Editor’s Note: Several of these online writing classes are offering discounts to help writers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve marked those below with a 🌟!
You used to have to attend a university to learn from a smart professor. And pay a lot of money. And get dressed and go to class.
Now you can access all sorts of experts from the comfort of your couch — at a fraction of the price.
No need to Google “writing courses near me” and drive across town. Instead, sign up for an online writing course you can take on your own schedule.
We recommend these online writing courses
When it comes to online writing courses, there are so many options to choose from! You can really drill down into the niche you’re interested in, whether that’s proofreading, fiction, memoir, freelancing or blogging.
Take a course on how to make a living as a freelance writer. Or add to your skill set with a transcription or proofreading course. Or learn all the grammar rules you should’ve learned in school, so your writing will be squeaky clean. Or get really good at writing compelling essays so you can finally get published in your dream publication.
If you’re ready to invest in becoming a better writer, we’re prepared to help.
We’ve vetted each of the online writing courses on this list. We trust each instructor and the experience they bring, and we’ve reviewed the lessons and supplemental materials to ensure they’re high quality. We feel confident that if you put time and energy into one of these courses, you’ll come out a better writer.
Here are some online writing courses we recommend.
Online courses to earn money as a writer
What you’ll learn: This course teaches the ins and outs of transcription, so you can land a transcription job. Most of these positions allow you to work from home on your own schedule, so they’re a good income option for writers who want flexibility.
You’ll also learn what equipment you need to succeed, tips for increasing your transcription speed and accuracy, and how to find transcription jobs.
Instructor: Janet Shaughnessy has served clients through her transcription business for more than a decade. She teaches general, medical and legal transcription, and she’s passionate about turning typists into transcriptionists.
🌟 Special offer (always available): Try your hand at transcription with their free transcription mini-course.
Our full review: We haven’t written a full review for Transcribe Anywhere yet. However, we have vetted the course, and you can read about how one student used the course to launch a freelance transcription career in this post about transcription jobs.
What you’ll learn: This course covers everything you need to make money as a proofreader. Not only will you learn the nuts and bolts of proofreading, you’ll walk away prepared to find freelance work in this field.
Instructor: Caitlin Pyle started proofreading academic papers while in college and turned it into her main money-maker through court transcript editing in 2012. Now she teaches others to turn their love of reading and grammar into a freelance income.
Schedule: Available on-demand, so you can start whenever you want.
Cost: $497. Before you invest, take advantage of their free 76-minute workshop to see if it’s truly a fit.
🌟 Special offer during COVID-19 pandemic: $150 OFF. Use code SKILLS at checkout (available until April 15, 2020).
Our full review: One of our editors reviewed this course, and she said it made her want to start a proofreading business! This review hasn’t gone live yet on our site, but when it does, we’ll add it here.
Focus: Writing (and making money) on Medium
What you’ll learn: Dave Schools says Medium was the best thing that ever happened to him. His course shows you how to use Medium’s Partner Program and what types of content tend to resonate on Medium. You’ll also hear stories of writers who have been successful on the platform and what worked for them. As a bonus, every purchase includes an audio version of the course, so you can learn during your commute or while you clean the kitchen after dinner.
Instructor: Dave Schools is a writer who has contributed to CNBC Make It and Smashing Magazine. He also founded a top-50 Medium publication called Entrepreneur’s Handbook and earned a six-figure income writing for the platform — so when it comes to Medium, he has walked the walk.
Schedule: This course is available on demand, so you can enroll and begin whenever you’d like.
Our full review: We haven’t written a review of this course (yet). We have, however, vetted the course and were impressed with Schools’ instruction. To get a feel for his expertise, read this (free) post on how to make money with the Medium Partner Program.
Cost: $49. Schools also offers upgrades for coaching or consulting.
Online courses on freelance writing
Focus: Freelance writing
What you’ll learn: The “Den” isn’t billed as a course, but it pretty much functions like one. When you join the membership site, you get access to nearly two dozen courses (they call them “bootcamps”) that cover all aspects of building a freelance writing business, including how to find clients.
Membership also includes a resource library with hours of webinars and podcasts, a job board and a forum. With 1,100+ members and hundreds of threads, you can get answers to anything and everything related to freelance writing.
Instructor: “Den Mother” Carol Tice has been working as a freelance writer for more than 15 years. In addition to earning a six-figure income from her trade, she also has a lot of experience teaching others; she launched the Den in 2011. She plays an active role in the forum, so you’ll have direct access to her there.
Schedule: Enrollment only opens a few times each year, but if you get on the wait list, you’ll be notified when there’s an opportunity to join.
🌟 Special offer during COVID-19 pandemic: One free week in the Den to try it out (becomes available April 13, 2020).
Our full review: The Freelance Writer’s Den
What you’ll learn: This class covers the business side of freelancing, so you can make a living from your writing. It was built for creators who need guidance on how to land and service clients, how to use value-based pricing (instead of hourly) to earn more, and how to set up systems to make running a business easier.
You’ll get access to more than a dozen video lessons, plus templates and an online forum.
Instructors: Successful freelancers Paul Jarvis and Kaleigh Moore, who together bring 25 years of freelancing experience lead Creative Class. Jarvis has a popular blog and is the author of “Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business.”
Schedule: Readers of The Write Life can join anytime and get access to all the course materials at once. Public enrollment only opens a few times each year, so be sure to use this link to join: https://creativeclass.co/twl/
🌟 Special offer (always available to The Write Life readers): $30 OFF, which brings the cost to $244. Use discount code THEWRITELIFE.
Our full review: We’ve reviewed this course but haven’t published the review yet. Coming soon!
What you’ll learn: This is way more than one course; instead, you’ll get access to 80+ courses. They’ll help you with all aspects of running a freelance writing business, and if you want to expand your skills, you can also learn about social media management, content management, web design, digital media and more.
Instructor: Freelance University was created by Craig and Kelly Cannings, a married couple who have background in freelancing and virtual assistant work. Some of the courses, including those about the business side of freelancing, are taught by Craig, while other classes are taught by instructors who specialize in those topics. They’ve helped 14,000 students through this program over the last decade.
Schedule: Enrollment opens three times each year. It’s closed now, but you can get on the wait list so you get an alert the next time enrollment opens.
Cost: Join on a monthly basis for $67/month, or commit to 12 months of training at a significant discount: $597/year, which works out to getting three months free.
Our full review: Finally! A School for Freelancers
Creative writing courses
Focus: Personal essays, creative non-fiction
What you’ll learn: This course covers both how to write a compelling personal narrative and how to pitch editors to get your essay published. It includes writing and revision prompts, practice integrating vulnerability and dialogue, and examining examples of hard-hitting essays.
As a parting gift, students get contact information for 130+ editors who accept personal essays. We nearly fell over when we heard that! Quite frankly, this list in itself is worth the cost of the course.
Instructor: Amy Paturel is a journalist who writes widely in the health and nutrition spaces; her essays have been featured in outlets like The New York Times and Parents. She has taught this writing course for about a decade and helped many of her students land impressive bylines.
Schedule: The course is six weeks long and available on demand, so you can enroll whenever is best for you.
Cost: $325. Paturel also offers an upgrade for students who want a personalized critique.
Our full review: Write better personal essays
Online courses on writing well
What you’ll learn: Writing well starts with good grammar, and this course will give you the foundation every writer (and editor!) needs. It covers commonly misused words, contractions and possessives, punctuation, run-on sentences and so much more.
Instructor: Editor Ellen Feld has been teaching this course for years, serving 43,000 students. Your tuition includes access to Ellen for questions as you work through the material.
Schedule: You can take the course whenever works for you, at your preferred pace. You have access to the materials for as long as you’d like.
Cost: $199 for unlimited access
🌟 Special offer during COVID-19 pandemic: $120 OFF, which brings the cost to $79 (available until April 18, 2020).
Our full review: We haven’t written one yet, but we did join the course and the Facebook group to check for quality. While this course could use a design refresh, the information included is excellent.
Bonus: A free self-study option for freelance writers
9. Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer (Ebook)
Focus: Freelance writing
What you’ll learn: OK, this isn’t quite a course, but if you’re good at self-study, you could do a whole lot of learning by simply reading a free ebook we offer here at The Write Life.
You’ll learn exactly what the title promises: how to earn more money as a freelance writer. This ebook might be too advanced for beginner freelancers, but if you’ve been at it for a while and want to increase your income, the strategies in this ebook will go a long way.
You’ll learn how to ditch low-paying clients and replace them with new, better paying clients. The book even includes two templates: a sample pitch, and a note you can send to clients when it’s time to part ways.
Instructor: Successful freelancer Nicole Dieker, a long-time contributor to The Write Life, has worked her way up to a six-figure income. She’s incredibly generous about sharing her strategies, and we love how specific she gets in this ebook about the tactics she used to up her rates.
Schedule: The best part about an ebook is how accessible it is: you can read this on your own time, no matter where you are… and immediately implement what you learn.
$23 Now Free
Plus: If you’re earlier in your career, we also offer an ebook that covers freelance writing jobs for beginners, 71 Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer. It provides tons of ideas for ways you can earn money writing and begin to build your portfolio as a writer.
Ready to enroll in some writing courses online?
No need to commute to the closest college or give up all your weekends to take a writing class.
These online writing courses with knowledgeable instructors provide the training you need, and in many instances, a community of students to connect with as well.
If you know of other online writing courses we should add to this list, let us know!
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Photo via Oleksii Didok / Shutterstock