It’s been nearly a decade since the online learning platform Skillshare first launched, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. It’s currently home to nearly 30,000 classes that teach a specific skill in an interactive and engaging way.
To make matters even better, thousands of those classes are available completely for free! Most, however, are locked behind a monthly subscription fee.
So what is Skillshare and is it worth it for you? I’ve assembled my thoughts after using the platform for quite some time to help you decide. Keep reading for everything you need to know about one of the world’s biggest learning platforms, from pricing to best courses and more!
Special offer: Grab two weeks of Skillshare Premium for free at this promotional link. Normally it’s just a 7-day free trial, so don’t miss out!
October 2020 update: This guide has been updated to reflect changes in the Skillshare Premium free trial, and a few other minor details.
Affiliate disclosure: Articles on Tiny Workshops may contain affiliate links.
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an online learning platform and community for creative people who want to learn illustration, design, photography, writing, technology, entrepreneurship, and more.
What makes it unique when compared to other learning platforms is that each course is focused on learning a specific task, typically in less than an hour.
Not all courses are short, however, with some longer, more in-depth tutorials on software available as well. The longest I’ve seen is this Adobe Photoshop CC Advanced Training Course, which runs nearly 14 hours long (and is a great course to boot!).
In addition to creative courses, Skillshare also has a social component, although it isn’t exactly at the level of a social media platform. You can share your work with classmates and join “Groups” of people with similar interests. I’ll talk more about this aspect later in this guide.
Skillshare is an American company, and although nowadays its users are spread around the world, nearly all courses are offered in English. The platform boasts more than 5 million users, most of whom are in the United States.
How does Skillshare work?
Skillshare works as an online streaming platform, so you pick the class you want to take and a queue of videos will appear. Think of it like an interactive YouTube playlist where someone teaches you how to do something.
Although there are about 2000 free classes available, most require a monthly subscription called Skillshare Premium. Thanks to a special promotion, you can currently get 2 weeks of Premium for free here.
As you work your way through a course, you can ask questions to the teacher or other students in the Discussions tab. Most teachers provide answers and feedback fairly quickly, but be patient as teaching usually isn’t their full time job.
Once you finish the final assignment, you can share it under the Projects & Resources tab. There you can like other student’s work, or even follow their profiles to see more!
Who teaches Skillshare classes?
Virtually anyone can teach a Skillshare class as long as they have a skill to teach and the desire to teach it! The bar of entry for new teachers is fairly low.
This means that the platform has a mix of professional teachers and hobbyists that don’t have any experience teaching. However, it also means that there is a constant stream of new classes available and a wide variety of topics covered.
Granted, not every course on the platform will be a winner, but since you get access to the full catalog for one subscription fee, you’re guaranteed to find quality courses in virtually every category.
As a student, in my experience what works best is finding a teacher you like and checking out their other courses. If they are a professional teacher, they probably have several high-quality courses in the same niche.
A bit further down in the guide I recommend a few of my favorite teachers, and some tips on finding the best classes.
How do I teach a Skillshare class?
If you want to create your own class on Skillshare, the process of getting your content on the platform is relatively painless. The platform isn’t too picky when it comes to subject matter or course quality (within reason), as long as it adheres to the platform’s guidelines.
The real work is in planning and creating the course in the first place.
Definitely check these two out, even if you plan on creating classes on other platforms. They’re great free resources!
How much does Skillshare pay?
Skillshare claims that the top teachers make over $100,000 a year on the platform, but casual teachers will make much less than this. How much Skillshare pays depends on how many hours paying subscribers spend watching your content.
Teachers need to have a minimum of 30 minutes watched by paying members. It also helps to have several courses available so people who enjoy your first course can jump to the next one!
However, it’s not all good news for teachers on Skillshare. An option was recently added to change the playback speed of courses, which can and will have an effect on your bottom line as a teacher. 30 minutes watched at 2x speed only counts as 15 minutes for payouts.
Still, it can be worth it to create a course on Skillshare. There’s a huge community and engaged userbase already built-in to the platform.
And don’t worry, it’s a completely legitimate platform and will dispense payments on time and in full. Learn more or get started by clicking the button below.
How much is Skillshare?
Skillshare Basic is technically free, but most courses are locked behind Skillshare Premium, which costs $19 a month. You can also save money with the $99 annual plan, which works out to $8.25 a month.
Typically there’s a free 7-day trial, but right now you can get 2 weeks of Premium for free with this link while the promotion lasts.
Although an annual subscription is significantly cheaper, the nice thing about paying by the month is that you can cancel at any time. You’ll lose access to classes, so hopefully the skills you learned stuck!
Another thing to consider is that annual subscriptions aren’t refundable after 7 days, so be sure you’ll use it before pulling the trigger!
Becoming a Skillshare Premium subscriber has more benefits than just access to classes, like the ability to download courses for offline viewing. Check out a full list of benefits below.
Benefits of Skillshare Premium:
- Access to all classes: Nearly 30,000 classes are unlocked with a single fee.
- No ads: Free classes include ads, but a Premium subscription removes them.
- Enhanced community access: Get feedback and advice for your projects from Skillshare’s growing community.
- Offline access: Download classes on your phone or tablet via the app for offline viewing.
- Support your favorite teachers: Membership fees go towards paying your favorite teachers.
- Other perks: Discounts on other services like Squarespace, Adobe Creative Cloud, Todoist, and others (annual membership only).
Is Skillshare worth it?
I can sit here and describe the platform all day, but the million dollar question is this: Is Skillshare worth it?
Sure, there’s a free version with thousands of classes, so you don’t technically have to spend any money. However, these courses feature frequent advertisements, so you’re essentially paying with your time and attention.
To help you decide whether or not the platform is right for you, I’ve collected my experience into a simple list of pros and cons below. Below that I’ve expanded on each point and provided a final verdict.
- Free version available
- Constantly growing library
- Simple and easy to use
- Some social elements
- Free version has ads
- Many low-quality courses
- Requires persistent subscription
Pro: Free version available
There aren’t many places online where you can get full-fledged courses for free, but Skillshare is one of them.
With just an email address and an internet connection you gain access to thousands of free courses covering a wide variety of subjects. They won’t be the best classes on Skillshare, but it’s a great way to get started.
If you find yourself liking it, you can also take advantage of a two-week free trial of Skillshare Premium before spending any money.
Con: The Free version has ads
A free version is obviously a huge advantage, but it does come with some caveats. Apart from a limited library, free courses also feature frequent advertisements.
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s watched tutorials on YouTube, for example, but it is certainly an annoyance.
Because of this, it’s better to think of the free version as a stepping stone to Premium, rather than a true standalone service.
Pro: Constantly growing library
One of Skillshare’s biggest advantages is its enormous course library. Since most courses are short and teacher-uploaded, there’s always new content being added.
There are currently around 30,000 courses, so you’re guaranteed to find something that interests you, no matter how niche your hobbies may be.
Con: Many low-quality courses
The downside of teacher-uploaded courses is that not all of them are bound to be winners. In fact, many of them are simply not worth your time even if they are free.
Searching for courses often returns thousands of results, and it can be tough to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The best way to do this is to find a teacher you like and check out the rest of their courses. If you’re new to the platform, you can also rely on user reviews and staff picks.
I’ve listed some advice for new users on finding the best classes below, so keep reading or scroll down if you’re interested!
Pro: Simple and easy to use
Although it can be difficult to sort through the massive catalog of courses, the process of searching for and watching courses couldn’t be simpler thanks to Skillshare’s easy-to-use platform.
Videos are essentially laid out in a linear playlist, so you can just sit back and watch. Content is also broken into short segments, so it’s easy to jump back and revisit difficult sections.
The mobile app isn’t quite as good an experience as the browser version, but it’s still a good way to watch courses on the go. Plus, it’s the only way to download videos to watch offline.
Con: Requires persistent subscription
While it’s great that you can unlock Skillshare’s entire library with a single monthly subscription, this payment scheme also means that you lose access when you stop paying.
Other options, like Domestika and Udemy, allow you to purchase courses individually and keep them forever. The fact that Skillshare doesn’t offer this means you can’t go back and rewatch courses you liked unless you keep paying.
Pro: Some social elements
One more nice thing about Skillshare is that it has a number of small and large communities of like-minded learners.
Called “Groups”, these communities can be a great way to get feedback or advice about your work. Several of these have well over 10,000 members and active discussion boards. Check out a few examples below to see what they’re all about.
Popular Skillshare groups:
Verdict: Is Skillshare worth it?
If you like to learn new skills about a variety topics, Skillshare is absolutely worth it. Access to thousands of classes for a single fee represents a great value for frequent learners.
However, if what you are after is in-depth classes on a specific craft or subject, Skillshare may not be the right choice. Scroll down a bit to see a few Skillshare alternatives that might be a better fit.
If you’re not sure, the good news is that you can try it out for free. You can try out a few free classes right away, or try the full offering by starting your free trial of Skillshare Premium below.
Skillshare 2 week free trial: Get Skillshare for free!
As mentioned above, the platform normally only offers a 7-day free trial, but there is an ongoing promotion offering a Skillshare 2-week free trial.
You can take a lot of classes in two weeks, so it’s a great way to find out whether or not you like the platform before spending a dime!
Best Skillshare classes
With tens of thousands of classes about hundreds of different topics available, it can be hard to pick out the best Skillshare classes from the list. Plus, many classes truly aren’t worth your time, so it’s easy to make the wrong choice.
I’ve put together a short list of recommendations on how to find the best Skillshare classes, but ultimately the best way is trying out courses and finding teachers that you like.
Still, here’s a good place to start!
Skillshare Originals and Staff Picks
Many years ago Skillshare was beginning to get bad press for low course quality, so to combat this the company began to create Skillshare Originals in 2018.
These classes are produced by Skillshare itself, and today there are nearly 700 different Skillshare Original classes available on the platform. Virtually all of them are worth taking, and they can be a great place to start.
Here is a short list of some of the best Skillshare Original classes:
- Digital Illustration: Learn to Use Procreate
- Graphic Design Basics: Core Principles for Visual Design
- Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works
- Fundamentals of DSLR Photography
- Hand Lettering Essentials for Beginners
Staff Picks are another great way to find courses. These are handpicked classes that meet the high standards set by editors. Check out the full list here, but there are one or two new courses picked every week.
Best Skillshare teachers
Another great way to select good courses is by teacher. Since so much of Skillshare classes (or any classes, really) depends on the instructor, following some of the best teachers on the platform is a must.
There isn’t a list of the top Skillshare teachers anywhere that I could find, so I put together this list of a few of my favorites to help you get started. All of them have many courses available, but I’ve also listed their main topics. Just click the name to see their full list of classes!
Best Skillshare teachers
- Jake Bartlett: After Effects, motion graphics, lettering
- Aaron Draplin: Logo design, graphic design, illustration
- Christine Nishiyama: Character design, illustration, drawing
- Sean Dalton: Photography, Instagram marketing
- Dale McManus: Smartphone photography, Instagram marketing
- Daniel Scott: Adobe Suite, graphic design
- Cat Coquillette: Illustration, painting, Photoshop
- Thomas Frank: Productivity
- Brent Eviston: Drawing, creativity
- Rich Armstrong: Art, web design, motion graphics
The last recommendation I have for new users is Workshops. This is a relatively new feature that groups together several related classes into a longer course.
These Workshops have a start and end date, which is a great way to avoid procrastination. Other students taking the classes at the same time also means you can get instant feedback and inspiration.
The reason why I’m including Workshops here is that they are hosted by editors, so content is handpicked from the best Skillshare classes on the platform. Check out the latest Workshops at the link below!
Skillshare is certainly one of the largest online learning platforms for creatives, but it definitely isn’t the only one.
Nowadays you have a number of options to try out, and each one has its own unique benefits and drawbacks.
Here’s a short selection of Skillshare competitors and a few reasons why they might be a better choice for you!
Skillshare vs Domestika
If you find yourself wanting more high-quality classes like Skillshare Originals, you should definitely check out Domestika. It’s filled with hundreds of courses hosted by experts and produced by a team of in-house professionals.
Both are focused primarily on skills for creatives, but Domestika courses tend to be significantly longer and more in-depth. You also buy them individually rather than paying for a subscription, costing from $10-40 each. Once purchased, you will never lose access.
The major downside of Domestika is that most of its courses are in Spanish with auto-generated English subtitles. There is a growing list of English-language Domestika courses, but for now the list is fairly limited.
Still, if you can put up with subtitles Domestika has higher quality, more in-depth courses and doesn’t require a persistent subscription fee.
Skillshare vs Udemy
Udemy is another major international competitor, with courses in a number of different languages. In fact, most of its users are located outside of the United States.
Like Skillshare, Udemy courses are produced and uploaded by teachers themselves, which means there are tons of courses on offer, but they might not always be the highest quality.
Udemy courses tend to be more in-depth, and are sold individually as one-off purchases. You won’t lose access once you buy them, but they can be expensive (hundreds of dollars).
However, frequent sales bring these price down by as much as 95%, which is a much better value for what you get. Check it out at the link below.
Skillshare vs Masterclass
In many ways, Masterclass takes the complete opposite approach to online courses as Skillshare. Each class is taught by well-known and respected professionals, many of whom are celebrities in their own right.
Learn storytelling from Neil Gaiman, music production from Timbaland, cooking from Gordon Ramsay, or acting from Natalie Portman. As you might expect, each class is impeccably produced, although the list of topics covered is fairly limited.
Masterclass also has a single subscription fee that unlocks all content on the platform. However, it’s billed annually and costs $200. This makes it an expensive but interesting way to learn new skills.
Skillshare vs Lynda (AKA LinkedIn Learning)
Lynda has been a very popular platform for online learning for more than two decades now. So popular, in fact, that it was purchased by LinkedIn back in 2015. It’s currently being rebranded as LinkedIn Learning, but for now I’ll stick to Lynda for simplicity.
Both Lynda and Skillshare offer all-you-can-watch subscriptions, but Lynda’s premium subscription is significantly more expensive at $30 a month. This is due to the significantly higher course quality, with all courses following a similar curriculum and strict requirements for teachers enforced.
As you might imagine after the LinkedIn purchase, Lynda is more focused on job-oriented skills, and offers certificates to add directly to your LinkedIn profile upon completion. Check this one out if you’re looking to boost your career instead of learn some new crafting skills.
Can you download Skillshare videos?
Yes, but only on the Android and iOS apps. Simply navigate to the class you want to download and press the Download class button. Once they’re finished downloading, you can watch the videos offline at your leisure!
Who owns Skillshare?
Skillshare is a private company that was founded by Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong. It’s funded by 21 different investors, raising over $100 million over 8 rounds of funding.
Where is it located?
The company is headquartered in New York City, right in the heart of Manhattan.
Is Skillshare accredited?
Skillshare classes are not accredited, as most of them can be completed in an hour or less. Classes are intended to teach a single skill rather than full working knowledge of a topic or software.
Still, it may be worthwhile to include courses on your resume if you don’t have much experience. Another solution is to take courses on a different platform, like LinkedIn Learning or Domestika.
What is Skillshare Premium?
Skillshare Premium is the platform’s subscription service. Most classes require an active Premium subscription, but you can get a two-week free trial to check it out before paying.
How much is Skillshare Premium’s monthly cost?
Skillshare Premium costs $19 a month if you pay month-to-month, or $8.25 if billed annually (at $99).
Can I get a refund on Skillshare Premium?
Skillshare has a fairly restrictive policy on subscription refunds, but you can get a refund in certain circumstances.
Annual Skillshare Premium subscriptions are refundable if requested within 7 days of payment. Monthly subscriptions are not refundable, and only one refund will be allowed per customer.
To request a refund, fill out this ticket form with your details. Be aware that it can take up to 14 days to get your money back.
Is Skillshare legit?
Skillshare is absolutely legit for both students and teachers. It isn’t cheap, but it offers a lot of great courses to explore, and payments to teachers are always made on time and in full.
Does Skillshare teach languages?
Yes! There are hundreds of language lessons on Skillshare, including Spanish, French, Italian, Korean, Japanese, and many others. There are even courses for American sign language! Check out the full list of language classes here.
Does Skillshare have coding classes?
Check out all coding classes on the platform here.
Can I use Skillshare on Roku?
No, it does not currently work on Roku streaming devices.
Can I use Skillshare on Xbox? What about PlayStation consoles?
No, it does not currently work on Xbox or PlayStation consoles.
Can I use Skillshare on Amazon Fire TV?
No, it does not currently work on Amazon Fire TV devices.
Is Skillshare free?
Skillshare is free, but most of its classes are locked behind a Premium subscription. There are roughly 2000 courses included in the free program.
That’s it for this comprehensive guide to everything Skillshare! Let me know if you have any more questions or comments below. Happy learning!