In the world of freelancing, the reality is that more knowledge equals more money. With that in mind, we’ve put together this round-up of some of the best online freelance courses out there.
All sorts of different skills can help you move your freelance career forward. For instance, if you know how to streamline your invoicing and accounting, that’s fewer unpaid hours spent on administrative tasks.
If you learn about marketing yourself as a freelancer, you can bring in more clients and more money. And if you learn specialised skills – like how to master the latest social networking sites – you could even find clients who will pay for that specialisation.
In this article we list 25 different courses – several of which are free – that can help you gather a whole range of different freelance skills.
- Are Online Classes the Best Option?
- The Best Online Freelancing Courses
- General Freelancing Skills
- Increase your Success on the Job Boards
- Courses that Teach Finance Essentials
- Learn In-Demand Marketing Skills
- Study Blogging with the Best
- Freelancer Security Courses
- Productivity and Well-Being Courses for Freelancers
- Learning and Creativity Courses
- Popular Freelancing Career Options
- 20. Introduction to Graphic Design (LinkedIn Learning)
- 21. Must-Have Skills (Training) for Virtual Assistants (Udemy)
- 22. Develop Your Writing Skills (LinkedIn Learning)
- 23. Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection (Udemy)
- 24. Web Design for Everybody (Coursera)
- 25. Google Professional Certificate in UX Design (Coursera)
- Want to Learn to be a Better Freelancer?
- Final Thoughts
- Further Reading
Are Online Classes the Best Option?
Thankfully, you needn’t sign up for a huge (and expensive) degree program in order to get started. Thanks to thousands of online classes, you can learn only the skills you need to boost your income.
Taking a course makes a lot of sense when you want to learn something new or enhance a business skill. Let’s face it, few of us teach ourselves book-keeping, but it is an important part of running a freelance business.
This is why classes online are so valuable and popular. You can find courses on almost any topic imaginable, and many of them are completely free. Added to that, you usually get lifetime access to the content, and you frequently get to learn at your own pace.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some particularly appealing options.
The Best Online Freelancing Courses
The course options here are divided into sections, to help you focus on what you specifically want to learn.
General Freelancing Skills
Yes, it’s a shameless plug… but I wouldn’t have wasted my time creating this course if I didn’t think I could offer something better and more unique than the other options out there.
If you’re just starting out, the world of freelancing can seem very overwhelming. It is all too easy for beginners to get caught up learning instead of doing. I created Freelance Kickstarter to help you stop wasting time on areas that aren’t critical so that you can actually start making money. That is the point after all, right?
You will learn everything from whether freelancing is right for you to getting set up and winning your first paid jobs.
Since I have built my reputation around complete honesty, you will also learn about the negative sides of freelancing, and even get a glimpse at some of my personal mistakes (and in over 16 years of freelancing, I have made plenty!).
My goal was to build something using my own experience as a freelancer (and as a student of MANY online courses) that would provide you with a practical guide to help you start earning money quickly.
The material is delivered as a mixture of text tutorials, videos, worksheets and podcasts. The price is $147 for lifetime access and includes direct support from me.
2. Freelancing Tips (LinkedIn Learning)
The instructor on this LinkedIn Learning course is an experienced freelancer who has dedicated himself to supporting other freelancers.
In addition to learning about tools that help you save time and money, you will also learn about topics like creating a budget, designing content, and even when to bring in a partner.
The material is organised into several bite-sized components within five distinct sections. These sections cover the following topics: business fundamentals, software fundamentals, client fundamentals, selling fundamentals, and marketing fundamentals. If you want a course that will help you save time and boost your business, this is it!
This is one of many useful courses included with a LinkedIn Learning subscription, and there’s currently a month’s free trial that you can access here.
3. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills (Coursera)
If you can’t negotiate as a freelancer you will quickly find yourself out of business. The truth is that a lot of clients will try to create a bidding war between freelancers, and beginners are often pressured into offering their services for a ridiculously low price or even for free.
The good news is that there are many different types of clients and you can learn to negotiate with them all.
Students of this University of Michigan course are taught lessons on negotiation from planning a strategy to creating a contract. The instruction is via videos, readings, and quizzes, with a duration of seven weeks. You can find lots of courses covering similar material, but this one stands out because of how well the instructor articulates the subject and demonstrates using real-world cases.
Solid marketing is the backbone of any successful freelance career. After this course, you’ll be able to attract more clients using marketing fundamentals.
This course covers how to build a personal brand, stand out as a professional, and strengthen your network. It focuses on how to promote yourself in a way that feels comfortable. It also branches out a bit by helping you align your money-making goals with doing what you love.
This Udemy course includes access to one and a half hours of on-demand video and four downloadable resources. Udemy offers lifetime access to these resources.
New freelancers often rely on freelance platforms to help them get work. Fiverr is one of the top platforms, and popular among those who would rather have clients find them rather than having to constantly pitch their services.
Despite the name of the site, freelancers can set the price for their services – and it is possible to earn significant amounts of money. You can offer services such as writing, website design and video editing or via more unusual activities such as voice acting or even making sandcastles for people!
What you do to earn money is really up to you but you still need to learn how to use the platform effectively.
The instructor is a Top Rated Super Seller and a Certified Ambassador who shares her experience and knowledge in two hours of on-demand video. This makes the top courses list because of Mary Ingrassia’s clear, detailed, and engaging lessons.
6. Upwork Proposal Writing Hacks (Udemy)
Upwork is a nexus around which many people find their freelancing jobs. But just looking at the site as a beginner can feel intimidating. It can feel like a battleground of bids just to snag one client.
The cornerstone of being successful on Upwork is writing great proposals. This course helps you do just that. Imagine being able to up your client responses on Upwork after just one course!
After completing this course by Sagar Shakari (a top-rated Upwork Freelancer,) you’ll be able to write Upwork proposals that get more responses and target the jobs you want using psychological tactics.
This course is sold through Udemy. You get lifetime access to Sagar’s 3-step strategy, with videos, downloadable resources and 14 case studies. (We also have some Upwork tips of our own).
Courses that Teach Finance Essentials
7. Excel Skills for Business: Essentials (Coursera)
Knowing how to use Excel properly will save you a lot of time. Whether you’re organising a business contact database, tracking your cash flow, or using Excel to create invoices, knowing the basics of Excel is something that comes in useful time after time.
These online lessons will help you do basic calculations, produce professionally formatted spreadsheets, and even create charts and graphs. The course runs for about six weeks. It may not be the most glamorous of the online freelancing courses here, but it’s certainly a practical one to take.
Serious freelancers looking to earn a living will quickly discover that finance is one of those topics that you just can’t avoid. If you want a full-time freelance career then simply making money is not enough, you must learn to manage your finances.
The instructor aims at taking the fear out of taxes, budgeting, and saving for retirement so that students become comfortable with addressing these important issues. The course is centred around two hours of on-demand video and is designed specifically for new freelancers. The regular price is $24.99 but, as with most Udemy offerings, you can get it for much less during sales.
This is an area that most freelancers tend to avoid, so this could be one of the most important courses you ever take when it comes to creating a business that will truly enhance your life.
9. Digital Skills: Social Media (FutureLearn)
Social media has become a huge part of how businesses interface with their clients and customers. You’ll probably want to give the subject some attention as you learn to freelance.
A key point is that you can’t just jump on a site and start spamming people with ads. There are certain skills you need to know so that you connect with the right demographics and don’t alienate potential clients. This course helps you navigate social media marketing with ease.
Delivered by Accenture, the course runs for two weeks. In that time, you’ll learn how to set campaign objectives, find the right target audience, understand the correct channels to use, create the content itself, and get your online presence just right. It’s a complete package to help you effectively engage with people on social media.
10. Email Marketing (Hubspot Academy)
Email marketing has become one of the most efficient marketing tools for any business with an online presence. Building an email list and writing great emails can be some of the best things you do for your business. In fact, email marketing is so important that many people design their freelance writing career around it.
This isn’t a course specifically designed with freelancing in mind, but it is one of the better ones at covering the fundamentals. With 28 videos, 9 lessons, and 9 quizzes, this FREE material is great for beginners. It will help you to create a contact management and segmentation system as well as teach you how to design high-performing emails.
You will still want to complete the training that your email service provider offers but you will understand it better if you already have a good grasp of the fundamentals.
11. Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation (Coursera)
Every freelancer should know something about search engine optimisation (SEO).
In the digital age, it’s really not optional to have some sort of web presence for your business. Imagine being able to set up a website with perfect SEO so that you pop up on search engines and clients come to you? A basic level of SEO knowledge can also come in very useful in other types of work, particularly freelance writing.
This course outlines the basics of search engine optimisation. It is part one of a three-part SEO Specialisation offered via Coursera in association with the University of California. The course itself runs for four weeks, with several hours of study each week.
12. Pinterest Traffic Avalanche (Create and Go)
Pinterest Traffic Avalanche is a popular online course that shows people how to drive traffic to their business by growing an audience on Pinterest. Unsurprisingly for something that’s a little more expensive, this is a detailed course with lots of units. Case studies on the course site refer to people seeing a three-fold increase in their website site traffic after taking the course.
If you’d like to see our full review of this course, you can read it here.
13. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (ProBlogger)
Many people who contact me about becoming a freelancer are interested in writing and, more specifically, blogging.
Even if writing is not your thing, setting up a blog can really enhance your freelance career or business. Blogs are a great way to gain attention for your work online. If you already have a website then not only is it free to start but you could even earn some money from it.
This is one of the best blogging courses out there and the price of $99 is good value whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned blogger.
For many a freelancer, establishing a stream of “passive income” is the big dream. One way to do this is by setting up one or more blogs and getting into affiliate marketing (essentially promoting certain products in exchange for commissions).
Freelancing typically involves income coming in peaks and troughs, and some passive income on top can even these out.
While Wealthy Affiliate is a subscription-based software system, it does offer a considerable amount of training. That’s why we’ve included it on our list of the best online freelancing courses.
The system is all rather controversial, which you can read about in our full review. Overall, however, it’s well worth a look for the novice affiliate marketer, and you can grab a free trial to check it out.
Freelancer Security Courses
15. Introduction to Cyber Security (Future Learn)
Thanks to my IT background I tend to go on a bit about data security but it is REALLY important. Not only do you need to make sure that you are safe online but also that you are keeping your clients’ information safe too.
This training is great for beginners. Although the duration is eight weeks, it is only a 3-hour commitment per week. You can join the course for free but you might want to consider paying the $89 price of an upgrade to get the certification if you hope to be working primarily in IT, since this is a GCHQ Certified Training.
Productivity and Well-Being Courses for Freelancers
16. Time Management Fundamentals (LinkedIn Learning)
The last thing you want to do as a freelancer is to discover that you are wasting a lot of your time. Time management is one of the most valuable skills to learn – because there is a price to not managing your time well.
Time Management Fundamentals will help you become much more efficient. Instructor Dave Crenshaw focuses specifically on increasing productivity in your work.
The practical strategies he teaches will allow you to design systems for working more effectively and teach you how to budget the hours in your day so you can focus on your most valuable activities.
17. Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (FutureLearn)
Running a freelance business can be very stressful at times. The people that surround you may not be that supportive, and you will sometimes find yourself having to explain to them how you earn a living doing what you do. New freelancers will also find dealing with the inevitable feast or famine of freelance work very taxing.
As a freelancer, taking care of your mental health is vital. These lessons can help you to pay more attention to everything that you do and help you discover ways to reduce stress and increase productivity.
18. Learning How to Learn (Coursera)
This course will not be for everyone but could be a good investment for some freelancers, especially if they struggled as students. Working to improve your skills could become much easier with the lessons taught in this course.
Learning How to Learn is offered by McMaster University and UC San Diego. The duration is four weeks, with an investment of around 15 hours. Thanks to the option to audit, you can learn all of the instructor top tips and tricks for free.
19. Creativity, Innovation and Transformation (Coursera)
The freelance business isn’t for the faint-hearted. There are times when you need to pivot, and others when you need to employ a creative approach.
Offered by Penn State via Coursera, this four-week course has modules titled Innovation Toolbox, Understanding Creative Diversity, CENTER, and Transformation.
After taking this course you’ll be able to offer potential clients a fresh perspective and be better equipped to cope with change when it comes.
20. Introduction to Graphic Design (LinkedIn Learning)
If you’ve always been intrigued by art and design and want to begin a new freelance career, LinkedIn Learning offers this popular course for beginners in graphic design.
Adobe Certified Expert and Instructor Tony Harmer introduces layout, typography and color before giving students the chance to practice their new skills using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign
By the end of this beginner course, you’ll be clear on the basics of how graphic designers work and what you’ll need to learn next.
21. Must-Have Skills (Training) for Virtual Assistants (Udemy)
Discover the best practices for Virtual Assistants in this training course from a VA with 10 years of experience.
Good clients are eager for VAs with a wide variety of strong skills and they expect you to already know the basics. Course material covers essential VA tasks such as Calendar and Inbox Management, Research, Social Media Maintenance, Event Planning and more.
One cool thing about this programme is the lifetime access to downloadable templates, scripts, checklists and pre-made spreadsheets to help new virtual assistants improve their time management and streamline their workflow.
22. Develop Your Writing Skills (LinkedIn Learning)
This learning pathway from LinkedIn Learning is a series of courses from eight professional writers.
It covers a range of topics, including writing with impact and flair, business writing, and writing for LinkedIn. The series also includes practical advice from LinkedIn’s Daniel Roth on writing great posts and creating conversations around LinkedIn.
There’s also a course on grammar and writing essentials with Grammar Girl’s Mignon Fogarty.
Successful freelancers with years of experience often offer their most popular courses on different e-learning platforms. The benefit for you is the ability to shop around and find the best price for a particular online course.
One such course is Editing Mastery by Shani Raja, which is available both on Udemy and on LinkedIn Learning. Raja provides a deep dive into the best way to edit clunky non-fiction writing. If you’re interested in becoming a professional freelance editor this could be a good place to start.
24. Web Design for Everybody (Coursera)
We’ve said before how difficult it is for beginning freelancers to get jobs without a portfolio. So, one cool thing about this course is that you’ll end up with a professional-quality website portfolio.
25. Google Professional Certificate in UX Design (Coursera)
User experience (UX) designers focus on making it easy and enjoyable for people to use websites, apps and even physical objects. People with these skills are in HUGE demand right now.
These online classes – developed by Google UX designers – have hundreds of videos, readings, assessments and interactive activities that simulate real-world scenarios. Students learn how to use Figma and Adobe XD design tools. You’ll also finish with a portfolio of three projects that showcase your newly acquired skills.
And if you pass the examination at the end of this course you’ll finish with a professionally recognised qualification in the UX design field.
You can start freelancing without any real skills or knowledge but the odds are heavily stacked against you making a success of it.
To do well as a freelancer you will need to invest in improving the skills which you intend to market.
If you want to make freelancing your career then educating yourself becomes more important than ever.
Planning to go Freelance Full-Time?
If you plan to make your freelance business your primary or only source of income then you will have to learn a lot more than someone who does some casual freelancing on the side.
You will want to take freelancing courses to help you enhance your business skills if you want to build a career and make serious money in the freelance world. A freelancer typically requires many different skills in order to thrive. You will find that your competitors are constantly working on self-improvement.
Freelancers, from absolute beginners to veterans with decades under their belts, need to invest in learning on an ongoing basis because clients demand results. It doesn’t take long to discover that in the world of freelancing your prior experience takes a back seat to your ability to deliver.
Since freelancing has so many integral parts, taking freelance courses gives you the structure you need to begin to master them all. If you worked for a professional company you’d expect them to invest in your training – so don’t neglect doing the same for yourself!
We have separate detailed reviews of some of the training platforms referred to here. You may wish to have a look before diving in. Why not check out:
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.