Do you love learning and buying new ebooks and online courses? Me too! But I’ve found if I’m not careful, I can spend more money on courses than I want to. Talk about a budget buster.
Online courses are everywhere, especially in the business, marketing, creative and blogging space. And these courses can range from cheap Udemy courses at $12 to premium courses over $1,200.
I’ve put together 12 ways to save money on online courses so you can get the self-education you need to increase your income or skills.
Make a plan – and stick to it
It’s so easy to waste money by buying stuff you don’t need. I’m guilty of it, too. The most common way to waste money is by purchasing an expensive online course as an investment in your business – but you don’t even end up using it.
So before you start drooling over new courses – whether they’re on sale or not – determine exactly what you need to learn. Then consider how much money and time you can invest in the course.
I found it helpful to create a learning plan so I know exactly what my business priorities are and the skills I want to improve.
Start with free material from experts
There’s a ton of information out there for free from experts in your niche. Niche leaders who may charge over $500 for their signature course usually have free material to introduce their followers to the basics of what they’re teaching.
They hope that you’ll love their free course so much that you’ll be ready to hand over your dollars for their premium course. But even if you don’t buy their course, you can learn a ton from their free material and get a good blueprint for the basic skills you’ll need to succeed.
Some free courses or resources I’ve used from industry leaders include:
- Copyhackers (email)
- Copybloggers (writing)
- Start a Mom Blog (blogging)
- MeeraKothand.com (email marketing)
- Summer Tannhauser (Pinterest)
- Moz.com (SEO)
Other places you can find free courses include Creative Live weekly free courses, Coursera courses, and Alison courses.
Join email list of instructors and other influencers to be notified of sales
When you’re on someone’s mailing list, you get VIP status. They want to woo you and give you exclusive access to some of their best tips and sales. Why? Because they know that they have your attention and that being in your inbox is a privilege. Plus, you can kick them out at any time.
So when a blogger or influencer you follow has an extra freebie or a flash sale, their email list is often the first to know. As a subscriber, you may even get a better deal than non-subscribers.
The only drawback is that if they only have sales or open their course two to three times a year, you have to be patient. But the savings can be significant from the full price they charge.
Buy a learning bundle to save money on online courses
Some companies package courses together at significant savings. The Ultimate Learning Bundle is one company that I’ve bought courses from in the past.
By buying a learning bundle that covers many of the topics I’m interested in, I have a lot of courses at my fingertips at a fraction of the price that they would cost if I purchased them separately. And I can interchange courses that I might have wanted with courses I find in the bundle.
Join a subscription site
I’m a huge fan of course subscription sites because you have so much flexibility over what you learn. These sites are often a set cost per month or year and then you have access to dozens or hundreds of courses.
Subscription sites are especially useful for when you’re starting out and learning new tech skills. You can join them for a few months, learn a ton of new skills, and then cancel your membership.
I’ve used or am still a member of the following subscription sites.
Check if your library has access to courses
If you don’t have the cash for a subscription, see if your library has a membership to a subscription site like Lynda or offers online courses.
My local library has access to Gale Courses. There are courses on topics ranging from business writing to project management to accounting and bookkeeping. All I have to do is fill out my library card number, and I’m in the course.
Get someone else to pay
Want to know a way to get courses for free? Get someone else to pay for the course for you. There are a few ways you can do this with online courses.
- Your employer – if you have a day job and have found a course that will help your business or side hustle, but also will help you become a better employee, bring it up with your boss. They may be able to foot the bill, provided you complete the course and hold true to your promise.
- Ask for the course as a gift – If your birthday is coming up, maybe instead of a sweater, you ask for a course or membership site as a gift.
- See if there are scholarships for the course. Some industry leaders may have a limited number of scholarships available for their premium course for those who truly can’t afford this course. You often have to apply for this membership and show that you’ll go above and beyond the requirements, maybe even with some pre-assignments to show that you’re serious.
Find an alternative course
You may have your heart set on a premium course that’s very, very expensive like Ruth Soukup’s Elite Blog Academy or Gina Horkey’s virtual assistance course the Horkey Handbook. In my opinion, these courses take a significant investment in time and money and are often most helpful to you if you’re already established and making money in your field but want to grow your business. And even then, the courses may be out of your financial reach.
My recommendation if you’re just starting out is to find free or less expensive courses that can help you build enough skills to start earning some income. Then, when you have more cash flow, you can invest in premium courses.
You can see what skills the premium courses teach and look for other courses that teach similar skills but at a much cheaper price point.
Look for books in your niche that are comparable to a course – but cheaper
Online courses cost a lot of money compared to books because they take a lot of time and resources to create, and they’re harder to update.
But many of the principles they teach you can find in books either by the same instructor or by other experts in their niche. For example, Ruth Soukup has an ebook How to Blog for Profit: Without Selling Your Soul that covers many of the principles of Elite Blog Academy, but at a fraction of the price.
You can browse Amazon for books in your niche and read the reviews. Or see if your favorite instructor has an ebook they sell separately than their course. You can often get a lot of great information for a fraction of the price.
Become an affiliate
You can offset the cost of a course by becoming an affiliate for it. This works for best if you have clients or followers you can recommend the course to.
You’ll be most successful if you only recommend courses you truly love and are upfront about disclosing your affiliate relationship.
Visit coupon sites
Online courses can sometimes feel like the Wild West. There are hundreds of bloggers, influencers, and content creators who have their own courses. That doesn’t even include courses on subscription sites.
However, you can sometimes get deals on courses by looking at coupon sites. Websites that sometimes have coupons for courses include:
Be ready for opportunities and sales
While I create a learning plan, I also give myself the flexibility to adjust it if new sales or opportunities come along.
Just last month, I bought the 2018 Ultimate Blogging Bundle during a flash sale. Since I spent money on it, I’ll swap out some courses it contained for other courses I was going to buy later this year.
The key is to make sure that any courses you swap out are worth it and have a comparable value to your original course.
I’ve also got good deals on courses or ebooks through tripwires after signing up for a free course from bloggers I follow.
And if there’s a course I really want and know I’ll eventually purchase, I have some flexibility in my budget. If the course goes on sale for 25% or more off, I’m ready to buy it at the discounted price.
Get the most out of your online courses by building a learning plan
Hopefully, you’ve gained some new ideas for how to save money on online courses.
One of the ways I’ve made the most of the courses and materials I’ve purchased is by being intentional and planning out my self-education schedule with a learning plan. You can see my 2019 blogging learning plan for ideas. Then download my learning plan kit along with the scheduler to start being intentional with your learning.