Anyone who has gone down a YouTube hole watching four hours of random videos knows the danger of aimlessly browsing the web. At the same time, there are tons of ways to be productive online while still getting to wear no pants on the couch. These skills range from personally rewarding to career changing and the best part is they are either free or cheaper than your local community college!
Learn Another Language
Barely remember anything from your high school Spanish class? You can easily fix that thanks to the many courses and apps offering language skills. A popular option is the free app Duolingo, which takes a game-based approach with points, levels, and social aspects. They recently launched a bot feature where you can “text” back and forth to simulate a real conversation. Their language offerings include Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, and many more. A new language could make you more competitive for jobs, improve your memory, or just make traveling abroad that much more enjoyable.
Barack Obama announced the Computer Science for All initiative earlier this year encouraging K-12 schools to start offering more computer science classes. If POTUS recognizes the value of tech, so should you! “Learning how to code” is a relatively broad term of course, so start small and figure out your goals as you go. You may just want to pick up enough skills to customize your website’s Wordpress template or you may love it enough to want to make a full career shift. If the latter is more your style, Harvard offers their famous “Introduction to Computer Science” for free ($90 if you want to get a completion certificate) that goes deep into the algorithms and data structures you need to build a tech backbone. If that seems too intimidating for now, learn the HTML basics at Codecademy. To be frank, while many online programs teach you what you need to know, the results can look like the dark days of the Internet. This list of coding projects will help you see how the skills you’re learning can apply to projects you’d want to actually build!
Do you have the next summer hit that could topple Taylor Swift? Or do you need to just like let out your feelings, man? Songwriting can be a beneficial way to translate your emotions into art. While we may scoff at a pop song that seems mindless, actually writing one ourselves suddenly seems difficult! Thankfully, Berklee College of Music offers a free six-week online songwriting course that results in a completed song. If you want to bring the house down with your creation at an open mic, brush up on your vocal skills with Christina Aguilera’s singing course for Masterclass.
So technically you will have to get off your couch for this, but you won’t have to leave the living room! Thanks to YouTube and even some more formal online courses, it’s never been easier to get confident enough to dance without needing to take shots first! Udemy has a Hip Hop Dance for Beginners course if you want to learn the absolute basics of beat counts and getting into the groove. Do you have a specific song in mind that you want to dance to? Head to YouTube and search the song title + “tutorial” and you’re likely to find extremely talented dancers walking through their take of a popular beat. One place to start is the Dance Tutorials Live channel that features choreography from popular dancer Matt Steffanina .
Building An App
How many times have you realized you have a great idea for a new app? Turn it into reality by taking an online course that teaches you the specifics of designing for a platform like iOS or Android. If you are looking to make an app for the iTunes Store, you’re going to want to learn Swift as it’s the programming language developed by Apple. Udemy has the course “iOS 10 and Swift 3: From Beginner to Paid Professional” for only $15 that will teach you how to build a Snapchat clone among other fun projects! Alternatively, if you want to design apps for Android, you will want to learn Java and Udemy offers a $15 “Master Android 7 App Development With Java” course.
There is a DLSR camera collecting dust in the corner of my room right now, mainly because I don’t know what to do with it past point-and-shoot. Thankfully, there are now plenty of low-cost courses online that walk through everything from exposure to three-point lighting. Udemy has a "Photography Masterclass: Your Complete Guide to Photography” course that gives you nearly 15 hours of lessons. Don’t have a fancy camera? No problem! YouTube is teeming with videos on how to take the perfect selfie, editing your pictures for Instagram, or how to maximize your phone’s video capabilities.
Whether you have your own business or are working for someone else’s, knowing how to attract an audience is a great skill. Getting your business to show up on the first page of Google search results is essential since 91% of people don’t click past the first page. Quality content marketed correctly through search-engine optimization (SEO) is a way to better your page rank and get more business. Udemy offers a class that will help you with keywords, backlinks, and more.
Video ads perform better than any other ad format when it comes to click-through rate. A quality video could lead to more leads for your ventures or help impress your boss at work. Teaching yourself how to edit video is intimidating unless you learn by example and there are plenty of courses on how to edit in whatever program you own. Lynda, an online training website, has tons of courses on video editing that you can check out with the 10-day free trial. If you are looking to learn a specific effect, searching in YouTube often leads to a step-by-step tutorial to help you out.
As women, we unfortunately know all too well how it feels to quicken our pace when we feel like someone is following us. It’s always a good idea to carry mace and try to run before getting into an altercation, but knowing basic self-defense can save your life if you end up in a situation needing it. In person courses are best but in the meantime you can learn some basics until you’re able to get into a class. Udemy offers courses on how to fight back like this “Close Combat Training” course.
Perfecting A Blowout
No matter how hard I try, my hair never looks as effortless and smooth as when my salon styles it post-trim. Turns out you don’t need to go to beauty school to learn how to get a perfect blowout (and save a ton of money breaking your DryBar addiction). Riawna Capri, owner of the famous 901 Salon in Los Angeles and hairstylist to Julianne Hough, launched the Beauty Coach blog for beauty industry professionals. One of her video lessons available to purchase is “The Perfect Blowdry” where you can look like you just left the salon every time you leave the house.
Learning how to bartend can either help you find a weekend gig or just be a fun skill to bust out at a party. You can learn the basics thanks to longer videos posted around YouTube or just pick up a few recipes to have in your back pocket when you want to bring something fun to a party. Popular YouTube channel Tipsy Bartender teaches you how to whip up drinks that are conversation pieces, like strawberries stuffed with margarita Jell-O shots or marshmallow shot glasses filled with s’mores vodka.