Are you looking for the best online writing courses to kick off your writing career? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
If your writing skills are already solid, you might just need a refresher course. If you’re new to writing, on the other hand, you might want a course that dives a bit deeper. Or maybe your goal is to start your own business as a freelance writer.
Trying to find a worthwhile course can be tough so I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the best online writing courses on the market right now to help you scale up your endeavors.
The courses in this list cater for a range of learning styles and include video tuition along with writing exercises.
So, if you’re ready to forge a new life for yourself with a career in writing, you should find a suitable online course without too much trouble. I’ve tried to include something for everyone.
Online Writing Courses vs In-Person Courses
Traditional in-person classes have a shower of benefits. The rapport a teacher has with their students and a lively classroom atmosphere can make learning more fun and more meaningful.
That said, not everyone has time to commute to classes. Often, that involves traveling some distance, and there’s the cost to consider as well. If you’ve ever attended night class after work, you’ll understand how grueling it can be to combine work and study.
Also, if you live in a remote area, you probably find that many courses are unavailable to you due to the distance. Online classes remove distance from the equation.
More people than ever are now heading online to develop their knowledge and skills. Universities hold their lectures and seminars online while many companies train their staff using online curricula.
Online courses are popping up everywhere right now. No matter what you want to learn, you’ll find a course to suit.
Benefits of Online Courses
Signing up for an online course rather than studying in-person confers certain benefits, such as:
- Online learning is flexible. Most courses allow you to work at your own pace so you can pick it up when the kids have gone to bed or during lunch.
- There’s no commute so you save time and money on travel. Online learning is location-independent. As long as you have a suitable device and an internet connection, you can learn at any time.
- More choice on subject matter. If you live outside of the metropolitan area, you might find that the more interesting courses are thin on the ground. Online learning removes physical distance giving you a much wider choice of classes.
- You can learn on your phone or tablet. A big advantage of online learning is the convenience of being able to use a device that slips in your bag. As long as you have mobile data or a WiFi connection, you can literally learn anywhere, any time.
Disadvantages of Online Lessons.
Online learning is more convenient, but in some ways you can’t beat the classroom environment.
- You need self-discipline. Many feel more motivated attending in-person classes due to the collaborative and competitive element that’s injected. With online learning, it’s easy to get distracted when an email pops up from a friend. It’s also easier to miss a deadline if you don’t have the humiliation of having to admit that “The dog ate my homework.”
- Technical difficulties. If your internet goes down, you can’t learn. With online classes you depend on a reliable internet connection and also on the equipment you’re using.
- Cost. The money you save from commuting to in-person lessons may need investing if you don’t have a suitable laptop or a stable internet connection.
Free Lessons vs Paid Lessons
You should definitely take advantage of any free online classes if they meet your needs. Some online classes offer a free trial lesson and others may offer some courses free but charge for extra services.
Teachers who offer classes on education platforms like Udemy sometimes offer free lessons until their course is more established and has accumulated a body of reviews. If their course is popular, they start charging.
Expensive courses are not always the best option. Do your research and read plenty of user reviews. A simple online search should reveal all the information you need. Paid courses tend to garner a wealth of reviews so you know you’re getting a certain overall quality along with valuable content.
The beauty of online courses is that you can explore a diverse range of niche subjects, no matter how specialized. If you can’t find a course that serves your niche, you could always devise a course of your own.
It’s time for the main event with my curated list of a dozen great writing courses.
12 Online Courses To Help You Make Money
If you’re going to start earning as a writer, you’ll need the right course to upscale your skills.
Maybe you need some inspiration to nail a specific narrative voice?
Or perhaps you want your characters to be more realistic and have depth?
Whatever the direction of your writing, you can find a course to inspire you and help you write more sophisticated, dynamic prose.
I’ve broken up this list of online courses by niche and writing style from freelance wiring and fiction writing through to more classic creative writing courses.
Freelance Writing Courses
These freelance writing courses do more than help you hone your prose. You’ll also get helpful, actionable tips and suggestions on finding clients.
This well-presented course promises to impart all the skills you need to start earning a living through writing in 30 days.
In this course, you’re guided on how to select a niche to focus on, how to set up your business, and how to pitch your services. The website is clean, engaging, and well designed with colorful graphics that are easy on the eye.
The course is advertised as a 30-day course, but you can study at your own pace. Some students complete the modules in a weekend, some take several months. It’s your call.
- The course contains 12 modules with a total of around 65 lessons
- 14 downloadable printables customized just for you
- Pitch tracker so you can chase up new business leads
- Video interviews with established writers
- A Pitch Like A Boss checklist
- Lifetime access to all online course materials
For an additional $33 a month, you can gain access to the VA Lead Community with access to job postings. The monthly fee also includes a free Flywheel WordPress hosting account.
You have two payment options to pay for the course. You can either make a one time payment of $297 or $89 a month for 3 months, so it’s cheaper to go for the payment plan.
This is a free course hosted by the educational platform Skillshare.
Brad Merrill’s is a journalist and entrepreneur. His series of videos on how to get freelance writing clients are fun, clear, and easy to unpack.
26 concise video lessons offer practical advice on how to set up a freelance writing business. The lessons are fun and illustrated with some neat doodle videos. Each lasts between 30 seconds and 7 minutes so it’s bite-sized fun.
The tips offered are practical and motivational.
Modules covered in the course include topics such as:
- Where to find freelance writing clients
- How to handle client feedback
- Maintaining focus under pressure
- Writing effective pitches to land new business
- How to stay productive as a freelancer
- Optimizing your tone and voice
- How to become a better writer
- Tools of the trade
- The mindset of a freelance writer
You can watch the whole course free by signing up to the Skillshare education platform. The platform offers a 14-day free trial of unlimited lessons.
A subscription to Skillshare costs $14 monthly or $99 a year when billed annually.
Transcribe Anywhere is a platform for transcribers and people who hire transcribers. The company offers two transcription courses:
- General Transcription Theory and Practice
- Legal Transcription Theory and Practice
The syllabus consists of written lessons with tuition on transcription equipment, software, and hardware.
The course covers relevant topics like establishing transcription skills and building a business. There’s a wealth of information about text expanders, shortcut keys, style guides, setting rates, and sample client contracts.
Once you’ve worked through the course material, explore 60 audio and video practice files. There are seven levels to work through. By the time you’ve completed the practice tutorials you will have the necessary skills to begin a freelance transcription service.
The General Transcription Theory and Practice course costs $597
Pay As You Go Options
Level 1: $127
Level 2: $362
Level 3: $597
Benefit from a discount if you buy both courses.
Proofread Anywhere has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Real Ways To Earn, Money Saving Mom, and Penny Saver.
Caitlin Pyle is a professional proofreader. Proofread Anywhere is the first multi-media transcription training site to help other wordies to forge a career in proofreading.
She offers two courses:
- General Proofreading: Theory and Practice
- Transcript Proofreading: Theory and Practice
General Proofreading is a course teaching the fundamentals of proofreading blogs and books. The goal is to show you how to set up as a freelance proofreader.
Transcript Proofreading is aimed at those who want to work with court transcription.
People who use the course can potentially start earning as a proofreader within 30 days. The course teaches technical skills as well as ways to find clients.
Proofread Anywhere costs $397.
Fiction Writing Courses
If you’ve always wanted to write that book, now’s the perfect time.
If you’re having difficulty getting started – and that’s often the hardest part - you’ll get a fuel injected shot of inspiration with these high-quality online fiction writing courses.
The Foundations of Fiction offers 6 hours of on-demand video lessons which focus on the main techniques authors use to craft memorable fiction.
The course is suitable for both beginners and experienced writers who want to write novels, short stories, memoirs, and flash fiction.
Many of the skills taught in this syllabus can also be used for screenwriting and playwriting.
The course content really gets you thinking about what makes stories and fiction work.
The syllabus helps fiction writers to develop interesting plot structures, write in a vibrant and catchy way, create convincing characters, and use the six functions that underpin successful fiction.
The course also offers 31 downloadable resources and full lifetime access to the online syllabus.
55 lectures cover an array of topics in depth. The videos are organized into six blocks of lessons each covering:
- Point of view
- Narrative style
The course inspires you to write every day and promises to vastly improve your ability to produce compelling fiction that keeps your reader glued to the page.
The course includes 25 writing exercises (called writing prompts) designed to inspire, release your creativity, and help you become a productive writer.
This course gets high ratings from over 2500 students with an average of 4.5 stars from 5.
The course costs $99 but it’s on offer for a limited time so check it out at your earliest convenience if you’re looking for a bargain.
This course is delivered by published author Steve Alcorn. He teaches you to write a novel using techniques professional writers use.
By the end of the 26 course hours, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to produce masterful fiction.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Dramatic elements
- Hook, backstory, and trigger
- Crisis, struggle, and epiphany
- Story idea
- Story outline
- Long-form content
- Plan like a pro
- Plot like a pro
- Write fiction like a pro
You can choose either the teacher-led course or the self-study course. The teacher-led course takes place monthly. With the self-paced course, you get access to the course materials for three months.
You’ll need from 6 to 12 weeks to complete the 24 course hours.
Testimonials of the course are overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, one previous student describes it as “life changing,” and another as “the best gift ever.” Some reviewers have had novels published since taking Steve’s course.
If you’re looking for inspiration and motivation to write like a professional, this course is highly recommended.
As the course is hosted by education platform Ed2Go, you need to subscribe to the site to access the course.
Both the instructor-led course and the self-paced course cost $149.
The Gotham Writer Fiction Catalogue offers a range of exciting writing courses for budding fiction writers who want to write short stories or novels.
The courses are delivered by different tutors who have dedicated time-slots. The unique feature of Gotham Writers Fiction courses is that you get feedback on your work.
Some of the courses are face-to-face sessions run in New York City, but many are conducted partially or entirely online using the teleconferencing software Zoom. Levels 1, 3, and 4 last for 10 weeks.
Writers who want to focus on a style of fiction can choose from a wide variety of types including:
- Novel writing
- Creative writing
- Children’s book writing
- Mystery writing
- Science fiction and fantasy writing
- Romance writing
- Comics and graphic novels
- Video game writing
There are also courses that zoom in on different aspects of creative writing such as:
The significant draw of Gotham Writers courses is the feedback you get from tutors and peers. You can have your long-term projects critiqued to gain inspiration on how to improve your writing.
Gotham Writers courses cost $409 for online Zoom tuition. For students who want face-to-face lessons, the course costs $435.
Have you ever wanted to learn fiction writing from the greats?
Learn to write from fiction masters like Margaret Atwood who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale and Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame. You can also pick up the art of short stories with the help of poet laureate Joyce Carol-Oates.
Masterclass is an online learning platform that teaches through highly polished on-demand videos.
The Masterclass learning platform features A-list writers from the fiction industry and has been mentioned by Today, NBC, New York Times, and Vanity Fair.
Each author has carefully crafted a syllabus to teach you the techniques that they use to bring their stories to life. Each course typically contains 25 lessons on the techniques used by each author.
Video lessons last for just 10 minutes so you can cram one in at lunchtime. The lessons are either delivered directly from the author, or show them working through examples with their students.
Lessons can be accessed from a mobile phone, table, or laptop at any time through the downloadable app.
A single class is $90 or you can purchase an all-access pass for $180 a year.
Creative Writing Courses
Writing creatively takes practice. It’s like you’re working a muscle.
Take your creativity to the next level with courses from published industry experts. Whether you write non-fiction, plays, television scripts or poetry, you’ll be able to find valuable tips and insights from industry professionals.
CreativeLive is a creative tuition marketplace aimed at creative professionals. To improve your writing skills, you can access video lessons on-demand.
Classes target various aspects of creative writing. For example, you could try the following:
- Wired for Story: How to Become A Story Genius by published author Lisa Cron
- Write Your Story by Joshua Mohr
- How to write a full-length memoir by Joyce Maynard
- How to write and publish an e-book by Tara Gentile
- Telling your truth through writing - A Conversation by Ayelet Waldman (FREE)
In these high-quality tutorial videos, successful writers share the tricks they use for their secret sauce. The classes are comprised of short, six-minute lessons over a total of six hours. They’re well-made and directed as you would expect from a professional creative.
Classes consist of a series of on-demand videos that can be streamed online or offline.
Some courses are offered free. Others cost from $49 to $149.
Promotional sales run from time to time so you can get access to courses at discounts of 50% and more.
If you’re going to do an online course, you might as well learn from the best in the world.
Masterclass features pre-recorded video lessons from some of the most famous writers alive today so you can follow at your own pace.
For valuable insights on how to improve your creative writing you could try the following lessons:
- Judy Blume’s Masterclass on writing techniques and building believable characters
- Learn to write for young and teen audiences by Goosebumps author R.L. Stine
- Shonda Rhimes teaches writing for television.
- Dramatic writing by David Mamet
Classes consist of around 26 lessons, each lasting approximately 10 minutes. These master classes from literary greats offer valuable advice on writing creatively and teach you to deal with rejection and criticism.
The classes are a rich source of inspiration. If you have writer’s block, sign up for a Masterclass course and get back on track.
Classes cost $90 or you can purchase an all-access annual pass for $180. This pass lets you watch as many lessons as you like. While not cheap, where else could you learn to write from Margaret Atwood?
The Writer’s Digest has classes suitable for beginners and experienced writers alike.
The Writer’s Digest University has online classes that cover everything related to writing and getting published.
If you’re more of an interactive learner, the Writer’s Digest incorporates webinars, virtual boot camps, virtual conferences, and online workshops.
The Writer’s Digest University has many classes focused on getting your work published in a competitive marketplace with classes such as:
- Sell books on a shoestring budget ($149)
- How to catch an agent’s interest with your first pages ($249)
- Pitch an article: write for today’s marketplace ($149.99)
The Writer’s Digest University also has a choice of online classes aimed at improving the quality of writing like:
- Fearless writing ($299.99)
- 12 weeks to a first draft ($629.99)
Classes with the Writer’s Digest University have their own price set by the course creator. Prices range from $149 to $799.
This is a free course created by Fiona Veitch Smith, a working journalist, author, editor, screenwriter, and playwright.
The modules in Fiona’s course are aimed at improving the quality of your writing. Topics included cover:
- Releasing your creativity
- How to write a short story
- Writing from a specific point of view
- Bringing your writing to life
- Writing characters
- Writing dialogue
- Poetry: How to write poems
- Markets, competitions and opportunities
The tutor originally started the course as an adult learning program for creative writers at University level. Beginners or those writing at an intermediate level will get most benefit from this course.
Access to the course content is free but it doesn’t include feedback. Fiona does, however, offer a separate critique service for:
- Magazine articles up to 1200 words
- Adult short stories up to 3000 words
- Critiques of letters to agents are charged at $25
- Fiona charges $50 for proofreading non-fiction up to 1500 words
How to Choose The Best Online Writing Course For You
So, how do you choose which course gets your hard-earned cash?
The best approach is to ask yourself why you are you writing. What do you want to achieve with your writing?
Do you want to find a literary agent? Or are you simply struggling with the mechanic of writing?
The course you choose will largely be determined by your niche. If you write for young readers, for example, a Masterclass by the Goosebumps author would be ideal. If you’re writing about a dark dystopia, though, you’d probably be better off taking a class by Margaret Atwood.
If you’re operating on a tight budget, try to make the most of any free lessons or special offers.
What’s your learning style? Do you prefer to listen passively and then write? Or are you the type of learner that learns best while doing? If you learn by doing, you’ll want a course featuring interactive exercises, or at minimum a course that gives feedback on your work.
Another consideration is your schedule. If you don’t have much time and there’s a time limit on your course, maybe it’s best you choose a course offering lifetime access. Don’t set yourself up for a fall here.
Well, I hope that I’ve shed enough light on the best online writing courses to help you decide which one suits your learning style, budget, niche, or writing style.
If you choose wisely, there’s no reason you can’t hone your skills and go on to earn a living from writing in the way that most suits.
I’d love to know if you end up trying any of these suggestions. If you have, leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to get back to you personally.