In this day and age, you don’t have to head down to your nearest college to take a specialist class when looking to acquire new skills. Online course providers can offer everything you need at the click of a button - allowing you to take classes in your own time, with experts from all over the world.

Two of the most well-known are Skillshare and Udemy, each offering a whole host of courses with discounts and offers available year-round. Though both of these offer a variety of courses, covering a range of topics, there are some key differences that you should be aware of before you sign up to be their latest pupil. We’ve compared each side-by-side to discover which is the best option for you.

Which is the cheapest?

Well, that depends on how you prefer to pay, as both operate on different systems. Skillshare utilises a subscription model - in that you pay a flat fee each month and in return, you gain access to all of its classes, across the board. As for Udemy, you pay for each individual class that you want to take.

Let’s start with Skillshare. You don’t actually need to pay anything if you don’t want to, as the site has a host of free classes to take advantage of. All you need to do is sign up with your email address and then watch away. However, take this with a pinch of salt - as the majority of classes that are ‘free’ only include the first lesson of the course and nothing else. You’ll need to sign up for Skillshare Premium to unlock the rest.

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The premium version costs either £13 per month on a rolling subscription or £84 for the year (which works out to £7 per month). Skillshare regularly offers a deal that gives new users the first two months for free, either with discount codes or as an offer available directly on the official website. 

Once you’re a premium member, you get access to all the content on the site. If you’re a cash-strapped student or have a specific skill, then you could also apply for a Skillshare scholarship.

Udemy also offers free courses and you can access all the lessons within these - though the subjects are slightly limited. The more premium courses differ widely in terms of price - from a little as £10.99 (going even lower during sales), all the way up to £200. Some courses are shown as being discounted by hundreds of pounds but many are ‘discounted’ all-year-round, so you may not be getting the huge savings that you think you are.

Udemy

The long or short of it is this: for one off-courses and free classes, Udemy is the way to go. For unlimited access to a number of different subjects - and a more generous trial overall - Skillshare is your best bet.

What has the best courses?

The good news is that both sites offer a wide range of choice. Quantity-wise, Udemy dominates with around 130,000 courses and 50,000 instructors. These cover a mix of business and professional skills, as well as courses in creative pursuits, wellness, personal development and much more.

This doesn’t, however, mean that every course is of high-quality. Each course is reviewed by a member of the Udemy team before it’s published but the audio and visuals aren't always of a professional standard, which can be slightly off-putting. You do however receive a certificate upon completing your class, though this is purely for decorative purposes and should not be mistaken as any form of official accreditation.

Skillshare offers slightly fewer in its library, with over 22,000 classes. There’s a lot more on offer for those after creative courses, compared to business-focused ones but Skillshare has been expanding its subjects over the last few years.

Teachers are also required to adhere to specific guidelines, which include ensuring that both audio and video are captured to a high standard. However, courses have a minimum length of ten minutes, whilst Udemy’s are 30-minutes long. This means that you could end up with quite a short learning, albeit more-easily digestible experience if you choose Skillshare.

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All in all - Udemy has the bigger range of courses and is best if you’re looking for a wide range of business and professional skills. But if you’re searching for more niche creative tutorials - or prefer a more professionally-produced video overall - Skillshare is the way to go.

What other things should I be aware of?

As we alluded to earlier - but it’s still worth mentioning - neither of these platforms should be mistaken as official educational bodies. You won’t get any recognisable qualifications, though obviously you will gain experience that you can put on your CV. If you’re after certification, we’d recommend paying for a course from either an online university/college or a professionally accredited body.

One that we recommend would be FutureLearn. This platform works with leading universities, business schools and specialist organisations to provide courses in a number of areas. Most short courses are free to enrol in but cost a lot more if you want the official qualification from the body hosting it. FutureLearn even offers online degrees from partnering universities, if you want to take things a bit further.

udemy course

Both Udemy and Skillshare offer apps on iOS and Android - but only Skillshare allows you to download classes and videos for offline viewing. So if you’re looking to fit in your learning on your commute - or can’t rely on consistently having a strong internet connection, then perhaps Udemy isn’t the best way to go.

We also prefer the layout and design of Skillshare. It’s cleaner and more user-friendly to navigate. Udemy has a lot of information on each page, which can be a little overwhelming.

Both websites have a mix of learning materials on their courses. The main classes consist of videos, with extra written assignments or worksheets based on your lectures. You also have the ability to converse with fellow classmates and receive further feedback from your tutor. 

Which should I buy?

Looking at the pros and cons, Skillshare is the best option for creatives, or people who want to try out a number of different subjects. Udemy is best if you’re looking for one specific class, as buying multiple can add up very quickly. It also offers more for business/professional skills, so is a more friendly option for students interested in that area.

We recommend trying out both free options of Skillshare and Udemy to see which you prefer. The two months from Skillshare is certainly generous, whilst Udemy offers flash sales from time-to-time, giving courses away for under a fiver. Alternatively, you can try one of the free options to get an idea of their structure.

Overall, Skillshare only just has the edge when it comes to the overall learning experience, due to its clean layout, professional videos and offline viewing. However, you won't be missing out if you prefer what Udemy has to offer.