Being a freelance writer is not easy. There’s often a lot of hustle on my part with no follow-through on the other end as most editors are overwhelmed with too many people pitching them too many ideas.
I get that; it’s part of the process of being a freelancer and something I accept in order to have the kind of lifestyle I want. When I’m not writing or pitching ideas, I read many blogs, particularly ones on freelance writing. I almost always follow through on any that offer a free webinar on how to get different gigs, better pay, etc. because like everyone else, I need to eat and put gas in my car.
The other day, I signed up for a free webinar on how to make hundreds of dollars writing guest blog posts. I blocked out two hours in the middle of one of the nicest afternoons I’ve seen in months and logged into the site, notebook and pen in hand.
Along with over nine hundred other attendees, I listened to this guy tell me about himself and how much money he’s able to make per post. Now, this man is a legitimate businessman, with a persuasive speech, and I was willing to let him brag about himself for ten minutes or so, but what I really wanted was for him to get down to the nitty-gritty details and tell me how I could make even a fraction of what he does.
He broke his process into three different parts and as he moved from one slide to the next, I hurriedly jotted down notes, as I certainly didn’t want to miss out on the big moment when he’d finally reveal that one perfect thing to do to make the big bucks.
He even had a guaranteed method to make the kind of income I can only dream about right now. So, I scribbled some more and soon enough, I discovered that the one true way to make hundreds of dollars was to hire him to mentor me through his course. His class would give me all the details I needed that he couldn’t really elaborate on in just two hours. The catch was I had to sign up for his program immediately as he was going to only take on one hundred new students; when that level was reached, the doors would close.
I listened to all the things he’d offer me in the course, including personal critiques of my writing by one of his many, many assistants who would then pass the revised piece on to him for an even more personal critique by the big dog himself.
And I could pay for the class in six easy installments.
Like I said, this guy was persuasive; he had endorsements from editors who had printed work written by his students and he had statements from students who had taken the course and had begun to make some money writing for blogs. But that’s when I set down my pen because as I looked at the testimonials by his previous pupils, I recognized a name. One of his students had offered a webinar on how to make money marketing a product or service just the month before.
I’ve had a small cookbook published, so when I saw the webinar on marketing, I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a try. I took notes, asked questions, and when the instructor came to the end and pushed his marketing course, like hundreds of others, I took the bait. I signed up for the class within hours of taking the webinar because this guy was so convincing I could literally see my book sales jumping in leaps and bounds. Now, I’m not saying either man is not offering a legitimate product and service; they are. They have classes, videos, instructions, and feedback, the whole nine yards. And I’m not saying their methods don’t work; I haven’t finished the course I did buy, so I can’t say what the results will be.
I don’t like to be pushed!
But the reason I didn’t jump into the feeding frenzy and sign up for the blogging course through the second webinar is that I don’t like to be pushed. When I was little and trying to learn to dive into the swimming pool, my brother thought the best way to teach me was to push me off the edge. All I ever did was belly flop and I still don’t know how to dive.
I got pushed into that marketing course by the extremely clever and influential spiel of the instructor. Who wouldn’t want to take it, knowing hundreds, even thousands of dollars were just within reach, with only a modicum of effort on my part, and with this guy walking me through the process the whole time.
If it sounds too good to be true…
So, when the blog post instructor came to the end of the first forty-five minutes and started to pitch his course, I leaned back in my chair and just listened.
And then I began to read my notes that I had so hastily written on my yellow legal pad. What had I learned in all this time that I didn’t already know? Not much about how to write a guest post that would bring me more than a two-figure income. What I had been reminded of was this, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
This guy’s course cost $600 and he was limiting his students to one hundred, well, you do the math; that’s pretty good money for a two-hour webinar where only about thirty minutes are spent actually giving advice on how to get a good writing gig. So, after I heard a few of the questions and answers, primarily from people wondering if they could have just a few hours to think about signing up for the course before sending in their credit card numbers, I turned the webinar off and went outside. The sun was out, I had maple sap to collect, and a blog post was forming in my mind.
Lee E. Cart is a freelance writer who lives in Maine. You can view some of her writings and her blog at her professional site, Leeecart.com
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever signed up for a course because of sales pressure? Was it worth it? How do you resist sales pressure today? What writing classes have worked for you? Let’s talk it over in comments.