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In 2008, Amy Webb watched as many of her former journalism colleagues, including those who had been employed by the shuttered Rocky Mountain News, lost their jobs. Many had worked in newsrooms for most of their careers and weren't confident in mastering the technology necessary for them to change careers, or even become successful freelancers.
Webb, a former reporter and the CEO of Webbmedia Group, a Baltimore, Md., company that creates marketing and media programs, created a free webinar to help teach jobless journalists everything from how to set up a home office to using social networks. More than 100 people participated in the first free webinar.
Continuing demand led Webb to launch Knowledgewebb.net , an online learning center where freelancers and small-business owners of all stripes can learn the technology for their businesses. With more than 150 hands-on lessons, the website has recently undergone a relaunch to serve more customers more effectively. To date, the site has trained tens of thousands of people.
For those struggling with the "what next?" aspect of starting a business or re-creating a career, the site offers access to coaches who can help members identify opportunities as well as the skills and training they'll need to take advantage of those opportunities.
"One of the things that bugs me about other training sites is that you're laid off or you're desperate to learn stuff and you join for some initial fee, but then all of the good stuff comes at an a la carte fee, so it's $10 here and $20 there," Webb says. She made all of her site's content and services available for one $129 annual fee. Current memberships are in the multiple thousands, she says.
The site features a discussion board for members to communicate and network with one another. Live chats provide information quickly and on-point to members seeking help. Members can check the site's calendar for the next scheduled chat and join in.
Webb and her team are planning regional meet-ups and conferences to allow members to network face-to-face. "We'd like our members to be able to connect in person and meet some movers and shakers at our events," she says.