In Review Part 2: Mediabistro's Ad Copywriting Certificate

ad copywriting certificateWe wrapped up the first week by posting our assignments and participating in our first online discussion on Wednesday evening. Also, the course materials for Lesson 2 went live. Now we’re getting somewhere.

The Recommended Books

I didn’t bring it up in the Week 1 Review, but there are a couple of books that were recommended reading for the Creative Ad Writing course. They are:

I’ve thumbed through the books and read several chapters of the Bly book already. My opinion is that they’re a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the content is immensely helpful, and some of the content is just fluff for me. I find myself skipping and skimming quite a bit. They’re paperback though, so used copies are inexpensive. (Bonus!)  I’ll be keeping both for reference later, because 1.) I have a hard time parting with books, and 2.) the info on strategies could prove to be very useful if I get stuck on a client’s project at some point in the future.

Posting the Homework Assignment

For me, Wednesday night was the first real test of the online system Mediabistro uses to administer class. A few students had trouble uploading their assignments in the dedicated forum thread.

First problem? The system doesn’t support multiple attachments in a single forum post. If you want to post two separate files–one for the creative brief and one for the ad samples–that means you need two separate forum posts. Because of this, I ended up opting out of automatic email updates for new posts. My inbox was being bombarded! Not anyone’s fault, just the nature of the beast.

The thing that forced some students to post multiple comments in the thread: file size limits. A few students had files that were too big to upload because of all the images, and that meant breaking their original files down into smaller chunks. And, since you can’t post multiple files to a single thread….

So, honestly? The classroom software could be friendlier, but in the end we all got by.

The Online Discussion

For the online discussion (held from 8-9 p.m. on Wednesdays for this particular course) Mediabistro uses Adobe Connect meeting software.  I tested it according to the instructions in the course materials a couple of days early to make sure it was working. I had to install a plug-in to make it work, and at first it didn’t want to play nice with Chrome. But after about 15 minutes, I was all set.

I was unsure what the format for our hour-long discussion would be like. Would we all be video chatting like a hangout? Would we all be typing while looking at slides? Turns out the instructor talks, and you can see her webcam feed. The students just type. So, I’m happy to report that you can participate in the discussion while wearing pajamas if you like.

Mediabistro Ad Copywriting Certificate ScreenshotIt’s a little awkward switching between talk and text, but you (or at least I) got used to it. As far as the technology goes, it worked seamlessly. The discussion was managed pretty darn well, and we all (well all of us who participated) had an opportunity to talk about our portfolio choices and get some feedback and ideas from the instructor and our fellow classmates.

Other Stuff I Noticed

Thursday morning I signed on to get the materials for Lesson 2. I noticed there was a video lecture in three parts, just like in week one. Then, underneath those links, I saw a link for a PDF of the slides used in the lecture. Woohoo! So I went back to Lesson 1 and saw a link there too. Then I started wondering–were the slides always there and I was complaining like an idiot last week or did they respond to feedback? Either way, I’m a happy camper.


Emily paid the full price for enrollment in Mediabistro.com’s Ad Copywriting Certificate program and is not being compensated in any way for her reviews.

In Review Part 1: Mediabistro's Ad Copywriting Certificate

mediabistro ad copywriting course

This week I started my first course for the Mediabistro Ad Copywriting Certificate. I thought I’d write about my experiences here on the blog for the benefit of other writers and wannabes. You should know this: I paid the full $1,500 for the certificate program, and I am not being compensated in any way for what I write. (Although, I did inquire if they had an affiliate program. They do not.)

Program Basics

Students must complete a total of six courses within one year to earn the certificate, including four required courses and two electives. The courses are offered frequently; I don’t foresee a scheduling problem.

Required Courses

  • Copywriting: Creative Ad Writing
  • Copywriting for the Web
  • Copywriting: Advanced
  • Brand Writing

Elective Choices

  • Copywriting for the Web: Advanced
  • Search and Online Marketing
  • Writing and Editing for the Web
  • Web Analytics
  • Web Analytics: Advanced

My First Course

I’m starting off with the 8-week, online Creative Ad Writing Course. It’s Week 1, so there isn’t a whole lot to report yet. But we’ve done the online introduction thing through the dedicated forum, and I can tell you that so far it looks like the class is comprised of 7 women and 1 man. Based on the intros, it looks like my virtual classmates are all professionals with some impressive previous writing and editing experiences — a good sign.

A major part of the class is building a portfolio as we work through the lessons, and that involves picking a real or fictitious product or service for the focus of the copywriting exercises. Instead of faking it, I wanted to actually work on a real campaign. So I tweeted the message above, and Sara from Insqpired Quill replied back. (If you read this blog at all, you know I’ve got more than a passing interest in the world of publishing. Should be a good fit.)

Week 1 Lesson: This week’s lesson was a lecture from the instructor presented in three parts in video format. The information was solid, and the instructor has more than adequate credentials to present the course. My only complaint at this point has to do with the presentation of the lecture slides. Trying to read them in the video gives me a headache. In lots of cases the text is too tiny to read in the standard video size. Move to full screen, and everything just gets super blurry. An accompanying PDF of the text on the slides would’ve been perfect.

Week 1 Assignment: By Tuesday evening I have to choose my product or service, write a creative brief, and select three print ads that I like and three I don’t like and discuss why I like them or not. On Wednesday evening, we’ll all join in an online discussion from 8-9 p.m.

$1,500. Is It Legit?

You know, ask me again in 8 weeks. But I will say this: I looked into another online copywriting program last year, and I bailed on it because they were spamming the hell out of me. I never wrote about it (and I won’t name that company here) because I didn’t stick it out. But that company left me feeling like I needed to take a shower every time they emailed me.

Mediabistro does online and IRL training. Plus, they already have a solid reputation when it comes to industry events, news and jobs. I’m much more confident in this program, even though I don’t personally know anyone who’s completed it…yet.

Got questions for me? Drop them in the comments.