Is Skillshare Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers

Is skillshare worth it? The pros and cons for artists

Skillshare is an online learning platform with around 40,000 courses. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to learn new skills, but it’s not without its drawbacks. The platform has changed recently and now it’s fair to ask, is Skillshare worth it?

Skillshare is worth it if there’s a specific skill you want to learn, try your hand at a variety of creative courses, or intend to study a subject in-depth. It’s too expensive for casual use, the support and the service is patchy, and there are many complaints online about payments.

With that in mind, In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of Skillshare to help you decide if it’s right for you.

(I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)

What is Skillshare?

Skillshare is an online learning platform with a focus on creative and entrepreneurial skills but includes other subjects, such as well-being and technology, all offered on a subscription model.

Most classes are short, under 60 mins in length, but there are courses that offer more in-depth content and access to exclusive features, such as project collaboration and feedback from instructors.

Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill or expand your existing knowledge, Skillshare is a viable option.

However, it’s important to note that not all courses are created equal, and some may not be worth your time. Before signing up for a subscription, be sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Skillshare experience. You can browse the platform before you join.

You can start with a free trial. They offer 7 days on the homepage or look online and get a one-month trial before you commit.

Who Is Skillshare For?

It is aimed at anyone, from beginners to advanced learners, who wants to acquire new skills or improve existing ones. There is something for everyone, at every level.

Students can take a class, create projects, engage with teachers, and even become a teacher themselves. If there is a gap in the market or a class that needs improvement there is nothing stopping you from starting your own class.

Skillshare classes are for people who like to learn by watching, it’s hands-on video-based instruction aimed at students who need some feedback along the way.

How Does Skillshare work?

You can sign up for a free trial, and if you are happy, you’ll pay a yearly subscription as a Skillshare Premium member. For that, you will have instant access to all their online classes.

Many tutors make several classes and you are encouraged to cherry-pick the best for you. In that sense, they are courses in all but name. Instead of being structured in a lesson plan, they’re segmented into stand-alone tutorials.

Upon joining a class, you’re encouraged to participate in the community by sharing your progress, offering feedback, and asking questions. You can participate under the ‘Discussions’ tab.

You can take as many classes as you wish, learn at your own pace, and ask your teacher for guidance as you progress through their course. Very hands-on and very easy.

There is a class rating system under each profile where you can see how well the class performs. The most successful course tutors invariably over-deliver.

Under ‘Expectations Met’ there are 4 review headings, Exceeded – Yes – Somewhat – Not Really. The screenshot below is from a class by Brooke Glaser called ‘Make a Living as an Artist’

Class ratings on Skillshare

There are a number of ways to assess the value of the class/course before you commit your time.

  • Look at the class ratings
  • Choose ‘Staff Pick’ on the left sidebar
  • Choose ‘Original’ on the left sidebar
  • Filter by the most popular classes
  • Search for Top Teachers

The ‘Staff Pick’ tab will show you curated classes that the staff recommends because they meet the highest standards expected from Skillshare.

The ‘Original’ tab indicates the courses produced by the Skillshare in-house content team. These classes are designed to be as practical and useful as possible and taught by top professionals, experts, and industry leaders.

Drawing results page on Skillshare

You enter your search term, in this example, I entered ‘Drawing’ and this is the page that appeared. You can search for classes, skills, or teachers.

What Classes Can I Find on Skillshare?

The list of classes on Skillshare is ever-expanding. New teachers and classes appear all the time. If you click the ‘Browse’ dropdown menu, there’s a list of categories.

If you click on All Classes a list of tiles appears under the subtitles

  • Featured
  • Popular
  • Trending

You can click ‘view all’ under each section.

Clicking on a category will bring up classes in that particular subject.

As you can see, the bias is toward creative skills, but Skillshare has added new categories, including a business section, which is great news for anyone who’s interested in starting up their own side-line

AnimationBusiness Analytics
Creative WritingFreelance & Entrepreneurship
Film & VideoLeadership & Management
Fine ArtMarketing
Graphic Design
UI/UX Design
Web Development
These are the major categories and they are subdivided into many more

I have noticed that when I browse, using the search bar, I don’t always get the results I’m looking for, but that doesn’t mean to say they don’t exist.

It can be frustrating. For example, when I browsed the search box for ‘Drawing’, many classes appeared in the results, but none by Brent Eviston.

It’s strange because his drawing classes are very popular plus they have ‘drawing’ as a keyword in the titles.

I didn’t know he existed until I found him in the ‘Fine Art’ Category. The same classes are also for sale on Udemy, and he has some free lessons on Youtube.

What are Skillshare Classes Like?

While some Skillshare classes are better than others, the platform does offer a lot of value for its users. With the introduction of ‘Skillshare Original’ classes, the standard of teaching has improved.

However, it must be said that Skillshare still relies heavily on user-generated content and many of the classes are taught by amateur hobbyists. That does leave a lot to be desired.

Does it matter? Not really.

You can filter out the wannabes easily and you’ll still find interesting classes. The membership gives you access to every course and the best teachers rise to the top.

Some classes are very short, only 10 mins long, while others are fully-fledged courses, extended over many hours. All classes have assignments and students are urged to share their progress and engage with the community..

Skillshare states that they do not offer refunds after the trial period so if you sign up, you had better be 100% sure you will use the platform fully. From the complaints I’ve read, you are very unlikely to get your money back.

How Much Does Skillshare Cost?

If there is one thing I cannot abide it’s a website that hides its prices. Skillshare is reluctant to reveal the costs until you sign up. Why?

Maybe they are embarrassed by the price? Just guessing

The Skillshare Premium membership for individuals is currently $167.88 per annum (2022). They have scrapped the monthly option and out goes their free tier.

Not only is the Premium Plan billed annually, but it’s also auto-renewed – it’s in the terms and conditions with all the other warnings about fees changing without notice, read them, and BEWARE.

They promote the free trial heavily but are obviously very concerned that being open with the price upfront will put customers off. You will also discover that they want your payment details before you get your free trial.

Your trial period varies in length depending on how you signed up. Some affiliate sites offer a one-month free trial, whereas if you go through Skillshare directly, it’s only 7 days.

Skillshare sign-up page with 7 day free trial.

Try searching for coupon codes. There are regular offers.

According to their terms, you can cancel anytime but that doesn’t cancel your membership for the year, it only means you won’t get an auto-renewal when the contract expires.

N.B. Be warned that there are complaints online that some people get charged even after they cancel their free trial. Keep reading to the end for more information.

There is a team plan offered and that’s confusing. For $159 per year per person, you get access to 35,000 classes, that’s fewer than the Premium Plan, and there’s no free trial and no refunds.

There are also ‘Enterprise’ and ‘Revive’ plans that are quoted on a need-to-know basis. Presumably, the ‘Revive’ plan includes a defibrillator.

They also have a new feature called ChromaCourses that is open to everyone. They have small groups with top teachers in an immersive 4-week program.

From what I can see, the teachers are the same people that offer classes on the main platform. What does that imply? Perhaps they are holding things back from their classes, so they can justify charging $499 for the Chromacourse. Who knows?

Maybe I’m being a cynic. It’s a lot of money for a few zoom calls and a worthless certificate, but what do I know? I wouldn’t dream of paying that kind of money.

What Are the Pros of Skillshare?

Skillshare is a great resource for those looking to learn new skills or brush up on existing ones. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before signing up.

Here are some of the advantages of using Skillshare:

  • The site offers a wide variety of courses (40,000+)
  • The best courses are taught by experienced professionals.
  • ‘Staff Picks’ and ‘Original’ classes are the best value and highlighted
  • You can get started with a free trial
  • The emphasis is on classes, more than courses
  • New classes are added regularly
  • You can learn at your own pace.
  • The site offers a community of like-minded learners.
  • You can cancel your repeat subscription anytime
  • The courses are affordable if you intend to use the platform regularly.
  • You can get started instantly.
  • The platform is easy to use

What Are the Cons of Skillshare?

Not everything is rosy, there are a few minus points that might dissuade you from joining.

Here are some of the disadvantages of using Skillshare:

  • The cost of a yearly Skillshare membership can be prohibitive
  • The quality of the courses on Skillshare can vary greatly
  • When your membership ends you can’t access your courses
  • You can only download classes to Android and IOS apps
  • You can’t buy courses individually
  • The subscription is on auto-renewal
  • Their terms allow them to change their prices at will, at any time.
  • Finding suitable courses on Skillshare can be time-consuming
  • Skillshare courses are not always up to date
  • Certifications, when they exist, are not to be taken seriously
  • You’ll need a reliable internet connection.
  • Trustpilot reviews are very poor

How Skillshare Compares to Other Learning Platforms

Skillshare is a learning community, which means that its members can interact with each other and learn from each other. This makes it different from most other online learning platforms, which tend to be more focused on individual learners.

It’s worth summarising the differences between Skillshare and its major competitors, which are:

Skillshare vs Domestika

Naturalist illustration techniques: Whales in watercolor
Expressive animal portraits in watercolor
Naturalist bird illustration with watercolors

Domestika is an online learning platform that offers high-quality courses in a wide variety of creative and artistic fields. The standard of production and presentation is far higher and more professional than Skillshare.

Domestika also differs in a very significant way. The courses are in-depth and sold individually without the requirement to commit yourself to a binding membership.

And given the quality of the tuition, the courses are remarkably affordable. The list price is rarely the price you pay. There are constant promos that slash prices.

Not only that, once you buy a course it’s yours to keep.

Given all the advantages of choosing Domestika, why would anyone ever join Skillshare? Well, sadly there is an elephant in the room.

Domestika started life as a Spanish-speaking platform and most of the courses are still in Spanish with English subtitles or dubbing.

Domestika is now US-based and there’s a push to make more English-speaking courses. I found plenty.

Subtitles shouldn’t deter English students in a rational world but in reality, it does. There is no getting away from that, which is a pity because they are missing out.

I like Domestika so much, that I promote them on my own website.

Read my full review here: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers

Skillshare vs Udemy

Drawing courses by Brent Eviston on Udemy (and Skillshare)

Perhaps the first choice of many students is to browse Udemy for suitable courses. The site is huge and very well known.

It’s a great online learning platform that offers thousands of courses on virtually every subject.

This is a teaser video on Youtube by Brent Eviston.

Like Domestika, Udemy runs promotions that drastically reduce the price of selected courses and you’re very likely to find premium courses selling for just a few dollars.

A quick tip: Brent speaks clearly but slowly, so you might want to hear him at playback speed 1.25.

Udemy has an enormous catalog namely because anyone can be a teacher, and as such, there are a great many poor and mediocre courses. The quality overall is pretty low.

Until Skillshare began to offer in-house classes they suffered from the same problem. There’s too much rubbish to wade through.

Thankfully as with Domestika, the courses are sold individually, so when you find a good course they’re yours to keep.

Read my full review here: Is Udemy Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists and Designers

Skillshare vs Linkedin Learning

Linkedin Learning courses

If you’ve never heard of Linkedin Learning you’re not alone, you might know it by the old name, Lynda.

Like Skillshare, Linkedin Learning is primarily a subscription service, but unlike Skillshare they offer high-quality premium learning only. There’s a choice of two subscription plans and the option of buying selected courses outright.

Linkedin offers a fixed yearly subscription for $240 ($19.99 per month) with a one-month free trial, or a rolling monthly subscription for $29.99 per month, which also starts with a free one-month trial.

They have approx’ 5,000 courses (out of 16,000) available to buy without the need to subscribe, which vary in price up to about $50. That’s good value.

Curiously, when I accessed the site in the UK, they charge the same in Pounds Stirling. That makes a $240 yearly sub, £240, or $302 at today’s exchange rate.

Now I don’t know if it’s possible, but I would be straight onto a VPN and try to get the US price. How annoying.

You have full access to all the courses with your subscription, which ends when your subscription expires. However, you retain any individually purchased course to use whenever you choose.

I believe you can download purchased courses to your phone via the app, otherwise, it remains in your account.

Skillshare vs Masterclass

Masterclass screenshot of the Homepage

It’s hard for me to be neutral about Masterclass. I have a sinking feeling whenever the word ‘celebrity’ is mentioned.

As their tagline proclaims “Learn from the most inspiring artists, leaders, and icons in the world.” Does fame equate to quality or to a self-publicized ego?

As you’d expect from a platform that has celebrity contributors, the production quality is very high, but as you would also expect, so is the cost, although having said that, it’s not much more than Skillshare.

They have 3 tariffs, all offering the same 150 courses and separated by the number of devices you wish to use.

The single device tariff is $15/m billed yearly at $180, for two devices it’s $240, and for six devices it’s $276 (2022).

You get a one-month money-back guarantee.

I am sure that many people will get a great deal of pleasure taking these classes and I’m also pretty sure that beginners will be jumping into the deep end. Masterclass courses are more suited to students with some experience of the subjects on offer.

Is Skillshare Trustworthy?

This might be crunch time. It’s all very well telling you what Skillshare can and can’t do for you, but let’s cut to the chase, are they trustworthy?

This is the verdict on Trustpilot.

Trustpilot reviews screenshot for skillshare

Well, the good news is that 66% are very happy with their purchase. The bad news is that 31% are not happy at all. A quick scan through the complaints and a number of repeat issues recur.

Some of the comments are scathing, some because of customer service, some because the courses were not up to scratch, but mainly because customers were charged for a year’s membership after canceling their free trial. That is pretty damning.

Don’t take my word for this, check for yourself.

This is a typical comment:

“Charged me for full annual membership ($240 NZD) even though I cancelled my trial within the free period. Doesn’t get more scummy than that. Reading from others here, my experience has been the same.”

Adam NZL – 22nd March 2022

It pains me to write this because until I dug deeper into Skillshare I had no idea that so many people had issues.

Initially, I happened upon a bad Youtube review by a former Skillshare teacher who claimed to have been cheated out of his $100 royalty payment. The comments below his video revealed other teachers with the same complaints.

I was concerned, but the video was 3 years old. Things change right?

I typed ‘Is Skillshare a scam?’ into Google just to make sure. That is where I found the Trustpilot reviews, and sadly, they are recent.

Now in the interest of balance and fairness, more people complain online than post compliments, and 66% of people on Trustpilot give Skillshare the thumbs up.

Scanning the first page on Google also paints a mixed picture. But that’s the worry, why is it a mixed picture? The overwhelming response should be positive.

Enough people are happy with Skillshare to conclude that it’s not a scam, but something does occasionally go wrong. I can only conclude that in signing up for a free trial, there is an element of risk.

Is Skillshare Worth it? – Final Thoughts

I started this review with the firm opinion that Skillshare was an established platform used by millions and worthy of promotion as an affiliate.

Some of the positive blogs I found are written with affiliate revenue in mind. That isn’t to suggest they are dishonest, they probably approached the review in the same way as I did, initially. They write about what the platform offers, without reviewing how it’s administered.

I stumbled upon a negative video when I was looking for something entirely different, I hadn’t questioned Skillshare’s ethos at all. Now I do.

I genuinely think that there are many good classes on Skillshare and if they returned to a rolling monthly contract model I would have no problem recommending the platform.

As it is, I don’t think, at this moment in time, I’d risk losing my $167.88 when there are so many alternatives out there.

And to round this off, here’s one top tip. Many courses on Skillshare are often found on Udemy too, and available to buy for keeps. So if you see a class you like on Skillshare, check to see if it’s available on Udemy first and save yourself the $168.88 fee.

That stuffs my affiliate commissions.

N.B. If you are reading this and have noticed my Skillshare recommendations on previous posts, it’s because I haven’t got around to changing them yet. That will take time. Sorry.

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