Becoming an Entrepreneurial Writer: Taking Classes

As a freelance writer/journalist, I’m constantly learning new things, either through my own research or by taking classes. Although I just graduated last May, I’ve already taken (or explored) several classes and gained new knowledge along the way.

The thing about being an entrepreneurial journalist (or any journalist for that matter) is you have to be both good at writing AND have a wide variety of knowledge about the topics you cover. I’ve done a wide variety of writing on random things. I’ve covered topics I have a background in  as well as things I’ve had to do a lot of research on. I’ve worked for the ACLU, a tech website (which required a lot of research), dance websites (although I’m a recreational dancer, there was still a lot of research done), health and fitness websites, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting about. My college degree has only gotten me so far. I’ve done a lot of learning on my own, even though I took a wide variety of elective credits and a business minor.

Another reason I’m working on taking other classes is that I can do a better job at building my own website as well as expand my career opportunities. As I mentioned last week, I took a class on WordPress 101 through an organization called Girl Develop It Philly. They run web development and design classes in cities all over the country (and if they don’t offer it in your city, you can help them build one). They’re not just for women either: men are welcome in their classes too.

Here are some of my favorite online as well as classroom-based classes that are available in multiple locations. Let me know if you’ve got any recommendations; I’m always looking to try out new classes.

Girl Develop It

Girl Develop It

Started in New York, this organization offers classes in cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, Austin, Buffalo and many more. They offer a wide variety of classes from basic level (Intro Html and CSS and WordPress 101) to any type of coding class you could imagine–Java, Python and more.  They’re decently priced (the class I took came out to less than $10/hr) and they offer scholarships (at least the Philly one does) to those who can’t afford the classes. They’re welcome to beginners, and they’re are no stupid questions asked in a GDI class.

What’s more? They have a lot of their resources available about their basic classes available online about web development basics in case your interested in trying stuff out on your own or if you’re looking for some secondary resources to other classes.

3rd Ward

3rd Ward

3rd Ward Philly just opened up, and although I haven’t gotten a chance to visit yet, I hear it’s awesome. The space operates as a co-working space as well, and offers classes in a huge range of topics, from web development, business, jewelry making, art, digital design, photography, woodworking, and more. While the Philadelphia-based on just opened, the Brooklyn center has been open for a while now. Both spaces offer free tours, and if you take a tour of the Brooklyn space, you’ll get a 25 dollar class credit.


Lynda has been a huge resource for me as journalism student as well as post-grad. During my undergrad, it helped me learn basic Final Cut Pro techniques as well as some basic videography techniques, so it’s great if you need to brush up on some things before you begin a freelance job that requires more than just writing. It’s a bit expensive at $25/a month, but it’s definitely worth it. They offer everything from web development basics in HTML and CSS to Photoshop and InDesign classes, Final Cut Pro, design classes, and even how to get the most out of Google programs like Google Drive (which replaced Google Docs). I was fortunate enough to have access to explore Lynda through my university’s program for free, and it’s truly and great resource if you can’t manage to get yourself into a classroom. It’s also great to find tips on stuff you need to know immediately and don’t have the time to wait for it to be offered. I’m currently working on an HTML introductory class and it’s been great.



Coursera gives you access to real college classes without having to set foot in a classroom or pay those expensive college fees. I love Cousera because it’s given me access to online classes that I wouldn’t normally have the ability to take because of budget concerns. Again, they offer classes in a wide variety of topics, from health and nutrition, to business, science, humanities. computer science and more. Some courses are more structure than others. While some offer soft due dates and only require you to have all the material done by the end of the course, others are more strict and may require you to have homework and quizzes done on specific days. Almost all their classes offer some sort of completion certificate if you pass the course.

Again, Cousera is a great (and free!) option if you can’t make it to a classroom. Although the classes often run on specific timelines, you can often access the materials without fully participating or completing the class, making it another valuable resources for writers.

Have you ever taken writing classes (or other online classes)?  Do you have any you recommend?

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.


  1. Thanks for the insight. I really wanted to hone in on my skills and become great. I have recently started doing video blogging but learning how to write is learning how to deliver. I prefer video blogging because it fits better with my lifestyle. I am a mother, entrepreneur and military wife. However, I really believe that if you can learn to write better then my points will be better received. I tend to ramble 🙂

  2. I love using for learning because they have a wide variety of classes. In addition, they run discounts on courses sometimes. Thanks for this article. It was very insightful.

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