Skillshare is offering 2 months of access to thousands of online classes for just $1 — I took a class with one of my favorite authors and loved it

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  • Skillshare is an online platform that provides access to more than 25,000 adult learning courses — many taught by well-known contemporaries in their respective fields.
  • The courses are curated for both lifelong learning and building new career skills. I once bought a membership because one of my favorite authors was offering a course, and you can read about the experience below.
  • If you're a new user, you can get started with a free month or get two months of the Premium version for $1 here.
  • After the trial, Premium is $19 billed monthly, or $99 upfront for the year ($8.25 per month). There are also volume discounts for teams that sign up together.
  • Check out edX, Udemy, Coursera, MasterClass, and CreativeLive for more online classes. Get a quick rundown on each here. 

As college tuitions skyrocket to the most expensive they've ever been, online learning resources are popping up to fill a widening chasm.

Whether it's picking up a hard or soft skill needed to catch a hiring manager's eye, jump-starting your recreational creativity, or actually earning a master's degree from one of the top universities in the US, online platforms are helping democratize higher learning for a fraction of the cost required to enroll in universities. 

Of those many online resources, Skillshare is one of the most popular. 

Like a ClassPass for e-learning, a Skillshare membership gives you unlimited access to over 25,000 adult learning courses across thousands of disciplines — which is convenient if your objective is advancing your career or learning new hobbies. Classes range from beginner to expert and fall into categories like design, illustration, business, technology, photo and film, entrepreneurship, and writing — and you can sign up for multiple without any extra charge. 

Classes are comprised of short lessons and a hands-on project, and you can share the project with your class to get feedback from peers or collaborate with the community. 

Popular Skillshare classes:

  • Fundamentals of DSLR Photography
  • Productivity Masterclass: Create a Custom System that Works
  • iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone
  • Intro to Procreate: Illustrating on the iPad Pro
  • Investing 101: Understanding the Stock Market

How much does Skillshare cost?

The basic membership is free for the first month and the Premium version is $1 for your first two months.

After the trial, Premium is $19 billed monthly, or $99 upfront for the year ($8.25 per month). There are also volume discounts for teams that sign up together, and, in line with the mission of making learning accessible, students can get 50% off a Premium Membership with a valid .edu email address. And for every annual Premium Membership purchased, the site donates one to someone in financial need.

I started my own Skillshare membership because one of my all-time favorite authors, Roxane Gay (best known for "Bad Feminist" and "Hunger"), publicized that she was hosting a Personal Essays with Impact class on the site. If I had completed Gay's course in the month-long span of the free trial, then I hypothetically could have taken a class curated by a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts completely for free. In actuality, I defaulted to a slower pace and eventually committed to a full year.

Skillshare itself makes ongoing, high-level learning easier with affordable access, good material, and variety. But, unexpectedly, the trial process also helped me figure out if, post-grad, I actually wanted to commit to courses again. In theory, it sounded great. But, I wasn't certain of it being put into practice until I tried it with the free trial, focused on a subject I was truly interested in. 

The downsides to Skillshare to note are that, unlike pay-per-class learning communities like Udemy, you won't have lifetime access to the courses you take while you're a member. Once you cancel your membership, you lose access to your class videos and any downloadable material provided by teachers at the end of your current pay period. So, that means you have to make the most of the time you do plan to pay for the service.

The bottom line

All in all, it's a good tool for lifelong learners who want variety, expertise, and flexibility, as well as professionals looking for an affordable way to sharpen their career skills or hone their craft — or a blend of the two. For $19 per month, or $99 per year (and even less for those with a .edu email) you can take multiple classes across thousands of disciplines. It cuts out the fees and time restrictions of finding and enrolling in a community college course and gives you more variety than most pay-per-class online learning platforms. If that sounds appealing, I recommend trying it free for the first month or doing Premium for $1 for two months to see if you can fit it into your lifestyle too. 

Browse Skillshare classes here.

Sign up for two months of Skillshare here for $1.

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