As anyone who's ever started a blog knows, it's nearly impossible to be good at all the skills blogging requires. Writing copy, taking photos, editing photos, creating graphics, managing a website, tweaking code—there's so much to learn!
When it comes right down to it, for some of these skills it's easier to enroll in an online course to supplement your skill set. It's no wonder that online courses in photography, design, and even blogging have flourished. But, it's also understandable if you get that twinge of hesitation before allocating your hard earned cash to an online course.Will you actually learn what you want to learn? How helpful can an online course really be? Today, we're sharing a few considerations and recommendations if you're thinking about taking a skills class online.
Tip #1: Before you spend any money, check out YouTube
Virtually anything you want to learn how to do on your camera or in a creative program can likely be found via a tutorial on YouTube. We've both taught ourselves many, many skills by watching YouTube tutorials! To find an appropriate tutorial, just go to YouTube and search for the exact skill you want to learn. A great example (and a common skill any blogger should know) is to search such “Adobe Photoshop how to erase background.” Guaranteed, a bunch of results will come up!
The downsides? Quality amongst YouTubers varies greatly, and sometimes, you'll get 4 minutes into a video only to realize it's not addressing the exact question you have, with methods or techniques that aren't helpful. However, it's still a great place to start, and if nothing else, watching tutorials familiarizes you with tools/settings for what you're trying to learn. This not only increases your comfort level with the program you're learning, but you're also more prepared if you decide to take a more formal skills class down the line.
Additionally, following YouTube instructions gives you a good idea as to whether video instruction is a good fit for you. If you have a tougher time learning with this method, then right away, you'll know spending money on an online skills class might not be the best fit, and in-person instruction could be more beneficial.
Tip #2: Ask before you buy!
Many online courses list a pretty comprehensive curriculum so you know what you're getting into, but if you're looking to learn one particular skill or skill set and want to be sure it's included, email the instructor or organization and ask! Understanding more about your needs can help them direct you to the right course. Or, perhaps they can even address your specific questions during “office hours” or in the classroom group chat.
Tip #3: Ask your network what they think
Have a network of bloggers you chat with? Have a Twitter or Facebook account? (Duh!) Now's the time to utilize your networks to ask for recommendations and feedback. Tweeting something like, “Has anyone taken a Skillshare Photoshop course before? Thinking about taking Photoshop 101!” can not only give you feedback from others in your network, but the organization might even reach out to address any questions, or offer a previous student referral. Receiving that feedback can provide more information about what to expect, helping you make a final decision on your investment.
Tip #4: Be honest about your time budget
One common misunderstanding is that an online class is still just that — a class. You can't watch someone demonstrate a skill one time, then magically become awesome at it. Classes are a great starting point to give you information, but it's up to you to practice and hone your skillset.
Keep in mind that investing money in a skills class also means an investment of your time down the line, to maintain the skills you've learned. Some skills classes also have homework, which is typically optional. But, these assignments help you learn and refine the items discussed in your class, and completing these assignments often results in feedback from an instructor, further developing your skills. I you don't think you have time to really sit down and continue practicing the skills you're learning, it's probably not worth the money in the first place. Though, if you're blogging regularly and using these skills for your posts multiple times a week—photo editing is a great example—then you'll naturally be practicing anyway!
Below are a few great places to explore various blogging skills classes!
- The Everygirl Courses
- Skillshare Design courses
- Skillshare Photography courses
- Skillshare Blogging courses
- Lynda Photography courses
- Udemy Blogging courses
- Annie Leibovitz Master Class on Photography
- The School of Photography
- PluralSight Creative Courses
- Blogcademy Online Class
What about you? Have you ever taken an online blog-related skills class? If so, share your experience below!