Ever scroll through your social media timeline and run across a MasterClass advertisement? Like Thanos, it’s inevitable. But who is MasterClass really for, and is MasterClass worth the money? In this 2020 MasterClass review, I’ll tackle those questions (and more) head on to help you determine if MasterClass is right for you?
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I will be basing this MasterClass review off of my actual experiences with the program. I’ve taken many of the courses in many different categories and have come up with a firm decision on whether MasterClass is worth it or not. Keep reading to find out!
MasterClass is an online education and course platform taught by experts in their respective fields. Now, at first glance, this seems like just about every other course you’ll see. A master teaching a student. But what if I told you that James Patterson was going to teach you how to outline your book? Or that Gordon Ramsay was going to teach you how to make scrambled eggs? And all from the comfort of your own home?
I bet your ears would perk up just a bit more. That’s exactly what MasterClass is. They don’t just get experts, MasterClass has Mega-Titans teach their courses. And this is actually really insightful. You get to see things from a different perspective, and adjust your methods to that of a master. It reminds me of an old Bruce Lee quote:
“Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”
If only he was still alive to teach me Jeet Kune Do from my living room…Sigh. And for those of you saying there’s no way physical activity can be taught through MasterClass, tell that to Steph Curry. Steph teaches the mechanics of shooting, ball-handling, and scoring.
One of the best parts about the MasterClass program is that you can work at your own pace. There are no time limits, no rush assignments, and no extenuating pressures.
So, MasterClass sounds like it’s for intermediate or advanced skill level individuals. You gotta walk before you can run, right? But here’s the thing… even beginners can jump on to some of their classes with no sweat. For example, one of my favorite classes is from Anna Wintour where she teaches creativity and leadership. Anna gives practical advice even for people just starting their careers.
Another great example is from Dr. Jane Goodall. She talks through her experiences growing up and her time in Africa with chimpanzees to teach Conservationism. You don’t need to be an activist to know how to help save habitats and animals.
All-in-all, MasterClass is for everyone looking to learn something. And while I admit that there are some that require at least some prerequisite knowledge, many of them are standalone.
Now, I’m not saying this because I’m bias…But writers have some of the most to gain from MasterClass. There’s just so many classes available from some of the greatest to ever do it.
For instance, we already mentioned James Patterson. His class is just phenomenal! My biggest takeaway from his MasterClass is his lesson on outlines. It’s actually so important, he breaks them down into two separate lessons. Look, I definitely understand the importance of a good outline, but Patterson really breaks it down to improve your skill at it. I know he did for me at least. And when the world’s best-selling author tells me to outline…I should at least hear what he’s saying.
Another one of my absolute favorites is World Building and Storytelling with Neil Gaiman. Neil-freaking-Gaiman! Let’s just say I’m fangirl-ing right now. I’m not a fiction writer, but if ever I was… I ‘d only hope I had an inkling of Neil’s incredible ability. The way he weaves together settings, plots, and his characters is really unheard of. I’d venture to say he’s the best storyteller in the game today. And he teaches you his philosophies on how to do just that. Sure, you might not become a next Gaiman right away, but at least you’ll have the tools and foundational knowledge to do so in the future.
R.L. Stine puts together another great MasterClass as well. He’s the author of the prolific Goosebumps YA Horror books. I don’t know about you, but those books were like my childhood! Bob–as he prefers to be called–teaches so many different aspects including how to write for a YA audience, where to draw inspiration, outlining, creating horror, and even how to kick writer’s block. But perhaps the most important lesson he goes over is developing a book series. For writers in the long game, this could really be something to pay attention to. Because nobody does it better than he does.
Now, I’ll admit it. This probably wasn’t the easiest MasterClass to follow along to. It had me rewatching individual lessons sometimes two or three times. But that didn’t bother me at all. The more I watched, the more I understood what he was teaching. Gladwell goes over a bunch of different components to hook your readers and draw them into your writing. For instance, he teaches that through the use of jargon, you can ensnare your readers and leave them wanting more. But that’s just one tactic. He also covers things such as research, interviewing, humor and melancholy, and tone.
Judy Blume has been an iconic writer since the 1970s. She really encapsulated the reality of everyday struggles for preteen children. And there’s a chance that if you went to an elementary school, you’ve read at least one of her books. And actually remembered it. She began teaching us life lessons through her books when we were young, and now she doing again through MasterClass now. While she does go over some strictly writing tenets, its her other lessons that stand out to me. In her MasterClass, she covers controversy, censorship, and rejection. These are real issues that happen to every single writer! And she gives some tough advice to help get through even the bleakest of times.
These aren’t the only choices directly geared towards writers. They’re just a sampling of some of my favorites. Other MasterClasses for Writers include:
But you don’t have to stick to pure writing classes to help you improve as a writer. You can check out some other course to help as well. RuPaul’s course on self-expression and authenticity could definitely help you to find your voice–both written and otherwise.
The format in which MasterClasses are set up is actually really nice. A single MasterClass is broken down into individual lessons. There’s normally about 24 lessons per class, and each of those typically correlates to a section in a provided workbook. The workbook provides extra resources and exercises that help you process the information from each lesson.
Each lesson covers a single aspect of the MasterClass topic. They’re not too terribly long either. A lesson is normally between 5-30 minutes long meaning you can get a a couple lessons in on a lunch break or in the morning over a bowl of cereal. And you can always pick up where you left off. There’s no rush and you can finish at your own pace.
A unique part of MasterClasses lie within the actual Community Involvement. You and other students are encouraged to participate in group discussion on the topic at hand. And don’t think it’s just the students getting involved. Often, you’ll see the instructor active within the discussion which is super cool.
Back when I first started with MasterClass, there was an option for a free trial. Unfortunately, that’s not an option anymore. This means you’ve only got two options if you’re looking to take advantage of MasterClass.
You can buy individual classes for $90 apiece. However, you do have lifetime access to that course.
For another option, the All-Access Pass is a yearly subscription offer from MasterClass for $180/year. If you plan on purchasing more than one MasterClass, then this is the right way for you to go. You’ll be given unlimited access to every single MasterClass for a year! That comes out to be $15 a month which could be a little more appetizing a number. However, there’s no installment plan and must be paid upfront.
Now there’s a whole bunch of awesome stuff about MasterClass, but nothing’s perfect. There are some things that I really wish they’d address.
Even if it’s just a breakdown of the yearly cost, a monthly subscription would be nice and much more convenient for some folks. Because let’s face it, not all of us have $180 to just shell out at a single time.
This is an understandable business move. I get it, people are prone to binge-watching. And that’s 100s of dollars lost in sales from a single person. I think that a trial sample could be worth considering. Maybe offer half a lesson for a week or something like that.
While you can download MasterClasses (that you’ve paid for) to an iOS app on your iPhone, Android users are out of luck. Hopefully, they fix this in the future and allow the other half of their customer base to do the same.
Now, maybe this is just the analyst in me, but I wish there was more technical instruction. The classes are very creative and theoretical in nature kinda like those Ted X Talks. But they’re much more intensive with lots of great info.
You know that old phrase, “Those who can’t do, teach”? (By the way, not sure how I feel about that phrase…I know many of more than capable teachers.) Well, anyway, these instructors can do. And they can “do” very well. But some of the instructors aren’t the greatest teachers. You may have to rewatch a few lessons to really get the most out of it.
If you haven’t already deduced it, I have the All Access Pass and have for a few years now. Honestly, I find it to be WELL WORTH THE MONEY.
I’ve learned so much from the different MasterClasses that has helped me to become a better writer and person all around. The classes are presented in a high quality format that are easy to digest. And I absolutely love the fact that I can go at my own pace. Seriously, I can watch one lesson a day and leisurely finish a class in one month. And some of them, I’ll binge-watch in a day or so (I’m looking at you Gordon Ramsay or Aaron Franklin.)
The variety of lessons available also makes it worth the money. So while I just love the writing ones, there’s a bunch of different classes to take in case I’m feeling froggy. Plus, they keep adding more and more classes on different topics. It really is an amazing program that I think a lot of people will get a lot out of.
And yes, there are some things I don’t like. But that shouldn’t deter you. Just because you don’t like anchovies on your pizza doesn’t mean you should shun pizza altogether. Why? Because it’s still great!
Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m gonna go snuggle up in my favorite reading chair and jump into my next MasterClass.