Online Resources for Honing Your Creative Skills
By Kayleigh Alexandra
May 7, 2019
collaboration, Design, design thinking, digital, digital content, Digital Experience, Digital Marketing, marketing, Podcast, publications, training, web design
Contrary to what some might think, creativity doesn’t stem exclusively from innate talent. Sure, some people might be born with predispositions that suit it, or naturally develop relevant abilities as they grow into adulthood, but that’s only a small part of the larger story. True creatives understand the truth: that if you want to master a creative skill, you must dedicate yourself to it.
In times gone past, the practical elements of this dedication could be challenging — but that changed with the rise of the internet. Today, anyone who wants to hone their creative skills doesn’t need to go through expensive formal education if they don’t want to. They don’t even need to leave their house, because they can do it all online.
If you’re eager to grow your creative abilities (and being creative is certainly one of the keys to success in today’s world), then, all you need is a real commitment to excellence and a computer with internet access. Let’s take a look at some of the best online resources you can use to effectively supercharge your creative mind:
It’s easy to understand why the podcast market has become so big: podcasts are much easier to produce than videos and can be listened to during commutes or general downtime. You’re unlikely to listen to podcasts while working on projects (that can get extremely distracting), but there’s a lot of value in following podcasts from experts in creative industries.
When you’re trying to learn a skill, and you listen to someone who’s mastered it (relative to you, at least), you inevitably come away with some useful nuggets of information. You can either look for podcasts dedicated to the specific skills you’re trying to improve (e.g., The Writer Files or Writing Excuses for writing) or select by industry and get broader instruction (e.g., Marketing Speak or CopyBlogger.fm for creative marketing).
The beauty of online training courses is that they offer a lot more convenience and value than most in-person courses at educational institutions — you have more options about the materials you consume, the projects you work on, and the hours you keep. You also have more choices, in general, owing to the sheer number of people and companies offering courses.
Courses that are particularly interesting to creative types cover subjects such as copywriting, graphic design, audio production, and even more practical areas such as carpentry. Sites like Udemy, Open Culture, or Coursera are definitely worth looking at (though remember that you can always Google something like “[topic] + “training courses”).
A further tip: if you’re unsure about whether a course is really worth it, do some searches on social media to find people who’ve invested in it, and ask them for their comments. If they’re happy to have had the experience, then proceed with confidence — if they feel ripped off, save your money and look elsewhere.
There are plenty of online publications, whether blogs or downloadable magazines, that provide well-rounded insight into particular creative areas. They’re particularly strong when it comes to variety because they can encompass so many different things: case studies about creative projects, highlighted creative submissions, interviews with creative experts, pieces of news about industry developments, etc.
If you’re trying to perfect your digital art, then finding and keeping up with a magazine such as 1340Gallery would be ideal for inspiration. If you’re more interested in the technical elements of design, then you’d get a lot out of the Digital Arts Online blog. Of course, there are plenty more such sites out there, so do some searching and see what you can find.
You could forgive someone for being intimidated by Reddit because it’s packed with strange and off-putting subreddits, but to consider that a strike against the site overall is akin to disliking an entire restaurant because it serves a menu item you don’t enjoy. If you know where to look, Reddit is a truly rich creative resource, no matter your discipline.
Let’s look at some examples: subreddits such as r/teachingresources and r/OpenED provide access to various tutorials, while subreddits such as r/graphic_design and r/learntodraw can help you out if you’re a budding graphic designer — then there’s r/WritingPrompts to help aspiring authors find creative assistance. Remember: check the stickied posts and the top-rated posts of all time, to begin with, and you’ll have a solid foundation for understanding the sub.
Visual inspiration is key for graphic designers. Much faster than writers, they can soak up the trends, shapes, and design choices of what they look at, then use that information to improve their abilities — either by attempting to recreate what they saw, developing their practical prowess, or by aiming to break down the elements and use them for something new, and learning how to innovate and establish their own personal styles.
This is where gallery-style sites come in handy, and design portals that curate art are hugely useful. They’re typically faster and easier than magazines and don’t need extensive curation. Think about sites like DeviantArt, Behance, or even Pinterest — log your preferred topics, follow the right people, and you can end up with a very useful feed.
This isn’t the limit of online resources that can prove useful for becoming more creatively adept — it’s just the beginning. While the general categories might prove sufficient, the specific podcasts, courses, publications, subreddits, and portals are just tastes of a vast online world that expands significantly with each passing day.
Overall, the best thing you can do is join communities of people with similar creative goals (another area in which Reddit shines). Once you have other people taking the same journey with you, your life will be significantly easier, and you’ll feel more motivated to keep going — you’ll also develop valuable connections and always have somewhere to get meaningful feedback from someone in your field.
A writer and small business owner, Kayleigh is an expert in all things content, freelance, marketing, and commercial strategy. Connect with Kayleigh on twitter @getmicrostarted or visit her site at microstartups.org.