16 Best Free Online Courses (That Are Actually Worth Your Time)

Entrepreneurs often wear all the business hats: CEO, marketer, salesperson, HR, designer, accountant, and so many more. Despite what it might look like from the outside looking in, you aren’t just born with all this knowledge—you have to learn it step by step.

Once upon a time, that learning was solely through mentors, university classes, or 5-pound books. But not anymore.

Today, you can learn just about any new skill or profession through online courses. You don’t need to find someone willing to share their secrets of success, apply to take a college class, or carry around an outdated brick-of-a-book on Facebook marketing techniques from 2012.

You can find online courses covering just about any startup-related topic—right here, right now. Sign up in seconds, and then get to learning the latest and greatest material right away. It’s that easy.

Plus, you often don’t even need to spend a dime. That’s right—you can find free online courses jam-packed with the content you need to master new skills and get rolling.

The hardest part is finding the right course to take. Time is money, so it can be expensive to waste precious hours on a lackluster course (even if it’s “free”).

Don’t know where to start? Let us give you a hand. We’ve compiled a list of the best free online courses in 2021. These courses will teach you everything from growing a massive Instagram following to writing top-notch landing pages.

16 Best Free Online Courses

1. Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

Want to know why some content explodes in popularity while others sink into the well of eternal obscurity? This course is for you. Explore how things catch on and how to increase the viral nature of your marketing. You’ll learn how to:

  • Make things stick
  • Increase your influence
  • Generate organic word of mouth
  • Use social media to spread information
  • Craft contagious content

The course is offered by Professor Jonah Berger, the author of the best-selling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. It’s 100% online and will take you about 4 hours to complete.

2. How to Go From 0 to 500k+ Followers in 12 Months

Instagram can be tricky. There’s a lot of people and a lot of content, and it can seem impossible to stand out from the crowd. We get it—we’ve been there. Yet, we figured out a few secrets to the platform about how to build a massive following without spending a dollar on advertising. This course will teach you:

  • How to create a bio that generates website clicks and substantial organic traffic.
  • The secret method for how Foundr generated 500k followers in less than 12 months.
  • How to know exactly what you should post for your unique target audience.
  • How to create fantastic content (the right way) that sparks irresistible engagement.

Foundr CEO Nathan Chan hosts this free online course. He’s not a guru—not at all. He’s an entrepreneur just like yourself who built (not just talked about building) Foundr’s enormous Instagram following from the bottom up.

3. Graphic Design Basics

If you’re not a self-proclaimed “creative” person, you probably struggle with producing images, GIFs, videos, and the like. But it turns out that’s exactly what the modern-day digital audience wants. This course gives you the basic design skills you need to take your content from “meh” to “that’s pretty good.”

The best part is that you don’t need to buy the Adobe Creative Suite or Nikon DSLR—you’ll do everything from Canva (a free browser-based design platform). The material is introductory and sticks to the design basics, but that’s often all you need to create content that sticks out from the 99% of mediocre online junk.

It should take you about 30 minutes to cruise through all the content and start creating graphics that make you proud.

4. How to Run Facebook Ads

Whether you’re completely new to advertising or have been around the block, this free online course will teach you everything you need to know to run profitable Facebook ads. Ex-Apple marketer Nick Shackelford has discovered an “algorithm proof” formula for creating effective ads on any budget. You’ll learn:

  • Simple tweaks to skyrocket your ROI
  • Step-by-step processes for creating high-converting Facebook ads
  • Proven frameworks for making money from the get-go
  • How to test and scale Facebook ads without breaking the bank
  • The science behind writing top-notch ads for local and ecommerce businesses

There’s a lot of content packed into this online course, but rest assured—it’ll be time well spent.

5. SEO Training Course

Moz, the legend of SEO knowledge, is here with the entry-level basics to optimizing your website for search traffic. This SEO Training Course will take you through all the fundamentals and connect them with actionable takeaways. You’ll learn:

  • How to audit your site and infrastructure
  • Tips for discovering the right keywords for your business
  • On-page SEO principles
  • Link-building strategies and off-page SEO
  • How to win the valuable position in Google’s answer boxes

Over a quarter of a million people have taken this course, and it still boasts a 4.3-star rating. There are about 3.5 hours of on-demand video content, but you’ll spend a lot more time than that putting these skills and knowledge into practice as you go. If you’re completely new to SEO, this is the course for you.

6. The Genius 10-Step Copywriting Framework

Words. Words are hard. Writing compelling, persuasive copy is even harder. However, copywriting is at the core of every digital marketing tactic: emails, ads, landing pages, social posts, articles, product pages—they’re all made up of words.

With the right combination of words, you can sell just anything to anyone. Yet, with the wrong combination of words, you can tank even the best-of-the-best products and business ideas.

The Genius 10-Step Copywriting Framework reveals everything you need to know to write more engaging, personal, and entertaining copy. It’s taught by Neil Patel’s go-to-copywriter, Arman Assadi. He’s been the copy strategist behind 11 different 7-figure product launches—so, it’s safe to assume he’s knows a thing or two about words.

He’ll teach you:

  • Easy-to-follow formulas for cranking out quality content in no time
  • How to write persuasive copy in your authentic voice
  • Methods for capturing even the busiest of prospect’s attention online

7. How to Make a Website

Unless you’re a full-time developer, you probably don’t need to spend years mastering Python, PHP, and Javascript. However, there’s a lot you can do with a simple combination of HTML and CSS—and learning it is arguably easier than learning to bake.

Codeacademy’s free online course teaches you the basics of website building in just 9 hours. You don’t walk away with just theories, code, and concepts—you leave the course with 4 built-from-scratch websites and tools to modify any basic web page structure.

The course includes step-by-step instruction, quizzes, and assignments to help you master the basics of website structure. If you’re entirely new to HTML and CSS, this is where to start.

8. How to Create a 7-Figure Online Course From Scratch

Ready to stop watching online courses and start creating them? This is the course for you. Foundr’s free class will teach you how to launch your own profitable online course in 2 weeks or less. It’ll show you:

  • 5 simple steps to turn your knowledge into a valuable online course
  • How to validate ideas quickly, so you never waste time or money
  • An evergreen course checklist with everything you need to keep your course relevant for longer
  • Deadly course creation traps you’ll need to avoid to become successful

This is the exact step-by-step process and tips we used to launch 100+ online courses. It works. All you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a desire to share your knowledge through an online course.

9. How to Make a Podcast: Plan, Record, and Launch with Success

Don’t worry—you’re not too late to the podcasting game. No, you’re not going to be an early bird trendsetter, but more and more people every year are regularly listening to podcasts.

If you want to add podcasts to your marketing repertoire or even start a podcasting business, this podcast class is one of the best places to start. This comprehensive 5.5-hour course covers everything you need to know to get started:

  • How to start, grow, and monetize a podcast
  • Equipment you’ll need to get started
  • How to publish your podcasts for the most reach
  • Tips for recording high-quality audio
  • Where to host your podcasts to get the most bang for your buck

10. The Content Marketing Playbook Behind Millions in Organic Sales

The world of content marketing is a million-mile-long beast full of amazing opportunities and devastating distractions. When you’re tight on human resources and budget, it can be hard to know what to focus on and prioritize. Let Eric Bandholz help.

Eric’s the instructor behind this content marketing masterclass, and he knows how to turn unique content marketing into new followers, subscribers, and organic sales (100% bootstrapped). His course will teach you:

  • How (and why) to focus on quality content over quantity
  • The 3 types of content that are most likely to “go viral”
  • How to use content funnels to turn your content into consistent cash
  • Tips for setting up a content marketing machine that runs on autopilot 24/7/365

Ready to turn content into cash? This is the course for you.

11. Email Marketing Course: Get Certified in Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most tried-and-true digital marketing channels out there. It’s been around for decades, and it looks like it’ll be around for decades more. An email address is your customer’s digital identity, and this course will teach you best practices for honoring this personal information while still monetizing.

From contact management and list building to segmentation and email deliverability, this Hubspot email marketing course has it all. It’s packed with over 3 hours of content, chockfull of lessons, videos, quizzes, and more.

12. Social Media Quickstarter

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade (nothing wrong with that), you might not be familiar with all the social media channels out there. Not to worry—this Social Media Quickstarter free online course from Constant Contact is the go-to training for complete noobies to this world. It covers 101 training on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google My Business
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat

You’ll come out of this course feeling a lot more confident about all things social media, and that’ll get you ready for more advanced courses around advertising, analytics, and more.

13. Finance for Founders

The financial side of running a business is often the hardest part. Even the best ideas can’t succeed without cash flow. This free masterclass will help you set up your business finances to earn more cash and stop bleeding profits. It’ll show you models of the wealthiest companies in the world, giving you a blueprint for how to set up your own systems.

You’ll learn:

  • The right way to set up and structure your business finances
  • How to take home more profit with less revenue
  • Common (and completely unnecessary) money mistakes
  • How to calculate your salary to scale your business to 7-figures and beyond
  • Little-known tricks of the trade from a $375 million-dollar FinTech founder

14. PPC University

WordStream’s PPC University covers the entire gamut of pay-per-click marketing tactics. It teaches everything from the basis of what PPC is to leveraging the power of remarketing and automating your bidding strategies. Whether you want to learn about marketing on Tik Tok or Facebook, this free online course has it all.

PPC University is an excellent resource for taking you from complete novice to completely competent. It has an overwhelming number of topics, but they’re organized in a way for you to pick and choose what you want to learn. This format makes it quick and easy to find exactly the content you’re looking for without wasting time on the stuff you already know.

15. Google Analytics Academy

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful data collection and analysis platforms on the Internet—but, gosh, it can be hard to navigate. There are so many tabs and tags and charts that make finding a needle in a haystack look easy. That’s why Google provides analytics training through a few free online courses. You can learn:

  • Google Analytics for Beginners
  • Advanced Google Analytics
  • Google Analytics for Power Users
  • Getting Started With Google Analytics 360
  • Introduction to Data Studio
  • Google Tag Manager Fundamentals

It’s a lot of content, but the instructors do a great job of breaking down the sections into bite-sized, consumable pieces. Walk through these courses, and you’ll leave a Google Analytics wizard.

16. Advanced Ecommerce Strategies

Done with the basics and ready to get into the groundbreaking ecommerce strategies? Look no further. This course will show you everything you need to know to scale your existing ecommerce store into a 7-figure (and beyond) business. You’ll learn:

  • All about upsells, cross-sells, and all the kinds of sells
  • How to choose your next product
  • The ROI percentage threshold you need on ads to keep them on
  • Why you should never use this “status quo” email
  • The 2 most important parts of your ad creative

This 2-hour advanced training session will get your ecommerce store headed in the right direction.

Limitless Knowledge at Your Fingertips

There’s so much to learn, so little time. Don’t spend too many hours deciding on which course to take—start sampling them all. Check out Foundr’s complete collection of free online courses here. We cover the entire spectrum of digital marketing, ecommerce, and startup material.

Whether you’re looking for a brand-new business idea or content marketing hacks to make your site go viral, you’ll find the perfect class for you. Plus, all our courses are taught by doers—not gurus. These professionals have broken traditional rules and found success, and now they’re sharing their secrets. Don’t miss out on what could a business-changing few hours of your life.

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