Skillshare Review: Is It The Right Platform For You?

Catherine Cooke

13 April, 2020

Skillshare

Skillshare Review

In 2010 two veterans of the digital world founded Skillshare in New York. With over 5 million users and more than 25,000 courses (or as they say classes), it is one of the most popular elearning platforms with a focus on creative professionals and entrepreneurs.

It’s a bit different from other platforms such as Skillshare as course topics are aimed at the creative and entrepreneurial niche. As with many other competitors, a selection of courses are offered free, but are they worth it?

But hold on. Is Skillshare any good? How much is it? Let’s find out more in this thorough Skillshare review.

Free Classes

Skillshare offers about 10% of its courses for free meaning about 2,000 classes can be accessed at no cost.

Affordable

Skillshare pricing is affordable, especially if you commit for a yearly deal as you’ll get almost a 50% discount.

Generous Free Trial

They offer 1-month free trials, and sometimes you can even get a promotion with 2-months trial periods, very few platforms are as generous as Skillshare is.

Engaged Community

Skillshare has a highly engaged community, this can make its classes interactive and fun.

Big pool of courses

Skillshare offers a few courses (thousands) and all will be available to premium Skillshare members.

No Certificates

There isn’t any type of official (or non official) certification awarded when you finish a course. It’s a platform for personal growth.

Quality Miss and Match

Since anyone can create their own course at Skillshare the available courses’ quality can vary from course to course.

Only Available In English

Although Skillshare welcomes courses in any language, in reality, there isn’t much on offer in languages other than English.

Skillshare Review Verdict

Skillshare is a good elearning platform, even if it doesn’t have as many courses as others (e.g. Udemy), it provides a lot of resources for creative people and entrepreneurs.

It’s also an affordable solution as it can be as cheap as $8.25 a month if you decide to go for an annual subscription (be aware that you’ll need to pay the full amount in advance).

There is also a generous free plan (with access to about 10% of the classes), and a 1-month free trial.

Who Is Skillshare For?

This elearning platform is aimed for professionals that want to develop new skills or improve existing ones. Since it’s focused on creative workers (e.g. designers, chefs, artists, etc.) and entrepreneurs (e.g. marketers or SEOs), freelancers or small businesses are the ones that will enjoy Skillshare the most.

However, if you are after some sort of formal education (or certificate), Skillshare won’t be a good match for you. For these cases, I would suggest you check Coursera out.

How Much Is Skillshare?

Skillshare prices are simple, you can either have a free account (with limited courses and features) or a premium account that will give you access to over 25,000 courses and the ability to watch the classes offline.

  • Skillshare Monthly: You’ll pay month by month a subscription fee of $15. You can cancel it at any time.
  • Skillshare Yearly: Pay $99 a year for your annual Skillshare membership, this comes out at $8.25 per month, a big discount compared to the monthly deal.

Be aware that Skillshare offers a 1-month trial period, and on some occasions, there’s a promotion for 2-month trials.

There is also the package Skillshare Teams that allows businesses and organizations to provide access to the platform for their employees. The prices start at $99 per user a year.

For more information about how much Skillshare costs, you can check out our pricing guide.

How To Open A Skillshare Account?

Skillshare open an account

Open an account with Skillshare

Opening a Skillshare account is very easy, you only need to follow these steps:

  1. Visit Skillshare.com and click on ‘Sign in’ (top right corner)
  2. Click on ‘Sign up’ and decide what registration system you’d like to use: your own email, Facebook or your Google account
  3. Check your Skillshare confirmation email

Skillshare premium button

Go Premium Skillshare button

If you’d like to get a premium Skillshare account, you only need to click on the ‘Go Premium’ button (see image above) and decide what subscription model you’d like to purchase (annual or monthly).

Examples Of Popular Skillshare Courses

Allow me to give you an overview of the different courses that you can find at Skillshare, I’ll give you 5 examples of popular classes in this creative elearning platform.

Skillshare Students enrolled per course

  1. iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone – Taught by Dale McManus, this a beginner’s course that will teach you to take pictures with your iPhone. At this time around 60,000 students have enrolled in the course and it has an active community with more than 200 interactions.
  1. Video Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro for Beginners – It’s 3.5 hours long (19 lessons) that will show you all the ins and outs of this Adobe software. So far over 40,000 students have checked out this course, and there are over 250 interactions among its students.
  1. Logo Design with Draplin: Secrets of Shape, Type and Color – Aaron Draplin’s course is a best seller at Skillshare, as more than 70,000 people have watched it. This reputed graphic designer teaches a logo creation workflow and gives you creative tips. The course is aimed at students who already have some knowledge.
  1. Ink Drawing Techniques: Brush, Nib, and Pen Style – With around 40,000 students this introductory course to ink drawing taught by Yuko Shimizu has over 2,500 (mainly good) reviews from past students.
  1. Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action – Is a Skillshare Original (means is produced by Skillshare) that has had around 40,000 students so far. This beginner’s course will allow you to have a blueprint for your social media.

6 Steps To Find The Perfect Skillshare Course

Like most of the other elearning platforms, Skillshare has a review system that you can check to find out what previous students think about a certain course. But these aren’t the only ways you can find the right course for you, let me highlight some tips on how you can find the right class for you.

Filter out the courses

If you buy on sites like Amazon or eBay you are probably used to the filters to narrow your searches down. Skillshare’s interface comes with filters you can use to find the right course for you.

Skillshare filter view

Skillshare filter view

Once you’ve selected a category (topic) you can then filter the classes out by free vs premium and select the desired course duration (in minutes). There is also the possibility to order the classes by popularity or trend.

Sadly, its filters don’t have as many options as the ones you can find in other elearning platforms such as Coursera or Udemy, but they can be useful too.

About this class

In the course landing page, you can find the ‘About this class’, a section that will detail who the course is aimed at, what you will learn, the level of the class (from beginner to advanced) and the skills that you’ll be able to acquire after completion.

Skillshare about this class

Skillshare about this class

There is also a short blurb about the instructor, normally it details their experience, passion and why they teach this subject.

A good place to start is checking that the skills taught in the course are what you are looking to learn and that the level of the course matches your experience.

Available projects

Since Skillshare classes are project-based, you can have a sneak peek of the projects that the instructor will use to support her or his teaching throughout the lessons.

Skillshare course projects

Skillshare sneak peek of the course projects

As you can see in the image above, the course resources can be accessed even before starting the course. I’d recommend doing so as they will give you a pretty clear idea of what you’ll be practising and learning.

Read reviews at Skillshare

Another great tip to find the course of your dreams is to be checking what past students have to say about it.

Skillshare reviews and rating

Its review system offers a breakdown of what students thought of the course, you can then click on one of the grades and read the reviews for it (e.g. only ‘Exceeded!’ rating reviews).

You can also go ahead and read some of the reviews from other users, but be aware that Skillshare sorts them by default from best to worse. you can always sort them by ‘Most Recent’ to read a more balanced pool of users’ feedback.

I also checked the ‘Most Liked’ section too, this section provides information about the different aspects that students valued the most. For example, helpful examples, the instructor was clear or how organized the classes are.

Find out more about the instructor

At Skillshare.com, every teacher has a page where they explain who they are, their professional experience and what their teaching goals are. Going through this page can be useful to get a vibe of each teacher and see if you like their approach to education.

Skillshare instructor profile

Skillshare instructor profile

However you are not limited to the information that you can read on their instructor landing page, as you can see in the image above, they normally have references to either their website or their social media accounts. Check them out to gather more information on your potential teacher – but please don’t be a creepy stalker 🙂

Try It for free

If you don’t have a premium Skillshare account, you can always use their trial period (7 days for annual plans) to check out a course and see if you like it.

Skillshare course intro video

Skillshare course intro video

But of course, if a premium account is not for you, you can always watch the course introduction (see image above) to find out a bit more.  These videos are available for everyone.

CriteriaComment
Ease of use

Signing up to Skillshare is really straightforward; you only need an email and  a password. It’s also possible to register using Facebook or Google.

You will have a free month trial, but you will be asked for your bank details if you decide to go premium. Remember to cancel your free trial before it ends if you don’t intend to carry on.

Using Skillshare’s interface is also straightforward, there is enough information about the courses and the backend is intuitive. It could have a more detailed knowledge base though.

Convenience

Skillshare is an online learning community to master real-world skills with thousands of classes (courses).

Skillshare offers a completely unrestricted free trial for one month, but there are also about 2,000 free courses.

You can watch the courses online on its website or Android and iOS app. Courses are available offline if you are a paying user.

Available platforms

Besides its website, you can use their mobile apps (Android and Apple) to follow a class. Users like Skillshare apps as their rating at the app stores is higher than 4.5 (out of 5).

Official certifications:

Skillshare is not accredited with any educational institution (e.g. universities) and you will not receive a certificate when you complete a course.

The available courses are meant (mainly) for creatives that want to  improve a skill or learn new ones and don’t need official accreditation.

Categories

Skillshare offers over 25,000 online courses. The classes are offered in four main categories: Creative, Business, Technology and Lifestyle.

Other platforms such as Udemy offer many more courses and topics to learn from.

Free courses

About 10% of the Skillshare library is offered for free meaning that more than 2,000 courses can be accessed at no cost. Free users can also access the Skillshare community to follow classes.

In my experience, the free courses are normally basic courses. Skillshare seems to save the ‘best’ classes for the paid users – fair enough.

Content quality

Every class has short lessons and hands-on projects for you to work on. You will then share your project in the class and receive feedback from Skillshare’s community.

Some complaints are that the courses and the instructors lack quality control as pretty much anyone can post their own Skillshare course.

Languages

Skillshare accepts classes in all languages, but their community is primarily English speaking. Currently, (English) subtitles are available only on the classes that are ‘Skillshare Original’ or ‘Staff Pick’.

Instructors

As well as offering course subscriptions it also allows you to sign up as a teacher and produce your own courses.

Skillshare courses are taught by creators, entrepreneurs and professionals from all over the world. Skillshare teachers are responsible for every aspect of their course, from designing it to uploading videos and materials. They are then paid a royalty based on the number of minutes of your classes that Skillshare users watch.

Course requirements

There aren’t many specific requirements a course must meet other than ‘it must be educational’, ‘good sound quality’, ‘include a presentation’, ‘well-organized content’ or ‘high-resolution video’. Classes must be, at least, 10-minutes long though.

One positive thing is that all courses must include a project the students will be able to use to learn.

Course structure

Skillshare online courses consist of a video window that plays the course content which is divided into small bite-size classes. Some of the classes can vary from minutes to hours.

You will also have the information about the instructor’s profile, links to additional information and a project (or projects) to follow the course.

The course program and structure are well detailed within the course page, so you’ll know what to expect from each class.

Quizzes & tests

Some Skillshare courses include quizzes in their content, but this isn’t a requirement.

Payments & refunds

Skillshare works on a subscription model. You pay a fixed fee every month (or year) to have unlimited access to its library.

Skillshare works out $8.25 (€8 or £7) per month if you for 1 year up-front, or $15 (€14 or £13) per month if you prefer to pay monthly.

There are also plans available for companies, they start at $99 a year per user (minimum of 3 students).

You have a 7-day refund policy for annual plans. Use a credit card or PayPal to pay for your subscription.

Support

You can reach out to Skillshare via email at help@skillshare.com. At times they can be slow to answer. They have some support materials but they don’t answer all the questions you may have about the platform, they aren’t super detailed either.

Overall rating

Skillshare offers such a wide variety of creative courses that you can learn at your own pace. Sadly, they don’t offer courses on every topic, other platforms like Udemy have courses about pretty much everything.

If you are looking for an accredited certification it would be best to explore Coursera or edX.

Will Skillshare Help Me With My Career?

Whereas Skillshare won’t get you a formal promotion as it doesn’t have accredited certificates, it’s very possible that it helps improve your professional skills so you can work confidently.

Skillshare projects

All Skillshare courses are project-based

I would say that Skillshare is ideal if you are a freelancer (or part of a creative team) and you don’t care too much about earning certificates and developing your CV. Skillshare is more about teaching you the knowledge you can apply to your work.

There is also an engaged community of students at Skillshare, this can be a great way to get in touch with other professionals from your field.

Is Skillshare Legit?

Sure, Skillshare is an elearning platform that has been operating since 2010, which means that it’s older than most of its competitors. They have their headquarters in New York and companies such as Vice, Stapels or Virgin TV use them for their employees’ development.

Skillshare free trial

Skillshare free trial

Its website is SSL secured and the payments can be done using a credit card or PayPal, you’ll have a 7-day refund policy for annual subscriptions. On top of that, you’ll be able to trial the platform and its courses for some time completely free.

Publish a course at Skillshare

There aren’t any formal requirements to publish a course at Skillshare, you won’t have to be a university lecturer or a super famous designer or artist – although that helps.

As a Skillshare instructor, you’ll be in charge of designing your course, producing the videos and materials, uploading the resources to Skillshare and keeping in touch with your students.

There are two ways in which Skillshare teachers are paid:

  1. You would get paid $10 for every new student you bring to Skillshare
  2. For each viewed minute of your courses, Skillshare will pay you a royalty.

Payments to instructors are made via PayPal, sadly, there isn’t any other way to get paid with Skillshare.

Please be aware that the speed at which students watch your classes has an impact on your revenue. For example, if they watch 20 minutes at 2x, you’ll be paid for 10 minutes, and if they watch 20 minutes at 0.5x you’ll be paid for 40 minutes.

There are guidelines for instructors when creating courses, but they are mainly common-sense recommendations:

  • Create engaging and educational content
  • Sound and video should be good quality
  • You must have an introduction/presentation video
  • Courses need to be project-based
  • No self-promotion outside the intro and outro of the classes
  • Max upload 1 class a week
  • Some topics aren’t allowed: passive income, other educational platforms (e.g. Udemy), reselling products or medical content
  • Minimum of 10 minutes per course

Last Thoughts: Is Skillshare Worth It?

After this in-depth Skillshare review, I hope you have a clearer understanding of how this popular elearning platform works and whether it is right for you. Let me add a couple of things you should take into account:

It’s very affordable and there are thousands of courses geared towards creative professionals and entrepreneurs. The course community is normally engaged, so interacting with other students can be a fun way to learn. They also offer a generous free plan if you just want to test the waters.

As mentioned earlier, if you are looking for any kind of official recognition of your learnings (e.g. a certificate), you’ll have to look elsewhere (e.g. Coursera or edX). Even if they have a lot of online courses available, they are normally focused on design, marketing and entrepreneurship – you may not be able to find the course you need.

Please, leave a comment below if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to try helping you out.

Catherine Cooke

Hey. I am Catherine and have been working as a freelancer for many years now and I believe that you are in charge of your own destiny. If learning a new skill or having a career change is something you want to do, then there is no better time than the present. If you have a question please feel free to ask me anything or leave me a comment.

Alternatives

Udemy: Udemy is possibly the most popular elearning platform in the world, it has more than 150,000 courses and it’s available in several languages. They cover a wide range of topics, from programming to icing cakes, so if you can’t find the course you like in Skillshare, check out Udemy.

Coursera: With over 50 million students and more than 4,000 courses created by universities and companies is a big fish in the elearning world. The main perk of Coursera is that you can earn accredited certificates, something Skillshare is unable to offer.

edX: More than 24 students have trusted on this platform. With more than 2,800 courses from universities like Harvard or Berkeley, and official recognition (certificates) it’s a solid alternative for many.

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