogs about marketing. I have books on marketing. I have ebooks on marketing. I have a whole lot of stuff on marketing.

      And that’s all well and good, but so far I have done absolutely diddly with this knowledge laying about at my fingertips, which is why I decided to create my own class on marketing. Here’s how it works:

      Go gather up all the books on the subject you need to be better at if your business is going to succeed. Apply some logic and decide on a topic for your course, and your course textbooks. I decided on my textbooks. They are:

      Dave Navarro’s What’s Holding You Back
      IttyBiz’ Marketing School
      Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet – Jay Conrad Levinson

      This course takes a steady progression. First, I figure out why the hell I haven’t done any marketing (What’s Holding You Back). Then I figure out what I should be doing (Marketing School). And then, all wild and crazy from my success at the two other sections of the course, I dive into the elusive world of guerrilla marketing, which can basically be summed up thusly: Do something no one else has ever thought of.

      We saved that one for the end because it’s hard.

      And You’ll Have Some Homework…

      Not only do you have textbooks for your class, but you’ll also have assignments. For example, all of these books I chose for my marketing class have exercises in them or suggestions on how to apply their advice to your own business, which means – and this is killer – I can give myself assignments. I can actually say, “do the exercises on page 43 for Tuesday.”

      See how that works?

      Even if I there weren’t exercises or worksheets, though, it’s pretty easy to set your own assignments. In any how-to book, every chapter is essentially an expert explaining how to do something. So you say, “Awesome, let me try that myself.”

      That’s your assignment: to try it yourself. Simple.

      Pick your class, decide on your textbooks, and give yourself assignments. The easy way to do that? Just read each of the books all the way through and take notes whenever you see something that could be an assignment. Give that assignment a due date.

      Yes, you’ll probably re-read the book when you actually do the assignment. But that’s sort of the point. Most of the time, we just read a book and skim through it. We think, “Great idea. I should do that.” But we don’t put it into action.

      This is class, people. You’re not just going to read a book. You’re going to take a course and put it into action. By the end of it, instead of just having read the book, you’ll understand how to do what the book is describing.

      And You Will Be Graded On . . .

      At the beginning of every course, you known the breakdown on how your final grade is calculated. 10% on quizzes, 20% on tests, and 70% on that giant essay due at the end that you forgot to write until the last minute and stayed up all night to do but couldn’t get done so your mother, like the champ she is, called you in sick so you had a whole extra day.

      This isn’t like that. Your course is going to be something you really want to do, and really need to do, so there’s no putting it off any more. You’re doing this for you.

      That means you get to decide what you’re going to be graded on. In my case, for example, I want to have a whole marketing campaign planned out by the end of my course. Not just how to do it, but an actual plan I’ve made.

      That’s my final marketing course assignment. What’s my grade? Whether that marketing campaign is successful. If it is, I get an A. If it’s not, I get an F. If it’s medium-successful but could be better, I’ll get something in between.

      The good part about getting grades as an adult is that A translates into money. That never happened in high school.

      So talk to me, people. What course would you create for yourself? Whose materials would you use? How would you grade yourself?

      Not sure? Just ask. We’re happy to make suggestions for any and all experts we know on the subject you want to study. Actually, we’re happy to put ourselves forward as the expert for anyone who wants to learn how to start your kick-ass web writer business. You know, seeing as we wrote the book on it and all.

      But beyond that! Who wants to learn about OIL RIGS?

Post by Taylor

Taylor Lindstrom (fondly known as Tei) is a twenty-something copywriter and journalist from Boulder, CO. She’s the team’s rogue woman who wowed us until our desire for her talents exceeded our desire for a good ol’ boys club. She loves the color green, micro-point Uniball pens, and medieval weaponry.