Free Internet Marketing Courses: Are they worth it?

Free internet marketing coursesFor most people who want to start a business online, budgets are small and risk is high. You don’t know what to learn first or what questions to ask. Unless you already have a very clear idea of what you want to do online, it often makes sense to take advantage of some of the free internet marketing courses available.

Contrary to popular belief, “free” does not always mean that something is junk. Many top internet marketers offer some kind of free training as an introduction to their paid product. That may be all you need to get started.

Of course, there is always YouTube for video tutorials and internet marketing blogs for getting other advice. The free resources out there are endless, if you know where to look.

But before you start spending hours researching internet marketing on the web, consider a few of these pros and cons to getting a free education.

The Upside of Free Learning


  • Huge Supply. People are always ready to teach you something if you just look for them. It’s how they establish their expertise in a market and build relationships. Just do a search for one question you have, such as “how to get started as an affiliate marketer”.  I got 39.9 million results, with most of them being blogs. Look further and you’ll see that many offer a free ebook or course to get you started.
  • Broad Range of Subjects. Not only will you find a huge supply of free training, you’ll find it on pretty much any subject you want to learn about, unless it’s completely off-the-wall. I challenge you to come up with a question that hasn’t been answered in some way, shape or form on the internet. If it hasn’t, then there’s probably no market for that topic anyway.
  • Multiple Points of View.  When you purchase a specific training program, you’re usually getting the philosophy and approach of just one person or group of people. Once you start looking around for free training, you’ll see a number of different viewpoints. You can then make a decision for yourself as to what approach makes most sense for you and the business you want to create.
  • Multiple Formats.  Not every training program will give you the option to learn in different ways. Some may just give you a series of reports and pdfs. Others may just present their content in video form. When you start looking at free options, you can pick and choose what works best for you. Search in YouTube when you want a visual tutorial. Look for blog posts when you prefer text. Or subscribe to someone’s free email series if you want everything delivered to your inbox. The choice is yours.
  • It’s Free. When you have a limited budget, one less thing to spend money on means that you can conserve your cash for the expenses you can’t escape. Why pay for a video tutorial series on WordPress when you can find blog posts and YouTube videos everywhere that give the same information? Maybe you know you’ll need to pay someone to create a header for you, but you don’t have the budget to pay someone to install it. Then it can make sense to just search for a tutorial that will help you do it yourself.

 The Downside of Free Learning


  • Accuracy of Information. Unless you’re already very familiar with the person you’re learning from, it’s next to impossible to know if the information they’re teaching you is up-to-date or accurate. And for most newbie marketers, you haven’t been around the block enough times to recognize a fraud from a helpful expert. Acquire a little skepticism from the start and always look for a few different points of view before committing to one.
  • Thorough Coverage of Topic.  Free training has its limits. Anyone who’s been in the business of teaching internet marketing for any length of time is there to make money, not just help others learn. If they taught everything they knew for free, they wouldn’t be in business for long. You might be able to learn enough basics to get started, but at some point you’ll probably find it worthwhile to invest in some type of in-depth training or coaching to become an expert yourself.
  • Ability to Ask Questions.  If someone is offering free training, there are probably hundreds of people taking advantage of it. That means that the person who’s offering the information will only have a limited amount of time to answer questions. They may not be available to answer any questions at all. If there’s a forum involved, you can always submit your questions there and hope for an answer, but then you’re often relying on the blind leading the blind. Look for sites that have very active forums and you’re more likely to get a question answered. No guarantees.
  • Time Required.  The biggest disadvantage of getting your internet marketing education for free is the time involved. You need to go out and search for the information you need. Then you have to sift through the millions of results to find the nugget of gold with your answer. Even if you’re following a free course, you’ll probably have to supplement it with searches since there are bound to be gaps in the training. If all you have is time, then at least try to spend it wisely by finding and sticking to a few select resources for free learning.
  • Implementation Accountability. It’s a given that we put less value on something that’s free than something we’ve paid for. If you’ve downloaded a free ebook on how to create your first infoproduct, you’re less likely to sit down and use it immediately than if you’d paid for that same ebook. It’s also easy to just keep on searching for more answers and more free resources to learn from. When do you have enough information to get started? It’s much easier to focus on implementing one specific project or business if you’re following a paid course that gives you assignments and holds you accountable for results.

Free internet marketing courses and resources are a great way to get started. I used many myself when I first got online. Some of the things I learned I still use today and others I’ve abandoned because they didn’t make sense for my business. As I’ve focused in on what I want to achieve, it’s been easier to identify resources that are worth paying for. But when you’re first starting out, there’s nothing wrong with trying out some of the free training available.

Curious about where I “learn for free”? Here are a few of the places and people from whom I’ve gotten great information. In many cases, I’ve ended up paying for training from these same people since I loved what I learned. In other cases, I intend to buy training or coaching from them in the future when I’m ready. (Disclosure: Some of these may be affiliate links, so I’d get a commission if you clicked on and bought something through my link).

NAMS: Surefire Passive Income –  I’ve attended 4 of their live events! (Lynn Terry) – Note: I belong to Lynn’s Elite brainstorming group

Nicoleonthenet (Nicole Dean) –  I own Nicole’s Blog CPR course, which is one of my “to-do’s”

Free Weekly Mastermind (Free Facebook group with Dan Morris and Darren Crawford)

Tony Shepherd –  I pay for Tony’s Affordable Mentoring Newsletter, which is about $7/month. There are a ton of resources that come with it.

What’s your opinion on the subject of free vs. paid learning on the ‘net? Do you have a favorite resource?


  1. I love free learning! I’ve got a huge repository of free learning on my hard drive. ;>

    In business, online or offline, we have to share something of value otherwise there isn’t much reason to do business with us. That’s how people get a chance to ‘try before they buy”. I can vouch for most of your free learning resources. It’s nice to be able to go to a trusted resource for information on new methods or technologies. Great list! Kater

    • Hi Kate (or do you call yourself Kater?).

      I have so much free training on my hard drive too, and a lot of it is prime stuff. I wish I had the time to go through it all, but at least it’s there as a resource if I need it.
      You’re absolutely right about the “try before you buy”. Just reading someone’s blog isn’t necessarily enough to know the quality of their paid content. I don’t think I’ve bought anything from anyone who I haven’t tested out first. But once you know someone provides real value, it’s a no-brainer to go back and pay for the exact content you want! (That includes PLR ;))

      – Sharyn

  2. I think the internet is fantastic bringing free information to everyone. But I also agree with your negatives, especially the last two. I find I place less value on free information. Not always, but usually. If I pay for something, I take more of a point to read it fully and make the most of it. Sometimes with free stuff I just download it and let it sit on my hard drive. It’s good to bear these points in mind when creating your own points too, and I’ve been thinking a lot about them.

  3. Up until 2 years ago, I only used free resources to learn from. Then I joined a few places, one of them being the Remarkable Marketing Blueprint and found that the information shared in a paid groups was not only better but made me accountable too. I belong to a few others now, including the free mastermind group on Facebook.

  4. This is a great post! I used to think I could get everything I needed for free. But it takes a lot of time to find what info you can trust (especially if you’re new online) and to sift through it all to see what you can use to further your business. Now if I need training on something I purchase it from a trustworthy source. I think that purchasing something from a good source will cut down the amount of time it takes to become successful too.

    What Ruth said above is sooo true! I have many free reports, courses, etc. sitting on my hard drive – many I haven’t read yet either! But when you pay for something you’re more inclined to get the most out of it!

  5. I’m slowly evolving from a freebie information seeker to someone who carefully weighs up the cost and time value of paid educational products.

    Since starting on my IM path, just over a year ago, I’ve only ever bought one educational product . That was PLR ATM. I bought it a few months back because I wanted to fast track my learning of the PLR business.

    Apart from that, I’ve learned to do everything myself by searching Google and reading posts in IM forums. I achieved pretty good results too (managed to make my first sale within 5 weeks of setting up my first affiliate marketing site and had 8 long-tail keywords for my niche on the first page of Google – I was a total newbie to IM at the time and the niche was weight loss).

    I find searching the Internet and applying the knowledge comes naturally to me. Hailing from a research based background really helps. I also rely quite heavily on my intuition as to whether or not I believe a method or strategy will work for me.

    Having said all that, I do see the value in purchasing a few good products from trusted providers to fall back on, particularly if you don’t have the time to scour the net (back then I had a lot more time then I do now :))

    I also feel as though my background can sometimes be a hindrance and I need to adopt a more open minded attitude to investing in paid products.

    – Mena

    • Hi Mena!

      I’m curious – what’s your research background? Mine is in instructional design, so I’m absolutely addicted to learning (whether paid or free). That’s definitely a hindrance when it comes to actually getting things done! My trip down to the NAMS8 conference in Atlanta is like a vacation for me ;).

      – Sharyn

      • Hey Sharyn,

        I was an academic researcher (psychology and social sciences), before joining the corporate world as an executive search researcher/headhunter. Then I spent some time as a freelance Internet researcher. I’ve been involved in research in some shape or form for 10 years (yikes!)

        I looove learning and Google is definitely my best friend – it’s a dangerous combination 🙂

  6. Internet nowadays is one way of getting to know the world and you can have business online also for generating money.

  7. You get what you pay for it, as the old saying goes

  8. Free education is great when you are starting out. I especially like the forums related to my niche that has many experts on them that are ready and willing to share their information.

    • Hi Lakeisha,
      So true! I love those forums too, so long as they have people who know what they’re talking about (which is not always the case). Still, I get even more benefit from a couple paid forums that I belong too – like Lynn Terry’s ClickNewz Elite forum and the one at myNAMS. If you’re interested, see David Perdew’s free training – my link is up in the sidebar here. His site has been a treasure trove of info for me.
      – Sharyn

  9. Hi Sharyn,

    I’ve been lurking and reading your blog for a while now. Thank you for providing such helpful information. You have great info, and I’ve learned a lot from you. I found your blog at a time when I was researching a product that I was interested in buying. I was amazed to discover that all of the info in that product was available online for free. After my research, I learned that the product was just recycled junk. I started to search the web for more free information. It didn’t take long before I became overwhelmed! I had a really bad case of information overload. I had downloaded all this information, and didn’t know what to do with it or how to organize it. My situation caused me to just freeze and not take any action. Finally, I stumbled upon Wealthy Affiliate. At first, I was skeptical because I have spent so much money on products that didn’t work. But now I realize that I need the structure, and to be able to have my questions answered. I finally have a website up, and am in the process of installing plug-ins. I know this is probably par for the course for others, but for me it’s an amazing accomplishment. I have been stumbling around the internet, lost for a long time. Now I have some guidance, and it’s just what I needed. Maybe when I’m more knowledgeable, I can go back and use some of the ‘stuff’ I have stored on my hard drive. Right now for me, ‘paid’ is the way to go.

  10. Online marketing can change so quickly these days that I find many of these free courses are outdated by a couple years. With the way things are and the rate of change we see I’m much more in favor of just browsing forums and popular blogs to gather information. They’re updated daily and so long as you know to look for reputable authors like Sharyn Sheldon then I think that’s your best bet 😉

  11. The last time I paid for an internet marketing course, I thought it had so much of what you would call “everyday information”. The information contained in that “tutorial” was something I think I could have read for free on any of the top internet marketing blogs. I have come to convince myself that there is no great secret that I will uncover by paying for internet marketing courses which is not already available freely on the internet. But I agree with you on the implementation accountability part; I tend to place more value on something that I have paid for as opposed to free things.

  12. I was thinking about taking a course to increase my internet marketing, and have decided definitely to since reading your guide. You have given me many valid reasons to take advantage of free classes that, once I attend, will put more money in my pocket. Your views are not only poignant, they are valid and make a lot of sense. I will be checking out free classes this afternoon and hope to be on my way to learning some valuable lessons in the near future.

  13. I agree with the down side of learning and the time it can consume.

  14. Nice informative post, and the “upside of free learning” topic is so good. I hope the above information is so useful to all. Everybody definitely need to know this valuable thing.

  15. Great article! The free guides are def hit or miss. Sometimes you find one that really delivers great value but you have to sort through all the ones that are just given away to try to sell you on something. In Success – Howie

  16. Good article! I’m a baby to marketing and happy to read something that makes sense. Some of the other blogs are forgetting that the new guy does not know all of the terms.

  17. Very informative piece. The Internet has become a worldwide library so there is no longer an excuse for ignorance

  18. I’m a little surprised that you would give free internet marketing courses information for free while so many other sites are charging for it. Thank you so much!

  19. This is a great post, through this I have been able to identify what are the pros and cons of getting free internet marketing education. This will somehow be used as a guide to everyone specially to those who are into internet marketing. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Hi Sharyn,

    Thanks for this awesome post. I really enjoy reading it and i learn a lot from it. I will definitely try those free internet marketing education.


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