7 cost-effective alternatives to that popular online program

Toby the Troll: YouTube 101 for Preschoolers

It’s that time of year again. Soon you’re going to see all sorts of affiliate ads floating around for a certain business marketing class with a huuuuuuuuge price tag. You won’t see it on my blog. I hate that affiliate nonsense.

I’ve been there, though. I know that terrible pull; the drive of curiosity to know the one secret that will unlock your personal fortune, right?

It’s bullshit. I’ve got over 200 freaking ebooks/courses/videos on my hard drive collecting digital dust. I’ve completed 3, total. Those 3 were marginally worth the price of admission. I’m totally culpable, here. See, you and I, we’re conditionally lazy.

The thing that makes high school and university work for so many is the threat of future colossal failure. Ecourses have a fundamental hurdle in that, right now – things are pretty decent. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have extra cash to buy the fucking ecourse rather than food or duct tape for your broken car window. If you don’t finish an ecourse bought with bonus cash, well, gee willikers, besides a tinge of guilt when you see the file on your desktop, things keep on being pretty decent. Meanwhile, if you fail high school or college, you’re living in a van down by the river, right?

There are some great elearning packages out there and Tea Silvestre has some great ideas for how to save up for big programs if you’re flat broke, those are great for things you really, truly believe you need.

The rest? Hmm. It’s hard to know which courses and programs are worth it, sight unseen, with hundreds or thousands of dollars on the line. Worse, if everybody’s on the take through an affiliate program, you can’t trust them to be honest.

Here’s a low-pressure alternative: DIY education. Free to $100 at a time. My top picks, containing zero affiliate links:

  1. Khan Academy: $0. Entrepreneurship 101 – interviews with successful entrepreneurs. Seriously priceless.
  2. Seth Godin’s Blog: $0. If you spent a whole day reading, writing down, and memorizing key insights from Seth’s blog, you’d have the foundations of a degree in marketing.
  3. Seth Godin’s Startup School Podcast: $0. From zero to funded in the span of 15 episodes.
  4. Carol Lynn and Ralph Rivera’s Web.Search.Social Podcast: $0. Interviews with small business owners on a variety of business/marketing topics.
  5. Skillshare: $10/mo. Whether you wanna learn how to freelance, how to write a contract, or how to get productive – world-class, unlimited self-paced learning. I used this to teach myself Illustrator so I can make a children’s book for my son. Awesome, right?
  6. Word Carnival: $0. My favorite bloggers all in one place (myself included, haha). The archives have all sorts of different takes on business and marketing topics.
  7. Hire a geek to vet your processes: $25-150/hr. A graphic designer, a bookkeeper, a marketer… you name it. Whatever kind of geek that is where you feel you could use improvement. Have them watch you work for 30 minutes and give you hints and suggestions as you go on how to be better/more efficient/whatever.

Finally, before you buy anything, stop and consider: A) will I be able to implement and keep using this knowledge, B) does this thing contain enough value that it’s worth more than I’m paying in, and C) in 3 days, will I feel the same way about this thing, or am I being pressured by manufactured scarcity?

What other resources exist out there? Anything I missed that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments.