Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of business tools, taken a bunch of courses, and bought a ton of ebooks. But only a few have gone above and beyond their promised benefits.
The following products are ones I swear by. I’ve bought and used these products personally. And they’ve all changed my life and business for the better. Note: Products marked with (*) contain affiliate links.
Damn Fine Words (*)
Course Instructor: James Chartrand of MenWithPens.ca
If you only take one writing course in life, let this be the one. You won’t find a better teacher than James Chartrand either.
Taking the Damn Fine Words course changed my life. Not only did I learn to write better, faster, and stronger – I learned business skills that weren’t even included in the course syllabus. But because I asked, James answered each and every one of my business questions.
As a DFW student, you get 20 lessons in 10 weeks and unfiltered access to James Chartrand in the forums. The course is worth its weight in gold only for the access it gives you to James.
To be honest, I haven’t found another course that offers such intensive interaction with the instructor.
Here’ what Shane Arthur – the guy who has copy edited for Jon Morrow and Brian Clark (to name just a few) – said about my writing after I submitted my first guest post for review in Guest Blogging Course:
@Samar: I just skimmed this before going to bed in a few minutes, but I have to say you’re a damn good writer from what I saw. That DFW (and GB obviously) seems to have paid off.
Even though this course launches only twice a year, you can still sign up for the waiting list. You’ll get a 20-part series from James that’ll teach you a ton of stuff about writing. Sign up for the course here.
Guest Blogging Course
Course Instructor: Jon Morrow of BoostBlogTraffic.com
Even though my writing skills had grown in leaps and bounds after taking Damn Fine Words, I was still lacking the courage to contact A-list bloggers and pitch them a guest post.
I knew that if I wanted to grow my business and blog, I needed to guest post. Otherwise, I was simply wasting my time trying to get found by clients.
So when Jon Morrow sent out an email saying the Guest Blogging course was open for registration, I signed up immediately.
And guess what? Within a month, I had my guest posts accepted by Firepole Marketing and Men With Pens. Not only that, I also got the above compliment from Shane. Talk about getting fast results!
If you’re struggling to grow your blog or establish your authority, this is the course to take. You get access to Jon in the form of monthly Q&A calls, bi-weekly guest post reviews, and response to each and every one of your forum posts.
The best part? You get access to the course materials and forums for life. So even if you’re submitting a guest post to a major blog two years after joining, Jon will review your post and provide feedback.
You can sign up for Guest Blogging course here.
Content Brew (*)
Course Instructor: Melissa Culbertson of BlogClarity.com
Once I’d gotten my guest posting strategy in place, I realized I was running out of ideas for my own blog! So when Melissa Culbertson of Blog Clarity opened up a new session for her Content Brew course, I signed up – and have never run out of ideas to blog about since.
Content Brew is a self-study course that teaches you how to create a content plan for your blog.
Melissa provides you with content planning templates and walks you through the brainstorming and planning of your blog’s content. She also tells you about tools and resources to make your content planning easier.
As far as I know, this is the only available course on blog content planning. Do yourself a favour and sign up. You’re never going to get stuck for ideas to blog about again.
You can sign up for this course here.
Anxiety-Free About Page Template & Workbook by Amy Chick
If you’re struggling to write an About page that sounds like you and attracts clients, you need Amy’s workbook.
Not only does she show you how to write your About page but also gives you a template to use.
The final copy is guaranteed to land you clients. Download the free workbook and you’ll see why.
This is one of the best free resources I’ve across on the web.
Get Amy’s Anxiety-Free About Page Template & Workbook here.
Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers by Henneke Duistermaat
After James, Henneke Duistermaat has been the biggest influence on my freelance writing business.
She’s one of the handful of writers whose work I read obsessively. First as a fan, and then as a student.
Every time Henneke publishes a post, it’s a writing exercise for me.
How did she open her blog post? How does she create such visuals with words? Why do her posts always attract so many comments and social shares? What action words did she use in her closing paragraph?
In her book, Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers, Henneke removes the mystery behind her excellent writing. She tells you exactly how she writes the way she writes and how you can write just as well.
The best part is, this book isn’t just about writing. It’s also about turning your blog into a client magnet through your content. She teaches you how to:
- find your ideal reader,
- position your blog as a voice of authority,
- develop a unique voice,
- generate blog post ideas,
- write compelling headlines,
- write delicious sentences, blog openings and inspiring closings,
- make your writing flow
- seduce Google to send clients to your blogs.
All this in one book packed with actionable advice.
If you can’t afford Damn Fine Words and Guest Blogging course, buy this book and practice what Henneke teaches. You’ll be a great writer in no time!
Buy this book here.
Forums & Membership Sites
Copyblogger Authority Membership Site (*)
When Copyblogger launched Authority last year, I grabbed it with both hands.
Access to Brian Clark, Sonia Simone and the rest of Copyblogger team for $29 a month? Hell, yeah!
While they have a library of ebooks, podcasts, and webinars, the real value for me is in their Q&A calls.
When I had the idea for Freelance Flyer, Brian and Sonia gave me tailored advice for this blog. Next, when I followed their advice and had a follow-up question, Sonia gave me a timeline to follow.
Every time I have a business question, all I have to do is ask it the Q&A forum thread and I get a personalized response from the Copyblogger team.
And you know what? Their advice has never steered me wrong.
So if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, sign up for Authority here.
Business Tools I Use to Run My Freelance Writing Business and Blog
Plug Matter (*)
Plug Matter is a WordPress plug-in that places a beautifully designed sign-up form at the top of your WordPress site.
From internet marketing maven like Derek Halpern to prolific bloggers like Jon Morrow – they all recommend having an email newsletter sign-up form at the top of your website or blog. Why? Because it’s one of the highest converting places on a website.
The trouble’s always been designing one. Thanks to Plug Matter, that’s no longer an issue.
I have never come across a WordPress plug-in that was more hassle free than this one. You can literally design an opt-in form in less than 5 minutes. If you have an email list you want to grow, there’s no other tool I can recommend more.
Check out the Plug Matter WordPress plug-in here.
Hostgator has been my preferred hosting company ever since I started freelancing six years ago. I’ve never had any problems with them and only have good things to say about their customer service.
When I messed up the WordPress installation of this blog, their customer support resolved it within 24 hours themselves. I didn’t have to deal with instruction-filled emails on how to do it myself. And for a busy freelancer (or one who’s not tech savvy at all) it doesn’t get better than this.
Whether you’re setting up a new writer site or blog, I would suggest signing up with Hostgator. They’re reliable, cheap, and are willing to go the extra mile for their customers.
Get hosting from Hostgator here.
There’s no denying it. Landing pages are important – a fact I never fully appreciated until I had to create a “launching soon” landing page for Freelance Flyer.
I’d initially bought Premise but it required more technical knowledge than I had. Then Stan Smith of Pushing Social recommended LeadPages to me – and I haven’t looked back.
Setting up landing pages through LeadPages is a breeze. All you have to do is choose a template and click on the things you’d like to change. Personally, I’d like to see more content based landing pages – but it’s not a deal breaker for me.
So if you’re looking for a landing page solution that doesn’t require you to know any coding, LeadPages is the tool to use.
Sign up for LeadPages here.
Note: The only reason I’m not a LeadPages affiliate is because their affiliate program is for Pro plan members and I’m on their standard plan.