Online learning (or eLearning) has been completely revolutionary in the contemporary academic world, where it has opened fantastic opportunities for everyone and anyone who has access to the internet, and who wants to learn an extra skill and expand their knowledge. Finding and enrolling in an online course has never been easier or more affordable.
Udemy is one such online learning platform which happens to be the world’s largest online learning marketplace, where any skilled person with the ability to communicate and teach their skills clearly can become an instructor. Udemy’s review team evaluates each course submitted to make sure that it is up to standard and that the price of the course is reasonable according to individual content and quality.
The instructors decide on the price of their course themselves, and there is a course for pretty much any price, including thousands of free courses. Keeping in mind that Udemy is an online marketplace, price is used as a marketing tool and therefore free courses don’t necessarily mean that they are of poor quality. The most important thing is to get your course seen by many, many students, so instructors may provide their course for free as a marketing and branding tool before putting a price on it. Many of the courses are around R2000, but Udemy is forever offering massive discounts and coupons.
Udemy offers over 55,000 courses, in just about any area of expertise that you can think of, whether it be work-related or a personal skill. Courses include everything from cooking, business, finance, stress management, personal development, music classes and much more. Course titles range from How To Outline Your Romance Novel, Elevate Your Tennis Game, and even Learn How To Build An AI — and of course there are tons of photography courses. You can attend any of these classes from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas, greasy hair and all, and none of your classmates can judge you (unless you have a very judgmental cat).
Or you can download the free Udemy app so that you can learn on-the-go, so you have no excuse not to ‘go’ to class! At the completion of most of the courses you get a nifty little certificate, which will look great on your resumé. While a certificate cannot substitute for an actual diploma or degree, if two candidates showed up for a job interview with exactly the same qualification and experience, on paper, candidate B with the Udemy certificates would outshine candidate A. It shows an interest in furthering your education, developing new skills and bettering yourself as a person on your own time.
Fortunately for myself, I won’t be needing to hand in my resumé to a prospective employer any time soon (well, I hope), as I’ve started my own wedding videography business. Long story short, I threw myself into the deep-end and decided to try do it myself without any experience first; which worked on the practical side, but the truth is that there is obviously much more to starting a photography/videography business than just taking pictures and videos.
The design of Udemy makes it incredibly easy to navigate around the website, and with the search bar it is effortless to find a particular course by typing in keywords, and there is also an option available to filter the search according to popularity, price, and language. Alternatively, you can click on a category and see the most popular courses available, which is what I did, and a best-selling course titledpeaked my interest. Every course has a course description, user rating, number of enrolled students, timeframe, and skill level; and this course that previously cost R2000 was discounted to R125.
The courses generally include video lectures, audio, slide presentations, or just text, and this course was in the form of a powerpoint presentation with a voiceover from a Ukrainian man. I’m not going to lie — I didn’t expect that voice at all and I was kind of disappointed at first at seeing this plain presentation, but the instructor’s voice actually became quite charming and easy to listen to and the ‘plain’ presentation turned out to be incredibly comprehensive and in-depth, not to mention that the videos loaded quickly and changed smoothly to the next video presentation which made for a pleasant experience overall.
The instructor, , really covered all bases in the Photography Marketing & Business course. He started with what should happen at the very beginning of your journey, how you should ask people if you could take their photographs, how to network with people over social media, what the best environment is for meeting with a client, whether or not you should pay for their coffee if you meet at a coffee shop — he thought of everything.
He even discusses what the relationship with your clients should be like even when the job is done, and how to interact with them, such as remembering and commemorating their wedding date over social media to build trust and show that you care. He talks about what to include in your portfolio, how to process your photographs, and what to include in your contract. Ustin also touches on the financial and business side, advising the student to keep yearly records of analytics, expenses, incomes, and taxes.
Ustin gave such great advice about building your website that I decided to scrap my own and start up a new one taking in mind all his lessons, and in just a couple of days it has already been more successful and had more visitors than my previous website had had in a couple of months. Seeing as he advises the student to plug your website wherever you go, and to write articles that will bring people to your website, perhaps I will it again here. How sneaky!
At the end of the course, after you’ve received your certificate, there is a section where you can have discussions and ask the instructor any questions you may have. I have seen that Ustin usually even responds on the same day. Once you have purchased the course, there is no expiry date so it is yours for life. If you are unsatisfied with the course, Udemy gives you a 30-day money back guarantee.
Overall, the website itself has a great ease of use, with such a wide variety of courses that makes it so easy to learn more skills and gain more knowledge in such a short amount of time. Ustin’s course was only 1.5 hours altogether but I’ve learnt such valuable knowledge at an exceptional price. Learning a new skill can often be a daunting prospect when you think you have to do it all by yourself, but Udemy proves that it can be done for very little (or for free!), as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort.