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​Free or discounted software and training courses – time to upskill?

​Free or discounted software and training courses – time to upskill?

almost 4 years ago

With Covid-19 currently forcing the nation to work from home, and many people being furloughed, there has never been a better time to either upskill on software/platforms that you currently use, or learn new skills that will put you at a great advantage going forwards.

However, it is also a time for reflection and planning; time to spend with loved ones, in person or virtually, and possibly the chance to enjoy a slower pace of life.  

We thought it might be a good idea, for those looking to develop their skills, to put together a list of free or discounted software and training courses. We’ve even dropped in a couple of free online tools we thought you might like to know about.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any more recommendations for free or discounted tools, software, training courses, games – please do send those our way.


Adobe Creative Cloud  

Adobe have been very generous in giving a payment holiday to all those who currently pay monthly (do get in touch with customer services who will happily do this for you), but the great thing is that you can still use the service, but not pay for it until the end of May 2020.

Adobe Substance Suite  

Adobe Substance Suite is Adobe’s own 3D software package. Sadly, Substance Suite is not part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. However, they are currently offering a 30-day free trial for those keen to explore it in full.


Affinity is a Professional Creative software. Very much like Adobe Creative Cloud, it offers a range of apps for the creative industry professionals and is currently the main competitor to the market leader – Adobe CC.  Due to the current crisis, Affinity is currently
offering a 90-day free trial for both Mac and Windows users of the whole suite, plus a further discount of 50% for anyone wishing to buy and keep the apps, which work across Mac, Windows PC and iPads.

Here at BTB, we also think they are great because they have pledged to hire more than 100 freelance creatives for work over this difficult time.  The offer ends on Monday, 20th of April. 

PhotoPea & other free photo editors  

People call it the ‘Free Online Photoshop’. PhotoPea is (completely free, but not ad-free) an online image editor, which has a suite of advanced tools available. It runs without plugins and can both read and save PSD files.  Apparently, according to TechRepublic, you can also run it on Chromebook as a Chrome app offline!

In addition to PhotoPea, there are of course plenty of other free options available, if you are keen to develop your photo editing skills and don’t want to pay for Adobe Photoshop. TechRadar has put together a list of the best free photo editors, which you can find here:


GoProof is a must-have online proofing tool designed for Adobe Creative Cloud documents, videos and more. Its deep integration with Adobe CC means you can instantly share work from your CC apps and receive feedback without leaving the app. GoProof allows teams to collaborate, review and approve work online. It is the future of creative collaboration and work approval! Try it for free for 28 days here:


Now this is a very handy tool for freelancers specifically! In this (normally) very busy world, this app is helping to make the life of freelancers a little easier.  It offers services from admin and invoicing, to networking. Even Sterling Bank has teamed up with these guys! It is effectively an end-to-end freelance hub where you can connect with other freelancers, ask and answer questions, grow your network, manage projects, and sort out your invoices. It also offers portfolio and proposal building services and, furthermore, it gives access to a variety of purpose-built tools and resources from project management, file storage and accounting.  

UnderPinned are currently offering their essential package for free until September 2020 to help the freelance community during these rather challenging times, which will also include services from their partners, including Digital Risk’s mental health hotline.  There’s no better time to sign up!

Online Training Courses 

Google Digital Garage 

Google Garage is offering a list of free modules and courses, from understanding basic code to how to promote your business through social media, video and content marketing.  It is worth noting that not all the courses on that site are created by Google, not are all of them free of charge but there are plenty of free courses to choose from.

Google Analytics Academy 

Google is also offering free online courses on Google Analytics – you can start with a beginner course and work your way up to advanced level. 


OpenClassrooms is a learning platform for those who are interested in gaining a degree or a diploma, but it is also very handy for people looking to develop skills in one area - for example JavaScript coding. Many of the courses are free of charge and cover topics from business coaching, design and development to marketing and project management.  All you need to do is sign up and explore the courses made available for free:

Facebook Blueprint  

Facebook Blueprint is a free online learning tool geared towards small business owners, but also for digital marketers, looking to further develop their knowledge of advertising and selling on Facebook and Instagram. There are a vast number of courses available from setting up Facebook ads, how to advertise on Instagram to order fulfilment using Commerce (a tool to set up your shop front and sell through Facebook and Instagram). All you need is your Facebook log-in details, to get access to those courses:  

Shopify Academy

Are you interested in learning more about Shopify and what you can achieve in Shopify? Shopify Academy is a free Shopify training platform, where you can discover more about the features of this ecommerce platform, how to design your online store, Facebook advertising, email marketing for ecommerce businesses and much more. You don’t need to have a Shopify store to take a course, but each of their courses is designed so that you can follow along with your own business (14-day free trial is available to follow along).

HubSpot Academy

Like Shopify, HubSpot have set up their own academy for people interested in learning more about how to best utilise HubSpot for sales and marketing. Simply put, HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales software with completely free CRM at its core. It offers a list of tools to help with blogging, SEO, email, marketing automation and much more. You can either build your website on HubSpot or integrate the software into your existing website. On HubSpot Academy you can learn everything from how to take your business online with HubSpot, the fundamentals of Ecommerce Marketing, SEO training course to a content strategy course, all free on HubSpot Academy:


Codecademy is a learning platform for people keen to learn code. They offer a basic subscription for free, which comes with 180 hours of content and includes both interactive lessons and daily tasks.


Skillshare is another brilliant online learning platform offering classes in design, photography, film and illustration. There is a list of free courses you can take, or you can opt for a premium access, which is ad-free and gives you access to a vast number of courses.

Skillshare are currently offering a 2-month free trial on the premium account when you sign up, which is normally around £7 per month. Their list of courses and tutorials include introduction to UX, surface pattern design, software training, photography and filmmaking courses and much more. A great opportunity to get learning with Skillshare! Digital Arts Online have pulled together a list of 13 of the best creative tutorials on Skillshare, which you can find here:

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