MasterClass Review – Is MasterClass Worth It?
I had to write a MasterClass review because, awhile ago, I saw a commercial saying some of my writing heroes, like Malcolm Gladwell, would be teaching their art through an online course system called MasterClass.
Wait, what? Really? After quickly checking it out, I found that it wasn’t just famous writers, but many famous people in their art, teaching on this online platform and all for what seemed like an affordable price.
This drove me to ask what exactly is MasterClass and is MasterClass worth it?
After trying it out, I created this MasterClass review. There are a lot of great things about MasterClass, but there are also a couple letdowns that I want you to know about before you decide about getting it.
In this MasterClass review, you’ll learn:
Also, before we begin, I want to be upfront and let you know that the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase MasterClass, it would help me keep my coffee funds going but will not affect your price. Nor did this affect my decisions in this MasterClass review.
MasterClass is an online learning platform, created by David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen in 2015. It has quickly become the go-to online course system hosting the best in the industry as your teachers.
Unlike with most course creation platforms, not just anyone can create a MasterClass. To become an instructor, you must be a genuine A-List legend within your respective field making these some of the most epic online courses.
The quality of the wisdom and experience shared is matched by beautiful video and well-presented workbooks. MasterClass also has a twitter page and facebook page, so you can keep up to date with all their latest class releases and any of the stars’ Ask Me Anything sessions. More so, it looks like MasterClass will be expanding their offerings to things like Entrepreneurism and Politics very soon.
You can access Masterclass online, or on your phone or Apple TV by downloading the app. This last part, I didn’t know about until later. My wife and I were hooking up my laptop in a wonky way in order to watch it on our TV – whoops.
If you’d like to learn more abut Masterclass as a whole and their online courses, they have an incredibly easy to read FAQ section–or you can just keep reading this MasterClass review.
What MasterClass Classes Are Offered?
Check out this list of some of the star-studded teachers and the full list of MasterClasses available:
Writing taught by Multiple NYT Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell
Basketball Shooting, Ball Handling, and Scoring taught by NBA Championship Winner and MVP Stephen Curry
Comedy taught by multi-award-winning actor and comedian Judd Apatow
Filmmaking taught by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese
Acting taught by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren
Cooking taught by 16 Michelin Star recipient chef Gordon Ramsay
Screenwriting taught by Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin
Writing For Young Audiences taught by best-selling children’s author R. L. Stine
Writing taught by the world’s All-Time Best-selling author James Patterson
Writing taught by best-selling and award-winning author Judy Blume
Electronic Music Production taught by legendary award-winning DJ and producer deadmau5
Comedy taught by Oscar-winning comedian Steve Martin
Chess taught by Grandmaster Garry Kasparov
Film Making taught by Internationally renowned screenwriter and director Werner Herzog
Acting taught by BAFTA award-winning director and producer Samuel L. Jackson
Singing taught by Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Christina Aguilera
Filmmaking taught by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Lee
And so many more online classes. As a matter of fact, they are always coming out with more. Just recently they released Neil Gaiman and are now starting a new series of online classes focusing on Entrepreneurship and Leadership! People who have access to MasterClass.com will always get the new courses when they come out.
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Here’s what you can expect from taking MasterClass courses:
- High-quality video lessons from each course’s “Master” (an average of 24 lessons per MasterClass)
- Course notes containing the main points from the video, extra reading resources, and space to write down your own notes
- MasterClass community (Discussions where you can talk about the content of the MasterClass with fellow students, and share work and exercises with one another)
Previously, there was an option to take a free trial with MasterClass, but that is no longer available.
Instead, you can access MasterClass in one of two ways:
- You can purchase access to a single MasterClass for $90 with lifetime access to the class
- You can purchase an all-access pass for only $180, which grants unlimited access to all MasterClass classes
You can also gift someone a MasterClass course using a special option on their website.
There are many websites that talk about a MasterClass discount code or coupon, and the truth is MasterClass doesn’t offer any. When it first came out, they had discounts that were common, but no longer.
Instead, MasterClass will sometimes offer specials or discounts, but it is open to everyone when you arrive at their site, and it isn’t something you find a code for. In the past, they’ve done a sale where if you purchase it as a gift, you get $20 off.
Be sure to check it out:
The Best MasterClass Courses For Writers
There are a lot of great courses on MasterClass that aren’t specific to writing (like Serena Williams teaching tennis or Steven Martin teaching comedy). However, writing has always been my favorite topic. So, after grabbing a case of Red Bull and some snacks, I plopped down and decided to create a few individual MasterClass reviews I feel will be of interest to self-publishers. You can explore them in more detail below.
For each course, I’ve given a bit of info about the course instructor, selected a few of the lessons from the course syllabus, and highlighted why I think they are valuable for you as a Kindlepreneur reader. This isn’t a MasterClass review of all the writer courses out there, but does represent the best I’ve found.
James Patterson is one of the best-known names in American writing. He has written countless bestsellers, including the Alex Cross and Maximum Ride series, and publishes at a prolific rate.
In his MasterClass, James Patterson shares his insight into the process of writing, accompanied by countless priceless anecdotes from his life and career.
James Patterson MasterClass Lessons
This MasterClass consists of 22 lessons covering over 3 hours of video, as well as a workbook with extra material and assignments. You can submit drafts for critique by the class community.
Some of the most relevant and interesting lessons from James Patterson’s MasterClass include:
- Outlining. James Patterson is known for being a master outliner, which is part of the secret behind his prolific rate of publication. Here, James breaks down his personal outlining process and illustrates it with an outline from a bestselling novel he has never before shown anyone.
- Writing Suspense. James Patterson novels are known for being page-turners that keep the readers hooked. Here, James reveals his secret recipe for suspenseful writing.
- Book Titles and Covers. James reveals the top tips you need to keep in mind when choosing your book title and book cover.
- Working with a Co-Author. Two of Patterson’s collaborators help teach this lesson, which explains the secrets for successful co-authoring.
- Marketing The Patterson Way. Before James Patterson became a bestselling novelist, he was a top advertising executive. This perspective gives him unique book marketing insight you won’t find anywhere else.
Overall, I feel the James Patterson MasterClass is one of the most enjoyable and useful learning experiences I’ve ever had. I feel like I have a good sense of Patterson’s personality, and I learned some writing tips I’ve never heard mentioned anywhere else. It’s an absolute gem of a course.
Margaret Atwood – Creative Writing
Margaret Atwood is truly a living legend in the world of fiction. She has never been more famous due to the runaway success of the TV adaptation of one of her best-known works, The Handmaid’s Tale.
She is known for writing gripping dystopian fiction that packs a powerful message.
Margaret Atwood MasterClass Selected Lessons
Her MasterClass is taught in over 20 video lessons. Students also receive a workbook with extra material. Students can upload videos to the class community to receive critiques. Margaret Atwood herself will also critique some lucky students!
Some of the most enticing lessons from Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass syllabus include:
- Structuring Your Novel. Layered Narratives and Other Variations. In this lesson, Atwood uses real stories, both her own and others, to explain the various ways a novel can be structured. Choosing the right structure is a real struggle for many writers, so this lesson alone makes her course worth taking.
- Creating Compelling Characters. A valuable lesson for every fiction writer out there. It explores how to make characters memorable and vivid, and explains how gender impacts character creation.
- Speculative Fiction Case Study. The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood uses her most famous novel as an illustration for her own process of researching and getting inspiration for a speculative fiction project.
- Research and Historical Accuracy. Research can make or break any book project. This is a unique chance to learn the exact research process used by one of the most successful writers out there.
- The Business of Being a Writer. Sure to be of interest to you as a Kindlepreneur reader, Atwood explains the business aspects of writing, such as finding an agent, how she deals with criticism, and negative reviews.
Margaret Atwood is truly one of the most respected names in literature. The fact that she is teaching a new MasterClass is a testament to the quality and power of the MasterClass brand. I’m confident fiction writers in particular, as well as all writers in general, will find a lot to love in Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass.
Malcolm Gladwell Review – Writing
Malcolm Gladwell is one of the bestselling and most respected nonfiction writers of recent years.
Gladwell is known for distilling very complex concepts down into a more understandable form. Many of the concepts he has popularized, such as “10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery”, have sunk into the popular imagination.
Malcolm Gladwell MasterClass Review Selected Lessons
Malcolm Gladwell teaches his MasterClass over 24 lessons, a workbook with recaps and assignments, and office hours where Malcolm will answer select questions that are posed by Master Class students.
Some of the lessons which really stood out to me from Malcolm’s MasterClass syllabus, and I’m sure you’ll love too, include:
- Developing the Story. This lesson teaches how Malcolm takes the initial seed of a story idea and develops it into something more, drawing upon the feedback of his family and friends in the process.
- Structuring Language. A technical look at punctuation and sentence length. Gladwell explains how these seemingly technical aspects of writing can be used to help readers understand difficult ideas.
- Tone and Voice. Malcolm explains how he matches his tone and voice to audience expectations, drawing upon examples from his own career to illustrate the techniques he shares.
- Titles. Here Malcolm explains how the primary purpose of a title is to grab a reader’s attention, and the best way to do this is by playing on their emotions.
- How to Read. Seeing as one of the major keys to being a great writer is to be a great reader, Malcolm Gladwell makes a point of sharing his personal strategies for reading intelligently in this MasterClass lesson.
Malcolm Gladwell’s status as a bestselling writer of nonfiction and respected journalist means this MasterClass will hold a special appeal for nonfiction writers, but I think any writer could learn a lot from his lessons.
Neil Gaiman MasterClass – Teaching the Art of Storytelling
Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass is a definite must-watch! He has won multiple awards for Horror and Science Fiction including the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stroker. Not to mention his Newbury and Carnegie medals. His most popular work by far is American Gods–a tale that throws caution and religion to the wind in a modern/ancient entanglement of rule.
Neil Gaiman MasterClass Selected Lessons
Gaiman’s MasterClass is conducted over a series of 19 individual lessons and comes with its own classwork full of great supplemental information.
Here are some of the lessons that I think are extremely valuable from his MasterClass.
- Short Fiction. When it comes to short fiction, you need to learn how to properly focus your scenes to achieve their maximum impact. Neil walks you through some techniques to help you do just that.
- Dialogue and Character. Ever had to slog through unrealistic dialogue in a story? Did the lines just seem unnatural and forced? Gaiman addresses these points to help get you on track to writing fluid dialogue to help move your story along.
- World Building. If you’ve ever read any of his stuff, then you know Neil Gaiman is one of the kings of world building. In this lesson, he shares with us his philosophy on settings, common pitfalls when creating them, and how to avoid those issues.
- Humor. How do you feel about “Sherbert Lemons” and “figgins”? These are two of Neil’s personal humor introduction techniques. These techniques, among others, will be introduced in this lesson.
- Dealing with Writer’s Block. While most of his lessons are involved with full story creation, he does tackle one of the biggest issues facing fiction authors today: Writer’s block. Learn some of the ways that he himself gets through these difficult times.
Now while any writer can get awesome value out of Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass, I would definitely recommend this to all the fiction writers out there. Neil has become a pillar of the modern fiction community, and it would behoove any aspiring legends to have a watch.
The above aren’t all the MasterClasses out there on writing, but these were my favorite so far. There are also courses by Aaron Sorkin (on Screenplay writing), Judy Blume, R.L. Stine, and David Baldacci!
MasterClass vs The Great Courses Review
I’ve often seen MasterClass compared to The Great Courses. And I can see why.
The Great Courses is another online course platform that provides high-level information–often college level–on particular subjects of interest.
Each platform has its own strengths. For example, one advantage The Great Courses has is that you actually access these trainings through your Audible subscription. Another is that The Great Courses tends to provide more theory when taking the course.
But… MasterClass still comes out on top for me.
MasterClass tends to be more engaging and brisk. Individual lessons can be as short as 5-25 minutes long. Now, you might think this is way too short. But it really isn’t. It’s condensed into what you actually need to know. MasterClass is able to grab hold of my interest and maintain it throughout the entire lesson.
Another edge Masterclass has is the instructors are actual individuals who have reached the pinnacles of success in their respective fields. While The Great Courses has amazing instructors–normally professors and other academics–MasterClass provides a unique opportunity to sit down with the legends those academics will study in the future.
So while a comparison can be made between MasterClass vs The Great Courses, MasterClass still comes out on top for me.
It wouldn’t be a proper MasterClass review without bringing up some of the things that it lacked. Here are the things I didn’t particularly like:
- While the people selected to lead the classes were all some of the best in the trade, many of them weren’t exactly great teachers. Hats off to the video editors in trying to make some of these as stellar as possible, but the level of actual teaching in certain classes was sometimes scarce.
- Don’t expect these to be very technical, but more strategic in nature. Think of them more like intensive Ted X talks with very famous people leading it.
- There is no free trial. I get that – considering that someone could sign up for the free trial and binge watch. However, I still like to see companies believe you’ll love their courses or service so much, that you wouldn’t even dare ask for your money back
- You can’t download the classes. I was hoping to watch one on a plane recently, but because of this, I couldn’t. UPDATE: You can now download classes for offline viewing using the MasterClass iOS app. I’m not currently aware of a similar opportunity for Android users.
Would this be enough to deter me? No, because the price is so cheap that I think all these negatives don’t outweigh the gains my wife and I got out of it.
See my Full Video Masterclass Review here
Here is my video MasterClass review showing you my thoughts and even taking you behind the scenes to see it in action.
MasterClass Review: Frequently Asked Questions
After reading this MasterClass review, you may still have a few questions. That’s why I’ve put together a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about MasterClass.
How long is a MasterClass?
This actually varies from class to class. But based on the MasterClasses that I’ve taken, the running time tends to be between 2-5 hours.
How long are MasterClass lessons?
The individual lessons themselves are relatively short with the longest being around 25 minutes. This makes MasterClass easy to digest and convenient. The length of the classes even allows you to catch one or two on a lunch break.
How fast do I have to complete the courses?
MasterClass is completely work at your own pace. This means you have unlimited time to complete a course that you’ve purchased. There’s no rush at all.
How can I download MasterClass videos?
You can’t download MasterClass videos straight from the internet. This helps to prevent pirated courses. You can however download them for offline viewing using their iOS app. Sorry, Team Android.
How can I get MasterClass for free?
You ever hear that saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch…”? Well, it’s true. You gotta pay for MasterClass. Unless you have it gifted to you.
How can I send MasterClass as a gift?
Every single class sign up page as the option to “Gift”.
What if MasterClass isn’t for me? How can I get a refund?
MasterClass actually offers a full money back refund for 30 days after purchase.
In preparing for this MasterClass review, I took different courses in writing and other subjects. I found that each course was different in its organization and feel. Some were very tactical in their approach, giving step-by-step actions (Wolfgang Puck’s comes to mind), while others were more theoretical and strategic in nature (Malcolm Gladwell).
At times, this varying style and level of detail was enjoyable. It was as if you entered into each class, not knowing exactly what to expect – but expecting that it would be mind-blowing to some degree. I also respect that through their different styles, it was reflective of the artist and how they wanted to approach their art and deliver their message. deadMau5 didn’t give you steps to creating music but more of the processes, thoughts, and struggle that he faces in delivering his music. Although I found some amazing information in the comments on required software and technical aspects, deadMau5 wasn’t there to talk technical. He was there to teach about his style of art.
But, there were times when I wished some creators would go deeper to show some “how-to” aspects to their art. At one point, R. L. Stine talked about how he researches and plans for a new book. I would have LOVED to see him actually put one of my old faves together. But no. Instead, we breezed over his process.
So, in the end of this MasterClass review, I can say that each class was absolutely worth watching and this makes the all-access pass worth it. It was incredible to have such a candid approach from true masters of their art. But MOST of these courses will not give you the tools to jump right up and implement the lessons if you’re a true beginner. Instead, most are more of a high-level discussion on the art.
So, is MasterClass worth it or better put, is Masterclass worth the money?
I’ve still got my annual subscription to the all-access pass of MasterClass, and my wife and I are planning to watch a couple more instead of a Netflix film. Next up, Gordon Ramsay’s Cooking and Space Exploration by Chris Hadfield and …because apparently, that’s how my wife and I do dates these days. That and a bottle of wine.
Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.