Free vs. Paid Online Courses For Freelancers: Which is Better?

online courses for freelancers

Freelancing can be overwhelming for newbies who want to venture into this industry. There are so many things that need to be considered. Some of the questions you might ask were: What equipment should you use? How to find clients? and how to choose the best online courses for freelancers? Some people think that their corporate experiences won’t be accredited for the new career that they’re trying to build. But the good news is, you can always learn a new skill. It’s not too late to enroll in an online course and upskill. With preparation and the right mindset, it isn’t impossible to thrive as a freelancer. 

Online Courses for Freelancers

Whatever skill you are trying to learn, there’s a great possibility that you will find an online course dedicated to teaching that skill. Many people are starting to publish their own online courses, sharing their life and work experiences. You might even find your social media timeline being bombarded with ads and posts promoting various courses. Having options is good, but having too many just gives you so much confusion on how to choose the best online courses for freelancers. There are free and paid online courses available for the skill that you want to learn. And both of them have their own pros and cons. 

Free Online Courses


Depending on the skill that you want to learn, you’ll be able to find a lot of free resources from Google, Youtube, and other platforms. You can take this at your own pace and based on your availability. There is not much pressure to finish the course because it’s just free. No investment has been done so there’s not much commitment to finishing the course. Free online courses are also good for people who have not yet decided which skill they want to focus on. You can easily hop from one skill to another, explore your interests, and have the freedom to evaluate yourself until you have decided to pursue a specific skill that is right for you. 


The only downside to this is that most free courses do not offer certification. So if you are looking for a course that you can use to build up your portfolio, this may not be a good option for you. Also, most online courses for freelancers that are free of charge don’t provide in-depth lessons that you need if you are already serious about committing to master a certain skill. It only provides an introduction and basic knowledge that you can just mostly research on google. Some of these free courses are only used to promote a certain product or service and are curated mostly for marketing purposes. 

Paid Online Courses


Paid online courses for freelancers have some advantages that the free ones can’t give. One good advantage is having a mentor who will guide you on your journey. Most of the paid courses are curated by famous instructors and experts of a certain skill. They share their experiences, the lessons they’ve learned, and some useful tips that helped them become successful in their career. The credibility of these instructors gives assurance that students will learn from the best and that the lessons are accurate and valuable. You can be sure about the quality you will get. Another advantage is that you can get a course certification, which also adds great value to your portfolio. It plays an important role in showing companies that you are a serious learner. 

In paid programs, you can get to be a part of a community that you can grow and learn with. You can ask questions to your mentors and even to your peers. Purchasing a paid online course will also make you more committed and disciplined to finishing the course and applying what you’ve learned. This is because you know that you have invested money for your learning and you will try your best to get great results from your investment. The teachers also keep a check on the progress of the students and encourage them to be regular. You will also need to answer the quizzes and assignments given. Doing so helps students apply the skills that they’ve learned from the course.


Some paid courses are too expensive and if you don’t have the budget, it will be hard for you to afford it. Especially if you are someone who is trying to learn a skill because you need to get a job, this might not be the best option for you yet. Also, some paid online courses for freelancers may not be of good quality so it’s also quite a risk whether the course that you will buy is worth your money or not. So whenever you decide to invest in a course, make sure you read the reviews beforehand. These disadvantages are not prominent, but they do exist and should be kept in mind. 

Things to consider in choosing an online course

Focus on one skill

There are a lot of lucrative skills to offer as a freelancer. But, you should not pursue all the trending skills and instead, stick with one skill that you enjoy the most.

Use your unique talent and hone your skills so you can be efficient in your chosen field. For instance, if you love art and you enjoy designing things, you can hone your skills in graphic design.

I am also an aspiring freelancer and I can attest that online freelancing exists. But like you, I also get confused at times about what skills to offer to clients. Since I have more than 10 years of experience in admin and back-office settings, I decided to make use of that experience to get my foot to the door. I started looking for clients that need admin help.

Know your skill level

I have also found that as a freelancer, you should be able to categorize your efficiency and skill level. You should know if your skills are at a beginner, intermediate, or expert level.

Knowing your skill level will allow you to appropriately charge for your services. If you have basic knowledge of SEO, for instance, you can charge between $5 to $10 per hour. For virtual assistants, you can charge between $10 to $15 if you’re at the immediate level.

Be willing to invest

Becoming a freelancer is not an easy feat. The best course of action to start your goal of working from home is to make investments. You can invest your time – which means you will sacrifice other activities so you can learn new skills. Allot a few hours of your day to research and apply to job posts through different freelancing platforms.

You can also invest money and take freelancing courses. There are mentors out there who can teach you and guide you until you find your first client. I, too, have availed of both free and paid courses from LinkedIn Learning,, and Udemy so let me share my insights.

Free courses are a few clicks away and you can access them anytime, anywhere. It works for those who are on a tight budget and those saving money so they can buy a laptop and pay for their internet connection. There is no timeframe for you to study and you can learn at your own pace and convenience.

Many successful freelancers started with simple skills they acquired from watching video tutorials and reading blogs. However, the reality is that not everyone can get the same result. Your success depends on how well you are applying what you are learning. When taking free courses, it is common to feel overwhelmed with information because you will learn from different people with different ways of doing things.

On the other hand, paid courses are outlined based on the mentor’s expertise and what process worked for them. The topics are broken down into modules with well-defined and detailed content.

Just a reminder: choose your mentors wisely. The truth is, there are mentors out there who are only after money. Like I said, taking a paid course is not a guarantee that you will land a job effortlessly. There is tough competition out there and you have to be resilient to cope in the real world.


Whatever your choices are, use your best judgment. Your discernment is valuable and it’s only you who can decide whether to go for free or paid courses. After all, clients look at skills but your attitude is what will determine your success.

Happy freelancing!

Angeline Licerio is the blogger behind After working online as a writer and SEO strategist, she decided to start this blog to give advise to people who would like to earn money online. She is also the founder of SEO Tutorials for FREE, a Facebook community that helps aspiring freelancers and SEO specialists to kickstart their work from home journey.

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