With a massive amount of online learning platforms available, is Skillshare worth your money?
In this Skillshare review, I reveal what it’s like after taking five classes. I also compare Skillshare to other popular alternatives like MasterClass, Udemy, and EdX.
So: is Skillshare worth it? Read on to find out!
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an online learning platform that hosts tens of thousands of classes, teaching you lessons based around the main themes of “create,” “build,” or “thrive.”
What are create, build, thrive?
- Creative Writing
- Film and Video
- Freelance & Entrepreneurship
Basically, any class that you can take (such as Fundamentals of DSLR photography) will fall under one of these categories (in the case of photography, it’s create).
So, under these categories, you have access to 20,000+ courses immediately upon sign up — there’s no limit once you subscribe!
Each of these classes is conducted entirely through video lessons. These video lessons are supplemented by downloadable resources, community boards, and interactive project spaces, where students are able to share their completed work.
And I’ll tell you — their subscription numbers are booming. Skillshare boasts more than 5 million students and 6,000 teachers with the average teacher earning $3,000 per year.
That’s right, you can make money off of Skillshare!
But that’s putting the cart before the horse. I’m not ready to teach anything — I’m here to learn first!
So let’s dive into who learns best from Skillshare!
Who is Skillshare for?
Skillshare is for anybody who is looking to learn a lot of different skills from a variety of teachers.
Again, there are 21,000+ classes from over 6,000 teachers. You get access to all of these classes with subscription. Skillshare really is for the person looking to try a variety of things, and try them immediately.
That’s another key point: the immediacy. These classes are brisk — with many of the lessons being well under 10 minutes apiece. These are not dawdling, introspective courses.
They are about teaching you a skill as efficiently as possible.
Skillshare places a big emphasis on creativity, and I’d venture that their most successful courses fall into that category. Things like quilting, cooking, photography seem to be much more effective on Skillshare than, say, corporate negotiations.
For the creative folks hoping to learn skills as quickly as possible, Skillshare is a compelling learning platform that delivers quality instructions.
On top of that, Skillshare has a Free version, which gives you access to around a 10th of their catalogue (many of the courses they offer have expanded versions in the premium subscription).
If you’re looking to “try before you buy” for online learning, Skillshare is a great product for you!
How much does Skillshare cost?
Skillshare has two basic subscription models: free and premium.
Free is straightforward: it’s free!
The catch is that you have access to a limited library of courses (about 10% of the total). On top of that, some of the classes that you take in Free are only partial courses, meaning that you have to splurge for Premium just to finish the class.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that Skillshare is not that expensive! It’s only $15 a month (or $99 for a year if you pay all at once).
That’s not bad for access to 21,000 courses!
So, for a monthly subscription less than the price of a decent bottle of wine, you get access to a tremendous amount of learning.
For this Skillshare review, I decided to purchase the Premium version, as I wanted to really dig into all that Skillshare had to offer.
But when I went to sign up on their page, the craziest thing happened.
They offered me two months of Premium for free.
That’s right. Free.
I’m not kidding. It’s not two months with a yearly subscription. It’s two months free. Cancel any time (though I’m not canceling any time soon).
You seriously owe it to yourself to check out Skillshare at this time. There’s no risk!
How does Skillshare work?
It’s pretty easy.
You log into Skillshare and right at the top is this search bar that says “what do you want to learn today?”
Type in whatever you want to learn (I typed in pasta), and then click the class that strikes your fancy (I clicked Make Fresh Pasta the Real Italian Way by Eataly).
From there, you’re taken to the class page. On the class page you’ll see:
- A video with your lesson
- A bar that shows all the lessons in the class and their total runtime
- Fresh pasta total runtime was 1 hour and 6 minutes
- An about section that details
- Who teaches your class
- What you’ll learn
- The class projects you’ll partake in
- Class reviews
- Resources and Student Projects
Each of the classes comprises video lessons that you follow along with. Each class has at least one project which learners can practice their newfound skills on.
Then, if you’re bold, you can upload the results of your student project to the class, where fellow students can offer guidance and suggestions.
Additionally, each class offers downloadable resources (recipes, small textbooks) that offer extra material to help you master the material.
You can also find classes through browsing the course catalogue, which is conveniently organized by category. It’s up to you whether to use the catalogue or simply search. Either works great!
What are workshops?
Skillshare workshops are curated classes that are set around a schedule designated by the course teacher. These classes ensure that the entire class masters the material at the same time, allowing students to help each other along the way.
These classes are definitely in the minority at Skillshare, but their unique format is worth checking out — especially if you’re looking for a more traditional learning experience with additional accountability.
My experience with Skillshare
To ensure that I could give you the best, most in-depth information on Skillshare, I took five classes on the platform across a variety of topics.
Here are my thoughts on each
Make Fresh Pasta the Real Italian Way
I love pasta! I figured I’d give pasta making a shot. Besides, it’s produced by Eataly — the Italian Grocery Store/Restaurant Chain that makes exceptional pasta and pastries (try the pecora ricotta cannoli next time you go).
My teacher, Nicoletta Grippo, is an instructor at the La Scuola di Eataly, so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.
Lesson one is a simple introduction, but lesson two introduces us to dry vs. fresh pasta.
It surprised me when she said that “one is not better than the other.” Call me naive, but I always assumed fresh was superior. Not so! It depends upon the dish.
And, as a result, Nicoletta teaches how to make both fresh and dry pasta dishes.
The rest of the lessons go through:
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- Tools needed
- Dough types
- Shaping pasta
- Making sauce
- Enjoying your hard work
It’s a fun class of 12 lessons that runs a brisk 66 minutes and teaches three recipes. Easy stuff!
I was, however, a bit disappointed to know that the lasagna dish needed a pasta maker. While she told us this in the “tools” lesson, it would have been nice to know what was needed for the whole class upfront.
All in all, it was a very fun + quick class that was easy and informative, even though it required some specialized equipment.
Fundamentals of DSLR Photography
I’ve never been a good photographer. On any family trip, the camera somehow always seems to be yanked from my hands and given to anyone else.
I’ve always wanted to be more competent with a camera, so I figured this class would be a great place to start.
My teacher, Justin Bridges, gives a 79 minute class over 10 lessons that give you a dive into the science and technical elements of the camera itself. It’s not an artsy class; it’s a tech workshop.
This is good. I only know what a shutter is… and a flash. That’s it.
Justin is a calm and authoritative voice throughout the class — offering easy-to-understand and easy-to-incorporate instruction.
He goes through:
- Balancing shutter speed, aperture, and ISO
- Controlling background blur
- Editing photos
- A guide on buying cameras and lenses
It’s a clean class that provides competent instruction at a fast clip; you’re finished in less than an hour and a half. While the class doesn’t really teach much about the style of photography, nor much about artistry itself, it offers a lot of easy-to-implement instruction on the more technical aspects of DSLR photography, allowing you to bring better technique to your photographs.
Music Theory Comprehensive Part 1
Music is a foreign language to me. I know which beats to clap on, and I know what an arpeggio is, but other than that, I’m swimming in an ocean with a deflating lifejacket.
So, I wanted to take a music theory class to give me a better knowledge base for music.
I had no idea this class would be so granular.
Over a course of 3 plus hours (remember, this is just part 1), teacher Jason Allen walks you through the nitty-gritty of the absolute basics of music theory.
It’s very granular. There are lessons on “what is a music score?” “what is an octave?”
He basically spends three hours explaining what a score is. I have to be honest, I found the name to be a tad misleading — I thought it would be a lot more about the theory of music than the labeling of the score, but that’s what you get!
This brings me to a small complaint: the quality control of classes at Skillshare isn’t great. Anyone can apply to teach classes. While the cream rises to the top, there are plenty of classes that are substandard. Luckily, you have to search them out.
For this class, I did search it out. I found a well-received course by Jason, but it was a Part 2. So, I spelunked through Skillshare to find part one. It’s not nearly as popular, and therefore harder to find.
Mind Favor presents a body language masterclass that breaks down the subtleties of common body language signs and their meanings. It’s a relatively brief course at 43 minutes (with 27 lessons), but it offers some great information along with good explanations and examples.
I particularly liked the lesson on “slightly to the right.” Check it out!
Science Fiction and Fantasy: Creating Unique and Powerful Worlds
The last class I took was a writing class, particularly on world-building.
I’m an avid writer. I love cranking out screenplays, novellas, all sorts of stories. I wanted to learn how to make my worlds more believable and immersive.
This worldbuilding class was excellent.
Over the course of an hour and two minutes, I was taught about:
- Thematic Worldbuilding
- Worldbuilding Granularity
- Discovering Unexplored Ground
And much more that helped me build out my fictional worlds!
The class project, creating an invisible city, was a phenomenal exercise that really helped me think of the setting as a character itself.
I highly recommend!
So what are the alternatives for Skillshare and how does it stack up against the competition?
Well, I’d say there are three solid competitors.
Skillshare vs Udemy
Udemy is definitely geared more to professional development, as opposed to Skillshare, which is much more project-based.
While there are some business-related projects and classes, the reality is that Skillshare veers heavily to the “creative” lane. Just look at the classes I reviewed!
- Skillshare: $99 for a year
- Udemy: Pay per class. Class prices range from $0 to $200
Skillshare vs EdX.
EdX is an online, open-source course provider. It provides hundreds of college-level courses for anyone to take. You can enroll in a verified track for $50.00, which provides a certificate upon completion. Or, you can audit any class for free.
These classes are much longer on average and are styled after college classes. This means that they’re, in general, more difficult, and offer more academic knowledge as opposed to practical skills.
Skillshare vs MasterClass
MasterClass is a highly-curated online course system with dozens of classes taught by some of the biggest names in their fields (think Gordon Ramsay teaches cooking).
- Highly curated classes. No duds for teachers
- Learn from the brightest minds in their fields
- High production value
- Great homework and a vibrant community for support
- Classes have solid length + supporting material
- $180 for a year; $90 for a single class
- Fewer classes than Skillshare
Compared to MasterClass, Skillshare has more classes, but less quality control when it comes to the teachers. Skillshare classes are, generally, shorter and more to the point.
They’re both great! It just depends upon your learning style. Check out our MasterClass review to learn more.
So, is Skillshare worth it?
We’re at the end! I know you’re dying to know: is Skillshare worth it?
Let’s hit the pros and cons real quick
- Tons of different courses
- Skillshare has 20,000 courses on nearly any topic you can imagine.
- Courses are based around projects
- Each course is designed to ensure you get a practical skill upon completion
- Courses aren’t too long
- Each one runs around an hour
- The price is competitive
- $99 for a year, plus 2 months free is a steal.
- You can apply to teach a class!
- Teachers are paid based upon views of their classes. Get some money in yo’ pocket!
As with any class, there were a few things I didn’t like as much. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t let you in on these.
- Finding classes can be hard
- The course catalogue can be a little difficult to navigate.
- Quality Control is scattershot
- Some of the classes I took were stellar, while others weren’t as great. There are ratings for each class to help you decide — make sure you use these!
- Material is brief
- While this can be a pro if you’re looking to keep your lessons short, I found some of the classes to be a bit light on details.
So, on the whole, I’d definitely give Skillshare a resounding worth it!
Skillshare is a great platform for picking up fun new skills in a small time.
Each lesson usually takes around an hour, and you end with a new project completed — ensuring that you mastered the material presented.
Plus, you get to post the results of those projects on Skillshare — or spam them on your Facebook wall + Instagram feed.
And why not? You did the work! You deserve it.