A short, four-month stint living in Washington D.C. taught me one thing: none of the guys I seemed to match with on Hinge had any hobbies. In fact, the concept of carving out time for something you chose actively not to monetize or share on your resume was completely foreign to them. Wait… so you *choose* to read? You’re knitting just for… fun? I stared back and responded with a flat “yes”—that’s kind of the point.
I don’t blame them. In our world that emphasizes productivity above all else, we’ve all been fed the idea that maximizing our hours is the ultimate goal. Boredom? Impossible—I could be growing my audience on TikTok! But in recent years, we’ve collectively turned away from this inclination toward toxic productivity (the #girlboss is dead, after all). Thankfully, this has inspired a new perspective on personal development, one that pursues growth for growth’s sake alone. Professional and personal gratification, after all, rarely come from the external measures of success—stats, peer approval, etc.—that we believe will make us feel like enough. Fulfillment is an inside job.
Of course, we can sharpen our skills and go after growth to support our careers—this isn’t a bad thing. It’s only when we prioritize our to-do lists and tasks above all else (or in an effort to avoid ourselves), that concern arises. As I mentioned a few times to the aforementioned political and finance bros: the ever-elusive quest for balance is the key. That’s right, I’m a fun first date.
So, to uplevel my career, dive deeper into my hobbies, and satisfy my ever-curious mind, I’ve been making the most of my Skillshare account. Keep reading for the classes I’ve favorited and am plowing through. Growth awaits.
What is Skillshare?
Back to the beginning. Similar to platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and Khan Academy, Skillshare is an online learning community that allows users to access educational video content. And as you’ll see from the classes I’ve been taking, that content runs the gamut. You can enroll in everything from illustration to UI/UX design to video production to making your own furniture. Whatever you want to learn, there’s a course for it.
To start, you can enroll in a free month-long trial. After that, you can select from either a monthly membership ($32/month) or an annual subscription ($168/year, broken down to roughly $14/month).
My Favorite Skillshare Classes
With 35,000+ classes, it can be easy to get overwhelmed when starting Skillshare. However, as a member, I’ve found that the user experience allows me to sort through and explore classes easily, helping me find the exact specific niche I’m looking for (clay miniature sandwiches, anyone?). And, once you start using it for a little while, the algorithm begins serving you up classes that end up being exactly what you’re looking for. With the basics established, let’s get into the Skillshare classes I’m obsessing over:
Sewing Basics: Make Your Own Clothing
I’ve been wanting to learn how to sew for years. Based on friends’ creations and all the inspo I’ve taken from social media, it’s clear that when you know how to sew, the sartorial possibilities are endless. After being gifted a sewing machine for my birthday (the Brother CS7000X, as recommended by Wirecutter), I set out to find the perfect beginner course.
“Sewing Basics,” taught by designer and patternmaker Denise Bayron, is a two-hour, beginner-level course that takes you through sewing fundamentals to set you up for any clothing project. In it, you’ll learn:
How to set up your sewing workspace (including how to actually work your machine!)
Essential techniques like sewing straight lines, corners, and various seam styles
Tips on how to shop for fabrics
This is the perfect course to begin your sewing journey. Not only is the class organized with an intuitive progression, building on the skills you learn within each video, but Denise’s instruction is world-class. She speaks clearly, patiently, and with an obvious enthusiasm that makes every video engaging. What’s more, the overhead camera angles give you a close-up visual of the techniques and skills as she describes and teaches them.
Start Your Creative Career: Build a Sharp, Smart Online Presence
If entrepreneurship is calling, start this course asap. While social media is awash with countless creators and business owners living the dream as their own boss, it can be hard to know how to go out on your own. As the course’s instructor, entrepreneur Sonja Rasula, explains, she isn’t teaching rocket science. However, the skills shared in this course comprise the essential business training to help you establish your brand and grow your presence online and on social media.
Oftentimes, creative professionals aren’t equipped with the nitty-gritty information to get their business off the ground. Sonja covers everything from creating a brand bible to building a website to utilizing social media effectively. In this course, you can expect to learn:
How to interpret website and social media analytics to uplevel your content and drive conversions
How to build a brand bible to effectively convey who you are and what you offer
Tips for designing your website to create a streamlined user experience
If you’re an artist, designer, writer, small business owner, or anyone who wants to build a creative career, this course sets you up with tools to effectively communicate your brand online. Not only does it include fundamental information, but I was surprised to discover in each video small, but game-changing tips that have ultimately transformed how I share my work and content.
Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth
Blogging has been around for even longer than many of us have been alive. And while some may assume that blogging requires less thought and effort than other forms of writing, effective blog posts are the result of strategic planning and intention. There’s so much that goes into blogging—from brainstorming a topic to outlining your draft to finishing things off with a headline that draws readers in—writing for the web requires countless more skills than you might initially think.
This course is basically Content Marketing 101, taking you through the basics of what constitutes an effective blog post. And though it discusses mostly fundamentals, I found that it’s both great for beginners as well as marketers who want to improve their content production skills (hi, it’s me!). In it, you’ll learn:
How to build your audience as a blogger/content writer
An effective approach to writing a blog post start to finish (including how to brainstorm your topic, outline your post, and incorporate research)
Next steps for building consistency with blogging (how to create an effective editorial calendar)
I will preface that the instructor, Eric Siu, founder of the growth marketing agency Single Grain, isn’t quite as personable as other teachers. In taking the course, I found it more difficult to engage with what he was saying. However, the content and information he provides is top-notch. Personally, as someone who has built her career writing online, the most valuable lesson I took from this course was how to write a captivating headline—after all, how many articles have you only read the headline of? Probably a few many more than the entire blog post itself.
Build Your Site & Shop: Beginner’s Guide to Shopify & Website Design
If you want to establish an online presence—whether for yourself or your online business—having a beautiful and user-friendly website is key. But… you might be intimidated believing that you have to have extensive coding knowledge or pay thousands of dollars to build a website. This course makes it clear: you don’t need either to design a website that works for you.
A disclaimer: this isn’t a course that’ll teach you all the backend ins and outs of building a website. Instead, if you want to create a website for yourself as a freelancer, small business owner, or a portfolio, I’d suggest enrolling. This course focuses on utilizing Shopify—taking you through all the steps of using the platform, tips for designing your site, and how to determine if you should use free versus paid templates. Some key things you’ll learn:
A complete and thorough overview of Shopify (how to add products, build collections, and track inventory)
An effective template for designing your Shopify site plan
Bonus: how to build a portfolio on Adobe portfolio (great for designers and copywriters)
As you can tell, this course will be great for you if you’re already considering using Shopify and aren’t sure where to start. While it does touch upon skills and teachings that can apply to other programs and platforms, I would only recommend taking this course if you’ll be hosting your work and product offerings on Shopify.
Intro to UX: Designing with a User-Centered Approach
For me, “Intro to UX” was more of a passion project/I’m-curious-about-this-topic course. While my day-to-day tasks don’t specifically require UX/UI knowledge, I do work adjacent to these designers. One day, after a meeting where I realized I had no idea what my co-workers were talking about when they referenced the “user flow” of our site, I decided to dive in. From taking this course, I realized there was a whole discipline of web design that I knew absolutely nothing about—and only wanted to dive into all the deeper.
Clearly, this isn’t your course if you’re already working within user experience. However, this class is great if you have a casual curiosity about it like myself or if you’re a marketer or creative professional whose own work often coincides with this discipline (again, like myself). A few key things you’ll learn from “Intro to UX”:
How to understand the user’s end-to-end journey
How to improve your final product through testing and iterating
How to identify your audience and prioritize their needs
Beyond discussing the basics of user experience, the teacher, Cinthya Mohr, Sr. UX Manager at Google, does an incredible job of communicating the philosophy behind UX. Personally, as I began learning about the topic, all of it felt relatively abstract and hard to grasp. But Cinthya uses real-world examples and case studies to convey how user experience shows up in our everyday lives.
This is a relatively short, 45-minute class that sets you up with all the basics answering the what and the why behind user design. Definitely recommend pressing play.
Interior Design Basics: Simple Steps to Your Perfect Space
Like many of us, I’m home-design obsessed. The viral audio confirms: there’s one thing I get money’s worth from—I’m always at home. Lauren Cox, Design Program Manager for the online interior design brand Havenly, created this course to share the ins and outs of interior design. Yes, how we arrange and style our living spaces depends largely on personal taste and aesthetic. However, there are key principles—rules, if you will—that’ll help you uplevel your home. Expect to walk away from this course knowing the following:
How to define your personal style and express it consistently throughout your home
How to style according to specific aesthetics (i.e., Modern Farmhouse and Preppy Coastal)
The ins and outs of the four key principles every interior designer utilizes: Color, Balance, Scale and Proportion, and Rhythm and Repetition
I loved this course because Lauren gave concrete, tangible shape to the elements of home design I didn’t know how to describe. Everything from creating a sense of rhythm and balance within your space to developing a process for selecting pieces you’ll love for a lifetime—it’s all here. What’s more, Lauren’s tips apply to any budget and any home size. (PSA: Equipped with the knowledge Lauren provides in this course, you don’t have to be a millionaire to design a space you love.)
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