Professional Writers: Find Out How to Get Certified by Copyblogger

Our certification program for content marketers will be opening up again soon.

If you’re a professional writer, particularly a freelancer, you’d probably like to know how to get more high-quality clients.

Our Certified Content Marketer program exists to connect your high level of skill to the kinds of clients who value it. And that program will be opening to new applicants in a few weeks.

In this 14-minute episode, I talk about:

  • What the program is and who it’s for
  • Who should not apply to the program
  • How program applicants are evaluated (this is quite different from most marketing certifications you’ll find)
  • How to find out when we’re ready for new applicants

The Show Notes

  • If you’re ready to see for yourself why more than 201,344 website owners trust StudioPress — the industry standard for premium WordPress themes and plugins — swing by for all the details.
  • If you want to know when we’re ready for new applicants, you can drop your name in the box at the top of our Certified Content Marketer listing.
  • I’m always happy to see your questions or thoughts on Twitter @soniasimone — or right here in the comments!

Professional Writers: Find Out How to Get Certified by Copyblogger

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

Sonia Simone: Copyblogger FM is brought to you by the all new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those of you who are selling physical products, digital downloads, or membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why more than 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. You can check it out by going to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress. That’s Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress.

Hey there. It’s good to see you again. Welcome back to Copyblogger FM, the content marketing podcast. Copyblogger FM is about emerging content marketing trends, interesting disasters, and enduring best practices, along with the occasional rant. My name is Sonia Simone. I’m the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital and I like to hang out with the folks who do the heavy lifting over on the Copyblogger blog. If you want extra links, extra resources, additional free stuff, and the complete archive for the show, you can get all that by pointing your browser to Copyblogger.FM.

What the Program is and Who It’s For

Today, I’m mainly going to be talking to the writers in the audience, particularly to the freelance writers. Now, this is also going to be relevant to you if creating content is how you get customers for your own business, so it may be something that you have interest in as well. The scoop is that we are going to be opening up the Certified Content Marketer program again in a few weeks. Today, I’m just going to let you know what the program is, who it’s for, what it does, and if it’s something that you’ll be interested in, I’ll let you know where to sign up, because it is available on an extremely limited basis.

The Certified Marketer Program is a program we run at Copyblogger to educate, test, and certify professional writers. Mostly freelance writers, but sometimes folks who are working within an organization have found it useful and again, sometimes business owners find it useful. It starts off with a four-week course that’s led by me and Brian Clark and the course is intended to take writers from being good writers to being good content strategists.

Who Should Not Apply to the Program

It’s quite important to note this is not a writing course. We may offer a writing course at some point. I would really like to offer a writing course and if that sounds like a great idea to you then please do drop us a note in the comments over at Copyblogger.FM, so that we know that there’s interest, but that’s not this. This is really for people who are already strong writers, have a good writing voice, and it teaches writers like that how to think more strategically about content, how to approach it, what the different pieces look like, how they go together, how to get them created, how to work with clients.

It’s way beyond something like, “These are the best practices for writing a blog post headline.” You can get that on the Copyblogger blog. We’re happy to give that to you for free. This is really about the kinds of content that organizations need at different points in the buying journey, about the best methods and best practices for getting that kind of content created, about what the balance should be and how it should all flow together, and content marketing that just goes beyond the traditional, “Buy some traffic, send it to a sales letter, and get money.”

That is the course element of the program. Quite a significant chunk of people take the course just because they want the course. They want that strategic content. They want to understand how content goes together. They’re going to use it for themselves, for their organization, and they’re not as interested in the certification angle. That’s totally not a problem. You are welcome to approach the course that way, but our focus with this program is on that certification.

How Program Applicants are Evaluated (This is Quite Different From Most Marketing Certifications You’ll Find)

I’m going to let you know, just quickly, how that works because it’s rather different than a lot of professional certifications that you might see in the marketing world. Once you complete the course, you are eligible to submit an application. This consists of writing samples, samples of the kinds of materials that we talk about in the course. That application is individually reviewed by a writer on the Copyblogger editorial team. I do some of the applications, our other writers do some, we just kind of share them out. And we use checklists to make sure that everybody’s evaluated on the same criteria.

Once in awhile, we might pass an application back and forth to another reviewer and we usually end up with a pretty similar number. It’s a one to 100 scale. I’ll say right up front, if you’re writing isn’t very strong then you will not pass this process. A writer who just isn’t a terrific writer is pretty much automatically a not pass. This is the prerequisite for the course. This is the part you need to show up with is just the ability to write well with a good strong voice, excellent mastery of usage and grammar, the ability to write interesting material and write it clearly. That is a prerequisite for this program.

In the application process, if in the content you show us, your strategy is not clear or is not effective, then you’re also not going to pass. This is the part that you learn in the course. However, the evaluation includes a detailed discussion of the application, of the material that you submit, the strengths and the areas for improvement. If you have a fixable problem that’s typically because maybe there’s something about strategy that you’re not good at yet, you learn what the problems are and then you can fix them, strengthen them, and reapply.

Incidentally, since we always get questions about this, you can apply for certification when you’re ready. Typically, with every new group of students we have some who do it the minute that they’re eligible, which is four or five weeks in, and then other people will take more time to really get their application ready and really feel solid about it, and both of those are completely and totally fine. We’re not at all interested in giving you a time limit on it or making it hard for you or stressful for you or anything like that.

Here’s where we end up. If you pass the certification process, if your application passes review, that means that we, as a company, and the Copyblogger blog, would recommend you as a writer. We think you’re a strong writer with excellent strategic abilities. That’s what the certification stands for. Because of that, there aren’t tons of certified writers, and there really probably won’t ever be tons of certified writers. It’s very individual, and it’s very much a personal recommendation from our company. Incidentally, if you are looking for writers these folks have all been vetted as really being excellent professional content creators.

If your application passes review, then we add you to our page of certified content marketers; that’s a page on Copyblogger. And any time that we get asked for writers, that’s where we point people. When we talk about writers, professional writers and freelancers, we include a link to that page, so people know about it. In our relationships with other businesses, these are the writing resources that we recommend. Period, full stop, end of story. These are our recommended writers.

The Importance of Ongoing Education

There is a third part of the certification package, which is ongoing education. In order to keep your certification current, you need to be a member of our Authority community. That is our community of content marketers and its primary role, I would say these days, is as ongoing education for our certified writers. Up to date content strategies and creative tips, ideas about managing your business, getting critiques on your website or your content, and you can actually even apply for our team to do a deep dive into your business and help you get to your next business goal.

So, we call this the Authority Business Coaching Calls, and we hold them regularly, and we really go deep, deep into somebody’s business. It’s like a hot seat where we get into your business, find out what’s working, find out what’s not working, and then help you make progress, help you understand your next steps and maybe talk about some things you might not have thought about.

This is a small program, in the sense of it’s a relatively small number of students. It’s probably the smallest product we have in terms of number of customers. It’s not the cheapest, and there’s not any reason it should be the cheapest, because it’s a massive point of differentiation for your writing business, plus the education, plus the community. But it’s also not a fortune. We’re not interested in … It’s not something we do because it shakes out a ton of revenue. It’s something we do because it’s very helpful to us to have that community of writers who really understand content strategy and really understand, for lack of a better term, the Copyblogger way of putting content together.

If you are in business, if you are a professional, I don’t think it’s going to send you into too much sticker shock. I don’t have a specific number now, but it’s similar to the cost of joining any serious professional association. It’s in that range. For me, really the heart and the meaning and the significance of the Certification Program is that assessment, because it’s not a question of just passing some multiple choice online quizzes. This is about real working professional writers with a strong grounding in content strategy looking closely at your work and saying, “Yes, I would vouch for this person. I would recommend this person. I think that if you hire them, you’re going to have a good experience, and you’re going to be hiring somebody well qualified.”

I should just add one note and that’s that if you, as a writer, one of our certified writers, are not conducting your business well, and typically the problem, if you want to call it that, that we run into, is that writers have a full client list and then they start to get maybe not so diligent about following up with new clients. If that’s where you are, we kind of move you to the side. You’re still a certified writer, we still think you’re great, but we really intend that page to focus on writers who are actively looking for clients and actively have room for new clients.

If we ever got word, of course, that you were sloppy with deadlines or not delivering what you were charging for, of course, we would remove you. You have to be a good ethical business person, but I’m sure you guys all have that one covered. Where we end up with that is that every person on that page has our recommendation. We are saying, “We vouch for this person,” which I find really powerful and a lot of our Certified Content Marketers have found this very powerful.

How to Find Out When We’re Ready for New Applicants

If you are interested in getting rolling on that, you will want to get signed up for the interest list so we know how to get hold of you to let you know where to sign up and when to sign up and what the cost will be and all that stuff. If you go to and you look in the menu there under products, you’ll see a tab for Certified Writers, and there’s a big box there that you can sign up, leave us your email address, and just let us know that you’re interested in being considered for the program. And of course, I’ll give you a link here on Rainmaker.FM so that you can just click your way right there.

If you have a question about the program, either because you want to hire a writer or you want to apply to become a Copyblogger certified writer, you can drop your questions here at Copyblogger.FM. You can also drop them over on the blog, the blog, and we will be happy to answer them for you. That’s it for today. I just really wanted to let you know about that. Again, it’s a small program, but it’s a really important one, just because it does result in that ecosystem of really capable writers. It’s a great group of people, and if you’re the right person for that list, I think it’ll do a lot for you. That’s what I’ve got for you today. Looking forward to talking with you soon. Take care.