6 Affordable Educational Sites for Creatives

On 16 January 2015 by Alisa Damaso


If you’re like most curious people, learning doesn’t stop when you’re out of school. You’re always looking up how things work, obsessively researching something you just heard about, or brazenly questioning a concept you don’t understand. To top it off, information is easier to access than ever before, and we’re able to chat with experts around the world online.

As long as you know what you’re looking for, you can learn anything at your own pace from the comfort of your own home for way less than a college course. Sure, you don’t get the human interaction with fellow students and a lecturer, but the U.S. Department of Education has recently found that classes with a complete or integrated online component “on average produce stronger student learning outcomes than do classes with solely face-to-face instruction.” Not to mention if you’re on a budget and your time is limited, online learning is the obvious choice.

If you haven’t tried them yet, check out these great educational websites where creatives can learn for free or on a budget.


1. lynda.com

I’m an avid user of lynda.com — I’m currently taking courses on Graphic Design, Typography and Video, and also have a huge playlist of other things I’d like to learn. Lynda provides quality video courses taught by industry experts in creative skills, software and business, and is for anyone who wants to develop their personal and professional proficiencies. Basic membership is $25 a month (or $250 a year), which grants you full unlimited access to Lynda’s library of video courses. Premium membership costs $37.50 a month (or $375 a year) and grants access to download project files and the courses themselves. If it’s out of your budget, try their free 10-day trial, or propose to your employer that they cover the cost as part of your professional development.

2. Gibbon

If you like playlists, then you’ll dig Gibbon, a peer-to-peer online learning platform. Gibbon’s philosophy is that all knowledge already exists online, and “all you need is someone to guide you to it.” So what you get are curated playlists containing links from all over the web in topics under Photography, Writing, Design, Entrepreneurship, Life Hacking, and more. Another cool thing about Gibbon is you can be a teacher too: create your own playlists with your own resources for just about anything.

3. Skillshare

Skillshare is a community-based online learning platform and one of the best resources for creators to learn. They offer a free membership that includes access to their free classes and the Skillshare community, and a premium membership with unlimited access to all classes and offline viewing ($96 a year or $9.95 monthly, with a 14-day free trial), and they also offer scholarships.

4. CreativeLive

CreativeLive broadcasts live classes for free and then offers downloadable recordings for purchase afterward. Choose from courses in Photo and Video, Art and Design, Music and Audio, Craft and Maker or Money and Life: browse their schedule of upcoming classes or pick a live broadcast from the list on the top of their homepage. CreativeLive also provides bundles of classes with bonus materials at a discounted price, and their blog is pretty awesome, too.

5. Coursera

Coursera provides free access to courses, video lectures and interactive quizzes from top universities and organizations. Like lynda.com, each course is broken up into several overarching lessons comprised of bite-sized lectures. Some drawbacks: The quality of courses vary, some lecturers are not always engaging, and there are very few on-demand art courses as most of them are yet to start. If you don’t need too much guidance and prefer to learn on your own, try it out. It’s a great free resource to learn, especially in subjects like Business and Management, Computer Science, Humanities, and more.

6. Codecademy

For tech-savvy creatives, there’s Codecademy. You can learn in-demand skills like how to build professional websites as well as programming languages like HTML & CSS, JavaScript, and Python. It’s perfect if you want to DIY your own website from the ground up. Codecademy makes it simple to learn the basics of web development, however, if you want to dive deeper into it, you might want to try Khan Academy or MIT’s Open Courseware, or a paid learning platform like Treehouse.

Bonus: Udemy

If  your budget is a bit larger, you should also check out Udemy, which has more than 22,000 courses in Design, Photography, Music, IT, Language and more. Prices for courses vary from free to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you’re learning and how advanced the class is. With instructors from all around the world, you can learn how to play guitar from someone in England or have a watercolor painting teacher in Spain. You can even become an instructor yourself and teach a course in a subject you’re amazing at — people have made a living through instructing courses on the platform.

Lastly, don’t forget there’s an infinite amount of free resources on YouTube, however it’ll take more effort in terms of research and curation. Hope this post puts a fire under your butt to get some new skills. Now get learnin’!


Alisa Damaso

Alisa Damaso is an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer based
in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys the magic of the outdoors,
watching campy horror movies, and singing songs about food getting
stuck in her teeth. Her hand is married to a pencil and she never leaves
the house without a sketchbook.

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Trackbacks & Pings

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