Whether you want that job promotion or to sidestep into a new field, you’ll need to commit to learning new skills. One of the best ways you can do that is by taking free online courses.
Blog posts and podcasts are great starting points for exploring a particular topic. But online business courses will provide you with the time and space you need to explore a topic in depth and truly master a new skill. Plus, most courses are made up of on-demand videos and exercises that you can progress through at your own pace.
Below, we’ve gathered the best free online business courses. These cover the main business skills you’ll need to advance in today’s rapidly changing workplace — from digital marketing and coding to selling, managing conflicts, and more. Keep reading to become an expert in whatever subject you feel can best help you succeed.
If you’d prefer, click on one of the following topics to jump straight to courses regarding that topic in particular:
Free Online Courses
Learning new skills can be both time-consuming and challenging. In fact, according to Josh Kaufman, international bestselling author of The Personal MBA, it takes 20 hours to go from knowing nothing about a particular subject to being pretty good at it. Of course, if you want to become an expert, that takes even longer.
Online courses allow you to get a head-start on the fundamental skills you need to grow in your career or switch to a new field. Here are the absolute best ones:
Ready to start developing your skills? Let’s take a look at the best courses below.
From attracting leads to engaging prospects and delighting customers, this course covers the fundamentals of what inbound marketing is all about. It’s ideal for new graduates who’d like to go into marketing or for any experienced professional who’s considering shifting into a marketing career. It will give you the foundational knowledge you need to move into any marketing job.
New marketing professionals
Experienced non-marketing professionals shifting into marketing
Learn the basics of websites, local business listings, review sites, social media, mobile apps, and more. This course is a helpful introduction to making your business visible online without delving too deeply into the specifics. We recommend it for small business owners and marketers just starting out in their careers.
This course shows new Google Analytics users how to create an account, implement a tracking code, and set up data filters. You’ll learn how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, and set up dashboards and shortcuts. We recommend this course for both beginner and advanced marketers who need a refresher on Google Analytics or need more advanced instruction.
Power your business with remarkable content. This course will teach you how storytelling, content creation, repurposing, and promotion come together to build a content marketing machine that grows your business, and your career. While every professional will benefit from taking the content marketing certification course, it’s especially recommended for new content writers and content managers.
New content marketers, content writers, and content managers
Experienced non-marketing professionals moving into a content marketing role
Ever wondered why some things become popular, while other things don’t? This course explains how things catch on, and can help you apply those ideas to become a more effective marketer. This is a good course to take if you feel your marketing efforts aren’t yielding the results you want or aren’t becoming as widespread as you’d like.
While individual contributors would benefit from taking this course, marketing managers who have a hand on ideation and strategy would most benefit from the knowledge they gain.
Mid- and senior-level marketers with a hand on strategy and ideation
This online video marketing training will teach you how to get started with online video marketing to better attract, engage, and delight your audience. It’s an excellent course for individual contributors with a hand on video creation and content creation. Managers would also benefit from taking the first course, “How to Create a Successful Video Marketing Strategy,” if they’ve not yet established a video marketing strategy.
Video and content marketers getting started with video marketing
Marketing managers who want to start a video marketing strategy
This course provides you with everything you need to build a social media strategy — including tools to help you attract new customers, build loyalty, and shape a positive conversation around your business. It’s a great fit for marketers of all levels who need a strong foundation on social media marketing.
Marketers of all levels delving into social media marketing
Business owners who want to create a social media marketing strategy
Once you’ve completed this overarching social media marketing course, you can then jump into the following channel-specific courses.
Facebook Marketing (~1.5 Hours): Facebook is a huge platform, ripe with marketing opportunity. Learn how to develop an effective marketing strategy using Facebook that covers all the bases.
Twitter for Business Marketing (~2 Hours): You know Twitter beyond the basics, and now it’s time to bump it up a notch. In this course, you’ll learn the advancements in building and launching a successful Twitter marketing strategy.
Instagram Marketing (~2.5 Hours): An Instagram marketing and advertising strategy is one of the most powerful ways to connect with customers and drive marketing impact. This course takes you from the beginning to the end of planning an Instagram marketing strategy.
YouTube Marketing(1.5-2 Hours): HubSpot’s course in YouTube Marketing is an in-depth, expansive set of tools and lessons that offer successful strategies to grow a monetized, optimized YouTube channel. It’s ideal for social media managers and anyone who would be creating videos for your company’s YouTube channel.
Whether you’re looking to foster brand awareness, increase website traffic, or drive sales, this course can teach you how to craft a social media strategy to achieve your goals on Facebook and Twitter. From finding your voice to buying paid advertising, this course walks you through a proven process for creating custom social strategies. It’s ideal for new marketers who need a quick refresher or overview.
Note: Skillshare offers community members free access to its courses for 14 days — you’ll need to sign up as a member to access the class for free.
Marketers of all levels delving into social media marketing
Business owners who want to create a social media marketing strategy
This crash course is set up like a challenge. The goal? Help you make high-quality videos with your iPhone or Android device so you can start vlogging and share engaging videos on your social media accounts. It’s ideal if you’re planning to market your brand or business over video-based channels such as Instagram or TikTok, and it’s specially a good fit if you don’t want to spend money on expensive video gear.
Video marketers and content creators wanting to create storytelling videos
Freelance bloggers and content creators wanting to create more videos
This video series is a great introduction to the Instagram world. You’ll learn how to gain more followers, build a community, and create content that drives true engagement. It’s ideal for you if you’re interested in finding influencer partners on Instagram and build a visual identity.
Marketers at small businesses without an Instagram strategy
This class will cover the basic principles of social media analytics, and is helpful both for beginners and for marketers who want to refresh their knowledge. It aims to help anybody involved in social media analytics, whether you’re working for a brand, an agency, or the media. We highly recommend this course for new social media marketing managers who don’t know how to measure analytics for their company’s social channels.
New social media marketing managers who are unfamiliar with social media analytics
Any marketer who’s interested in specializing in social media marketing
Twitter Flight School isn’t so much as a course as it is a school for both advanced and beginner Twitter marketers. Whether you’re a social media coordinator or the director of social media marketing at an enterprise firm, Twitter Flight School’s courses will help you build the knowledge and skills you need to scale and improve your Twitter marketing strategy.
The courses have been designed to help you level up your expertise with advertising on Twitter, so that you can succeed. We don’t recommend it if you’re not planning to extensively use Twitter as a marketing channel.
New and experienced social media professionals who are planning to use Twitter extensively
Any marketer or professional who wants to specialize in Twitter marketing
Whether you use cold emails to connect with influencers, build your personal brand, find mentors, or grow your network, there’s no underestimating their power. Sujan Patel reveals eight lessons that will show you how to turn theory into practice, tapping into existing cold email best practices and deploying them in a way that’s both efficient and effective.
It’s not applicable just to cold emails, either. You can use the course to learn email writing best practices that will serve you as you market to leads and prospects who’ve subscribed to your email list.
Any marketer or professional who’s planning to email leads or other professionals in their network
Any professional who wants to improve their cold emailing skills
Email marketing is a necessity to learn. By completing HubSpot’s course, you’ll walk away with expansive knowledge in all things email marketing, from templates to testing, as well as a certification to add to your resume. This is an excellent follow-up to the Cold Email Masterclass, allowing you to specialize specifically in email marketing. You’ll learn to segment your user base and optimize email deliverability rates.
Marketers of all levels who are planning to do email marketing
If you don’t know where to start with Google’s ad products, Google’s Skillshop for Google Ads may be for you. You’ll figure out where to get started in mini, bite-sized lessons or jump straight into the certification process. Topics include programmatic ads, search ads, discovery ads, and video ads. If you already have experience with Google Ads, you can forgo taking the courses and instead apply your existing knowledge using a series of exercises.
Marketers of all levels who want to further their knowledge or practice their existing Google Ads knowledge
Business owners who want to learn how to set up Google Ads
Interested in building traffic, but unsure about a successful strategy? Our SEO crash course eliminates the pains of navigating a concrete SEO strategy and provides you with the tools to implement a winning one. Because it starts from a basic starting point, we recommend it for beginner marketers only. If you’ve been in a digital marketing role for a few years, chances are you’re familiar with most of this information.
New marketers who want to learn the basics of SEO and improve their SEO skills
Experienced non-marketing professionals who want to learn SEO
In this certification course, you’ll learn how to grow your sales pipeline, close more leads, and grow your career. It’s ideal for new sales professionals or experienced salespeople who need a refresher or formal training in core sales skills.
New and aspiring salespeople
Experienced sales professionals who need a refresher in sales fundamentals
Once you complete this initial certification, you can then dive into more specific topics such as sales enablement and management training.
Sales Enablement Certification(Length: 4-5 Hours): In this self-paced online course and exam, you’ll learn how to align marketing and sales for optimal efficiency. You’ll learn to bridge the gap between marketing and sales teams with strategies and tactics from sales leaders.
Sales Management Training(Length: 3 Hours): Learn how to define your target market, create a scalable sales process, and build training, coaching, hiring, and on-boarding programs to help your sales team grow.
This course is designed to make you more effective and efficient as you pursue your sales goals. Understand how to stand out in the crowd, attract customers, and build support for initiatives within your company. Plus, the most important art in sales is knowing how to get a “yes.” This course teaches this, as well as methods to improve efficiency as a salesperson.
Sales managers who want to improve the performance of their sales team
Experienced salespeople looking to level-up their skills
This program is designed to give you a strategy-backed process. It covers building a value proposition, asking the right questions, closing more effectively, and more. You’ll sell more, and even better — selling will become more fun. After you’ve watched all of the videos in the training course, you’ll have an overview of the most important topics in sales.
New sales professionals trying to get a high-level overview of the most important sales topics
Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep any products in stock at your own warehouses, but rather ship them directly from the manufacturers’ or suppliers’ warehouses. It’s one of the best ways to start an ecommerce business with few overhead and startup costs. In this course, Corey Ferreira shares his methods for finding a product to sell, testing its popularity, and building an unforgettable brand.
Anyone who’d like to start an ecommerce business with a dropshipping model
In this course, you’ll learn how to set up your own home studio and take product photos with your smartphone or digital SLR. This is an ideal course for anyone who’s planning to sell the products they make in their online store. If you’re starting a dropshipping business, you can skip taking this course.
Ecommerce sellers who need photos of the products they sell
If you work for an ecommerce business and want to implement an inbound marketing strategy, this is a good course for you. In this short crash course, you’ll learn the basics of selling more online, and how that fits into an inbound strategy. We recommend taking this course once you’ve got the basics down, such as how to run a dropshipping business.
Learn how to use automation, optimization, and personalization to boost your business through email. Once you’ve got the leads from your ecommerce website, it’s time to nurture them through email marketing. This course will run through the entire process. Due to its inclusion of advanced marketing topics such as A/B testing and segmentation, we recommend it for experienced marketers at an ecommerce retailer.
Experienced marketers working at ecommerce businesses
In this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, two core web development languages, along with best practices and professional problem-solving techniques using Developer Tools. This online coding lesson offers easy-to-follow instructions, interactive quizzes, and a tested curriculum that can help anyone learn how to code.
Marketers, salespeople, and freelancers wanting to learn HTML and CSS
Udacity offers a variety of other courses that can teach you to code. Once you’ve covered HTML and CSS, you can then dive into:
Intro to Python Programming(Length: ~5 Weeks): Get to grips with key computer science concepts in this introductory Python course. You’ll learn by doing, and will build your own search engine and social network.
Self-Driving Fundamentals: Featuring Apollo(Length: ~4 Weeks): Through this course, you’ll be able to identify key parts of self-driving cars and get to know Apollo architecture. You’ll be able to utilize Apollo HD Map, localization, perception, prediction, planning, and control, and start the learning path of building a self-driving car. We recommend taking this course for fun.
Codecademy offers an excellent repository of coding courses. If you didn’t like Udemy’s HTML and CSS class, we highly recommend learning it from Codeacademy instead. One of the languages you can learn is Java, which can be used to create web applications, software-as-a-service products, and mobile apps.
Because it’s a more advanced programming topic, we only recommend it if you’re planning to start a computer science career or develop your own web app or SaaS.
Any professional who’s interested in shifting into a developer role or code their own app
This iPhone app development course will give you all you need to create your very own iOS app from the ground up. You’ll specifically learn how to create an app using XCode, Apple’s iOS app builder, and Interface Builder, which is a feature within Xcode. With clear video tutorials that are easy to follow, this course will get you up-to-date with the latest in iPhone app development trends.
Any professional who’s interested in coding their own iOS app
This course by Princeton University covers the essential information that every serious programmer needs to know about algorithms and data structures, with emphasis on applications and scientific performance analysis of Java implementations. Because algorithms are a more advanced coding topic, we only recommend it if you’re planning to shift into a programming career. If that doesn’t sound like you, start with Udemy’s HTML and CSS course instead.
Any professional who’s interested in shifting into a programming career
The description of this course reads, “Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.” In other words, machine learning allows computers to act based on prior user input. Speech recognition and self-driving cars are examples of machine learning. If you want to create a web or mobile application that uses machine learning to improve the user experience, we recommend this course. This is an advanced coding topic that’s only recommended for current programmers.
Programmers who want to get foundational knowledge in machine learning
We all fear public speaking — or, at the very least, feel a measure of anxiety whenever we have to give a speech or a presentation. This course will teach you techniques to overcome the fear of public speaking, as well as how to avoid feeling nervous before speaking publicly. It’s a short course, too.
Anyone who wants to overcome the fear of public speaking
Whether you’re a student or a young professional, learning how to digest and access information is a key skill to succeed at both school and work. This delightfully “meta” course teaches you how to learn new subjects and retain information.
Students of all levels who want to get better at retaining information
Professionals of all levels who want to learn how to retain information
In this course created by the University of Michigan, you’ll learn about and practice four key steps to a successful negotiation. While negotiation skills may be most often used at work, and specifically during a sales call or prior to signing an employment contract, it can also be used in your day-to-day and personal interactions.
This course gives you a practical guide to managing people at work. It doesn’t matter whether you are a first-time manager in a shop or a middle manager in an office environment — the same skills apply to every workplace.
Mid- to senior-level professionals moving into a managerial role
This series of courses will teach you project management skills, communication skills, time management skills, and financial skills — all of which are needed to succeed in today’s workforce. You’ll also learn business writing and negotiation skills. We recommend it for new graduates or anyone who’s still in college.
Feeling down because of the pandemic? We’re right there with you. This course by UC Berkeley will walk you through the concept of happiness from a scientific and psychological standpoint, and give you practical tips for boosting happiness when you’re feeling blue.
Anyone who’d like to improve their happiness in work and life
The purpose of this course is to not only learn what psychological research says about what makes us happy, but also to put those strategies into practice. It’s an excellent follow-up to UC Berkeley’s course above. It’ll help you rewire the way you think about happiness.
Anyone who’d like to improve their happiness in work and life
Need to become a graphic designer in less than an hour? This course by HubSpot Academy offers basic concepts in graphic design to create designs that accurately represent your brand. You can then translate these concepts to any tool of your choosing, including Adobe Illustrator, Canva, and even PowerPoint.
Non-design professionals who need to learn the basics of graphic design
Adobe Illustrator is one of the best tools you can use for your graphic design projects. In this course by EduOnix, you’’ll learn how to master Adobe Illustrator with real world examples. We only recommend it if you have an active Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.
Designers who need to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator quickly
Designed with input from business professors, Smartly’s Fundamentals of Business course combines a self-guided software approach with collaborative online case studies and group projects. It’s a flexible yet structured course for the modern professional who wants to learn the basics of business.
Early-career professionals who want to start a business or move into executive roles
New York University’s Corporate Finance course is a big-picture class. It looks at the financial principles that govern how businesses raise funds, invest those funds in assets and projects, and return those funds to investors. This would be a helpful course for both entrepreneurs and professionals considering starting a career in corporate finance.
Professionals moving into executive roles
Professionals interested in shifting into corporate finance
Good with Words: Writing and Editing prepares you to write strong prose from a grammatical, technical, and syntactical standpoint. This is an excellent option for anyone who’d like to strengthen their writing skills without necessarily diving into additional topics such as marketing or essay writing. It’s a great foundational course for any type of writing discipline, including fiction writing.
To take this course for free, click the “Enroll for Free” button. In the pop-up, click “Audit the course.” This will give you the option to view the course materials without paying for the certificate.
Any professional who writes emails, social posts, articles, and web pages in their role
Business blogging is more than just writing and publishing content in the hopes you’ll attract customers. In this course, you’ll learn how to craft a blogging strategy that drives business growth, create quality blog content that customers love, and build a guest blogging strategy that’s powered by SEO.
Mid- to senior-level marketers who have a hand on their company’s marketing strategy
This course will introduce you to essential communication skills that aid persuasion, guide you through the differences between persuasion and manipulation, and show you how to use strong communication to motivate the people around you. These abilities will be a great boost for both your professional and personal relationships.
Anyone who’d like to improve their communication skills
With this series of courses by the University of California Irvine, you’ll learn listening skills, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and how to assemble a conflict management plan likely to yield positive resolutions. While anyone would benefit from taking this course, it’s specially recommended for professionals in people-management roles.
Mid- to senior-level professionals who manage teams or other people
Anyone who’d like to improve their conflict management skills
In this course, Steve Blank provides insight into the key steps needed to build a successful start-up. You’ll learn the various types of business models, the parts of a value proposition, the concept of customer segmentation, and more. This is a top-to-bottom course that will give you the foundations you need for starting a business.
Develop your ability to think strategically, analyze your competition, recommend a positioning strategy, and create value. In this course, you’ll explore the underlying theory and foundation of a successful business strategy, and gain the tools you need to understand that strategy.
Entrepreneurs with an existing business they’d like to grow
Marketing Fundamentals: Who Is Your Customer? will help you discover how to acquire the right customers and grow your startup business. While it’s branded as a marketing course, it’s designed for entrepreneurs who don’t know how to begin marketing their new product or service, and who want to understand their target market. That said, it’s also a great course to take if you’re interested in going into marketing.
The term “humanities” encompasses a wide variety of disciplines and fields. Regardless of your favorite humanities subject, learning how to carry out research and visualize the subject using digital tools is essential if you’d like to progress in your career.
Any professional who carries out research in the humanities
Explore some of the world’s most salient literary masterpieces in Harvard’s Modern Masterpieces of World Literature course. You’ll get a taste not only of the English literary tradition, but of others around the globe, too.
Any professional who’s interested in global literature
If you’re in need of a history course, consider Princeton University’s Global History Lab. We recommend it for beginners who want an overview of history from the 14th century up until now. While the course is sometimes archived, you may be able to access it live and discuss the course materials with other current students.
If you’re interested in studying gender from a theoretical and epistemological standpoint, Gender and Sexuality: Applications in Society is the course you need to take. It will give you an overarching overview of gender and sexuality through a variety of perspectives and lenses.
Any professional who’s interested in gender and sexuality
Learning a new language is always a worthwhile investment, especially if you’re a global marketer or salesperson. This basic strongish course by the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia will help you establish a foundation for further learning.
Any professional who’s planning to use strongish at work or for leisure
If you’re planning to expand your business into the Asian market, then learning Mandarin is key, given that Mandarin is the most spoken language in Asia. It’s also a popular language for business. Mandarin Chinese Level 1 will give you the foundation you need to take more advanced Mandarin courses.
Any professional who’s planning to use Mandarin at work or for leisure
Have you been wanting to learn French? Getting Started with French 1 will teach you the basic phrases you need to interact with others in a French-speaking environment. We highly recommend taking all of the courses in this series as a precursor for more advanced language study.
Any professional who’s planning to use French at work or for leisure
Learning is an investment that continues to pay.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
That’s never been truer than it is today. With new technologies emerging at breakneck speeds, there’s a palpable pressure to continuously upskill.
We hope you found the online business courses you need for the next step in your career — whether you’re looking for a promotion or a sidestep into an entirely new field.
Whatever your reason, learning new skills will give you a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing workplace. Plus, the more you invest in your learning, the better you’ll grow.
If you’re looking for one single place to learn how to take your career to the next level and/or grow your business, check out HubSpot Academy. It contains tons of free certified courses on everything from inbound and content marketing to social media and sales.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
The PGA TOUR will use Qualtrics’ XM, which includes Qualtric Social Connect and Qualtrics Customer and Employee XM products, to draw insights from how fans engage with digital platforms at tournaments and determine ways to improve the experience. This, in turn, will help meet the goal of cultivating new fans, as well, according to Travis Trembath, vice president fan engagement for PGA TOUR.
Improving the fan’s journey. “There are several stages in a tournament attendee’s journey, each which can make or break someone’s overall experience — from parking, to food and beverage, to restrooms and venue sight lines,” said Trembath. “Our goal is to improve all aspects to provide fans a best-in-class experience from start to finish.”
The journey also includes different levels of engagement through digital experience (DX) touchpoints. For instance, some fans use the PGA TOUR app while on-the-go to check scores and tournament news. Other fans want a more engaged DX that complements a tour telecast on a second screen. And there are also fans who seek out stats and other content relating to fantasy sports and betting.
“The partnership with Qualtrics will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of fan preferences across all of these channels and allow us to begin to optimize the experience on our existing platforms for different types of fans that consume the tour in different ways,” Trembath said.
Feedback front and center. What will fuel the transformation? Feedback from fans. The tour already sends surveys to ticket buyers and a fan panel following an event. They also use social media listening tools. PGA TOUR will use the XM products to build out holistic fan profiles to make the feedback, and eventual improvements, more comprehensive.
“One potential outcome of getting closer to our fans is that we may very well uncover new ways to engage fans that we had not previously contemplated or implemented,” said Trembath.
For current touchpoints, insights from customer preferences will inform the kind of content this is produced and distributed on digital channels.
“We understand our fans are looking for more immersive on and offline experiences; they want more behind-the-scenes access and content from our world-class athletes,” Trembath explained. “Qualtrics XM products will allow us to dig deeper and use a more systematic approach to learning about our fans’ preferences and experiences, and enable us to connect the dots to build more holistic profiles of our fans’ behaviors across multiple touchpoints.”
Implementing Qualtrics XM. “The initial rollout will be focused on identifying macro insights that can be used to improve the overall experience for fans around the world,” said Trembath.
As a phase two, PGA TOUR will integrate fan preferences into their first-party fan database, resulting in more personalized experiences.
“The Qualtrics platform will be complementary to our Adobe digital marketing products and AWS data and analytics tools, enhancing our overall capabilities when it comes to learning and engaging our fans,” Trembath said.
Timeline for rollout. Some Qualtrics XM elements will be deployed this fall, including collecting feedback from websites, apps and social media.
Real-time feedback through the Qualtrics XM platform will be incorporated into some tournaments in Q1 2023. The tour will use insights to make improvements to experience on-the-fly. Additionally, post-event feedback will be used to improve experience at specific annual tournaments the following year.
“As we uncover opportunities to improve the fan experience, we will act on them immediately,” said Trembath.
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Why we care. Golf tournaments have many of the same touchpoints as stadium sports, even if the golf course is a more open, outdoor venue. You have parking, ticketing, concessions and, of course, the game itself. With a lot of downtime between swings there’s also more opportunity for fans to consume content on a mobile device. So there is definitely a need to make sure that the experience is first rate. And who is a better authority on how to improve the experience than the fans themselves?
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.