Skillshare Review (2021): Is Skillshare Worth It?

Posted 13 Feb 2021, by

Brendan Brown

(This review contains affiliate links which means we earn a commission if you sign up⁠ — at no extra cost to you. However, it’s an honest review about my personal experience with Skillshare).

There are tons of new platforms for learning that are cropping up all the time.

The problem is, how can you tell which ones are worth subscribing to, and which ones should you pass by? What’s worth your time?

My drive to keep learning brought me to Skillshare. You may already know a bit about it — the rapidly growing online learning platform where you can learn thousands of skills for a low monthly price.

I figured I’d subscribe to Skillshare and then tell you about my experience in this mega-review. I’ll walk you through what Skillshare has, what it does best, how much it costs, and if it’s worth it for you.

Is Skillshare worth it?

Read my Skillshare review to find out.

What is Skillshare?

what is skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning platform that has exploded in terms of amount of classes offered. There are now 27,000 classes available, with 2,000 that you can take for free.

Each of these classes is built up of pre-recorded video lessons where your instructor walks you through the lesson that you’re tackling. Each class is only about 30-60 minutes in length, with the entire video being broken up into easy to consume 2-3 minute chunks.

It’s bite-sized learning!

Skillshare’s classes are broken into three major categories: create, build, thrive.

From there, it’s further broken up like this:

  • 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

So, right off the bat, you can see that Skillshare is geared toward teaching you skills. These are predominantly artistic skills, but also coding and computer skills, as well as a good range of business skills and a smattering of lifestyle skills thrown in.

Skillshare also has introduced great new ways to learn, including Skillshare Live (which allows you to view a class live with an instructor), Skillshare Groups (which helps you connect with your fellow students) and Skillshare Workshops (which have you take a class on a set schedule for a few weeks).

I’ll examine these in detail later in this Skillshare review.

For now, let’s take a look at who some of these teachers are!

Who teaches the classes

So who’s teaching at Skillshare? Thousands of people!

That’s part of the draw. As opposed to tightly manufactured platforms like MasterClass and Mindvalley, Skillshare draws from a deep + wide talent pool of thousands of teachers, giving you the ability to learn from as many different people as possible to figure out who best suits your needs.

There are some better known names teaching on Skillshare such as:

  • Guy Kawasaki, venture capitalist
  • Seth Godin, author and executive
  • Jessica Hische, illustrator and lettering expert
  • Young Guru, music producer

They’re not the most widely known names — and that’s the point. Skillshare isn’t about hobnobbing with celebrities. It’s not about taking classes from “the big names.” It’s about learning. And you need to go to the expert teachers when you want to learn.

So that’s what Skillshare focuses on.

The good news is that there are tons of teachers to choose from. Classes are sorted on the page based on featured, popular, and trending, meaning that Skillshare is actively examining how people are engaging with courses and then filtering the good ones to the top.

Sure, there are going to be some less awesome courses, but Skillshare is working to ensure those will be less prominent. They want you to succeed!

Will Skillshare boost my career?

Maybe! Skillshare has some impressive classes for graphics, UI/UX, coding, and animation that are in pretty high demand in today’s workforce. These could seriously help you jumpstart your career, or help you shift careers if you’re looking for a change.

There are also great classes available in marketing, leadership, and business analytics that you can take advantage of to help you score that next promotion.

On the whole, Skillshare definitely balances the creative and the practical. That is one of my favorite things about the platform — how applicable the skills are.

How much does it cost?

First of all, over 2,000 classes on Skillshare are absolutely free. If each class is 30 minutes, then that’s over 1,000 hours of free content for learning. Nice!

If you decide to access their 27,000 premium courses, then you’ll need to pay for Skillshare Premium. Skillshare works on a subscription model, meaning that you’ll need to buy access to the platform as a whole to take any of their classes.

Since each class is only 30 minutes to an hour, this is an ideal model in my opinion.

So how much does this cost? It depends upon if you pay monthly or annually.

If you pay monthly, you’ll pay $28 per month.

But, if you pay annually, you only pay $144 total. That’s only $11.99 a month — less than half the price of paying monthly.

If you’re looking for savings, then the annual membership is definitely the way to go.

What is Skillshare Premium?

Skillshare Premium is Skillshare’s subscription model. It costs, as previously mentioned, $144 for the whole year if you pay all at once. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, then purchasing the annual subscription to Skillshare Premium is the right choice.

But what if you’re unsure if Skillshare is right for you? Is there a free trial you can check out?

Well…

Is there a free trial?

Yes! Skillshare Premium currently has a 7-day free trial. Sign up for Skillshare premium, and get seven days to take as many free courses as you like! After this 7 day window, you’ll start being billed for your premium membership.

Didn’t Skillshare used to have a longer free trial?

Good memory! Skillshare used to have an insane two-month free trial. That’s actually how I first was able to check out Skillshare. The two-month trial was very generous … honestly probably too generous.

Honestly, I can’t really fault them for making the trial significantly smaller. 2 months isn’t a trial — it’s giving away content.

With the seven day free trial that Skillshare Premium has now, you’re able to check out some classes that you like, and see for yourself whether Skillshare Premium is right for you.

Again, each class is 30-60 minutes. These aren’t courses that will take you months to go through, so a seven day free trial is plenty of time to discover whether Skillshare Premium is right for you.

Do they have a discount?

They’re not actively pushing any discounts at the moment (aside from the free seven day trial), but there are coupons that they’ll occasionally send out and promotions that they’ll announce (like that massive 2 months free they used to do).

I wasn’t able to find any discounts on Skillshare at the moment, but that can always change. Let us know in the comments if you find any deals we should be aware of!

Can you get a refund with Skillshare Premium?

Yes, but there are limits.

You can get a refund for the annual membership only. Not the monthly.

You need to request a refund within 7 days of the charge being processed.

Lastly, you only get one refund.

So, if you’ve purchased the annual Skillshare Premium membership, and you decided on day 4 that it wasn’t for you, you can get your $144 refunded to you right away.

But you can’t then get another annual membership and get a second refund. You only get one!

How are the classes structured?

skillshare workshops review

Most Skillshare classes follow the format of one large video lesson (approximately 30 minutes) subdivided into 2-3 minute intervals.

Once you click on the class, you get to the “about” page, which has the video lesson, along with a 2-3 paragraph explanation of the class and what you will accomplish.

There are additional tabs for “discussions,” “reviews,” and “projects & resources.” If you click on the discussions tab, you can comment on the class, and help others who may be having difficulty. It’s a great way to get further involved in the topic you’re learning.

The reviews tab gives you real reviews that previous students have left. It’s a great way to see whether the class has been well-received by other Skillshare members. I really appreciated this transparency, and it helped me sort through the tens of thousands of classes on the website.

The projects and resources tab is where you can download any class worksheets, as well as download the instructions for your class project. Each Skillshare class has an associated project that you complete and then upload at the end of the class. This is one of Skillshare’s defining feature, and it’s a great way to really cement your newly-learned knowledge.

Workshops

Skillshare workshops are a way of taking a series of predetermined Skillshare classes on a specific schedule. Since each class is usually 30-60 minutes, this means that you’ll be stringing together around 2-3 complementary classes that Skillshare has decided work quite well in sequence.

You’ll take these on a set schedule over the course of approximately four weeks. Since they’re curated by Skillshare, they’re typically at a higher value, and they have a dedicated community manager who makes sure that students are completing classes and assignments on schedule.

It’s a more intensive learning experience for the student who is looking to go the extra mile. It’s particularly great if you’d like to learn a group of skills (perhaps coding) as opposed to a singular skill.

Example workshop: Make and Sell Watercolor Art in 4 Weeks

Here’s an example of a Skillshare Workshop. This is a course conducted by a single instructor. It wraps together three courses over four weeks.

The first class, you’ll learn to mix colors, and then you’ll create and share a painting at the end of the class.

The second class, you’ll focus on photoshop and digital work.

The final class, you’ll work on a guide to sell the work you’ve created.

Here’s a detailed timeline:

Each of those classes can be taken independently, but with the Workshop model, you get some of that traditional class model by having a schedule, having deadlines, and stringing the lessons together in a coherent manner. It’s a nice touch that you should definitely check out!

Skillshare Live

Skillshare has rolled out “Skillshare Live” where teachers will host Live Sessions on predetermined dates. These function as Zoom webinars, and typically run around 60 minutes. They’re included in your Skillshare Premium membership, so you don’t need to worry about paying for any additional functionality.

The best part about Skillshare Live is that you have the ability to ask your teacher questions and get answers in real-time. I found that this was a huge benefit that isn’t present in other online platforms.

Granted, there aren’t that many Live sessions. As of now, I see a few for the next few weeks, compared to the 27,000 classes that you can stream right now.

Skillshare Groups

Skillshare Groups is an in-platform community feature. These groups are divided into 4 categories: creative, technology, business, and lifestyle.

Skillshare Premium members can join the groups (which have thousands of members each), and comment on discussions within them. They function like messageboards, where sub-discussions will branch off from the main topic. It’s a great way to get to know your fellow Skillshare students, and a great way to get more information from your classes!

Who is Skillshare for?

Great question!

Skillshare’s online learning platform is great for people who want to learn applicable, creative skills quickly.

If you’re a person that wants to get a crashcourse in python, then this is the platform for you.

If you want a 30 minute introduction to darkroom photography, then Skillshare is excellent for you.

If you want to brush up in your marketing skills on your lunchbreak, then Skillshare is perfect for that!

It’s also great for people who want options. Skillshare has 27,000 courses. If you find yourself scrolling through the same courses on other learning platforms, wondering when they’ll get new content, then Skillshare might be your cup of tea. There are tens of thousands of hours of lessons from thousands of teachers, meaning that you can dive deep and swim wide and still not have gotten through anywhere near all the content.

If each class is 30 minutes long, that means there are fewer hours in an entire year than there is video content on Skillshare. It’s got that much!

Skillshare is also great for people who want hands-on learning.

Each course has a project associated with it, meaning that you’ll always walk away with a completed project that shows off your newfound skills. This is a big selling point to me, as it’s easy to just sit back and learn, but it takes perseverance to put those lessons into practice.

Who won’t like Skillshare

If you’re a student who is looking for the biggest names in the field, then Skillshare might not be for you. Skillshare has thousands of different teachers, and part of the joy of the platform is finding the one that works best with you.

But you’re not going to find Neil Gaiman teaching you writing. For that, you might want to head over to MasterClass.

Additionally, if you’re looking for longer-form learning, Skillshare might leave you a little disappointed. This platform is built around short (30 minute) classes that teach you one skill as efficiently as possible. It’s up to you to string those skills together.

But, if you’re looking for a 13-week class on how to learn French, then Skillshare might not be perfect for you.

Lastly, if you’re looking for accredited or certificated courses, Skillshare won’t be the right fit. These classes teach you a hard, applicable skill. They aren’t, however, accredited, meaning that they’re not going to help you get that online MBA you’ve been angling after.

They may, however, help you with specific skills you need to excel at your job.

There’s no right or wrong answer; there’s just “is this the right platform for me?” For the quick learner who wants to gain skills now, Skillshare might be the perfect answer.

The pros and cons of Skillshare

Whew! That’s a pretty big overview of all the features that Skillshare has.

But this is a review, and that means that I need to give you the pros and cons. You need to know what I liked and what I wished was different. That way, you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to purchase Skillshare Premium or not.

So, let’s start with the pros.

I always like starting out with the positives. And with Skillshare, there’s a lot to like! It’s a flexible platform that prioritizes quick learning. Let’s take a look at where it stands out.

  • There are tons of classes. Skillshare has 27,000 courses. They have more hours of content than hours in a year. The classes are diverse, engaging, and very applicable. Plus, the classes are in so many different categories, meaning that you won’t find yourself wanting for material any time soon.
  • There are free classes. Skillshare has 2,000 free classes that don’t require a Skillshare Premium membership. While that’s a fraction of the 27,000 you can access with Premium, it’s a great way to get a feel for what the platform offers. Combine this with Skillshare’s 7 day free trial of Premium, and you have an outstanding way to learn if Skillshare is right for you.
  • The classes have projects. Skillshare emphasizes takeaways. One of the major ways they do this is through projects — basically a concrete task that you will complete and then upload for your course. It helps you solidify the information you’ve learned.
  • There are live courses. This is a nice feature that not many online learning platforms have. While there aren’t tons of live courses, there are enough that it’s worth mentioning. With these live sessions, you can ask questions and get answers in real time! That’s huge!

There are, as always, a few cons to anything I review. Skillshare is no different. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I failed to mention where I thought Skillshare could improve.

Here they are:

  • The quality can vary from course to course. There is a double-edge to having 27,000 courses. With so many courses means a huge variance in quality. Some classes are really awesome + high quality, but others aren’t quite as good. The good news is that there are reviews for each course, which allows you to decide if the course is for you.
  • The courses are short. For some people, this is a big bonus. But for people who are really looking to learn a skill, 30 minutes might seem a tad too short. I found that the classes are sort of crash courses. When you use the workshop feature, you can combine these courses and create something resembling a traditional class. It’s not inherently bad, but I wished that the courses were longer.
  • There aren’t certificates. These classes are skill-centric. You’re learning hard skills. It would have been great if there were certificates or other methods of recognition that you could walk away with.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Skillshare

These are some of the main questions people are asking about Skillshare and their detailed answer.

Are Skillshare courses accredited?

No.

Skillshare courses are not accredited, as Skillshare is not an online university. It is a learning platform, where you can take courses, learn skills, and then implement those skills in your daily life.

It’s not a place to get a credit for a degree. You also don’t get any certificates for completing your course, though you do get a nifty URL to show off your projects you complete in each class.

I liked that! It’s a very tangible way to show off your newfound knowledge. And beside, isn’t that the point? To learn a new, applicable skill and then show off how well you can use it?

Can I just take the free the classes?

You can! Again, there are 2,000 free classes that you can take, which represents less than 1/10th of the classes available to you if you upgrade to Skillshare Premium.

There are some serious downsides to only taking the free courses, namely that:

  • You can’t participate in the discussion groups
  • You can’t participate in the workshops
  • You can’t access more than 90% of the classes on platform.

So, hey — if there is one class that you really want to take and it’s free, go for it. But if you’re looking to get the full Skillshare experience, then you’ll need to upgrade to Skillshare Premium.

What’s the best way to access Skillshare?

Skillshare is easily accessed from most electronic devices, including:

  • Browser
  • Mobile app
  • Tablet
  • Smart TV.

You can start a class on your lunchbreak in the office, watch the remainder on your iPhone on the train home, and then finish it on your TV while cooking dinner. It’s seamless and super accessible.

Me personally?

I think that using the web browser is the best. You can easily access the video, then download any of the necessary files you need. After the class, you can quickly do your assignments on your computer and then upload them when they’re completed.

But that’s just my personal preference.

Can I buy Skillshare for someone else?

Sort of. You can’t buy an individual gift card, but you can buy a set of Limited Memberships.

You’ll need to inquire with Skillshare to get more details, but the gist of it is you can purchase limited (as in time) Skillshare Premium memberships for multiple people (like family, friends, or students).

The pricing isn’t apparent from the page, but if you’re hoping to give the gift of Skillshare to you class, then they can help you with that!

Is there a referral program?

Yes! If you are a Skillshare Premium member, you can refer your friends and family to Skillshare Premium. When they sign up, they get 14 days free (as opposed to 7), and you get a whole month! That’s a great deal!

But, you gotta be a premium member to take advantage of this referral program. Once you’re in, then you can start reaping the benefits!

What are the alternatives to Skillshare?

In the online learning space, there are some other big names that you should be aware of. They are Udemy, The Great Courses, Mindvalley, MasterClass, and EdX.

So how does Skillshare stack against these? Let’s take a look!

MasterClass vs Skillshare

MasterClass is another hugely popular online learning platform. I personally love the platform (check out my MasterClass review for a deep dive into it) but it fills a different niche.

MasterClass is all about learning from Masters in their field. This means Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Helen Mirren, Shonda Rhimes, BIG NAME CELEBRITIES!

Their classes also are much longer, clocking in around 3+ hours, divided into a dozen lessons each.

There are, however, fewer classes. MasterClass has a little over 100 classes compared to Skillshare’s 27,000.

The production value is more consistent and the teachers are bigger names. They don’t prioritize projects like Skillshare does.

MasterClass costs $180 for the year, higher than Skillshare by $36 a year.

If you’re looking for engaging courses taught by big names, check out MasterClass. If you’re looking for quick courses that teach you practical skills, go to Skillshare.

Udemy vs. Skillshare

Udemy is a huge online learning platform. They boast over 130,000 online video courses. That’s about 4 times as many as Skillshare has.

Check out my Udemy review here.

Udemy focuses on hard skills, like learning Python or other coding languages. Skillshare has these hard skills as well, but also focuses on arts and creative skills.

So what makes Udemy different than Skillshare? Pricing. With Udemy, you pay by the course. This means that if you want to learn a coding course, you pay for that solo. There are no subscription options.

Classes start at $12.99, but go up to $300, and go on sale throughout the year.

So, if you’re looking for one specific course and aren’t looking for a subscription, Udemy might be your ticket. If you’d rather pay for unlimited access, you’ll prefer Skillshare.

The Great Courses vs. Skillshare

The Great Courses is the oldest of these learning platforms — having been started over 30 years ago. These are college-level courses taught by renowned professors through video lessons. There are several thousand courses available on The Great Courses, and content is being added frequently. Plus, each course had video, audio, and guidebook options for ease of access.

Cost? You can purchase classes individually for anywhere from $16 to $500. Most classes seem to be in the $50-$200 range.

But, you can sign up for The Great Courses Plus — their subscription service, which costs $49.95 per month or $360 billed annually.

It’s much more academic than Skillshare, taking on a bit of a “the history channel” vibe. If that’s your thing, go for it.

Skillshare, on the other hand, is all about learning fast. The classes are about 30-60 minutes in length, have a project at the end, and are less academic. The Great Courses is much more collegiate, while Skillshare is more applicable and practical.

Plus at $144 per year, Skillshare is significantly less expensive.

Read my comprehensive The Great Courses review here.

Mindvalley vs. Skillshare

Mindvalley is an interesting platform that’s all about self-improvement. What do I mean by self-improvement? I mean meditation, brain training, energy healing, life coaching, public speaking.

These are courses that range from self-reflection to downright spiritual. A lot of the classes combine both of these perspectives to create quasi-spiritual, somewhat esoteric classes. The Silva Ultramind class, for example, touches on ESP.

These classes typically run for 1-2 months, and have daily lessons complete with homework that you need to complete along the way. These Mindvalley classes aren’t for bingeing; they prioritize daily commitment.

Point being, it doesn’t focus on hard skills. You’re not going to put Chakra healing on your LinkedIn page (unless you’re an energy healer!), but rebalancing your chakras could certainly help you reorient your life.

Pricing? It’s $599 to access their platform for the year. That’s a lot more expensive than Skillshare, but the content is much more longform.

Check out my Mindvalley review for all you need to know about it.

EdX vs Skillshare

I like to talk up EdX. EdX is a free online platform where you can take courses from some of the top colleges in the US (think Harvard, MIT, Wellesley).

How much does these courses cost? $0

They’re free.

They’re video based, but have lots of quizzes, homework, and writing assignments that you complete in your own time. Your progress is tracked by a computer.

You have the option to purchase a “verified certificate” for $50. This gives you a digital certificate stating that you successfully completed the course according to the college’s standards. Not bad for Harvard!

EdX is great if you want to learn certain languages, want to take a deep dive into college-level courses on International Law, The threat of Thermonuclear War (that’s a real course) or 3000+ other heady topics.

These courses are college courses. They run for several months each. They’re not great if you’re hoping to learn a skill quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking to learn photography in 30 minutes, then I’d suggest Skillshare.

Why choose Skillshare over the competitors?

You should pick Skillshare if you’re looking for a varied online learning platform with tons of short-form content for a low annual price. If you want 30 minute lessons with pragmatic projects and applicable takeaways, you’ll benefit from Skillshare.

It’s the most varied online learning platform that you can subscribe to. And the price is quite competitive.

Skillshare review verdict: Is Skillshare worth it?

Skillshare is a great, diverse, and deep online learning platform that has 27,000 video lessons you can learn from. These lessons are 30-60 minutes in length, have engaging projects that you complete to internalize the lessons, and then share with the class. It’s all easily accessible for a competitive yearly fee of $144.

For these reasons, I’d say that yes Skillshare is absolutely worth it. It’s great for the learner who wants to learn a hard skill quickly. They have such an impressive breadth of material that I cannot fathom running out of things to learn.

It’s engaging, diverse, and suited to our quick lifestyles.

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