There are a lot of monthly learning platform memberships for bloggers and affiliate marketers and so many one-off courses you could spend thousands on, but which ones are the right ones, and will they really shorten the learning curve?
Two of my favorite monthly programs are Serious Bloggers Only and Fizzle
Different modes similar goal
Fizzle and Serious Bloggers Only both have the goal of helping you build a reliable, successful business but their focuses are a bit different, and their styles are very different.
You can tell just by the names of the two websites that they take a totally different attitude toward building an online business.
Serious Bloggers Only
Jon Morrow of Serious Bloggers Only has a course about why your domain name sucks and how to find a better one without paying a lot. Jon Morrow believes your domain name should describe your audience and Serious Bloggers Only does just that.
Morrow wants to help serious bloggers build businesses that work. He is focused mainly on writing well and building a business by researching your target audience and writing what they want to read.
The Fizzle Team
But they admit that the name Fizzle was sort of a mistake because although they mean “Fizzle” to denote a bubbling toward fruition, the actual meaning according to Dictionary.com is to “make a feeble hissing or sputtering sound.”
According to Merriam Webster, it gets even worse with the meaning of Fizzle being: “to fail or end feebly especially after a promising start.”
But even with such a terrible name, the Fizzle crew has created an excellent monthly learning platform, a blog, a forum, loads of top teachers in the field of online businesses including blogging, podcasting, affiliate marketing, and more. They also have a top-rated podcast called The Fizzle Show with hundreds of episodes.
Serious Bloggers Only Review
John Morrow is a badass blogger with a long track record of success, and this is even more impressive and inspiring when you find out his personal story. Check out his personal blog if you need some inspiration.
He started blogging seriously when he was faced with the possibility of being put in a nursing home to die. He has Muscular Dystrophy and is pretty much paralyzed from the neck down. Morrow does all his writing with voice software.
Morrow gambled and moved himself and his mom down to Mexico where he could afford to get the round-the-clock care he needed, pay the rent, and get on with building an empire.
He worked his ass off and learned how to write well and how to get an audience. He started freelance writing for Copyblogger and then Kissmetrics. That was how he figured out how to tap into your audience by spying on them and finding out what they are interested in.
Morrow emphasizes that you have to give up thinking about what might be good for your audience or what they should be interested in and what you want to write about but what they actually are interested in.
He is big on doing what other people have done that has worked at first and not trying to be unique right away.
Morrow pivoted his connections at Copyblogger and Kissmetrics into a consulting business to launch his move to Mexico and start his blogging empire. He has been building his own blog empire to boost blog traffic, with the new name smart blogger.
Serious Bloggers Only is a Great Deal at $49 per month
For 49 dollars per month the Serious Bloggers Only (SBO) monthly platform is robust with long, blog-style pages for the written mini-courses. Each course comes with ample downloads, checklists and outlines, and video slideshow lectures by him or one of his assistants to go along with them.
There is an overview page that helps you get oriented and figure out where you are as far as your level as a blogger and business owner so that you can dive in at the right level for you.
There are over 30 courses in, all broken down by levels. There is a specific sequence that you are not to deviate from.
If you do jump ahead, you get your hand slapped with a reminder to go back and finish the previous course at the beginning of each course.
There are a lot of topics
- Finding visuals
- Email marketing
- Connecting with influencers
- Subcontracting out an infographic
- Finding the best payment platform, for building your first WordPress blog
and much more.
Morrow leaves few stones unturned in the world of blogging. One of the latest courses he has added is a course on writing Medium before you start your blog.
Morrow is a fantastic writer, and he supplies you with many writing courses and tips on writing headlines that bring traffic.
Morrow is old-school and has a long list of recommended books; copywriting classics and business classics. He wants you to learn your craft and take it seriously.
Here is just a sampling of courses in Serious Bloggers Only
- Pick Juicy Blog Topics that Captivate Your Readers
Choosing a Topic and Angle That Makes Getting Traffic Easy (or at Least Easier)
- Finding the Perfect Domain Name
Why Your Domain Name Sucks (and How to Find a Good One for a Reasonable Price
- Build Your Online Home
The Perfect, Pain-Free Setup for Your WordPress Blog
- One Page Blog Launch
Thrill Your Readers, Build Your List, and Launch Your Blog with a Bang — in Record Time
- How to Create an Irresistible Opt-In Page
Get People Pounding Down Your Door to Join Your Email List
- Social Espionage
How to Use Social Media to Network with Your Influencers
- Join the “In” Club
Network and Build Blog-Rocking Relationships with Key Influencers
- Blog Traffic 101
How to Get Influencers to Share Your Blog Posts, Even If They Have No Idea Who You Are
- SEO 101
Everything a Beginning Blogger Needs to Know (and Some Advanced Tips)
- Income on Autopilot
A Behind-The-Scenes Look at How I Use Autoresponders to Make Tens of Thousands of Dollars per Month on Autopilot
Other Extras in Serious Bloggers Only
- Black-Book of places to guest blog, most of the links are up to date.
- Workshop archive on just about all the topics in the written courses
- Weekly phone conferences archive in case you don’t make it to the call
- Facebook group and a private forum
- knowledgeable support staff
Things that could use improvement with Serious Bloggers Only
I enjoy the membership, but there are a few things I would like to see updated or made more user-friendly.
Morrow is not a video expert and admits that he probably never will get into that end of things. At this point, he has not ventured into podcasts yet though he admits he would like to. He doesn’t have a course on either of those topics.
By adding more teachers who have an expertise that he does not, and by updating the platform he could make Serious Bloggers Only even more excellent than it already is.
It isn’t interactive in that you can’t filter the courses by level, subject matter, or progress on one screen the way you can with Fizzle courses.
After using so many courses that are formatted with the teachable platform and similar interactive setups I like to be able to check off my progress for each section, so I know what I have worked through.
Serious Bloggers Only has the feel of long blog posts with some video extras added. There is a ton of material here, and it is easy to lose your way.
I suspect they will be updating the interface soon. When I first was thinking of signing up, I emailed and asked about the difference between Serious Bloggers Only and another course they offer only once in a while.
They told me the new year-long course gave you closer personal access to Jon Morrow and walked you through every step, while SBO is self-paced. They said they were working on revamping Serious Bloggers Only.
Worth every penny even with the old school interface
Even with the old school navigation, it’s worth way more than 49 dollars a month in materials and knowledge.
Morrow uses a tough-love tone in all of his writing. He tells it like it is and lets you know you’re a nobody who knows nothing when you start out, just like he was.
Until you have paid your dues by writing hundreds of guest posts, you can’t even begin to call yourself a writer. At least that’s the way Morrow sees it.
Until you’ve made connections with at least successful bloggers who will help you get traffic by giving you backlinks, you don’t stand a chance against your competition.
He makes it seem kind of bleak, but it is also a tactic to keep you around because he is going to teach you how to beat the odds.
He puts you through your paces with researching and writing, but he doesn’t even let you start working on your own blog until you’ve tested the waters, done your research, and figured out who your target audience is.
This is a smart approach and teaches you to serve your audience instead of just writing whatever you feel like writing and then getting the inevitable crickets when you post to your blog as a beginner.
Fizzle costs 39 dollars per month and gives you a free first month. Corbett Barr and Chase Reeves run it. They worked in start-ups and consulting before launching Fizzle. Barr splits his time between Portland OR and Mexico.
Chase Reeves has a background in web design and is the creative director at Fizzle. He lives in Portland full time. He is Hilarious, draws well, and loves to create videos that rock with imagery that helps you learn on the Fizzle platform.
Fizzle has a more playful, engaging style than Serious Bloggers Only, with lots of crisp visuals and a nifty interface that is easy to navigate.
But don’t let the humorous asides trick you into thinking these guys aren’t just as serious as Jon Morrow.
Once you get into the coursework, you can see how they have thought about fitting everything together in a sequence that makes sense for business owners.
Fizzle may have a weird name, but they have depth
One of the differences between SBO and Fizzle is that Fizzle has more courses about mindset and the psychology behind motivation and why we start an entrepreneurial business in the first place.
The Fizzle Roadmap
They have put together a long-term program that is meant to take you from infancy to adulthood in your business.
Fizzle has a specific program they suggest that you follow. But it is a lot easier than Serious Bloggers Only to see where you are in the sequence because of the way they have set it up so that you know which pieces you have already completed.
The reason it is so important to be able to mark each step as you go along is that starting a business is a little like a jigsaw puzzle. Trying to figure out what to do first can be disconcerting.
If you just surrender to the process they have laid out you can and do a little bit every week. It takes away some of the overwhelm of starting a new business or growing an existing business or getting your offline business online.
The Fizzle Roadmap helps you figure out where you are in the process and where to place yourself on the learning path.
They have broken it down into three primary phases with nine total phases to scale your successful business.
The first stage is when you have no website and no idea. The second phase is having a website and a focus but not making enough to live on yet. The third phase is making enough to live but ready for growth.
Fizzle has a broad focus
The one thing you don’t get with Fizzle is the multiple courses with detailed instructions on how to write well. Don’t get me wrong, they do have a blogging course and an email list building course that is detailed. But they don’t have ten writing courses the way Morrow does. And that’s fine because they are not focusing on blogging only.
Courses at Fizzle
They have just added hosting and a jam-packed SEO course with Matt Giovanisci. All of their courses are video-driven with check sheets and other downloads as well as written sections.
They have tons of filters on the course page, so you can easily find the beginning, intermediate, and advanced coursework or search by topic, or search for courses you have in progress.
Here is a sample of some of the courses
- Start a Blog that Matters with Corbett Barr
- Essentials of Shooting & Editing Video with Caleb Wojcik
- Essentials of Book Yourself Solid with Jason Bellows
- Shareable Images for Blogs & Social Media with Chase Reeves
- Essentials of shooting and Editing Video with Caleb Wojcik
- The Essentials of Building a Great Food Blog with Dana and John Shultz
- SEO for Bloggers with Matt Giovanisci
- Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way with Pat Flynn
- Build Your Email List: The First 10k Subscribers and Beyond with Corbett Barr
- Advanced Podcasting with John Lee Dumas
Fizzle has its own hosting plan
Fizzle just started to offer flywheel at the time of this review, managed WordPress hosting included with your monthly Fizzle account.
A genius move.
(I think John Morrow is doing something similar with offering WordPress hosting with a new separate membership course of his.)
Fizzle also has a member’s forum that is well structured and has a section where you can keep yourself accountable.
The beautiful thing about Fizzle is that you are getting a lot of different viewpoints. A lot of different experts teach the courses.
So if the Fizzle team aren’t experts at a given topic, they find someone who is and have them teach it.
I am a lot more comfortable with the Fizzle interface, but I feel like everyone who wants to build a blogging business should go through at least one month of the Jon Morrow Serious bloggers Only program as well.
Both Fizzle and Serious Bloggers Only are great learning platforms if you are in the process of building an online business. Anyone blogger at any level could benefit from both platforms.
Depending on your style and focus one or the other will probably resonate more with you and you will find yourself naturally drifting in that direction.
Serious Bloggers Only is focused more on the writing end of things and goes really in-depth on that subject as well as marketing. Fizzle branches out with a greater variety of topics and mediums and is a bit shallower in the topic of writing for your blog.
The great thing about both of these platforms is that they are always growing and adding more courses. Check them both out and then decide which one you like best.
They are both extremely reasonably priced considering everything they offer. So go check out Fizzle for free for the first month But also consider Jon Morrow’s Serious Bloggers Only members platform if you need to learn how to write well.
Over to you
Have you found a great monthly learning platform for online businesses? Please share it below in the comments!