When to Invest In Your Writing

October 6, 2011

We can only teach ourselves so much.

You can practice, practice, practice. You can read blog posts and watch YouTube tutorials. You can — and this is my favorite — closely watch others who successfully do what you want to do and see how they do it.

But if you really want to take your writing to the next level, at some point you’ll probably have to invest in it. And yes, I’m talking about investing real money. Paying to take a class, whether it’s online or in person. Or paying an editor to make your prose shine. Or even paying a coach to help you reach your goals. At some point, you’ll need the guidance of others to come out at the top of your game.

I believe in investing in myself — especially since I no longer have a company to pay for me to attend trainings or conferences (not that journalism outlets do that much anyhow) — and yet I still find myself stalling before I press that “pay” button. Because every dollar I put into training is one less dollar in my savings account.

But then I remind myself: I’ll be able to earn more if I can do my job better. I’ll be able to charge a higher hourly rate and think of more creative ways to use my communication skills if I have more training under my belt. In other words, if I play it right, I should get the money I invest into training back two-fold (or three-fold or more).

So I’m sitting here tonight staring at Ev Bogue’s Get Paid to Write class. The price is steep: $347 for a month-long course, and that’s if you sign up before Friday. On Friday, the price goes up to $547.

Ev is a writer I only recently discovered who makes a (six-figure) living off his paid newsletter. Creating a paid newsletter is at the top of my list of priorities for next year, and that’s what this class is about. It’s perfect for me.

But is it worth $347? That’s a hell of a lot of money for someone who’s staring her own business.

It’s also an investment. And all the ah-ha moments I share with you on this blog don’t come without investments. They come from hard work and occasionally putting money into my own training so I can improve my skills and become a better writer.

So while I sit here staring at the “pay” button, I ask you: What’s the best investment you’ve made in your writing?

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    14 Replies to “When to Invest In Your Writing”

    • Sarah says:

      Ha, ha.. You!

      You are so right, at some point, you can only teach yourself so much. I am also attending a blog conference this winter – and paying a steepish price for it – but I know I’ll learn information I can’t learn online. To help me make a decision, I think, well, can I teach myself a little more or have I really reached the end of my rope? That helps me decide if the invest is worthy.

    • Joanna Penn says:

      Hi Lexi, I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of this course. I invested a similar amount in a blogging course by Yaro Starak a few years back which was absolutely the best investment a newbie online could do.
      But in terms of writing, the biggest investment was moving to 4 days a week , 80% of my full time income which I did 3 years ago. That enabled me to build a platform and write 4 books over 3 years, and recently (as you know) have made the leap to fulltime author entrepreneur. I was an IT contractor earning very good money so that was a considerable sum that I lost in earnings to follow a dream.
      It was worth every penny.

    • Alyssa says:

      YES! I wrote about this too once (http://alyssacmartino.com/2010/02/feedback-wanted-from-writers-bloggers-creative-professionals-and-you/), asking my blog readers how to best invest in myself and what the options were. At the time, the answer was hiring someone to design my website/blog. It was pricey but I’ve never regretted it and it’s a great way to get freelance work and look professional. But since then I’ve invested in myself by taking two writing classes as well. And I never hesitate to put money I earn freelancing back into myself since I also have a f/t job. I know the situation is different as a slasher, but I say go for it!!

    • Annika says:

      Yeah, I only recently figured out the ‘need to invest’ bit, so I’m starting Jon Morrow’s course on the 15th. I had a similar moment of pause when my mouse hovered over the Pay button but like you said, investing in ourselves is probably one of the best ways we’ll ever spend our money. Good luck in Ev’s course! Hope we get to hear more about it.

    • This is such a hard subject for writers who are doing something they love, but “on the side.” We want to be professional writers and take our writing careers seriously, but when writing isn’t what’s actually paying the bills (and often even when it is), we want to be careful of putting money into the wrong classes. The wrong conferences. Or even the wrong editors and coaches.

      But you’re so right. Eventually, we have to put forth the money to take ourselves to the next level. All professional careers require continuing education to keep ourselves thinking beyond what we already know. Writing should be no different.

    • Classes are one of my best investments. I know I can get the same material in a book, but I enjoy the feedback and interaction in a class setting. There are so many classes available these days. I always appreciate it when a blogger or writer reviews a class or shares the benefits of the class/program.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think the biggest investment has to be taking the time to write and rewrite things so that they will be appealing to users and not just myself 🙂

      I am also considering the Trvel Blogger Course offered by David Lee at Go Backpacking.

    • Mindy says:

      I think writing conferences are a worthwhile splurge. I always learn something new and make new friends, but I think the best part is that I leave with a renewed enthusiasm for what I do. I’ve been able to get in free at a few by volunteering to help out or write up an article about a session for the sponsor’s newsletter.

    • Prime says:

      Hi Lexi, like Joanna, one of my biggest “investment” as a writer is to quit a well-paying job and work on a job with lower pay but gives me a semi-flexi sched (I’m only needed in the office 3x a week). this allows me to build my travel blog and as small writing biz on the side. I also consider it an “investment’ the fact that I turned down a promotion and refused to work in another major news wire as they take up so much of my time.

      Having said that, I also made more “active” investments to hone my writing as I can no longer rely on free (company-sponsored) journalism seminars. I hired a writing coach who I consult from time to time, buy books, participated in Ali Luke’s Write On and Blog On e-courses and joined a paid membership group for freelance writers. I also dropped serious money (a grand) for two business courses – Earn 1k and We Mastermind. So to me, I invested in my writing because to me, writing is not just a hobby or a passion project (it is a passion, fyi). But more than that, writing is a means to build a business so I really need to make some serious investments.

    • Jennifer says:

      I was just hovering over the Pay button today. I’m a poet, and unless you’re Billy Collins poetry doesn’t pay so I have to be really choosey about when to pay. I have invested in some poetry workshops and I know they improve my work, but I have to select them very carefully. (Fortunately for creative writers there are lots of opportunities to put together or join personal critique groups, which can be very helpful. But the two workshops I paid for – honestly, those were the best, because I held out for an amazing teacher.)

    • DJ says:

      did you pull the trigger and sign up for the course?
      if so- what did you learn?
      thanks DJ

      • Alexis Grant says:

        I did! Unfortunately, the class ended up not being a good fit for me (too elementary). Luckily, the creator offered a money-back guarantee, which he generously offered me after the course. One big lesson here though: When I offer a course, I’ll be specific about who it’s for and what level it is, so the *right* group of people sign up.

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