In Review Part 2: MediaBistro’s Copywriting for the Web Online Course

ad copywriting certificateThis week I got feedback on Assignment #1. So, let’s discuss.

My assignment was to write about myself and my online identity. I put together a one-page narrative with links to my website, blog, social media accounts, and the sites where I contribute content. A few days later, the instructor returned the assignment with commentary. I’ve excerpted some of that feedback (mainly the critique) to help you get a feel for what goes onside inside the virtual classroom.

The Short Version

For any of you who don’t care to pick through the details, here are my thoughts on this week in a nutshell:

  • If these courses pay for themselves in any way, it’s in instructor feedback. They spend a lot of time writing thoughtful commentary.
  • I don’t think many people take Mediabistro’s Copywriting courses to learn; I think they take them to learn to make money. I find this a little off-putting, but I realize that I am the weird one here with the social organizing background and the liberal arts education. The vast majority of students I’ve encountered so far are marketers and advertisers through and through.

About My Website

emily suess copywriter“Think about the proportion of that top banner compared to the portfolio samples and the elements beneath it on the home page. It’s great to see you and to have that hero shot of the city that places you in IN, but perhaps if the other elements were bigger you could explain more the business challenges along with the samples in one shot rather than the ‘…’ to the subpages.”

The instructor had more to say about improving my website, most great suggestions except for one thing: I’m working off a template. Changes to the writing? That I can do. Changes to design? Imma need a bigger budget for that. For now the size of site elements and the “…” cutoffs are beyond my control.

So I got some useful feedback, but I’ll have to bookmark it for later.

UPDATE 4/13: Thanks to some helpful people on the internet, I’m able to make some of the suggested changes to my website. Hooray!

About My Social Media Accounts

“I think your LI is looking fine for the most part, but your Twitter seems kind of all over the place, and while most people use this channel as a microblog, if you are selling social strategy remember those that want to hire you are probably holding your feed to a higher standard …. Your Facebook seems more focused on the author challenges, and while I am sympathetic, I would suggest keeping the publishing content about the pitfalls of the business separate from the marketing writing one. Suess’s Pieces also got kind of lost at the bottom of many of your web site pages.”

My Tweets are all over the place, but my God are they ever representative of the things that matter to me. I started the @EmilySuess account in 2010, and most of my followers would wonder what the hell happened to me if I limited myself to updates designed to impress potential clients or employers.

For me Twitter truly is social. I chat with people I like. I stay in touch with real-life friends. And I think this has worked for me so far for two reasons: 1) I’m a part-time freelancer and 2) I am my own brand right now. If a potential client doesn’t like that I’m vocal about women’s rights or they think retweeting my friend’s giveaway is off-topic, I’d probably find working for them a soul-crushing experience. They’re choosy. I’m choosy. It works out in the end.

But! I do realize where the instructor’s coming from. I’m not sure a separate business account is the way to go, but I’m giving it some serious thought. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of client accounts to share during the application/proposal process for new gigs.

My excuse for Facebook is that I post what engages people. Ninety-nine percent of my Facebook followers are fellow writers, not clients. When I attempted posting client-focused content, it just bombed. That’s life on the internet.

small business bonfireAbout Writing for Small Business Bonfire

“[The Small Business Bonfire] seems like a colorful, energetic site, but unless they are paying you … why not just write about similar topics on your other blog or sites instead?”

Of course they pay me. People think this a lot—that I write for Bonfire for free—I can’t figure out why. It worries me, though, for reasons I don’t care to get into at the moment.

About Writing Self-Publishing Content

“Well, you obviously know a lot about this topic and just from glancing at some of your publishing posts, I share many of your concerns …. My question here too is whether it is worth your time to offer this advice for free rather than teaching a class about it down the road or being on a panel where you get some sort of compensation?  I believe writers should really strive to get paid or compensated on practically everything that they do, and I see that you are really busy with your job and already have so many outlets, so I guess consolidation is what I am pushing as a thing to consider.”

Back to the money thing. I get it—that’s why most people are taking this course.

I would never suggest a writer write for free or for the promise of “exposure” ever. I believe in making money for what I do. But, dude, money isn’t everything. Writing about self-publishing and teaching authors how to not get scammed by dubious assholes? That’s a labor of love. I will never charge a penny to share what I’ve learned about the industry. Ever.

In fact, the The Self-Publishing Services Directory is making other people money. I’m okay with that.

More next week!

Want to read past posts? Browse the Ad Copywriting Certificate Review Archive


Emily paid the full price for enrollment in Mediabistro.com’s Ad Copywriting Certificate program and is not being compensated in any way for her reviews.

About Emily Suess

Emily Suess is a technical marketing writer by day and a freelance copywriter by night. And, no, she's not related to Dr. Seuss.