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Skillshare Review 2022: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Posted in Review
Skillshare Review

Skillshare provides a broad pool of community-led classes—including marketing, illustration, and music. Still, Skillshare is best for hobbyists and those who want to augment their existing knowledge, as classes and instructors are both highly variable in quality.

Instructors

3/5

Courses

4/5

Experience

3/5

Total

3.5/5

At-a-glance:

  • Skillshare gives you the knowledge that you need to do — but focuses primarily on personal growth, productivity, and exploration.
  • Instructors on Skillshare may not necessarily have professional credentials themselves and students can’t obtain credentials (like certificates).
  • Skillshare is more focused on creative endeavors than similar platforms (such as Coursera or Codecademy).
  • Many of the courses on Skillshare are short, simple, easy, and actionable.
  • Skillshare’s high annual cost (and auto-renewal) throws some students off.

In short, Skillshare is a bit more “laidback” than other upskilling platforms; you aren’t going to get a certificate or degree. But you might learn a new tool or technique or even develop an entirely new portfolio project.

Today, we’ll explore Skillshare reviews, pricing, pros, and cons — and answer the most important question.

Is Skillshare worth it?

Screenshot of the Skillshare site.

What Does Skillshare Offer?

As of 2022, Skillshare offers over 30,000 online courses focused on creative disciplines, marketing, web design, and user experience.

That may seem like an unrealistic number of classes. Even the best Skillshare classes tend to be shorter than the classes you would find on other platforms. Courses on Coursera, for instance, may be upward of 30 hours. Skillshare courses are more likely to be bite-sized—about an hour at a time. 

Skillshare’s classes tend to be a lot more like workshops. Skillshare focuses on delivering practical, actionable knowledge from real designers, illustrators, and creatives. When you watch a Skillshare video, you’re getting advice from those already in the industry.

Many Skillshare instructors have a following, meaning you’re learning from someone who has already achieved success. And now, some videos have “special guests,” such as one with Olivia Wilde.

Let’s take a look at some of Skillshare’s most popular instructors:

  • Jessica Hische (Letterer and Illustrator). Jessica has worked for Wes Anderson, Tiffany & Co, The New York Times, and Penguin Books. On Skillshare, she teaches Illustrated Lettering, Lettering for Designers, and Logotyping. 
  • Laci Jordan (Multidisciplinary Artist). Laci Jordan has worked for Walt Disney, ABC, and the Creative Artists Agency. On Skillshare, she has a class in Digital Illustration for All.
  • Aaron Draplin (Designer and Founder, Draplin Design Co). Aaron Draplin has worked for magazines, snowboarding companies, and film productions, creating digital designs with a vintage feel. On Skillshare, he regularly uploads classes like Dirty Design with Draplin.
  • Roxane Gay (Writer and Editor). Roxane Gay is a published author of titles such as Bad Feminist and Difficult Women. On Skillshare, she teaches classes on creative writing.

More than most learning platforms, Skillshare builds upon the credentials of its instructors. Despite this, most of the courses on Skillshare are not by professionals with as impressive credentials as those above. With 30,000 courses (and growing), Skillshare does have a quality issue—it functions as an open marketplace where virtually anyone can join.

Does Skillshare Give Certificates?

If you’re looking for a career certificate, Skillshare isn’t the right platform for you. Skillshare is more likely to teach you how to change the oil in your car than how to improve your career (although that is not to say there aren’t professional courses).

Who is Skillshare For?

Let’s face it: most “upskilling” platforms are based on tech pursuits like IT and computer science. But Skillshare is firmly based on creative enterprises—design, illustration, art, writing, and editing.

Apart from that, Skillshare has a fairly large following of people who want to learn basic life skills. For example, the platform has classes in personal finance, budgeting, and just fixing things around your home.

What can you learn on Skillshare? First, Skillshare separates its classes into Create, Build, and Thrive

Create

Build

Thrive

  • Animation
  • Creative Writing
  • Film & Video
  • Fine Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Music
  • Photography
  • UI/UX Design
  • Web Development
  • Business Analytics
  • Freelance & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Management
  • Marketing
  • Lifestyle
  • Productivity

Skillshare’s ideology isn’t to “make you the best 9-to-5 career”—it’s definitely tilted toward artistic pursuits and freelance work. And that’s enough to distinguish it from many other top platforms.

How Does Skillshare Work?

Skillshare operates as a true marketplace. Professionals, hobbyists, thought leaders, and gurus sign up and upload their classes. Once their classes pass a “quality test,” they’re published to users. Then, users can sign up for a course—which is generally just a video.

Skillshare operates with a single annual subscription fee—and you can sign up for a free month beforehand. Note that most instructors are only making about $200 a month per class, which is likely part of why quality can be so variable.

Courses on Skillshare are mostly just videos. These videos are usually only about an hour long. You could equivocate many Skillshare “classes” to tutorials that you can also find on YouTube. However, Skillshare courses are sometimes produced by credentialed professionals and are tightly focused.

How to Open a Skillshare Account

If you aren’t sure about Skillshare, you can sign up for a free 30-day account. But be aware that it will renew as a paid account for a whopping $165/month. It’s the only popular skill platform that does this, which can understandably make some people hesitant to make the purchase.

Skillshare sign-up form.

Apart from that, though, opening a Skillshare account is incredibly easy. You can use an existing Google or Facebook account to open a Skillshare account within just a few clicks (and you can pay through PayPal or credit card).

How Much is Skillshare a Month? Skillshare Free vs. Premium

Free Trial

30 Days

Monthly Cost

$13.75 (Billed Annually)

Annual Cost

$165 

Let’s say you’re just interested in a single Skillshare course. Just sign up for the free 30-day trial. Most Skillshare courses are about an hour; you can enjoy these courses for free with your trial account.

But maybe you want to learn more. If you want to continue a series of Skillshare courses (or just learn more skills), you can continue paying the subscription fee of $13.75 a month. But there’s a caveat.

Back in 2021, you could pay an annual or monthly fee ($32/month). Skillshare got rid of that option. Now, you need to pay for an entire year of Skillshare at once.

That’s not to say that Skillshare isn’t worth it.

You’ll gain access to their library of 30,000+ classes for that annual fee. If you feel that you’ll take more than a few Skillshare classes a year, it can be well worth it.

Does Skillshare Cost Money?

Skillshare used to have a free option and a monthly subscription, but not anymore. Once your 30-day free trial expires, you’ll have to pay an annual fee of $165 a year.

It is worth it to note that Skillshare is a bit, well, shady when it comes to its pricing plan. You have to take action to sign up for the 30-day free trial before it tells you how much it costs and it will automatically renew you for the full annual amount.

Skillshare: 7-Day or 30-Day Trial?

If you visit Skillshare’s website right now, you’ll likely see a 7-day trial. But if you try to sign up, back out, and then try again later, you’ll notice a 30-day trial. 

You can also get a 30-day free trial by going through a partner website.

So, again, Skillshare is a bit shady when it comes to payments—you’ll note that across its site, it frequently refers to a nondescript “trial period.” You can get a longer trial period if you go through a partner. The default will be just a week.

Full disclosure: Yes, we forgot to cancel our free trial the first time around. Talk about sticker shock!

Is Skillshare Good for Building Your Career?

How good is Skillshare for upskilling? It depends.

Skillshare doesn’t focus on employment and traditional career development. It’s not likely you’ll find a job or get a promotion based on Skillshare classes. But that’s also what makes Skillshare unique and different.

Skillshare is better for developing specific, unique, and actionable skills that will improve your job performance or propel a freelance career. An artist who wants to learn how you use Adobe Illustrator might take a Coursera certificate course—an artist who wants to learn “how to draw 3D images in Adobe Illustrator” might take a Skillshare course.

If you’ve ever wondered, “how do I do X technique,” Skillshare is the right platform for you.

Skillshare can build your professional career, especially in a creative field. But it does so indirectly, by giving you the tools and techniques that you need to succeed, not the credential.

Similarly, Skillshare is targeted more toward professionals already in the industry and looking to improve their skills. While there are some beginner’s level courses, most of them are targeted toward those with a base level of knowledge.

Conversely, a true beginner may not even know what technique they need to learn.

Is Skillshare Recognized/Accredited?

Perhaps Skillshare’s largest downside is that it is not recognized, accredited, or credentialed. So while you will learn from industry leaders and professionals, you will not receive a certificate or anything shareable. But you may be able to produce a great portfolio.

 

What does Skillshare offer? The easiest way to understand the benefits of Skillshare is to take a look at some of its most popular classes. 

  1. Mastering TikTok: Stop Scrolling and Post Your First TikTok. By Taylor Loren, this class walks students through creating their first TikTok and learning the TikTok platform. Ideal for those who want to explore this new marketing venue.
  2. Productivity for Creatives: Build a System That Brings Out Your Best. Thomas Frank helps creatives build a productivity system that keeps them efficient, organized, and inspired.
  3. Simple Words to Stunning Art: Combining Hand Lettering and illustration. Gia Graham shows illustrators how to turn their typography into an art form with a short, simple class.
  4. Document Your Life: 4 Methods to Live More Intentionally. Self-care guru Nathaniel Drew shows students how they can live more mindfully through documentation.

As you can see, these courses aren’t like Codecademy courses. They aren’t intended to upskill an explosive tech career. Instead, Skillshare courses are for designers, marketers, illustrators, artists, and those who just want to improve their lives.

Who Are the Most Famous Instructors on Skillshare?

Skillshare promotes its instructors first and foremost. According to Skillshare, its instructors make over $100,000 a year from a combination of royalties and referrals.

We discussed some popular instructors before. Skillshare also lists a few more notable instructors to follow:

  • Anne Ditmeyer: a designer and expert who focuses on Adobe InDesign.
  • Tiago Forte: a workflow designer and productivity expert.
  • Grace Bello: an editorial-writing professional at Guernica.
  • Brad Woodard: a designer and illustrator with his own design studio.
  • Dominic Flask: an independent designer and color theory expert.

The platform is quick to stress that anyone can become an instructor. You won’t find Stephen King talking about the art of writing on Skillshare—but you’ll still find notable industry professionals.

How to Find the Best Classes on Skillshare

While we’ve hinted at this before, Skillshare does have a slight quality problem. That’s understandable with tens of thousands of courses.

Skillshare has incredibly big names for instructors, with reputable backgrounds and skills. Their courses tend to have extremely high production values and a lot of actionable tips. But realistically, anyone can upload a file to Skillshare.

How do you know you’re getting the advice you need?

Follow Skillshare.com reviews, look closely at user-generated ratings, and investigate course instructors. On the Skillshare page, you can see how many students have taken a given course—if there are 20,000, the course is probably great. If there are 20, it may not be.

Skillshare course information.

Read up on the teacher. Does the instructor have the credentials to back their courses up? Finally, look at class ratings. Skillshare doesn’t rate classes the way most companies do—it’s not a star rating. 

Instead, students rate based on specific categories (Engaging Teacher, Clarity of Instruction) and whether their expectations were met (Exceeded, Yes, Somewhat, Not Really). 

Skillshare course ratings.

Skillshare Review: Pros, Cons, and User Reviews

Pros

Cons

  • A wide library of classes in design, illustration, and other creative fields
  • Classes backed by instructors who are leaders within their field
  • Short, actionable classes with a lot of punch
  • No certificates or official documentation
  • Requires a hefty annual subscription fee
  • Not all classes are by instructors with solid credentials

Skillshare inhabits a unique space. Students love the ability to quickly learn essential skills without going through an entire boot camp or course plan. Skillshare is direct, simple, and (again) actionable.

Skillshare has a 1.8/5 on TrustPilot, primarily due to these issues:

  • You may need to dig for the right material. Anyone can upload on Skillshare (although the courses must meet basic quality standards). Thus, you have to do a little legwork to find the right courses for you.
  • Skillshare is pretty shady about its pricing model. The 7-day free trial segues directly into a large, annual payment. Moreover, Skillshare doesn’t share its pricing anywhere on its site. You have to sign up to find out.
  • Skillshare took its monthly payment model away, almost silently. Most people were used to Skillshare having a monthly payment option and were surprised by the annual bill.

However, Skillshare still has some great instructors and classes, despite the platform needing a little work. Read Skillshare reviews on TrustPilot, and you’ll find a litany of similar complaints: Skillshare bills people by surprise, refuses to refund billing, and tries to provide discounts rather than refunds.

On the other hand, Skillshare has valuable lessons if you know what you want to learn. And if you can learn them under the 7-day free trial window (and cancel before you get billed), more power to you.

Alternatives to Skillshare

Skillshare’s most direct alternative is probably Udemy. Udemy provides a broad spectrum of variable-quality classes that nevertheless contain some extraordinary gems. Here’s a quick overview of how Skillshare compares with various competitors: 

 

Skillshare

Coursera

YouTube

Udemy

Classes

30,000+

7,000+

Millions

185,000+

Students

12 million

82 Million

2.6 Billion

40 million

Cost

$165/annual

$39/month

Free

$12 to $200

Coursera

Screenshot of Coursera

Coursera is similar to Skillshare but has lengthier courses, boot camps, certification paths, and degrees. 

While Skillshare’s courses are about an hour long and cover a single, discrete topic, Coursera’s courses usually go in-depth about a general field or career path. As a result, Coursera is better for those trying to boost a traditional career or explore a new career, whereas Skillshare is better for learning individual skills.

YouTube

YouTube learning screenshot.

That’s right. YouTube.

An interesting fact about Skillshare is you can find many similar classes on YouTube. This is because professionals, hobbyists, and artists were already uploading tutorials on YouTube and making money through ad revenue. 

For instance, you can search “Hand Lettering for Logos” on YouTube and find some pretty advanced tutorials. If you’ve learned on YouTube tutorials in the past, you’ll see that Skillshare really is a monetized YouTube platform, albeit with more focus and (somewhat) more instructor interaction.

Since Skillshare doesn’t provide credentials or certificates, students might find it prudent to look up YouTube tutorials before springing for the hefty annual cost.

Udemy

Udemy learning platform screenshot.

Udemy has 185,000 courses — many more than Skillshare’s 30,000. But more courses mean more variability in quality. At the same time, though, Udemy provides many similar courses as Skillshare for a lower price. 

Udemy’s classes fall between Skillshare and Coursera: there are short, actionable, punchy classes like Skillshare, but there are some longer courses, too.

What’s special about Skillshare? Compared to Coursera, YouTube, and Udemy, Skillshare is uniquely targeted toward creative and marketing pursuits. Most other platforms are targeted toward tech.

Conclusion: Is Skillshare Legit?

Here’s what we can gather from our Skillshare review: 

Skillshare courses are as legit as their instructors; it all depends on where the information comes from. Skillshare won’t directly improve your career, as it doesn’t provide any certificates or credentials. But it will indirectly improve your career by giving you new strategies, tools, and techniques to use.

Skillshare is great for:

  • Learning a specific technique or tool you’re interested in.
  • Finding out more about creative pursuits, such as design and illustration.
  • Learning from instructors who are professionals within their field.
  • Improving productivity and efficiency within a specific field.

But Skillshare is not good for those who actually want to directly boost their career, get a promotion, or prove their talents. Furthermore, its less-than-legit pricing structure is enough to give many people pause.

Want to Learn Programming?

Skillshare is mostly for design and artistic endeavors. Although there is some overlap in programming, you may be better off taking a free, online coding course.

Learn Coding for Beginners Today

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Skillshare Actually Any Good?

It depends on what you need. Skillshare is a great way to learn actionable skills from industry insiders, but it’s not a great way to develop a career from whole cloth. As long as your expectations are in check, Skillshare is an excellent platform.

2. Can You Cancel Skillshare After the Free Trial?

You can cancel Skillshare with a full refund as long as you cancel before the automatic renewal date. If your free trial renews automatically, you’ll struggle to get a full refund. 

3. Can Skillshare Get You a Job?

Skillshare won’t get you a job alone, but it can help you build the skills you need to get a job or develop a portfolio. Skillshare doesn’t provide certificates or credentials; instead, it provides knowledge and strategies.

4. How Many Classes Can You Take on Skillshare?

You can take as many or as few classes as you like with a Skillshare subscription. 

5. Can I Buy Skillshare for Someone Else?

No, you can’t buy Skillshare for someone else. However, you can purchase a Visa gift card (or work teams card) that they can use toward Skillshare.

6. Does Skillshare Give Certificates?

No, Skillshare does not give certificates. However, some classes will produce a project, which can then be used as a portfolio piece.

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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