In the creative industry, among cultural workers and in academia a precarious existence is not a rarity. Even established freelancers often do not know how to professionalize their work in order to position themselves better. This article is about three online classes by the Canadian web designer and author Paul Jarvis who offers help to self-employed creatives. I’ve taken all three of Paul Jarvis‘ courses and they’ve changed my view of marketing, increased my mailing list by 50% in just three months and earned me more money than I spent on them. Here’s how.
Why Take Online Courses?
I’ve been working successfully as a freelance radio journalist, copywriter and author for many years and have taught at half a dozen universities in Germany and abroad. Why should I spend money on online courses created by a college dropout? The answer is twofold: on one hand Paul Jarvis‘ courses benefit from decades of practical experience, which is something the academic curriculum too often falls short of. Furthermore, it’s interesting to see how a commercially successful online course works and what can be learned from it to improve academic teaching practices.
Taking Paul Jarvis‘ courses courses has proved to be an intensive experience, which differs significantly from just reading textbooks. Already the fact that they cost more than a couple of books increases the appreciation of the offer and the seriousness with which one perceives it. In addition, the diversity of the methods used (videos, audios, texts, worksheets, slack groups, crowdcast webinars, e-mails) and the first class design of the interface make the learning experience varied and motivating.
The content may sometimes be self-evident, but the clear structuring of the courses and the authority of the instructor is of great value; lessons often raise intuitive insights that haven’t surfaced, been reflected upon and put into action before.
When you take online courses the question comes up if it is merely a pleasant form of entertainment. Are you just happily listening to the soothing sound of a guru whose teachings are, ultimately, banal and unfeasible? It’s easy to lose yourself on the web discovering promising offers made by experts for every question of life, from self-discovery to time management to getting rich in five seconds. The only way to not fall for the illusion that buying a product will immediately turn your life around is to check the authenticity of the provider and his own success stories.
Who is Paul Jarvis?
Paul Jarvis is a Canadian web designer and author who occupies a very specific niche: he teaches intellectuals and creative people what they hate most: business, marketing and scaling. Yet he does it in a way that doesn’t forces them to bend. Paul has taught over 10,000 students; his newsletter reaches more than 30,000 subscribers. He is thoughtful, his recommendations are clear and action-oriented – and he has a quirky sense of humor.
Paul Jarvis‘ Courses
The appeal of Paul Jarvis’s offerings lies not in the least in the business and life model he embodies. He considers every single aspect of freelancing and creativity from the perspective of quality, even in such areas as pricing and scaling. For example, the third lesson of Grow Your Audience deals with the ethics of marketing, and you will be hard pressed to find anything better on this topic in thick textbooks than what Paul offers in this seven-minute video. After watching it, even the most obstinate cultural critic will realize that marketing must not be a sleazy tactic of false promises.
Since he does not offer theoretical programs but rather tried-and-tested processes, Paul saves his students detours and mistakes he made during his career and teaches practices that he himself applies every day. As a participant, you can even experience certain processes while taking the course, like automated email sequences or a consistent style of communication with clients. By doing so, you learn first hand how it feels when Paul’s advice is put into action.
In essence, Paul Jarvis‘ courses do not include anything he hasn’t published before in a more general form. Paul’s courses are basically a clearly structured, meaningfully compiled, extended version of non-proprietary knowledge, presented in the form of an experience and, above all, with a focus on actionable steps. This is perhaps the most striking feature of the digital economy: its best players distribute knowledge generously, thereby creating trust, then making their money with offers focused on application and individual advice.
There is no superior knowledge behind the course content that would be crucial for successs. Rather, Paul simply releases his own work process in a way that is accessible to people in many creative and cultural professions, but also in academic work. The design of the original Creative Class was so good that the e-learning platform Teachery adapted it. If students have questions, Paul will answer them in regular crowdcast sessions or by e-mail. I used this option several times and was able to clarify some uncertainties concerning my blog.
Paul Jarvis‘ Creative Class: Professionalizing Freelance Businesses
Creative Class is Paul’s greatest success and my favorite among his courses. I cannot imagine a more efficient guide to freelance work than these 15 lessons. From the development of a professional mindset to the acquisition of new customers and the design of a portfolio to the right pricing and the setup of processes that work and protect you against self-exploitation – this course contains proven knowledge, delivered in an application-oriented way.
What Benefits Did I Derive From Creative Class?
Creative Class not only helped me to make my workflows more efficient, it also made me way more money than the $ 274 that the course costs. There is a widespread attitude in the German cultural and academic business that it’s an honor to do unpaid work as a writer or lecturer. The lesson on pricing encouraged me to stop working for exposure and taught me techniques to negotiate fees more confidently. After a brief period of time I not only re-earned the money I spent on the course but actually generated revenue I would have never had without Creative Class.
Paul Jarvis‘ courses can be taken any time, as often as you want and at your own pace. However, they can only be purchased during certain timeframes. Simply join the waitlist to be notified when Creative Class becomes available again.
Paul Jarvis‘ Grow Your Audience: Understanding Marketing, Expanding Your Audience
The second of Paul Jarvis‘ courses, Grow Your Audience, corrects the idea that marketing is „the icky, selly, forceful bullshit that industry thought-leaders preach at you on blogs“. It is aimed at self-employed people who want to expand their website audience, grow their newsletter subscribers and improve their conversion rate. In addition, the course helps to successfully launch products. In 23 lessons Paul corrects misleading notions of marketing and cures blockages which keep many cultural creators from presenting themselves in a professional way.
Grow Your Audience Screenshot
To give just one example, the eight-minute lesson on search engine optimization (SEO) saves you from consulting many unpleasantly loud pages. I’ve read a few of them and also studied the quite recommendable book by Yoast, but Paul’s lesson serves as a shortcut: it sovereignly sums up everything you really need to know about this topic.
What Benefits Did I Derive From Grow Your Audience?
I hate to admit it, but six months ago the number of my newsletter subscribers stagnated and even began to decline. Then I took Grow Your Audience and started implementing the GYA process step by step. After just three months the number of my newsletter subscribers had increased by more than 50%. Since then it continues to grow.
Grow Your Audience can only be booked twice a year, however, you can take it any time after the purchase, as often as you want and at your own pace. Join the waitlist to be notified when the course becomes available again.
Paul Jarvis‘ Chimp Essentials: Using MailChimp Correctly
The third of Paul Jarvis‘ Courses, Chimp Essentials, is Paul’s most specific course. It helps MailChimp users avoid mistakes and get more out of it. The 47 lessons include the automation of email sequences, the segmentation of lists, merge fields and A / B tests. If you are in email marketing, you will benefit from taking the course, but you will get the most of it if you’re using MailChimp on a professional basis. To find out if the course is right for you, have a look at the free lesson on Sales Funnel Automation that requires no opt-in to access.
What Benefits Did I Derive From Chimp Essentials?
Chimp Essentials helped me to use MailChimp better and with more confidence. Especially the technical details proved to be useful, but also the lessons dealing with onboarding processes were helpful. However, many of this course’s insights are only relevant if you offer a more complex portfolio of digital products. Beginners in marketing would benefit more from Grow Your Audience, those who wish to professionalize their freelancing career are best served with Creative Class.
For the original German version of this article click here.
Images: © Paul Jarvis