There’s a great quote attributed to motivational speaker Anthony Robbins: if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
This quote reminds me of freelancers who continue to query print consumer magazines then complain when they don’t hear anything. When the print magazine industry’s losing ad pages at an alarming rate, it’s not surprising that editors aren’t buying. So why keep flogging that dead horse?
Online’s the future, and I’m not just talking about writing for content farms. There are all kinds of opportunities with online only-news sites, corporate sites, newsletters, trade publications, e-books, user guides, mobile phone apps and on and on.
Making the most of these opportunities could require retraining. But if you’re in the market to pick up some new skills, you don’t need to look far for opportunities.
One is a free hour-long webinar, Moving to Digital-First Content: How Intelligent Content Technology is Changing Publishing from Scott Abel, of The Content Wrangler fame, on Thursday, March 11 at 2 p.m. ET. Registration is free but you have to sign up in advance.
In the webinar, Abel will lead a discussion with content management specialist Ann Rockley and digital publishing innovator Dev Ganesan.
Here are a couple other journalism training websites that offer free or low-cost classes freelancers can take to pick up skills they need to create content online.
Knowledgewebb – Run by former journalist Amy Webb, this website’s motto is “Don’t sweat the tech. ” Knowledgewebb hosts online and off-line classes, webinars, tutorials and more. Subscriptions are $129 a year or $89 if you belong to the Online News Association or another partner organization.
Knight Digital Media Center – This partnership between journalism schools at UC Berkeley and USC offers multimedia trainings, bootcamps and other workshops at one or the other campus several times a year. Classes are limited to 20 applicants and are free, with costs underwritten by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. Here’s a list of upcoming classes in 2010.
Online News Association – The largest professional association for journalists working online hosts its own annual convention, regional seminars and informal mixers and meetups around the country. The group also maintains a calendar of outside seminars and training opportunities (but you have to be a member to access it). Annual dues are $75 for working journalists.
J-Lab – The Institute for Interactive Journalism helps professional and citizen journalists use digital technologies to to report the news, through training, research and publications. The organization also provides grants to new media projects, and will award a total of $25,000 to nine such ventures this year – but hurry if this is something you’re interested in, the deadline is March 1. J-Lab and the McCormick Foundation also run a separate grant program to fund women-run new media ventures; that deadline is April 12.
Poynter’s News University – Nicknamed News U., this online journalism training program offers 150 free or low-cost classes. The e-learning project of the nonprofit Poynter Institute has more than 150,000 registered users and currently offers courses such as Mobile Media 101: Producing News with Your Smartphone (March 3) and Becoming a more Effective Editor: Strategies for Editing Yourself, Others (March 2010).
Know of other places – online or off – where writers of all stripes can get training? Let me know and I’ll add them to the list.