Lifelong learning freshens up your writing, prevents bad habits from getting too strong a toe hold, and even (according to Henry Ford, anyway) keeps you young.
To Pay or Not to Pay (Hint: Not)
If you’re a LinkedIn member, you may have seen ads on their site for their self-paced video courses, which they run under the brand “LinkedIn Learning.” Where do these classes come from? They originally came from an online education company called Lynda.com, which LinkedIn bought a few years ago.
Why does this matter to you? Well, it turns out that Lynda.com still exists, most likely at a library site near you. You can access the Lynda courses for the great price of zero, and they are the same courses that LinkedIn Learning provides for a fee.
How much of a fee is a bit of a mystery, as LinkedIn Learning does its best to hide how much it charges until you sign up. As far as I can tell, after some digging around, it looks like a subscription to LinkedIn Learning will cost you more than $200 per year.
If you worked for a big company, maybe your employer would get a corporate subscription. But if you’re a freelancer, the costs are on you, so it’s always nice to get something for free.
Where to Find the Free Lynda.com Courses
You can access the 5,700 free Lynda.com courses (which, together, contain more than 180,000 videos) through the website of a public library system that subscribes to the Lynda database.
If your local library system doesn’t carry the Lynda courses, you may still be able to access them through a larger library system in your state. For example, the New York Public Library (NYPL), which subscribes to Lynda, is the system for Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. But anyone who lives, works, or goes to school anywhere in New York State can get a free library card at the NYPL. And if you don’t live in the city, you can complete your entire application for a library card online; you won’t have to come into a branch in person, which is very convenient.
Lynda’s Writing Classes
Lynda.com is known mostly for its tech courses, but they do have a good selection of writing classes. These cover a lot of subjects in both business and creative writing, including classes on how to write compelling blog posts, articles, speeches, white papers, resumes, bestselling novels, songs, and low-budget films. There are also many courses useful for all types of writers that cover topics such as how to conquer writer’s block, writers’ productivity hacks, writing with impact, and tips from Grammar Girl.
Writing With Flair
My favorite course that I’ve taken at Lynda is called Writing With Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer. The instructor, Shani Raja, is a former editor for the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and other publications. He explains things clearly, and is relaxed and encouraging.
The course is rated “Intermediate,” and I think that’s about right. It shows experienced writers how to fine-tune their work. The course is organized into four sections — Simplicity, Clarity, Elegance, and Evocativeness — which helps make the writing tips easier to remember.
The techniques are practical and work well for content writing or other business writing. At the same time, Raja also talks about the “beauty” of writing, which makes the whole project more interesting.
Writing With Flair is also available at Udemy, where the cost varies depending on what kind of promotion Udemy is running at any given moment.
Other Classes at Lynda That Could Benefit Content Writers
The more you know about the software you use, the less downtime you will have trying to figure out how to do things. For example, I started using Google Docs when I bought a Chromebook, and I didn’t find it to be particularly intuitive. So I took a short class from Lynda in using Google Drive, which was helpful, especially in pointing out features that I wasn’t aware of. Lynda has many of these mini-courses that can help demystify the technical tools we all rely on.
Lynda also has substantial programs on marketing, including what they call “learning paths” to becoming a digital marketer, a content marketer, a content strategist, or an SEO expert.
Other Places to Find Free Writing Classes
While the Lynda.com courses are an awesome resource for freelance writers, there are other fantastic free resources available online. And if you’re not already working with WriterAccess, why not sign up, and start turning those writing skills into cash.
Clients rave about Marjorie R.‘s work. She has a clear, clean writing style and research skills honed as a law journal editor. She has written articles online for more than 15 years and has also written humor for American Greetings and crossword puzzles for the New York Times. She wrote an entertainment blog that was consistently in the top 5 in the Google search results, and at its peak was #1 out of a total of 66,499,997 results. She has a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Creative Writing/English from SF State, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law.