Start-up Guide for Online Writers – course review

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Kate Motaung sent an email out to students who have taken this course, Start-up Guide for Online Writers.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the price of this course goes up to $29.99.  However, it’s still on sale today for $19.99.  If you are considering investing in your writing self, this is a good day to take the plunge and make a commitment to YOU. Nothing good happens without commitment. Right?

Here’s the link from Kate’s email. https://learning.fistbumpmedia.com/course/startup-guide-online-writers/?ref=3 

If you miss the deadline, it’s OK. The resources you will find in this course are valuable even at the higher price.

 

Giant strides learning comes from small pervasive steps …

A few weeks ago, I was invited into a learning experience shared with fellow writers whose audience is virtual. In today’s environment it’s common to refer to the virtual meeting via satellite or virtual classroom via an online learning management system. When I think of writing articles or books for a virtual audience it seems so mysterious and unconventional. So I was eager to join this group and immerse myself in learning from Kate Motaung, seasoned, professional author and founder of 5-minute Friday, an online community that supports writers improving their craft.

This course is an excellent value. Based on the education provided for writers in general and because there were so many resources, I found this course to be remarkable for seasoned writers as well as those who are just getting started. First, I thought it helpful that Kate Motaung understood that some enrollees in the course might be new to online courses. The very first lesson was all about becoming acclimated to taking an online course. The remaining Units of the course continued to provide a broad spectrum of information every writer of online content needs to know.

I appreciated the practical advice about having a website and the impact your email list has on your blog or business. I remember that even in the decades before email, it was the mail list that was scrupulously maintained because it ranked high in getting noticed. Let me tell you, having done both, maintaining an email list is easier.

One of the greatest benefits to me in taking this course was becoming familiar with different writing tools and supporting Apps. Here are just a few of the ones I have checked out and am now using or plan to purchase because of what I learned in this Start-up Guide for Online Writers. Evernote was a given, as I have used it for the last few years. I use Buffer to schedule social media posts and Canva to create the images. I am looking forward to using Scrivner which I have heard is like Word on steroids. I found out about so many other apps that helped either with creative thinking or actual writing, I must decide when I can work them into my schedule to try them. I expect them to be a great asset.  

The pitch to join the social media crowd was sound. If you are going to write for online audiences, you have to go where your audiences are. Kate advised us to get accounts at least on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t spend much time there, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ also open the playing field to readers of your articles and posts.

I found the writer’s tools in the Module, Get the Resources You Need, to be priceless. I learned about Link-ups for bloggers, which surprised me. I sometimes participate in Kate Motaung’s 5-Minute Friday Link-up and had no clue that it was this type of venue. Here’s what blew me away though. From her knowledge and experience, Kate Motaung listed many names, blogs, websites, and programs of professionals who have been doing this online writing for years. They have perfected their crafts and Kate included links to their blogs and publications. That Unit of the course is a goldmine for students of this course who want to seek mentors and coaches in the future. 

What I found in this course that added to its value were the lessons on things like podcasting, reading books to strengthen my craft as a writer, searching out other courses, and learning from experts. There was also a lesson all about affiliate marketing, what it is, how it works, and what to do if you want to try it out.

I realize this course was designed primarily for writers whose audiences are online, but so much of what I read was universal and could apply to writers of any venue. Writing articles and books for real-life paper and ink publication has so many parallels with writing for online audiences, I recommend this course for anyone who wants to write and create a platform to be noticed. The value of content-to-cost makes this a viable purchase with benefits for both the online writer and traditional writer. I wandered around on Amazon while taking this course and bought Kate Motaung’s e-book, Start-up Guide for Online Christian Writers, so I would have a Kindle version of this course available quickly when I wanted a reference to what I learned.

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Stand Up & Stand Out OR Stand Down & Stand In – Which were you created for?

On Sunday our pastor talked about Narcissus. Remember him? He was that hunter guy from Greek mythology who was known for his ‘beauty’. He loved himself so much he couldn’t love anyone else. One day he was lured to a pool of water where he saw his own reflection and was so enamored by his own looks that he somehow died. Over the years I’ve heard a few versions of the story about how Narcissus died, but every story ends in death by self-absorption.

I couldn’t help wondering about where the line is drawn between narcissism, which is excessive love of self, and the balanced love of self we learn from scripture. The line is blurred and there is no distinctive white on one side and black on the other. In his message our pastor used 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 to help us understand the truth of how God says we are to think about ourselves. He said there are small things and there are big things. Small things are the opinions that others have of us while the big thing is what God thinks of us.  Well, not the collective us, but the individual us – as in me.

Those thoughts spiraled through my mind all night because I wondered, “What does God think of me?” Because of the work I do, I’m constantly exposed to social media. I’m on Facebook. LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and when I write a book review, they are published on Amazon, Goodreads, and at Bizcatalyst360. I’m sure you could find my name showing up in other places, like this blog. Is that OK with God? Daily, I’m urged to put myself out there, take risks, be more. I’m told, “You have to promote yourself.” But is that what God says he expects of me? Please don’t get me wrong. There are over 7 billion people in the world, people from every angle converging on every platform clamoring, to be noticed. Millions were created to be noticed, we can’t all be participants of civilization content to blend into the background. Some are called to stand up and stand out while others are called to stand down and stand in.

I’ve been criticized and told that I’m a complete failure at selling myself. But I’ve  had a lot of practice getting to know me and I can say with some assurance I’m in the stand in category. I was born to stand in for others. God calls it helping and I can show you in 1 Peter 4:11 that standing down and standing in is a gift. “If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. Everything should be done in a way that will bring honor to God because of Jesus Christ.” People with the gift of speaking are of the stand up and stand out variety, I on the other hand am the stand down and stand in helper.

Taking our pastor’s sincere message to heart though I found my Bible the next morning and started doing some self-examination. I realized in this blog I often use the words me, my, and I.  Could that suggest narcissism? When I use my own experiences to encourage others, it’s not to impress upon anyone that I have it all figured out, it’s not to imply that I’ve reached some lofty level of achievement or that I’ve arrived. My motives are to help others understand that despite how complicated their circumstances, God can work them out; to share a glimmer of hope when life feels hopeless. Through scripture my intent is like the story Paul told in Acts 2:25-26” What David said are really the words of Jesus, “I always see the Lord near me, and I will not be afraid with him at my right side. Because of this, my heart will be glad, my words will be joyful, and I will live in hope.”

Having joy and living in hope will never come from a prideful heart – a heart described as soul-empty. This contrast is made clear in the Message translation of Habakkuk 2:4 “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.” Soul-empty. Even the sound of it is demoralizing. Think about it. Self-importance is the same as self-defeating. Which would you rather be, full of hope or soul-empty?

God urges us to be humble; not self-deprecating, not humiliated, but humble. C.S. Lewis said “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Ephesians 4:2 says “Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other.” When God looks at me and when he sees my heart, I want his seal of approval on my motives. What motivates me? Hebrews 10:24 describes what my heart desires “We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things.” Am I always successful? Not always. I have this human factor that breeds imperfection. I could be a complete washout by human standards, but God knows my heart and it’s his opinion that matters.

Millions of people want to be superior, need to feel superior and that means they have to care what the other 7 billion people think of them. My concern is what one God says about me. What does the Lord require of me? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8. If that’s your goal too, Galatians 6:9 promises “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

What’s your life of choice? The merry-go-round or the roller coaster?

Two months ago, we said good bye to 2014 and as I reflected on the year, I was thinking, “This was a pretty good year. Finally, no hospitalizations, no real trauma, life is good.” I don’t think I was smug or proud; just thankful for 12 months of relative calm with only a few spins along the way to keep me focused on who is really in charge, God who controls all things. So far 2015 has not been a cookie cutter of the pivotal year 2013. Maybe your experiences have left you calling out to God too, like I have done in the past. I admit it.  I’ve sometimes even yelled at God.  “Do you see me here, God? I’m sure you have me mixed up with someone else. I’m not your girl that likes the roller coaster, God. I’m the one who likes merry-go-rounds.” And God reminds me, gently that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:19

As I descend the pinnacle of the ride, and things coast to a level platform, I catch my breath and look around – whew! Still here, and thankful that despite the frustrating circumstance and emotional pain, I’ve gained a slightly stronger faith muscle. During the time of trial, I have to remind myself of 1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” The enemy of my soul wants to destroy my faith; the enemy of your soul wants to do the same to anyone who has faith in God.

I was reading Job awhile back, because I know from Bible stories that Job went through impossible trials – he lost everything. Do I know what it means to lose everything? No, and I pray against that fear of loss every day of my life.  Literally – every day. In Job, even his wife told him to curse God and die.  Really? I love this – Job 2:8-10 – “Job’s wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”  In all he went through, Job’s faith and his integrity was unfaltering.  Job knew God could change things. He admitted in Job 42:2 – “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” But Job didn’t lose hope or faith.

So what about our lives today? God is still God. The Bible says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 3:18  God is able to do amazingly above all we ask or think.  Ephesians 3:20. When trials come, it’s so easy to ask, whatever happened to all things happening for our good?  Does it say somewhere that good will come out of our circumstances?  Even those that cause us grief? Well, yes; in fact we can go there now and read Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When we read about the good to come, do we also append the part about ‘loving God and recognizing that we are called to a purpose’? Sometimes I forget that God allows bad things to happen because it is His way of working out His purpose in me.

My job is to be faithful, and not lose hope. If you’re going through trials and your days are so dark it’s hard to find your way out, I encourage you to go toward the light. John 8:12 says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  Don’t let the enemy of your soul wind the battle.  Satan is a thief whose only goals are to rob you of joy, persuade you to lose faith, and give up on God.  John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Are we ready for today? Let’s do this together!

Jeremy Camp says – There Will Be A Day