I think we can all agree that this is without a doubt the most stressful, uncertain and confusing time we’ve gone through collectively as humans globally. And every time I log onto social media I am reminded how differently we all react in difficult times.
I want you to know that there is truly no RIGHT or WRONG method for processing the emotions that this time may be bringing up for you. You may have read this blog title and been like “Excuse me? You want me to learn something new during this time?! Are you kidding me?” Don’t freak out. I’m not telling you what to do.
However, I know what works for me personally and I’m sure some of you out there can relate. In times like this, the most important thing for me to do in order to stay sane is to reach through the clutter and chaos and cling to joy and hope in whatever way I can find it.
Right before my Mom passed away (one month after my dad’s passing), she urged me “don’t let this circumstance steal your joy,” and this attitude has carried me through the years since and has colored much of how I’ve reacted during this current global meltdown.
In times of struggle, I think it’s crucial to find what makes us FEEL GOOD. So ask yourself, what makes you feel good? And I don’t mean that instant gratification kind of good that wears off and leaves you feeling shitty hours later. Ben & Jerry, I’m looking at you… I’m talking about true, lasting joy.
For me during this time, that’s looked a bit like…
✓ Eating healthy foods
✓ Moving my body
✓ Stretching in the morning to some uplifting tunes
✓ Sipping my daily beloved cup of bulletproof coffee
✓ Watching Bachelor Nation’s latest cheesy series Listen to Your Heart
✓ FaceTiming with family and friends
✓ Learning a new skill or taking a course
Now let’s address the last point there. While some may look at this as an addiction to productivity (and you’re not completely wrong here), there are some other benefits to this so hear me out.
Not only does learning something new build your arsenal of skills, but through that continuing education you build confidence, and that confidence can help you feel more in control of your future in a time of great uncertainty.
Some of you might be suddenly unemployed, furloughed, working reduced hours from home, or trying to keep your small business from going completely under. Many of you may just be trying to keep your head above water, especially if you’re working on the front lines or managing a high stress job from home with a family to care for and kids to home school. Whatever your situation, I honor you.
This post is simply for those that, like me, find joy in learning and developing a new skill during uncertain times (you could even call it a healthy distraction), and have the time right now to do so.
If you’re currently trying to build a career or side hustle within the realms of blogging, photography, online marketing and social media, consider this post your cheat sheet of awesome resources that will help you uplevel — and fast.
There are truly SO many amazing resources online to help us hone our craft as bloggers and creatives, and just because you can’t be out in the world right now doesn’t mean you can’t be improving and evolving from the comfort of your couch.
From social media and photography to email marketing, SEO, writing and more, running a creative online business involves acquiring knowledge in so many different areas. Sometimes I feel like I have to be a jack of all trades, but to be honest that’s what keeps this blogging career fun and exciting!
Why spend money on a course when you can find free resources online?
Below, you’ll find some of the best courses for bloggers and creatives on a wide array of topics so you can use this time at home to build your confidence alongside some badass skills.
Many of these are the courses I’ve taken myself over the years and can personally vouch for. While naturally there are tons of free courses out there across the interwebs, I’ve found that all of the best and easiest-to-follow information is provided in paid courses.
To date, I’ve probably spent upwards of $5,000 on various courses and I don’t regret a dime of it. That’s because, when you’re trying to build a business all on your own, you don’t have a lot of time to waste. These resources have helped me acquire knowledge and strategies much quicker and more efficiently than I could have done attempting to collect the pieces of the puzzle on my own. Think of these course creators as your mentors.
PS – If you’d rather work 1-on-1 with me to learn the ins and outs of blogging, shoot me an email at [email protected] — I recently launched a small blogger mentorship program at the beginning of 2020 and am considering reopening it in response to this time. Otherwise, I hope you’ll enjoy this carefully curated list of resources for bloggers which I consider to be the best blogging courses out there!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the following links may be affiliate links which means that I may make a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you. I only promote products that I truly believe in and that I know will bring you value!
The Best Blogging Courses Right Now to Uplevel Your Skills and Grow Your Online Business While You’re Stuck at Home
The Business of Blogging Course From Nomadic Matt
Nomadic Matt is one of the biggest travel bloggers out there, if not THE biggest. He’s been in the game for over a decade, gets over 1 million readers to his site every month, and has written books, launched a travel conference, owns a hostel, and much more. If you’re looking for a comprehensive blogging course specifically for the travel niche (but that also applies to any vertical), Matt’s course is a great place to start.
Turning a blog from a hobby into a business is truly so much more than just publishing articles and hoping the readers will come. Matt’s Business of Blogging Course gives new and intermediate bloggers a comprehensive guide on everything from setting up your website initially to monetizing, SEO, creative writing tips, and everything in between.
One of the biggest bonuses of this course though is that as a SuperStar Blogging member, you get access to tech support through Matt’s IT team, which is ideal for new bloggers who may not be able to dish out funds for their own developer in the early stages.
Complete User Guides For Every Camera System
If you run a blog and social media channels that are very photography heavy, then you’ll want to make sure your photography skills are up to par. And an essential first step in improving those skills is getting to know your gear.
You may already have the eye, but you need to get know the tools you’re working with to bring your vision to life. Whether you’re a Nikon, Canon, FujiFilm, Olympus or Sony user (like me), these quick start guides on CreativeLive take you through detailed and easy-to-understand courses on the brand of your choosing so that you can hit the ground running feeling confident with the gear that you’ve got.
Photography Starter Kit for Beginners
Once you’ve learned the ins and outs of your camera gear, it’s important to learn the WHY and the creative process behind how to use its various settings. This is a great course taught by award-winning photographer John Greengo and one that I took in the early days of my photography journey.
At the time, I hadn’t taken a proper photography course since high school, so this was just the refresher I needed to get me feeling confident in taking pictures again. If you’re still confused about things like the difference between aperture and shutter speed, or if using your camera’s manual mode sounds intimidating, this is the class for you.
Blogging Fast Lane Course by Adventure in You
I’ve taken A LOT of courses over the past few years and this is one of the best blogging courses I’ve completed thus far. What I love about this course is that it can be applicable to people at the beginner level who are just starting a blog, but it also has a ton of value for bloggers who are maybe a few years in but still haven’t seen the traffic and affiliate income they know they’re capable of.
The founders Anna and Tom, who run the travel blog, Adventure in You, walk students through the process of building more traffic to your website by creating what they’ve coined an “authority fortress” and talk strategies for building revenue through affiliates and proper SEO implementation, and much more.
To be honest, I was a little wary of the price tag at first, but the knowledge I’ve gained (plus little tips and tricks I haven’t seen anywhere else!) from this course has proved to be well worth the investment.
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
When it comes to affiliate marketing, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is one of the best in the game. She runs the popular finance blog Making Sense of Cents and for years before I started making money blogging, I was fascinated by her income reports that shared the revenue she was earning from blogging each month (currently it’s at over $100,000/per month — yes you read that right)! Plus, over half of that is in affiliate marketing revenue.
In Michelle’s signature course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, she walks students through the entire process of building long-lasting affiliate income for their own blogs, sharing her strategies and tips for choosing the best affiliate programs, promoting them, building trust with your readers to increase conversions, and how to make sure your site is set up in compliance with current FTC regulations.
If you still haven’t cracked the affiliate code for your own site, I’d definitely look to Michelle for advice on the subject. She is truly the queen of affiliate marketing and currently splits her time doing #vanlife and living on a sailboat with her husband and dog, running her successful biz all the while!
One caveat: If you already consider yourself an intermediate or advanced affiliate marketer, you’re probably not going to find too many ninja tricks in this one. For beginners on the topic, it’s great though!
Instagram For Success
I haven’t personally taken this course but I do know the founder Helene of Helene in Between and I can vouch for her passion and dedication to teaching her students how to grow and build an engaged community on Instagram.
Like me, she also has a background in social media and marketing, so she’s applied the principles she used to practice for other companies back in her corporate days to her own blogging brand and has seen a lot of success.
The only downside here is that this course is NOT open year-round, so if you miss the enrollment period you’ll have to wait until she reopens it. But if it’s the right fit for you, it might be worth the wait!
Portrait Photography with Annie Leibovitz
It’s a rare chance to be able to learn from one of the most famous portrait photographers of all time, and MasterClass is offering that opportunity right now. Annie Leibovitz, known for her iconic covers for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines teaches her very first online course through MasterClass, featuring 15 total lessons each 12 minutes long.
If the name Annie Leibovitz doesn’t immediately come to mind, just do a quick Google search and you’ll undoubtedly recall her imagery. One of the most famous images being the portrait she captured of a naked John Lennon and his love Yoko Ono, which was tragically taken just hours before Lennon was fatally shot.
The cool thing about MasterClass is that when you buy one annual membership for $180, you get access to all of the classes they offer, which include courses on everything from cooking, interior design, acting, ballet, business strategy, economics and so much more. MasterClass’ niche is taking some of the biggest names in every field and providing insider access to these great minds for an affordable price, so expect to find big names on their roster like Gordon Ramsay, Natalie Portman, Bobbi Brown, Serena Williams, and Stephen Curry just to name a few.
Complete Guide to Adobe Lightroom
I’ve been a big fan of CreativeLive for years, and this was personally one of the first classes I took when trying to learn the ins and outs of editing my photos using Adobe Lightroom for Instagram and my blog.
Taught by Ben Willmore, this class takes a very in depth look at not only the various functions available to users of Adobe Lightroom (arguably the best photo editing software out there), but also the best way to structure and organize your photos for efficiency and ease.
That second piece was a gamer changer for me because it allowed me to keep my photos organized from the start, which means that nowadays tens of thousands of images later, I can easily locate old photos without sifting through a massive unorganized collection.
The List to Launch Lab with Jenna Kutcher
Did you know that you don’t own your followers on social media? When I personally came to this realization, I knew I needed to focus on the aspects of my business that I do own — aka my website and email list subscribers.
I’m admittedly still improving my email strategy as we speak, but taking Jenna Kutcher’s List to Launch Lab really opened my eyes to the importance of building an email list and how to utilize and set it up properly in order to bring readers value and convert them into true fans and customers.
Plus, if you like Jenna’s content (she’s a wealth of knowledge, trust me), then you’re going to love her other courses and free resources for business owners.
One note: If you’re still in the early stages of your blog and working on things like crafting your niche, building up content, and growing your traffic, it’s probably best to start with other courses first that are more basic and then return to this one once you’ve mastered the essentials.
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If you plan on being in any of your Instagram or blog photos, or if you’re shooting promotional photos of any kind for your website, learning how to pose properly is a skill that will make photoshoots way less painful for you in the future.
Take it from someone who used to feel SO awkward in front of the camera. I’ve seen firsthand that learning to pose IS something that can be improved! This class is taught by fashion photographer Lindsay Adler and is one of the most popular on CreativeLive, teaching students the do’s and don’ts of posing in any photographic scenario.
Self-Made Entrepreneurship with Sara Blakely
Whether you’re selling a physical product or not, anyone starting or building an online business can benefit from the basic principles behind entrepreneurship. In this MasterClass course, Spanx founder Sara Blakely shares her story and the strategies she used to make her million dollar idea into much more than that.
Not only does this course include 14 lessons with actionable tips for building a business, it will inspire you to take your crazy ideas and run with them!
How to Create a Cohesive Instagram Feed
Learning how to edit your photos in Lightroom is one thing, but making your entire feed cohesive in an aesthetically pleasing way is an entirely different feat.
In this Skillshare course, travel photographer Dale McManus takes students through the ins and outs of creating that highly coveted cohesive feed.
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche
One of the highest rated Pinterest courses out there, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche has gotten tons of bloggers and online entrepreneurs massive success in growing traffic back to their websites. This course goes through everything from setting up a Pinterest profile to creating high-performing pins (even ones that go viral), understanding and using the analytics to your benefit and much more.
I haven’t personally taken this course yet, but it’s one I’m definitely considering for the near future. Founders Alex and Lauren have the stats to back up their claims and they’re open about sharing them, plus through all of the reviews that I’ve looked at, it’s clear that their students are seeing incredible results.
The Bucketlist Bombshells Academy
Way before I even launched my blog, I had been strategizing a departure from my 9-to-5 and how I could make money while traveling the world. Enter Cassie and Shay, otherwise known as the Bucketlist Bombshells, who teach courses on how to launch online service-based businesses that can be run from anywhere in the world.
These two amazing educators and business owners who I’m now honored to call friends showed me that it was possible to make money while traveling the globe — and that’s exactly what I did in the early days, running social media accounts for clients from Peru, Bali, and Mexico to name a few.
Fast forward to today and I’ve transitioned my business out of service-based offerings, but without their guidance early on I’m not sure I would have had the guts to take the leap from working a “stable” 9-to-5 to making money online.
In their Bucketlist Bombshells Academy, they currently have three main offerings: the Design Skills Course, Tech Skills Course, and their signature Work Online + Travel the World Course, which teach students the essentials in starting a successful service-based business that you can run from anywhere.
YouTube Success with Sorelle Amore
If you’re looking to use this time to master a new social media platform, this YouTube course with successful Instagram photographer and videographer Sorelle Amore is a great place to start.
In this Skillshare course, Amore takes students through the process of creating an authentic channel that is worth the follow — and it’s a nice short and sweet one at only 45 minutes long, meaning you can get through it on your lunch break!
PodcastPro with the Creators of Almost 30
Everyone is talking about podcasting these days — which ones are their favorites and how they’re launching their own. If you’ve always dreamed about launching a podcast and expanding your brand to audio, Lindsey and Krista are two of the best in the space to show you the ropes.
As the co-creators of the wildly successful Almost 30 Podcast, this badass duo have built not only an incredible brand through podcasting, but a massive engaged community alongside it. Podcast Pro is broken down into three mini courses: “Idea to Launch”, “Branding + Marketing” and “Monetize,” so that you can choose the area that best fits your current needs as a podcaster, or go for all three at once.
How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence with Mel Robbins
Having the creative skills to thrive in the social media and blogging landscape are one thing, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t have the confidence to put yourself out there in a meaningful way. This is something that definitely took me some time to get used to when I started blogging 4 years ago.
I love that Mel Robbins is teaching this course, because she’s been through her own personal struggles with self-doubt and confidence, which I learned about while reading her book “The 5 Second Rule” (highly recommend by the way). Robbins has an infectious teaching style, and she uses her passion and experience to take her students on a journey from self-doubt to achieving their big goals without letting fear hold them back.
Social Media Bootcamp with Jasmine Star
Feeling like you’re struggling when it comes to what to post on social media? Do you even know what your customers and followers want to see? Always feel like you’re being reactive, not proactive in posting to your feed? If any of this sounds like you, then you need this course.
Business strategist, educator and social media expert Jasmine Star teaches this comprehensive social media bootcamp, diving into the strategies she’s learned over the years to bring her business to life on social media. In this course, you’ll learn how to make social media work for you and your brand so that you can give your audience the value they want and need and convert those followers into customers.
The Art of the Short Story with Joyce Carol Oates
In a way, every little Instagram caption, marketing blurb, or blog post you write for your business is like a short story unto itself. You need to be able to entice readers and share a story that resonates with them.
In this MasterClass, award-winning author and storyteller Joyce Carol Oates teaches creative writing through 14 lessons that share her process, tips and even some of her real-life revisions during the writing journey.
Content Calendars Made Easy
If you’re someone that struggles with what to post on your blog and is always scrambling to come up with content ideas, this quick course (under 30 minutes!) is a no-brainer to help get you on your way to a more organized content churning system.
This Content Calendars Made Easy course walks through a specific framework created by Chanel Hays, so that students have a fine-tuned process to adopt and can brainstorm blog post ideas in a way that is efficient and most beneficial to your audience.
Built to Blog with Ryan Robinson
Ryan Robinson, also known as “Ryrob” is another major player in the blogging game and he earns somewhere in the mid six figures per year from his blog all while running it as a side hustle (he has a separate day job).
While his site focuses more on online businesses and growing a side hustle specifically, the tools, strategies, and principles he uses can be applied to any blogging niche and he’s gotten the results to prove it.
This is another one of the best blogging courses out there if you’re looking for that comprehensive start-to-finish type learning process.
Pitch it Perfect With Julie Solomon
If working with big brands through sponsored posts and content creation makes you feel all tingly inside, then you’ll need to know how to pitch properly. One big misconception is that opportunities will simply come knocking at your door. And while that DOES sometimes happen, more often than not, landing big brand deals requires YOU to put in the leg work and reach out to the brands you love.
Influencer-turned-educator Julie Solomon is an expert in influencer marketing and teaches everything she knows about pitching in her course Pitch It Perfect. If you’re not convinced that this course can be of value to you, just check out the testimonials.
She also has a great podcast with tons of free advice if you want to start out with more affordable tricks and tactics!
B School With Marie Forleo
If you’re tapped into the female entrepreneurship and personal development space, you’ve probably heard the name Marie Forleo. Oprah called her a “thought leader for the next generation” and she spreads her business know-how and positivity through her courses, podcast, and her latest book, “Everything is Figureoutable.”
Many years ago when I was feeling lost in my 9-to-5 and knew fashion marketing wasn’t my life’s purpose, I decided to make a huge investment in myself and join Marie Forleo’s B School (at the time it was around $2,000).
This course is like a mini MBA and takes wannabe online business owners from idea to launch, walking students through the process of choosing a profitable concept, finding ideal customers all the way to launching epic offers that convert. Depending on the kind of business you’re currently running, B School could definitely be super beneficial, however enrollment only opens once a year. If you’re interested in getting on the waitlist, you can do so below.
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Planning a trip right now? Don’t miss my go-to websites for booking everything from flights and tours, to accommodation and more:
- Booking.com for the best hotel deals
- World Nomads for flexible travel insurance
- VRBO for awesome home rentals
- Skyscanner for finding the best flight deals
- Hostelworld for budget accommodation
- Rentalcars.com for easy car rentals