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 you want to learn specific skills, and want to try your hand at a variety of pick-and-mix creative courses. It’s too expensive for casual use, the customer support and service is patchy, and there are too 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 the right platform for you.
(I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post. However, I only promote products I like and recommend)
Quickly skip to any section:
- What is Skillshare?
- Who Is Skillshare For?
- How Does Skillshare Work and How is it Structured?
- What Classes Can I Find on Skillshare?
- What Are Skillshare Classes Like?
- How Much Does Skillshare Cost?
- Skillshare Refunds and Cancellation
- What Are the Advantages of Skillshare?
- What Are the Disadvantages of Skillshare?
- How Skillshare Compares to Other Learning Platforms
- Skillshare vs Domestika
- Skillshare vs Udemy
- Skillshare vs Linkedin Learning
- Skillshare vs Masterclass
- Is Skillshare Trustworthy?
I’ve read other reviews about Skillshare and, Trustpilot apart, they tend to conclude on an upbeat note. Well here’s my advice, don’t trust reviews. We all have an agenda and we are not unbiased, so retain a degree of skepticism.
Why do I say that? For one very obvious reason, Skillshare has a generous affiliate commission and it’s in the interest of reviewers to promote their links.
Don’t believe me? This is what Skillshare pays:
Earn 40% commission, up to $67, for every new customer you refer to SkillshareSkillshare
Now let that sink in.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to earn $67 per referral, but I do have integrity to deal with and I’m in conflict. Skillshare is OK, but I’m not going to rave about it.
Now you know where I’m coming from, let’s make a start.
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an online course platform that claims to have over 34,000 courses, 800,000 members, and 11,000 teachers.
Its prime focus is on creative people and entrepreneurial skills, but it also includes other subjects, such as well-being, web development, and technology. Skillshare offers unlimited access to its courses using an annual subscription model.
Skillshare courses offer short lessons, usually 4 -5 video lessons in under 60 mins, with some exceptions offering more in-depth content and access to exclusive features, such as project collaboration and feedback from Skillshare instructors.
Whether you’re looking to learn a new skill or expand your existing knowledge, Skillshare is a viable option.
It’s important to note, however, that not all courses are created equal, and some may not be worth your time. Before signing up and paying your Skillshare subscription, be sure to do your research thoroughly. You can browse the Skillshare website before you join.
You can start with a free trial. They offer 7 days from the homepage or, if you look online, you get a one-month trial before you commit. Keep reading because some people complain about free trials.
Who Is Skillshare For?
The Skillshare platform is aimed at anyone, from beginners to advanced learners, mostly but not exclusively, in the creative field, who want to acquire practical skills or improve existing ones. There is something for everyone, at every level.
Skillshare benefits a wide range of people, including:
- Creative people who want to learn new skills or expand upon existing ones
- Entrepreneurs who need help to get started (mostly online)
- Students who need to study at their own pace from home with access to feedback and a community of creators
Students can take a class, create projects, engage with teachers, and even become a teacher themselves. If you can see a gap in the market or notice a class that needs improvement, there’s nothing stopping you from starting your own course. It’s an open-teaching platform
Skillshare classes are a good fit for people who like visual learning. It’s hands-on video-based instruction aimed at students who need some feedback along the way.
How Does Skillshare Work and How is it Structured?
You can sign up for a free trial, and if you’re happy, you’ll pay a yearly subscription fee as a Skillshare Premium member. For that, you will have instant access to all their online courses.
This is how to access Skillshare Videos:
- Go to skillshare.com and sign up for a 7-day free trial of Skillshare, or better still, click on their sponsored ad and get a 1-month free trial
- Enter your email address and create your password.
- Once you have created an account, you can browse thousands of classes in everything from graphic design to creative writing, productivity to interior design
- Click on the class you want to watch
Many tutors make several separate classes and you can cherry-pick the classes that best suit your needs. 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 Skillshare 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 Skillshare teachers for guidance as you progress. It’s 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’
There are a number of ways to assess the value of the class/course before you commit your time. Such as the following:
- 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 the staff recommends that meet the highest standards expected from Skillshare.
The ‘Original’ tab indicates the courses produced by the Skillshare in-house content team. Skillshare originals are designed to be as practical and useful as possible and are taught by top professionals, experts, and industry leaders.
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
You can click ‘view all’ under each section.
Clicking on a category will bring up classes on 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
|Creative Writing||Freelance & Entrepreneurship|
|Film & Video||Leadership & Management|
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 (keep scrolling) and he has some free lessons on Youtube.
What Are Skillshare Classes Like?
While some Skillshare classes are better than others, the online 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. As a user experience 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 online 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, join in on class projects, and engage with the community.
Skillshare states that they do not offer refunds after the trial period is over, so if you sign up, you’d better be 100% sure you will use the platform fully.
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 $168 per annum (2023). They have scrapped the monthly option and out goes their free tier.
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 links offer a one-month free trial, whereas if you go through Skillshare directly, it’s only 7 days.
Try searching for coupon codes and discount promos online and get £30%, 40%, and sometimes 50% discounts. Students can get half-price.
According to their terms, you can cancel anytime but that doesn’t cancel your paid 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 to justify charging $499 for the Chromacourse. Who knows?
Maybe I’m 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 in this way. Exclusive content or not.
Skillshare Refunds and Cancellation
Skillshare states on its own website that refunds are only possible if made within 14 days after your payment has been processed.
Considering they have a 7-day trial and a 30-day trial this refund policy is confusing. If you sign up for a 7-day trial do not rely on this promise.
If you pay with a credit card or via Paypal you follow these steps:
- Log in and go to your account settings
- Choose “Payments in the left-hand menu
- Select “Cancel Membership”
- Follow the instructions
- Your access continues until the agreed expiry time.
If you cancel your membership after your trial period is over you will not be refunded. Your membership will last for one year. Cancellation cancels the auto-renewal.
N.B. If you pay via Google Play or iOS App Store, Skillshare is not able to “cancel, refund, or manage memberships”. You must contact the app stores directly. Good luck with that. What could possibly go wrong?
They offer these two links:
- Cancel your membership if subscribed via Google Play.
- Cancel your membership if subscribed via iOS App Store.
What Are The Advantages of Skillshare?
Skillshare is a great resource for those looking to learn multiple skills or deep dive into a subject. There are, however, 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 (34,000+)
- The best Skillshare classes 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 short videos, they are 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 video courses are good value if you intend to use the platform regularly.
- You can get started instantly.
- There is a new mobile app
- There’s a new mobile app. Look for the Skillshare app on Google Play and Apple.
- Mobile courses can be downloaded to view offline
- The platform is easy to use
What Are The Disadvantages of Skillshare?
Not everything is rosy, there are 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’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
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
This very popular drawing course by Brent Eviston is on Udemy.
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 course 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 quality course it’s yours to keep.
Read my full review here: Is Udemy Worth it? Pros and Cons For Creatives in 2023
Skillshare vs Linkedin Learning
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
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.
Well, the good news is that 62% are very happy with their purchase, and 2% are in the middle. The bad news is that 36% 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. https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/skillshare.com
This is a typical comment:
If I could give them a zero review I…
“If I could give them a zero review I would! They charged my account for an entire year and I hadn’t used any of their courses so asked for a refund. They claim they give you one but they never did! A month and a bit later and I’m still waiting on the refund they promised. Not counting on it after reading the other reviews! Absolute scammers – DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY!“Sheri AU – 1st April 2023
And it’s not only students who are complaining, instructors are too:
They removed my class of 100+ students after I asked to speak with a supervisor
“I have a class on Skillshare.Shane GB – 18th May 2023
My class was fine until I contacted Skillshare when they didn’t pay me for the first month. They didnt provide a good customer service experience, and I expressed my frustration with this and asked to speak with a supervisor.
Skillshare didnt let me speak with a supervisor, but then I found my class was being removed art the end of the month“
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 62% 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 go wrong. I can only conclude that when signing up, 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 $168 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 fee. Search for the teacher on Google and see who turns up.
That stuffs my affiliate commissions!
I do recommend Domestika though. This score says it all.
Domestika Courses are Professional and Super Affordable. Try them first
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