Is Udemy Worth it? Pros and Cons For Artists and Designers

Is Udemy Worth it? The pros and cons for artists and designers.

It’s no secret that Udemy is one of the most popular online learning platforms out there. But is Udemy worth it? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons for artists and designers.

Udemy courses are worth it when you buy their top courses at huge discounts. Regular sales are a feature of Udemy, often up to 90% off. New customers are always offered cheap deals and returning customers can fool Udemy into offering more discounts by using an incognito window.

With that little gem of a hack, I’ll explain the pros and cons of Udemy and how it compares with 3 of its rivals. Let’s start.

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

What is Udemy?

Udemy is an online video-based teaching platform that offers courses in a wide variety of subjects. You can learn almost anything including every aspect of art and design.

The courses cover all skill levels from beginners to advanced, and you can learn at your own pace. There is no time limit for completing the course and once purchased it’s yours to keep. Come back whenever you like.

According to Udemy they currently offer over 185,000 courses and have 49 million students. Sounds impressive at first glance, but the question is how many courses are actually useful? The answer is very few.

Udemy has a non-selective approach to teaching, meaning anyone can become an instructor, and as such, there are many low-quality courses. Udemy has been criticized for its low-quality content, something they are attempting to remedy, but for all that, their best courses are as good as you will find elsewhere on the web.

Udemy courses are typically structured around a series of lectures, with each lecture covering a specific topic. The lectures are usually video-based, with the instructor providing commentary and guidance as the student watches. In addition to the lectures, many courses also include quizzes, assignments, worksheets, and even certificates. to help the student learn the material.

Finding the best instructors in each category is easy enough, all you have to do is find the reviews for each instructor and find those with the best five-star ratings and see how many students have enrolled. You can also refer to their Bestseller tag.

Udemy is known for hosting numerous free classes, the policy is confusing because I read that the policy had changed and they now offer only around 600 free classes, each limited to a maximum of 2 hours in length.

That’s born out if you Google ‘Free courses on Udemy’ The first result finds the Udemy free resource center link with 539 courses available. As far as I can see that does not include any art and design freebies beyond one about Adobe Illustrator.

Just to be sure, I typed ‘free’ into the Udemy search box and 10,000 results popped up! Hmm.

How Does Udemy Work?

Well, first you need to create an account and sign up for the course you want to take. Once you’re registered, you’ll have access to a vast library of video tutorials.

The best instructors have an easy-to-follow lesson structure with pre-recorded videos, bonus worksheets, tools, and resources to help you get the best out of the lessons. Some even offer a certificate of completion but don’t take those too seriously.

You can mark each lesson as complete when you finish them. It helps to know your place if you have to drop out for a while.

The courses vary in length. They can be short and sweet, from only a couple of hours to 15 hours and upwards. Udemy also has a 30-day moneyback guarantee which gives you peace of mind.

How Much Does Udemy Cost?

The cost of a Udemy course can vary depending on the instructor and the topic. Instructors can set their own prices. Some are very cheap while others charge a few hundred dollars, they range from $12.99 – $200. However, most courses fall somewhere in the middle.

Udemy regularly discounts their courses by 75%, sometimes even more, it’s a feature of their site, and these offers are so common that you do wonder if it makes sense to pay the full price.

One thing is for sure, when you first sign up, there will be discounted courses on offer. They want you to spend some money in the hope that you will return and pay the full price.

There are a number of things you can do to increase your chances of bagging a bargain. 1. Sign up for their newsletter to receive updates about their latest offers. 2. Check out third-party websites that offer Udemy coupons and promo codes.

Return to the site in a new incognito window and see if Udemy thinks you are a new customer.

With so many promos offered, I was surprised to read that they now offer a ‘Personal Plan’. It must still be in development because it’s not open to all and I’m yet to discover the qualifying criteria.

For £29.99 per month, here in the UK, or I suspect $29.99 per month in the US, the personal plan offers curated course collections. These are selected courses in their chosen fields.

The deal is a curious one. You pay them a fee, to curate the best courses that exist on Udemy already, and they are yours to watch, but not keep. You have access only while you subscribe.

If you take into account that you are unlikely to pay more than the discount price for each course, it means you can get two courses per month, yours to keep, for roughly the same money. Let’s face it, how many courses will you do each month?

The Pros and Cons of Udemy

Let’s go over some of the advantages of using Udemy:

  • Udemy offers a huge variety of courses,
  • Udemy courses are usually very affordable,
  • You can learn at your own pace on Udemy
  • Udemy also offers some free courses
  • Regular massive discounts
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Lifetime access for course purchases
  • The best courses are as good as any, charging much more
  • You can download the course via their app on your phone

I’ve found that the quality of Udemy courses I’ve bought has been very high, but I’m very selective with my choices. So those are some of the main advantages of using Udemy.

Now let’s be balanced about all this and consider the disadvantages of Udemy:

  • The courses can be quite expensive without the discount
  • There’s no guarantee that the course will be of good quality
  • Udemy doesn’t offer accredited courses
  • There are too many courses on offer, it’s quantity over quality
  • ‘Personal Plan’ subscriptions are not great value

3 Alternatives to Udemy: How They Compare

For the purposes of this section I will compare Udemy to 3 online teaching platforms:

I will pay more attention to the Skillshare comparison because I think it’s the most relevant competitor.

Skillshare vs Udemy: Which One is Better?

When it comes to online learning platforms, Udemy and Skillshare are two of the most popular options. But which one is better for artists and designers? Each platform has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your needs before making a decision.

At first glance, there are quite a few similarities between the two platforms, indeed many of the instructors are the same people, and that’s because both sites allow virtually anyone to teach a course. It’s not surprising that many instructors chose to teach on both sites.

The art and science of Drawing by Brent Eviston on Udemy
Brent Eviston Courses are on Udemy and Skillshare

Skillshare has a stronger community element to it and more opportunities to connect with other students and instructors. Skillshare has also made a big effort to improve the quality of its courses on offer.

How to Find Quality Courses on Udemy and Skillshare

Just like Udemy, Skillshare had the reputation for poor standards. Now they curate their courses, using ‘Staff Picks’. They are not always the most popular classes, but they do meet a minimum standard of excellence, according to Skillshare.

Skillshare also produces in-house video courses labeled as ‘Originals’, which also raises the bar considerably. It’s become very easy to find good quality instruction.

The instructor’s credentials can be checked on the Skillshare website by looking at the “About the Instructor” section for each class. This will list the instructor’s qualifications, experience, and any other relevant information.

Further to that, the quality can be checked by reading reviews from other students, the star ratings, and by viewing sample videos from the course.

How to Navigate Udemy

Udemy courses can be filtered in a number of ways. You can use the search bar to find specific courses or teachers, or you can use the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow down your options.

The filters include:

  • Topic
  • Level
  • Language
  • Price
  • Features
  • Ratings
  • Video Duration
  • Subtitles

You can also sort by:

  • Most Relevant
  • Most Reviews
  • Highest Rated
  • Newest

Once you find a course that you’re interested in, you can click on it to learn more. On the course page, you’ll find information about the instructor, the topics covered, and the price. You can also read reviews from other students to get an idea of what the course is like.

If you decide that you want to take the course, you can click the “Buy Now” button.

How to Navigate Skillshare

To filter courses on Skillshare, you can use the search bar to narrow down your options by keyword. If you enter a subject such as drawing you will see a page of tiles all covering that keyword.

On the left panel you can filter by:

  • ‘Class Type‘ All – Original – Staff Pick
  • ‘Level’ Beginner – Intermediate – Advanced
  • ‘Created Within’ All Time – Month – Week – Day – Year
  • ‘Class Length’ < 15 min – 15-30 min – 30-60 min – > 60 min

Alternatively, you can browse through the available categories.

When you choose a category, you are taken to a page of course tiles under the subheading:

  • Featured,
  • Popular
  • Trending

To see everything you must click the ‘view all’ button.

How Does Skillshare Differ From Udemy?

The big difference between Skillshare and Udemy is the business model.

Skillshare is a subscription-based learning platform with a focus on creative and entrepreneurial skills. You pay a $168 yearly fee and have access to all the courses, whereas Udemy is a pay-as-you-go learning marketplace with a far wider range of general topics at different price points.

Taken at face value, you would be forgiven for thinking that over the course of a year, a few $50 – £100 Udemy courses would work out as more expensive than joining Skillshare, but that would be to ignore the frequent sales on Udemy where prices are often slashed by up to 90%!

It’s impossible to say which deal is best because it depends on your usage. How many classes will you take in a year? My instinctive reaction is to think Udemy works out cheaper, most people do not hop from one course to another, or if they do, not for long.

Think how many courses you can buy on Udemy for $168 if you are only paying $15 – $20 a time?

Then there’s the issue of ownership. Skillshare is for members only. When your subscription ends, so does your access. You lose your courses.

That means if you watched the drawing courses of Brent Eviston on Skillshare, for example, you’d be renting them for the year. If you bought the identical courses on Udemy, you’d get to keep them. Seems a bit odd doesn’t it?

Udemy vs Skillshare Refund Policies.

Skillshare has a free trial period to get a taste before you commit. If you join on the platform you will get a 7-day offer, but if you shop around you’ll get a 30-day trial via other websites or from their own promos.

You cannot cancel your payment if you miss the deadline. BE WARNED – they do not offer refunds. All you can do is cancel the auto-renewal for next year.

Udemy is far more generous by comparison. It has a 30-day refund policy.

Who is More Trustworthy, Udemy or Skillshare?

Now the really bad bit. Both websites have very poor scores on Trustpilot. That’s sad to see.

Both get around 30% negative reviews – OUCH.

Skillshare gets panned for charging the yearly fee even after cancellation in the trial period. Udemy gets panned for not honoring refunds or giving credits instead of cash. Udemy customers are also scathing about the quality of their courses and getting blocked.

Both companies are criticized for their lack of support.

It must be concluded that there is an element of risk when using both services, in which case, the lowest risk comes from purchasing an Udemy course at a discount. If you lose $20 it’s not the end of the world, but I wouldn’t want to lose $168 that’s for sure.

So pushed into a corner and forced to make a decision I’d say Udemy wins.

Read this for my longer review: Is Skillshare Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers

Domestika vs Udemy: Which One is Better?

Domestika is a website that offers online courses taught by experts in a variety of creative fields. The courses cover topics such as graphic design, web development, photography, and illustration.

The quality of courses and instructors on Domestika is excellent. The instructors are experienced professionals who are passionate about their work, and the courses are well-designed and engaging. The courses are also super affordable, and the site offers a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

In many ways, comparing Domestika with Udemy is like comparing chalk with cheese, Domestika courses are on a different level.

Domestika courses are made by a team of designers, educators, and production specialists. They start with an idea for a course, and then they build it from the ground up. This includes creating the course curriculum, designing the course materials, and filming the lessons. Once the course is complete, it is then published on the Domestika website.

Such a contrast to the homemade free for all on Udemy.

Domestika vs Udemy: How Do The Prices Compare?

The two sites are similar in their business approach. They both offer single course prices using massive discount offers as a sales hook.

Once purchased your course remains in your account for you to access at any time. Like Udemy, Domestika allows downloads via an app on your phone for access offline.

In my experience, Domestika has a never-ending sale. I don’t know if this ever changes, but I do know that evergreen sales are against the consumer laws in many countries, so I suspect they must have a time when they charge full price. I personally haven’t experienced that.

Given that you will almost certainly see your course at a 75% discount, the official prices of usually around $45 can be safely ignored and you can expect to pay between $10-15 for most courses.

Unfortunately, British customers can expect to be charged the same figure in Pounds Stirling so a $10 course will cost £10, or at today’s exchange rate, $12.49. Not much I know, but it’s still annoying.

Domesika is a much better value, not only because the discounts are almost guaranteed, but because the standards are superior. You get more bang for your bucks.

And as if the prices they offer are not cheap enough without the discounts, Domestika also offers amazing ‘Bundle’ deals.

Domestika curates and promotes, bundles of 2, 3, or 6 courses and offers them with terrific discounts, or you can simply create your own.

You can expect to pay around $25 for 3 courses, or £25 in the UK – grrr.

Domestika also offers a monthly or yearly subscription deal called Domestika Plus. If you save any money, it’s fairly negligible given the standard discounts are so generous.

You can sign up for a year and it will cost you $82.80 for one free course credit each month. That works out at $6.99/m or you can pay on a rolling monthly contract for $9.99 for the same benefits.

Ask yourself, are you going to take 12 courses a year? If so, you do a few extra perks for joining, like a 20% discount on extra courses, access to their free open courses, and your 12 courses are yours to keep.

Another quirk of Domestika is allowing coupon codes to discount their discounts! Try using mine if you want another 10% – WILDLIFEART-10. Now I’ve said that, I hope it still works, try it anyway.

Domestika has a different refund policy. It offers customers a 14-day moneyback guarantee or a swap to another course.

How to Navigate Domestika

Thankfully, the courses are all made to a high standard on Domestika, but you will still want to filter through and find the most suitable courses for you.

There is a small search box in the top bar (right), if you know what you want you can type in a keyword or the name of a course creator.

Alternatively, choose a category from the drop-down menu under courses in the top bar (left). The same list can be found on the left-hand sidebar.

When you click on a category you’ll get a new page of relevant courses with a list of subcategories appearing in the sidebar. Take your pick and browse.

The bestselling courses are clearly marked, along with their enrolment numbers and rating scores.

You can also choose to view courses in the sidebar using this menu:

  • Courses
  • Domestika Basics
  • Recommended
  • New Courses
  • Top Rated
  • Popular Courses
  • Open Courses

It’s all very easy.

What are the Drawbacks of Domestika?

While the platform has a lot to offer, there is one big drawback to consider before signing up.

Domestika started life in Spain and although it is now based in California, the majority of courses are made in Spanish. This can be a real barrier for non-Spanish speakers who want to take advantage of Domestika’s courses.

All is not lost however, each course is subtitled, albeit auto-generated and not perfect, and many courses are now English spoken, and the numbers are growing.

You have plenty of English-speaking courses to choose from, and do subtitles really matter when you are paying so little? Don’t be deterred before you’ve given them a chance.

There’s not much else to complain about, anything I can say is nit-picking.

Is Domestika Trustworthy?

In the spirit of fairness, I looked up Domestika on Trustpilot, just as I did for Udemy and Skillshare. Wow, what a difference.

Whereas Skillshare and Udemy share the ignominy of having a 30% ‘Bad’ rating on Trustpilot, that score was only 7% for Domestika. Not only that, 81% scored Domestika as ‘Excellent’ and a further 7% scored them as ‘Great’. That’s an 88% positive endorsement. Pretty impressive.

I have no doubt in my mind that Domestika is far better value than Udemy in every way other than the native language.

For a better review read this: Is Domestika Worth It? The Pros and Cons for Artists and Designers

Proko vs Udemy: Which One is Better?

Proko is a website that offers premium video tutorials on figure drawing and other art-related topics. It is very focused on high-quality video content and offers a wide range of tutorials for both beginner and advanced artists.

It is more akin to Domestika in quality, if not in price. Proko isn’t so cheap. I’m thinking mainly of Stan Prokopenkos’s flagship anatomy course which costs a whopping $293.25 for a 5hr course and 362 lessons! That works out at 1.2 mins per class on average.

I won’t lie, I haven’t taken this course, nor will I, not at that price. I’d buy a book on anatomy if I wanted to know how to draw every muscle in the human body.

I have had a preview and the quality of production, and his easy teaching manner, are superb. Worth a premium? Absolutely, but not $300, not for me.

Proko vs Udemy: How Do The Prices Compare?

On the face of it, the list prices don’t seem to be so different but as you now know, it’s foolish to pay the full price on Udemy. That makes Udemy courses much cheaper and they need to be because the quality control is lacking.

The very cheapest courses on Proko sell for $25. The most expensive is Proko’s anatomy course at $293.25, with everything in between, but the majority sell for between about $50 – $100.

There are discounts for multiple purchases but not enough to excite most people, each extra Proko course is discounted by 5%. Whoopee.

Proko vs Udemy: How Do The Courses Compare in Quality?

Proko is a minnow compared to Udemy in the number of courses on offer, Proko has a few dozen paid courses, but what it lacks in quantity, it gains with quality.

Proko has a selective policy and new instructors must apply to join and meet these requirements:

  • A history of teaching experience with proof to back it up. That can be a Youtube channel, an educational institution, a company, or independently.
  • Must bring something new to the platform that is not already covered fully
  • Provide samples of the quality of their work as proof of their skills, with links back to social profiles and/or their website portfolio

Contrast that with the course requirements of Udemy:

  • Good enough,
  • Yeah, whatever,
  • That’ll do.

That’s a little unfair, Udemy does offer to help you, to plan, record, and launch your course, with the help of a support team and teaching center providing resources.

Anyone can click on a Proko course and watch the intro to discover the quality on offer. Alternatively, there are some free videos under the ‘Lessons’ tab, or better still go to Proko’s Youtube Channel and view all the free content on offer.

I discovered Proko this way when I watched his Loomis Method video on drawing heads.

The courses on both websites are sold as lifetime access and are self-paced. Udemy courses remain in your account, while Proko allows you to download their courses directly to your computer.

Like Udemy, Proko offers a 30-day moneyback guarantee. Proko is adamant that refunds are unconditional which is admirable considering you can download their courses.

How to Navigate Proko

The Proko.com website can be navigated by using the links and search box at the top of the page.

Use the ‘Browse’ link to see all the paid courses available. At present, there are 36 tiles representing different art courses.

The sub-menu has 4 links:

  • The ‘Courses‘ link takes you to the same page of courses as the ‘Browse’ link. You can filter this page on the right-hand side and you can select your course from a dropdown menu. You can also click the ‘Latest’ and ‘Popular’ links on the left.
    I’m sure Proko has grand plans for many more teaching courses, but as it stands, there is one page of courses and no need to filter 36 tiles.
  • The ‘Lessons‘ link brings you to the Premium and free lessons. Here the filter tab is more useful as there are many more to choose from. Next to the filter dropdown is another swipe button for Free courses. Turn that on and only the freebies appear.
  • The ‘Tools‘ link has only 33 tiles. There’s no need to navigate because you can see everything at a glance. Here you will find a selection of resources, mostly collections of alfa male and alfa female, figure poses. I suppose ‘young and fit’ models are more sellable. They are mostly around $16 -$20 each.
  • The ‘Instructors‘ link takes you to a page of tiles with every teacher listed, including those who are selling on the tools page. You can follow your favorites, see postings, ask questions and make comments.

Is Proko Trustworthy?

If Proko is untrustworthy, I haven’t found any evidence for it. I looked up his site on Trustpilot and there are no reviews at all. That’s a positive outcome in some ways because most people use reviews to air their grievances, and I’d expect to see some if Proko wasn’t honest.

I’ve searched online and can’t find any complaints.

I would buy some courses on Proko, especially if I was interested in gesture and figure drawing. Proko also excels in portraiture and its instructors are first rate. For the basics of drawing, I’d be more inclined towards choosing an Udemy course, when they’re discounted! For digital painting, I’d choose Domestika.

Read my longer review: Are Proko Courses Worth It? A Review – Pros and Cons

Bottom Line: Is Udemy Worth it?

Udemy is not perfect by any means, but is Udemy worth it? Yes, for some it is ideal. Udemy offers a convenient and affordable way to learn art from the comfort of your own home. You’ll be able to access a wide range of classes, which can help you understand the basics of art and how to draw specific things.

While it may not be as comprehensive as an in-person class, Udemy offers a great way to get started without the embarrassment of learning amongst other students who may be at a more advanced stage than you.

Where Udemy falls down is the pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap mentality. Nothing wrong with selling cheap courses but the way they do it leaves a lot to be desired.

They offer too many courses, and most are mediocre. Only a few really top classes are worth buying. Those top courses will be dramatically discounted and retail for no more than the poor ones.

That’s great for a discerning buyer, but the message it sends out is clear, Udemy courses are worth next to nothing. Where does that leave the consumer?

There’s no doubt that you have to be more critical and research what’s on offer. Don’t take classes on face value alone.

The best teachers on Udemy are very good and worth finding.

And what about the terrible reviews? Well, many of those complaints are about the quality of their courses. In other words, they should’ve shown more diligence beforehand. It’s partly their own fault. And what about refunds? That’s a valid concern.

If you read Trustpilot, some refunds have not been honored and people’s anger is directed toward the lack of customer support. Although the complaints are from a vocal minority, you can only conclude that there is an element of risk.

The answer is simple, do not pay the listed price. Only buy discounted courses and if it does go wrong, you’ve only lost a few dollars.

Do I recommend Udemy? Let me put it this way, I use it.


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