Broadly speaking, training comes in three flavours: free, cheap and expensive. (Whether something’s cheap or expensive can be subjective, depending on how many spare country houses you own.) For example, a YouTube tutorial will usually cost you nothing, assuming you already have an internet connection and a device to watch it on. On the other hand, a course could put a significant dent in your finances. But which of the three options is the best?
In my opinion, it’s a tie.
I took the PTC’s Essential Proofreading course in 2020. For me, the £405 fee was a big investment. However, what I learned has allowed me to take on a variety of proofreading work and do it well. I’ve more than covered the cost of the training, which means it has proved its value. It wasn’t where I started though.
To get an idea of what proofreading involved, I began by taking this free practice test on the CIEP’s website (or the SfEP as it was known at the time). It gave me an idea of what I didn’t know, and made me realise that I needed training.
That highlights two ends of the spectrum, but where does cheap come in?
There are a lot of great books out there on writing craft, such as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Many of these don’t cost the earth, and they can be fantastic for supplementing your knowledge. They might not teach you everything you need to know, but they’re often good places to start.
It can be tempting to avoid more expensive training, especially if your funds are limited, but it’s important to think about quality. Before writing something off as “too costly”, think about the value of what’s being offered. Buying access to a short webinar for a tenner instead might sound amazing, but if it doesn’t cover what you need to know then you may as well have thrown that money through the nearest window.
In short, it all comes down to value. Free and cheap resources have important roles to play, especially early on. However, I’ve accepted that I’ll usually have to spend more at some point if I want to be successful. As long as the quality’s there, it tends to pay off.
Have you got plans to increase your skills? How does cost factor into your choices? Get in touch and let me know!