Learning with Coursera: The 7 Best Online Courses for Freelance Writers

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If you’re a freelance writer looking to expand your skillset and build a steady income stream, you should consider signing up for massive open online courses. These programs are becoming increasingly widespread, and the world’s leading universities offer them at a fraction of the price of attending face-to-face.

Online learning through video formats is popular among writers with limited time to attend lectures. These free online courses can still help you learn the necessary skills to take your writing career to the next level. Here are some of my picks from Coursera, one of the biggest online learning platforms:

Building Your Freelancing Career

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Offered by the California Institute of the Arts
Five-course specialization
Suited for beginners

Do you want to go from surviving gig-to-gig to maintaining a steady flow of income through your own freelancing business? How about gaining the confidence to leave your steady but stifling job and launch a more rewarding career that will let you pursue your passions? In this specialization, learn how to overcome imposter syndrome and get paid for your talents by equipping yourself with the basic skills to operate your career and avoid running out of money through financial planning and a business plan.

Skills you will gain: Marketing, strategy and operations, leadership and management, personal branding, entrepreneurship

Business Writing

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Offered by the University of Colorado Boulder
Part of a specialization on Effective Communication
Suited for beginners

Writing well is one of the most important skills you can develop to be successful in business. This online course will teach you how to apply the top ten principles of good business writing to your work, deploy simple tools to dramatically improve your writing, and execute organization, structure, and revision to communicate more masterfully than ever. Over 70 companies and 30,000 students—from professional writers to new employees to non-native English speakers to seasoned executives—have used the techniques in this course to power their ability to communicate and launch their ideas.

Skills you will gain: Grammar, communication, business writing, writing

Content Strategy for Professionals

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Offered by Northwestern University
Five-course specialization
Suited for beginners

Content strategy uses credible and transparent media to communicate stories and information to enhance an organization’s strategic goals. In this specialization, learn best practices from recognized industry and academic experts on creating and implementing engaging content across media platforms that the people you want to reach will value.

You’ll learn how to engage your audience by implementing their stories and using proven tools and techniques to enhance an audience’s experience and interests. You’ll manage content once created by learning how best to tell an organization’s story across media platforms using a human-centered design. You’ll also learn actionable ways to grow internal and external audiences and expand your content’s reach.

Skills you will gain: Communication strategy, brand management, user experience, target audience, content marketing, content creation

Good with Words: Writing and Editing

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Offered by the University of Michigan
Four-course specialization
Suited for beginners

The most important thing students and professionals of all kinds can do to improve their effectiveness is to embrace the following advice: become good with words. This series of courses targets the writing side. It focuses on everything from arranging complex information in a reader-friendly way to giving and receiving high-quality feedback and consistently hitting deadlines.

Skills you will gain: Persuasion, creativity, writing, time management, editing

High-Impact Business Writing

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Offered by the University of California, Irvine
Part of a specialization on Career Success
Suited for beginners

Effective writing is a powerful tool in the business environment. Learn how to articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely, allowing your ideas to be better understood by your readers. Improve your business writing skill by learning to select and use appropriate formats for your audience, use the correct medium and adjust your writing style accordingly, and identify your objective and communicate it clearly.

Skills you will gain: Email writing, proofreading, writing, communication, business writing

The Strategy of Content Marketing

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Offered by the University of California, Davis
Suited for intermediate learners

This course is a partnership between Copyblogger and UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. In this course, you will learn core strategies to acquire and retain customers profitably. Specifically, you will learn how to develop, organize and implement a content marketing strategy, analyze and measure the effectiveness of content marketing, write compelling copy, use a strategic framework when writing, and build your professional brand and authority through content marketing.

Skills you will gain: Management, content marketing, copywriting, writing

Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

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Offered by the University of Pennsylvania

Ever wondered why some things become popular and others don’t? Why do some products become hits while others flop?  Why do some ideas take off while others languish? What are the key ideas behind viral marketing? This course explains how things catch on and helps you apply these ideas to market your ideas, brands, or products more effectively. You’ll learn how to make ideas stick, increase your influence, generate more word of mouth, and use the power of social networks to spread information and influence.

Skills you will gain: Social network, viral marketing, marketing, marketing strategy

About the author

Carla Tensuan is a freelance writer, editor, and communications specialist. She specializes in crafting blog content, creative copy, and press releases. She enjoys listening to podcasts, reading books, and practicing yoga in her free time. She lives with her husband in Manila, Philippines.