There is no shortage of blogging advice available out there. If your inbox looks like mine, you receive at least a dozen emails every week offering courses, programs, challenges and coaching to help you master the art of blogging.
And make no mistake. All of that help is needed. Technology, graphics, social media, email lists, pinning, Instagramming. It’s a lot to figure out on your own.
So how do you choose where to invest your time and money to learn about growing your blog?
I’ve sampled a lot of courses from experts over the last three years. I’ve found that course providers fall into two basic categories …. those that provide solid information over a wide range of topics and those that specialize and go really deep into a specific topic.
I recommend when you are a beginning blogger, start by finding someone who provides solid information over a wide range of topics. That ensures you build a solid foundation across the board. Then you can start exploring specialists to help address your specific pain points.
People often ask me who I recommend for blogging education. I want to recommend someone who really knows what they are talking about, is affordable and, most importantly, is going to offer advice that is consistent with our faith and values as Christian ministry leaders.
That is why I was excited to try the courses from Crystal Paine’s Your Blogging University. Crystal is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, business consultant, and founder of MoneySavingMom.com and YourBloggingMentor.com. But more importantly, she is a Jesus-girl who operates her business with honesty, integrity and a heart to serve others.
After sampling three different courses, I’ve been impressed overall. So let’s start with:
The Things I Love
Customizable and Affordable
Besides being based on Crystal’s expertise, this is probably one of the strongest aspects of Your Blogging University. It is being built in modules that you can select individually based on what you need. There are currently six evergreen courses available ranging in price from $17 to $37, with plans to add new courses every 6 – 8 weeks. Plus Crystal periodically offers a 4 Week Blog Coaching program for $97. Once you have purchased one course, you get a discount on other courses so you can build your own program. And you get early, discounted access to each new course as it is released.
Clear, Organized Lessons
Each course is broken down into several modules. Each module is packed with a combination of written content and videos. Some, like WordPress 101, also have a downloadable pdf to follow along with. That helped me concentrate on the content without having to write down every little thing. The lessons are truly step-by-step and easy to follow.
When I take a course, I don’t want to just gather information. I want to convert that info to action! The assignments that go along with each lesson helped me do just that, focusing on the most important information in that lesson.
Lessons Learned and Tips
Throughout the courses, Crystal shares not only her best tips on everything from selecting the right WordPress theme to growing your email list like a boss, she also shares the lessons she’s learned along the way. That’s a nice way of saying she shares the things she messed up and did wrong. Yea, it’s great to learn what NOT to do, but it was even more meaningful for me to hear that this journey through the online world is not one of perfection. If you mess up, it’s okay. Pretty much anything is fixable. I appreciate Crystal’s honesty. It gives me confidence to try hard things.
In addition to a huge amount of information in the courses, Crystal provides links to other resources … her blog posts, posts from other people, services, tools. My course materials have quickly become my go-to library of information.
The 4 Week Blog Coaching Program is offered periodically and is conducted in a private Facebook group. It definitely feels more like coaching than a course. Crystal does live video teaching each week and is present in the group throughout the week, liking and commenting on the posts. Most of the group is active in encouraging and supporting one another. There were around 200 people in the group I was in, so it was big enough to get a good cross section of experience and ideas, but small enough to get to know people.
And as an bonus, Crystal did reviews of how some group members were implementing what they learned and she shared posts from the group on her own social media. That kind of personal attention and generosity with her large platform makes her unique in the blog coaching world.
The Your Blogging University Platform
I really love the course platform Crystal is using. (I think it is a custom platform created for Infusionsoft.) You can see most of the courses you have purchased in one place and easily access each lesson and its resources any time. It also has a place where you can record your own notes for each lesson. Very handy!
Fast and Friendly Support
Crystal has a strong team behind her. Every email I’ve sent and every comment in the Facebook group was answered quickly and with a virtual smile by Katie. I’m sure she gets tons of email every day, but she always made me feel seen, heard and valued.
The Things I Don’t Love
Although advertised for both “newbie” and intermediate bloggers, the copy for the 4 Week Blog Coaching needs to be a bit more clear that it is not for brand-spanking-new bloggers. I think some in the course were a little frustrated because the material assumes you already have a somewhat functioning blog. I suggest you work through at least Blog Start-Up 101, WordPress 101, and Branding Basics 101 before doing the blog coaching program.
5 Days to a Successful Blog Launch may send you information for 5 days, but it is weeks worth of work! There is no way you can implement it all in 5 days unless you were doing nothing else 24/7. However, it is a pretty comprehensive framework for starting a blog and for only $17, you can’t beat the value.
4 Week Blog Coaching is conducted in a private Facebook group, and we received detailed emails every week with links to the videos, notes from the training and all the links mentioned (TONS of links!!). It would be awesome if this course showed up in my dashboard, but it doesn’t. Even if it was just a page with a link to each of the emails, that would be better than having to search through my emails to find something I want to review.
Offering quality information, affordable prices and customizable programs, I’m happy to recommend Crystal Paine’s Your Blogging University to anyone ready to invest in their education as a blogger. Even though her material is not specifically “Christian”, it is obvious that Crystal is teaching from a faith-based viewpoint that is consistent with our values as Christian ministry leaders.
And just a final note …. I thought it was odd that Crystal started the 4 Week Blog Coaching program with affiliate marketing, rather than working her way up to that. The first week, she had us signing up for affiliate programs in our niche and writing blog posts with affiliate links. But over the next weeks, we used what we learned in the Social Media lesson to promote those affiliate posts and what we learned in email and blog post creation to polish and improve them. So if you were doing the assignments, it was possible to earn back the course fee in affiliate commissions before the course was over. Brilliant!
As an affiliate for Your Blogging University, I was able to sample the courses mentioned for half price. All opinions are my own and based on my experience working through the courses.