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.
Want to Learn to be a Better Freelancer?
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 and so 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.
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. Still learning online through text or video lessons isn’t for everyone either.
Learning something like web design through an online class makes a lot of sense. Nevertheless, a top web designer will undoubtedly have spent countless hours taking websites apart and considering the best way to build them without any input from an instructor.
The beauty of freelancing is that every freelancer can choose exactly what they want to do, when they want to do it, and how they learn how to do it. Many freelancers choose to teach themselves since what really matters to clients is that you can do the work well. It often surprises readers to hear that clients hardly ever care, nor ask about your formal degrees and qualifications.
Courses, however, do make a lot of sense when you want to learn a new skill, or if you find you need to enhance a business skill. Let’s face it, few of us are going to teach ourselves finance so we can properly manage our freelance business!
This is why classes online are so useful and popular. You can find courses on almost any topic imaginable, many courses are free, 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
Yes, it’s a shameless plug… but I wouldn’t have wasted my time creating the course if I didn’t think I could offer you more than the other courses 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 how to get set up to how to find work. 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 while also building a solid foundation for an awesome career as a freelancer.
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. Essential Software Tools for Freelancers (LinkedIn Learning)
Although this is called “Essential Software Tools” it’s one of those freelancing courses that also covers so much more. This is because the instructor is an experienced freelancer and has also 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 two-minute 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!
If you would like to know which software tools I like to use, I discuss freelance apps here.
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. 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 4 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.
4. 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 2 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.
6. 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.
7. 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 supportive and you will sometimes find yourself having to teach 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.
8. Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation (Coursera)
Every freelancer should know something about search engine optimization (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.
9. 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. You will most likely need to take further courses but it is a great place to start. Although the duration is 8 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.
10. 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 the use of 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.
12. Freelancing on Fiverr: Super Seller Success Tips (Udemy)
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, 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 through more unusual activities such as 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 2 hours of on-demand video. This makes the top courses list because of Mary Ingrassia’s clear, detailed, and engaging lessons.
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, 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 access to three hours of on-demand video, four articles and 19 downloadable resources. (We also have some Upwork tips of our own).
14. 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.
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.
15. 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 one of the courses 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.
16. 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.
17. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog (Problogger)
In discussing the best freelancing courses I have tried to stay clear of particular types of work but 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.
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.