I’ve long been a proponent of free online courses offered through various universities around the world. I’m particularly fond of the offerings on coursera.org. I first blogged about Coursera in May, 2013 after I had enrolled in a 10-week chemistry course offered by Rice University (Free University Courses: Somebody Stop Me!). Coursera offerings have continued to expand and now you can find classes on everything from law to social media. Most recently I was excited to enroll in the University of Houston’s offering, Digital Storytelling: Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning. Why? Because I would have a finished video to inform viewers about the educational component of my young adult fiction series, after only five weeks. As I saw it, this indie writer was going to learn how to create a marketing tool, for free!

Sweet!

Taught by Bernard Robin, the course covered script writing, creating a story board, recording audio narration, and using WeVideo technology. In the end, my biggest takeaway (aside from a completed marketing tool) was all the free resources for images and music, particularly Pixabay and Bensound. Being a weekly blogger, having a reliable source for fresh, creative commons media is incredibly helpful.

As an independent author, having the skill and ability to create my promotional material is critical. And having this piece of media allows me to connect with teachers and parents — major influencers in what kids are reading.

Like what you see in the video? Each of the three books (The Desert Sands, The Hidden City, and The Buried Pyramid) are all available exclusively on Amazon. However, the Wells Worthy series (the collection of Books 1 – 3) will be released as an eBook later this month.

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If you are an indie or entrepreneur, I encourage you to have a look at coursera.org to see how these free offerings might support your business development. As for me, I’m on the waiting list for the next class on forensics science. I begin writing a new work of crime fiction in January and, even though my book Forensics for Dummies is a great resource, I want to deepen my understanding. Taking a course on forensics is perfect! After all, understanding molecular spectroscopy and chromatography are essential when looking at narcotics and toxicology… or so the course description reads. Free schooling on the nitty-gritty of crime is what every crime writer wants, right?!

Are you an indie or entrepreneur? What free resources do you recommend?

Sheila Callaham is the author of six books. She writes both fiction and non-fiction from her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, three of their seven children, and five dogs. 

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