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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2019)

As a practitioner of both, I can see why there are two very distinctive ways of trying to learn a new skill/business model, particularly in the online space. We’ve got to the stage where there someone out there that has documented their journey in every possible kind of venture, and either wants to share all of their insights in an open platform, or has decided to hide it behind a paywall. As a consumer, is one better than the other? Should you still to the free content and hope for the best, or should you spend money on a structured course? Let’s discuss both sides.

Cost

One is free and the other usually isn’t. For a lot of people, this will be the most important factor. After all, why pay for the same information? You can’t really argue with this, if you’re just looking at the short-term impact on your bank balance.

What you may value more is the fact that many paid courses (especially ones on course sites with a majority of positive reviews) is that you’re saving money by taking you through a series of sequential steps, whereas the YouTube alternative may be spread across a load of unordered videos.

Relevance

One of my biggest gripes with learning from YouTube is that there are so many distractions. The recommended videos can be helpful, but will often just lead you in directions you don’t need to go down. From finding one decent video from a single, decent YouTuber, you’re likely to find someone else that has a video with a similar title and clickbait thumbnail that draws you in, makes you watch several of their videos, containing essentially the same information. You then repeat that process several times over.

Break the cycle by avoiding it altogether.

Direction

With a course, you have a beginning, middle and end. So few YouTube accounts in the online business world structure their videos in this way. Although you may get some series that are contained well in a playlist, it tends to be a stream of whatever seems relevant at the time and/or a steady build up to a big product release/affiliate offer. Every course that I’ve done has told me to do this, then that, then the next thing. There’s no room to stray elsewhere.

In an industry where there are so many options, you need that calm space without distractions.

Quality

This can go either way, because the barrier to entry to low on both fronts. However, I find that it’s much easier to avoid bad paid courses than it is to stumble across a YouTube channel that offers bad advice. (I came across masses of these with Amazon private label).

Often the viewers and commenters won’t have much experience, so trust whatever the person on YouTube says. With paid courses, there’s usually some sort of review system at play to direct you to the good stuff.

Chiino

27 / Nottingham, UK. Trying these things since 2007. Writing about these things since 2014. Doing this full-time since 2018.