Nobody gets very far as a freelance writer without learning from others. I’ll always be indebted to a handful of great editors I had early on in my career who were willing to take the time to show me how to interview better, write sharper, and develop great story ideas. I’d be nowhere without them.
In this new-media world, there are so many people putting themselves forward as “experts,” it’s boggling. A lot of them are absolutely full of it, too. To sum up a lot, anybody who promises if you buy their book/e-course/video series/what-all that you will make thousands on autopilot…run.
I was watching a Webinar from one very hot blog-monetizing guru the other day, and discovered he advocated doing things that are against American law. You really have to watch out who you annoint as your oracle.
This made me think it’s time to salute the handful of writing and blogging experts who have helped me to earn more each year since I started freelancing again in 2005. I couldn’t possibly elect one as more amazing than another, so they’re listed alphabetically.
These wonderful people all helped me understand and succeed in the world of online content. Full disclosures about the ways they may have personally helped my career are included below…but they each made the list because I believe they are the genuine article. They share generously of their knowledge, much of it given out free. Thanks to all. Know that you’ve made a difference.
- Leo Babauta. I love that Leo ends up first in this list, because he was the first thought leader I discovered when I started blogging. I got his free eBook on how he got his first 100,000 subscribers for his Zen Habits blog. I think it’s still the best guidebook to blog-monetizing success out there, at any price. I’m thrilled to be learning even more in Leo’s A-List Blogger Club right now. Leo was a civil servant on Guam when he started blogging — which to me says, if he could turn it into a full-time living, so could you.
- Peter Bowerman. I have to thank my writer-friend Sharon Baker for asking me if I was getting Peter’s Well-Fed Writer email newsletter. I wasn’t. But once I started, he lit a fire under me that adding some copywriting to my writing mix would raise my income, bring me fun new challenges, and improve my life. I started putting feelers out, and got a $1 billion corporate client for which I wrote hundreds of pages of Web content. My entire family thanks you, Peter, since I took them on an Alaska cruise with the money I made from that unexpected windfall. Now, copywriting is a regular part of my mix, and it’s made a real difference in my income.
- Brian Clark. I know people are going to think I put Brian in here just because I’m guesting on Copyblogger now. But I don’t know that he had anything to do with that, really — that was Jon Morrow (see below) and Sonia Simone. I’m including Brian because his post 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer is still my favorite all-time post in the history of blogging. A masterpiece of brevity that inspires me daily.
- Nathan Hangen. Successful multitaskers impress me, and Nathan has to be the ultimate example. He started his social-media marketing consultancy while he was deployed in Afghanistan. I still find myself frequently giving out one of the key pieces of blogging advice he gives in my eBook: Don’t give up before it pays off.
- Mary Jaksch. Leo’s right-hand woman at Write to Done and A-List Blogger Club partner is one of the most extraordinary people I have ever encountered. She lives in New Zealand and is a Zen Master — one who writes arresting copy like “Prepare to make a shi#)!load of cash.” She’s frank, funny, and utterly unique. Her free training video about how her blog Goodlife Zen sucked when she first started it, and how she fixed it and became a financially independent blogger, is amazing. I started changing my site immediately after viewing.
- Chris Marlow. A free teleclass I took from Chris about earning from blogging and social media a year or two back truly changed my life. I had never considered going after this sort of business…until Chris told me her study data showed $300 an hour was the typical rate! I would never have ended up earning up to $5,000 a month from blogging and social-media work without her insight.
- Jon Morrow. If it hasn’t been said by someone already, let me be the first to call Jon Morrow the Stephen Hawking of blogging. Truly brilliant writer operating in a supremely uncooperative body. I do not include him here because he found and read me on Twitter and asked me to write my first Copyblogger post. He’s here because if you want to understand exactly how $1 million bloggers got where they are and how you can do it too, there’s no more concise way to find out than through his stylish videos on GuestBlogging.com. I’ve been using his tips like mad the past few months, and I’m here to tell you, they work.
- Darren Rowse. I’d heard about Darren for ages, and read ProBlogger, but he’s really on here for the guest trainings he’s done for A-List Blogger Club. Yes, he retweeted me Friday and sent so many people over it made my site crash…but he’s here because I appreciate the detailed advice he’s sharing about how blogging and social media really work.
- Michael Stelzner. This is the man who taught me about white papers and what a great earning opportunity — and fun format to write — they are. Sure glad I read up, as I ended up with an opportunity to write a $5,000 white paper for a Fortune 500 company not long afterwards, and recently stumbled onto a $3,000 white-paper opportunity. These days, I often find myself on his new Social Media Examiner site, taking in terrific free information on how to hack your way through the social-media jungle.
- The Wealthy Freelancer team – Ed Gandia, Pete Savage & Steve Slaunwhite. Most newsletters I get, sometimes I read them and sometimes I don’t. The Wealthy Freelancer newsletter is the one I read every time, and usually forward to the writers I’m mentoring as well, to make sure they’re getting it. This trio never fails to shed some new insight into how to earn more. I also loved the training course Pete Savage once did on how he found $64,000 of new business off one direct-mail campaign.
Who’s your guru? I’d love to hear about other new-media thinkers who have inspired readers of this blog. Leave a comment and tell us about who you’ve been learning from below.
Photo via Flickr user wonderlane
Disclosure: I proudly recommend all the books and products mentioned above. If you click on their links, in some cases I will get a commission.