Skillshare might not have a course on “How to Enjoy Learning,” but if you’re seriously considering using their online platform to acquire new knowledge, then you’ve likely already developed this important life skill.
Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong are the godfathers of Skillshare, having created the platform while living in New York City, New York in November of 2010. The platform has evolved into what we see today: A thriving marketplace for learners and teachers. It has been steadily making its mark as the go-to digital platform for elective online learning since its inception nearly 10 years ago.
We took Skillshare for a spin with a Premium access trial and can’t wait to show you what we found. Read on to find our comprehensive—and honest—review of Skillshare.
Table of Contents
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is a digital platform designed to connect students (you!) with online courses taught by real-world experts, creators, entrepreneurs, and professionals. It’s built to teach anyone anything.
Course subjects span the gamut, but typically revolve around sharing desirable creative and entrepreneurial skills. You can find classes like securing your WordPress site or how to paint fantasy woodlands in watercolor. All it takes is a quick search of their database to find a course built to teach you what you need to learn. If you’re not exactly sure where your curiosities are taking you, users can browse courses via the following predetermined categories on the site:
- Create: Animation, Creative Writing, Film & Video, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration, Music, Photography, UI / UX Design, Web Development
- Build: Business Analytics, Freelance & Entrepreneurship, Leadership & Management, Marketing
- Thrive: Lifestyle, Productivity
Since there are thousands of Skillshare courses to choose from, chances are high that you’ll find a relevant course for your knowledge gap.
Many users wonder “Is Skillshare accredited?” The answer is no—since Skillshare is neither a school nor college, none of their courses will earn you “certificates” in the same way that other learning institutions can underwrite your accomplishments. For those who are, in fact, seeking accredited online courses, you should consider checking out other e-learning platforms such as Coursera or edX instead of Skillshare.
Most Popular Skillshare Courses
The most popular courses on the platform at the time of writing include:
- Digital Illustration for All: Discover, Cultivate and Share Your Unique Personal Style with Laci Jordan
- Writing The Truth: How to Start Writing Your Memoir with Mary Karr
- Character Animation Basics: Create a Dance Loop with After Effects and Photoshop with Bee Grandinetti
- Instagram-Worthy Photography: Shoot, Edit & Share with Brandon Woelfel
- Discovering Success: 7 Exercises to Uncover Your Purpose, Passion & Path with Emma Gannon
- Fun With Faces: Create a Stylised Digital Portrait with Charly Clements
- Style Your Space: Creative Tips and Techniques for Interior Design with Emily Henderson
- Mastering Color: Simple Steps to Create Vivid Art with Victo Ngai
- Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works with Thomas Frank
Some of the most notable experts sharing content on the platform include:
- Marc Ecko—entrepreneurship and brand creation
- Seth Godin—entrepreneurship
- Young Guru—audio mixing and recording
- Jessica Hische—lettering
- Guy Kawasaki—entrepreneurship
- Paula Scher—graphic design
- Yuko Shimizu—inking and drawing techniques
How does Skillshare Work?
Skillshare members get instant-access to the platform’s course catalog, but which classes are available to you depend on your membership level (free vs. paid—more on that later). All you need to do is conduct a search for your target skill to find dozens, sometimes hundreds or thousands, of related courses to choose from.
For instance, a quick search for “painting” classes yields ~5000 results. You can easily refine your search with the built-in platform filters based on the following factors:
- View “Free,” “Premium,” or “All” courses
- Course length (How in-depth do you want your training to be? Do you prefer courses that are less than 15 minutes in length or more than 60 minutes long?)
- How old is the course? Was it recently published? Are the tips still relevant today?
Once you’ve found a class that piques your interest, you can assess course quality by reading both its “About” page and reviews from past students. Clicking around to the “Discussions” or “Project & Resources” tabs will give you a clearer picture of course contents and expectations. If it’s a good fit, you can get started immediately by simply starting to play the videos of the course.
Accessing the courses is ultra-convenient. You can keep your courses in your pocket via your phone or fire it up in your workspace from your laptop. Because Skillshare classes are pre-recorded, you can learn on your own time, at your own pace. No more class interruptions from Full-Of-Questions-Timmy or Constantly-Cracking-Jokes-Tommy.
Thanks to the “Discover” feature on the mobile app, you can get personalized recommendations based on your course participation and search history. This is a great feature if you’re hungry to learn, but you’re not quite sure what you want to learn just yet.
Pro tip: Get Ideas in the Project Gallery
Visual learners might consider browsing course options by viewing the Project Gallery in your Skillshare account. Here, you can see actual examples of completed work by other Skillshare members, as this photo gallery quickly displays the “final results” of others’ class selections and personal learnings. If you’re not satisfied at first glance, you can filter the gallery by Trending, Most Recent, and Top Voted projects, not to mention similar categories from the site’s “Course Browse” functionality.
When you come across an image that captures your ideal project outcome, click on the image to learn more details not only about the creator, but also the actual course they took to create such a masterpiece!
If you prefer to have more accountability and structure to your virtual learning, Skillshare’s workshops are a great path to explore. Workshops are a way of taking 2-3 complementary Skillshare classes in succession on a designated schedule set by a teacher. They typically last four weeks and are done simultaneously alongside other students, perfect for learning from not only your instructor, but from your peers as well.
So, if you’re looking for more of a “classroom feel” and like the idea of having a Community Manager helping you keep track of deadlines, this more intensive learning experience could be a good fit for you.
Groups were a late add-on to the Skillshare platform as a response to the growth of its massive community. Afterall, navigating millions of other platform users to find your peers is no easy task! Now, you can instantly connect with like-minded folks to learn more, stay abreast of current industry trends, and for general connections and networking. Groups can be a great tool to further challenge your own skill development and growth with the added benefit of peer-review.
Current Skillshare groups (and approximate size) at the time of writing include:
- Animators ~4800
- Writers ~6200
- Creative Business Owners ~10,700
- Digital Marketers ~8700
- Filmmakers ~4000
- Procreate ~2000
- Musicians ~3000
- Illustrators ~12,000
- UX/UX Designers ~3500
- Graphic Designers ~10,000
- Photographers ~8000
- Painters & Sketch Artists ~4800
- Watercolor Enthusiasts ~5000
- UI/UX Designers ~3000
- Developers ~4500
- Creative Coding Community (New)
- Skillshare Teachers ~3800
- Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners ~7500
- Creative Business Owners ~11,000
- Digital Marketers ~9000
- Freelancers ~6000
- Productivity Tips ~9000
- Crafters ~3000
- Calligraphers ~6000
If you consider yourself an expert in a topic area, you can add new courses to the platform so long as you follow the Teacher Handbook and create project-based, actionable lessons. It is free for teachers to add content to the site, but they earn income for their courses via a built-in affiliate program and royalties.
Review of Skillshare Pricing & Costs
No Skillshare review is complete without talking about the bottomline, so let’s get to it. Skillshare used to have a free membership a range of free courses but have replaced this with only a paid membership and a on-month free trial.
Skillshare’s premium membership costs $32 per month if you pay monthly, or $168 for a full year if you choose to be billed annually ($14 monthly). To get 30 days of premium membership for free, use our Skillshare link.
This gives you access to Skillshare’s 30,000+ courses and also lets you take your learning off-line, too—perfect for long flights or road trips.
My Review of Skillshare Courses
My honest Skillshare review? They knock it out of the park for me in a few big ways. First, the courses are both easy to find and easy to match to my goals. The provided course descriptions, reviews, and project outlines help me understand quickly whether or not the course will meet my needs.
The courses are broken up into “chapters” as short videos, which means I can easily replay parts of the course where I feel I have more to learn. This ease of jumping back and forth between content helps me get the most out of the course.
The Skillshare dashboard is a wealth of inspiration. The ability to quickly navigate to my saved lists of classes, see courses my favorite teachers are facilitating, and even view what’s hot across the platform—it starts to quench my thirst for knowledge from the moment I sign in.
The drawbacks of Skillshare are essential to consider and why I awarded the platform 4.5 out of 5 stars. I am disheartened by its lack of inclusivity for learners of all capabilities. They even have courses on website accessibility and singing on their own site! (Maybe it’s exec team will sign up for this course someday?). The platform also fails to quality control for instructors, putting the responsibility on us, as members, to assess our options more thoroughly. This is added work that the platform could alleviate with only a few changes.
The Advantages (Pros) of Skillshare
New and varied content
The sheer amount of new content that is added to the platform weekly is enough to keep even the busiest of brains engaged. Whether you want to pick up a new skill to make your resume shine, restyle your home, or master a hobby “just for the hell of it,” you can easily find dozens of opportunities to level up your repertoire. Further, Skillshare’s generous payment plans for teachers means that there’s no shortage of excellent instructors creating new and high-quality content regularly.
Now, if only there was more time in the day to learn it all!
Communities of like-minded learners
Feeling part of a peer-group can be hard when you have niche interests like Board Game Design or Floral Embroideries. Between Skillshare’s Groups, Workshops, and varied instructors, you’re unlocking a treasure trove of opportunity for connection and community building. This is a big perk for us “nerds” to feel part of something bigger than our own individual efforts AND it allows for us to learn not only from the experts, but from each other.
Easy to use all around
It took me all of 5 minutes to create my account, login, browse for content I’m interested in, and find a course that fit the bill. I was diving deep into my first course in less than 20 minutes, eager to find even more content to devour.
Kudos to Skillshare for making an easily navigable desktop AND mobile platform, and for including a start/stop functionality that syncs across devices.
Between the ability to “favorite” great teachers and save Skillshare classes to personalized lists, not to mention the Discovery section of the Skillshare app, I am never for want of new material to learn. And the fact that I get to learn on MY schedule makes Skillshare the equivalent of the 100 emoji.
Free trials available
Skillshare offers free Premium trials, giving new students a chance to “try before they buy”. You can always access a Skillshare free trial from their website.
Skillshare mobile app available
You can access Skillshare from your computer/ laptop via its website, or from your tablet/phone thanks to the Skillshare app. The best part? You can sync your progress in your selected Skillshare courses across all devices, be it your computer, phone, or tablet.
The Disadvantages (Cons) of Skillshare
Not fully accessible
As I was testing courses and building my Skillshare review, I was continually disappointed by the lack of closed captioning available on the videos. This essentially makes the platform impossible to use for those who are hearing impaired and not able to read lips. Minus points for exclusivity!
Not every teacher ROCKS
The variance in quality of instructors can be a continual challenge on your way to knowledge gain. Since being able to teach effectively is a hard-won skill in it of itself, it would be naive to believe that every instructor on the platform excels at the basics of teaching.
A good quality indicator is the number of students a course has hosted, as higher numbers tend to correlate with higher quality instructors. However, this isn’t always the case—some courses are just niche enough to not appeal to the “masses” anyway.
Conclusion: is Skillshare Worth it?
The chance to learn for learning’s sake is reason enough for me to soundly proclaim that Skillshare is worth it. The hands-on projects and ability to connect with others, including experts in your desired fields of knowledge, makes the $14 a month fee a bargain. The onus is on YOU to determine which courses would bring you the most value, whether you aim to bolster your resume with sparkling competitive skills or assert yourself as a professional hobbyist.
Skillshare members can gain much more than just new skills from the courses. You’ll fall in love with learning again, meet motivated and skilled peers that will challenge and inspire you, and may find yourself addicted (nay, obsessed!) with gaining knowledge.
Add a line item to your annual budget for Skillshare access. Your brain will thank you for it!