Make Your Online Writing (and Social Media) Pay

4-week course taught by Jane Friedman

Who This Course Will Help

This course is for both unpublished and published book authors who wonder what they could or should be doing to market and promote themselves through online writing—whether that’s blogging, guest blogging, micro-publishing through social media, or contributing to sites such as Medium, The Huffington Post and other large clearinghouses of content.

The challenge for most book writers is that they haven’t had any professional experience or training in writing short pieces (or even social media posts!) that are ultimately skimmed quickly in online environments—particularly mobile environments. Writers have heard that blogging, or producing content for social media sites, can be an effective way to build a readership, but don’t understand how that happens especially when they have no audience and are unpublished.

This course helps authors make themselves and their work more visible through strategically written online pieces, that get distributed and marketed to the right audiences, in order to develop their author platform and build a readership over the long-term of their careers.

This course is about making your online writing efforts, especially those with a marketing intent, have a measurable and meaningful payoff—whether for your website/blog, social media, or someone else’s site. We’ll look at content strategies, measurement tools, marketing and promotion tactics, and specific ways to make your online content put money in your pocket.

What This Course Specifically Teaches

This course offers a comprehensive foundation in the best practices of online writing—including blogging and how it can make a difference to the growth of your author career.

It’s critical to understand how online writing is different from writing that appears only in print, so you’ll get a crash course in how to write in a way that’s friendly for online reading habits, as well as optimized for search engines—to increase your writing’s discoverability and traffic over time.

You’ll learn the secrets of shareable & spreadable content, the best ways to grow a loyal readership, and how to attract more opportunities (and improve your writing skills!) by posting great content.

The course is broken down into four big-picture units, further described below. Each unit offers a series of mini-lessons (about 5 to 10 minutes each) that build on each other. It will take you about four full hours to go through all of the instruction. Lessons are presented as audio-visual lectures that you can listen to (download an MP3) or watch on any device (video/screencast).

About the Instructor

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She started blogging professionally in 2008 while working for Writer’s Digest, and now runs an award-winning blog at her website,, which enjoys 200,000 visits every month.

Because of her expertise in digital media, Jane was hired by the Virginia Quarterly Review to relaunch their website and begin a digital subscription program, in addition to reviving its social media accounts and developing a blog content strategy. After leaving VQR in 2014 to pursue freelancing full-time, Jane has gone on to advise other literary journals, publishers, and organizations on their online presence.

Jane is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors; she regularly delivers keynotes on the future of authorship at a range of conferences, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, and HippoCamp, among others. She has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).

What the Course Includes

  • Four hours of instructional lecturesthat you can listen to or watch on your own time, at your own convenience
  • Weekly assignmentsfor completion at your own pace—designed to help you put what you learn into action.
  • Suggested readings and resourcesfor you to continue your study and become more advanced in your skills.
  • Weekly online office hours(1 hour) where you can chat with Jane in real time (video, audio, and text).

Week 1: Best Practices of Online Writing and Blogging

You’ll learn the do’s and don’ts of writing for an online audience, and how to write headlines that get clicks and shares. You’ll learn how to develop a content strategy, the best practices of online writers and professional bloggers (those who do it for a living), as well as seven principles every blogger should follow. We’ll discuss the importance of visuals and how to find images to complement your work, as well as how to assign categories and tags to your content.

While this unit will recommend and reference specific blogging tools, such as WordPress, it will not cover the technical aspects of setting up a blog.

Week 2: Understanding Search Engine Optimization

Some writers are intimidated by the concept of SEO or search engine optimization. But there’s no need to be. Learning about SEO doesn’t mean becoming a tech wizard; it’s more about the principles that help your website or your work get “seen” and picked up on by search engines. Most of the principles will feel like common sense once you know them. You’ll learn about SEO in terms that are easy to understand and easy to apply to your online presence and online content.

Week 3: Marketing and Promoting Your Blog or Online Writing

You’ll learn the most effective ways to spread the word about your writing and how to share on social media in a way that’s not annoying to people, but useful and entertaining. You’ll learn how to use Google or WordPress analytics to analyze your performance and spend your time on content that actually matters to your long-term visibility and readership. We’ll talk about using and building email newsletters in tandem with your online writing and blog content as well.

Week 4: Monetizing Your Blog or Website

If you have a website or blog that enjoys reliable traffic week after week, then it’s possible to monetize that traffic, even if it’s a modest amount. Mostly what it takes is a bit of imagination, combined with a compelling offer or interesting content for your visitors. It also helps to know what tools and services are out there (commonly known as e-commerce tools) to help you in your monetization effort—to spark ideas for engaging or appealing to readers. This unit will discuss ideas and tools to that progress from easy to complex. Unless you have a business or entrepreneurial background, it’s smart to start with a few small experiments before you level up to more involved offerings.