CreativeLive review: Is it worth it? My verdict

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Online courses provide an incredible opportunity for flexible, effective, and even life-changing learning—all at unbeatable value. CreativeLive is an online education platform focused on creatives. There are over 1500 classes taught by 650+ industry-leading experts. 

Plus, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CreativeLive has launched a new live video feed, available for free, to brighten your day with creative inspiration, demonstrations, and performances. 

Online learning has become increasingly popular in recent years—for very good reason. It’s simpler than ever to find a course tailored to your specific needs and priorities, whether you’re interested in hypnotherapy, curious about ancient philosophy, in need of a new technical skill, or are seeking a deeper purpose in life.

Whatever it is you’re hoping to learn, online classes provide meaningful access to unique learning opportunities. And all you need is an internet connection. 

If your interests lean to the creative side of things, I highly recommend trying CreativeLive, which focuses on creative skills such as writing, blogging, crafting, music, design, photography, video production, and more. There are also some great classes in the area of lifestyle and personal development.

In this review, I explain what CreativeLive offers, how it works, and how much it costs. Then, I review the pros and cons of CreativeLive and recommend my top 8 classes on this platform. Finally, I wrap up with an overview of the alternatives to CreativeLive, an FAQ section, and my verdict: Is CreativeLive worth it?

What is CreativeLive?

Founded in 2010 by Chase Jarvis and Craig Swanson, CreativeLive is an online learning platform focused especially on creative fields, as well as lifestyle and personal development. On CreativeLive, you can find classes in the following categories:

  • Photo & Video
  • Money & Life
  • Art & Design
  • Craft & Maker
  • Music & Audio

There are numerous excellent classes on photography—as you might expect, since founder Chase Jarvis is himself a photographer. CreativeLive also offers a lot of material on various arts, crafts, and design skills.

In addition, I’ve found some useful content on lifestyle, personal development, and personal finance: There are course offerings on managing a budget, overcoming self-doubt, launching a new business, developing resilience, and establishing new habits.

Who is CreativeLive for?

CreativeLive is, quite simply, meant for creative people from a variety of fields and backgrounds. It can be useful both for “upskilling” in your professional life or simply trying out a new hobby in your spare time.

Here’s a sample of just a few of things you can learn on CreativeLive:

  • Producing a podcast.
  • Taking unique and compelling photos.
  • Writing a book.
  • Starting a business.
  • Getting your finances in order.
  • Improving your health and wellness.
  • Getting the most out of your new camera.
  • Making a website.
  • Picking up or honing a creative skill such as papercraft or embroidery.
  • Learning to DJ.

This should give you an idea of the range of topics covered on the CreativeLive platform. In short, if you are an artist, writer, entrepreneur, creative professional, or avid hobbyist, you can almost certainly find something of value on here. 

CreativeLive classes can help you turn creativity into a habit, whether for personal or professional reasons. Above all, CreativeLive is intended for people hoping to foster their innate creativity and curiosity, and people looking to launch or expand a creative business.

How does CreativeLive work?

The interface is quite user-friendly. First, I would recommend checking out CLTV, the free live video feed that CreativeLive offers. This will give you a sense of the content and instructional style on this platform. 

CLTV is almost like a 24/7 virtual variety show. It features musical performances, cooking, and crafting segments, all filmed by experts so you can enjoy from the comfort and safety of your home. As of time of writing, due to the pandemic, CreativeLive is even streaming a ton of health and wellness classes for free!

I sometimes like to see what’s on the video feed as I sip my morning coffee or take my lunch break. Click here to check out what’s currently live on-air.

If a particular class catches your eye, then you have a few options for accessing it. Some classes are free—in which case, you’re in luck! Otherwise, you can either purchase an individual class with a one-time payment, or you can purchase a Creator Pass, which works on a subscription-based model to unlock access to 1500+ classes hosted on the platform. 

How much does CreativeLive cost?

As I’ve mentioned, some content is available 100% free. This free material includes some classes, CLTV, and the CreativeLive blog. In addition, there’s the DailyFocus app, which provides one short free photography lesson per day.

If you want access to a certain class (or to almost all of the classes hosted on the platform), then you have two basic paid options: a Creator Pass subscription, or a one-time fee for individual class. 

Creator Pass

You have the following two options for getting a Creator Pass: 

  • Monthly pass: billed $39 each month..
  • Annual pass: advertised at $299/year (billed annually; works out to almost $25/month), though at time of writing, the annual pass is on sale for $149/year (which works out to under $13/month).

Individual classes

How much does it cost to purchase an individual class? At the lower end, I’ve seen classes priced as low as $20. There are numerous classes offered at a price point between $20 and $40. 

In the middle range are classes from around $40 up to $100. Again, there are many classes offered in this price range. 

At the upper end, the ceiling on CreativeLive seems to be as high as ~$199 for an individual class (and these classes can sometimes be found on sale for around $100). The price of a course depends on how detailed and intensive the class is. 

If you are interested in taking multiple classes, you’re probably best off with the Creator Pass. 

My personal experience with CreativeLive

I have really enjoyed learning new skills and ideas on CreativeLive—I find that they have good variety available, and that the quality of instruction is consistently very high. In this section, I’ll outline the pros and cons of CreativeLive before getting into reviews of 8 specific classes.

Pros of CreativeLive

Here’s what I love about CreativeLive:

  • Access to free material: I love having free access to CLTV and being able to stream health and wellness classes for free on the platform.
  • Awesome courses on photography: There are many different classes to choose from, and you can find instructors who work in a variety of genres. CreativeLive is a fantastic platform for photography enthusiasts.
  • Quality of instruction: All of the instructors I’ve found on CreativeLive have been experts in their fields, as well as clear and engaging speakers. 
  • Attention to the business side of creative pursuits: CreativeLive does a great job of hosting classes attuned to running a creative business; finding work as an artist, writer, or freelancer; and managing your finances. If you’re hoping to make a living in a creative field, this is the platform for you.

Cons of CreativeLive

Here are some of the limitations to this platform:

  • Some fields have a more limited range of classes: This is true of just about any online learning platform, but it’s something to keep in mind. For instance, as of July 2020, there are only 2 classes available on embroidery. And while there are some classes on cake decorating, there’s not much on cooking (though there are some cooking lessons included in health/wellness classes). 
  • Limited/no interaction with instructors: Again, this is a drawback to most online classes—because each instructor has hundreds or even thousands of students, all taking the class at their own pace, it’s pretty impossible for them to hold “office hours” or give you personal feedback.

Individual CreativeLive class reviews

In this section, I’ll briefly describe my eight favorite classes I’ve taken on CreativeLive over the last few months.

8. Vanessa Van Edwards: “The Power of Happiness”

Vanessa Van Edwards from CreativeLive
Vanessa Van Edwards / CreativeLive

Lear the science behind happiness and how to apply these insights to your life.

“Vanessa is the BEST! She changed my life and I’m convinced that if everyone did this course, the world would be a better place in which to live.” – Angela, CreativeLive student

For something so fundamental, happiness often remains elusive and mysterious. Do you know what makes you happy? How do you know if your regular routines and habits are actually working for you and leading to a happier life? Many of us don’t know what truly drives us, or what can lead to a lasting sense of fulfillment or purpose. In this class, you’ll learn what the latest scientific research has to say about happiness and how much control we have over our own well-being. 

Vanessa Van Edwards has dedicated her life to deciphering human behavior and well-being. She’s in charge of a human behavior research lab called the Science of People. After years of research, and reviewing the results of hundreds of studies, Vanessa has developed proven techniques for applying new habits and principles to your life. This is a fantastic class to take if you want a deeper understanding of happiness and are hoping to boost your own mood and level of happiness.

Find out more here.

7. Alex Strohl: “Photography Critique”

Photography Critique with Alex Strohl / CreativeLive
Photography Critique with Alex Strohl / CreativeLive

Alex Strohl is an acclaimed adventure and landscape photographer. In this class, he gives in-depth critiques of selected adventure, landscape, and environment photographs. In essence, Alex invites you inside his mind and shows you how to see with his well-practiced eyes. From improving how you work in the field to enhancing your images with post-processing, Alex shares tips and techniques that will help you capture the most compelling image possible.

I really enjoyed seeing concrete examples and watching how Alex applied his advice to specific images. It’s one thing to be told something in theory, but another to see things in practice. If you’re an avid photographer, especially if you focus on landscape or adventure photography, I highly recommend checking out this class.

Find out more here.

6. Sue Bryce: “28 Days of Portrait Photography”

Portrait Photography by CreativeLive
Portrait Photography by CreativeLive

This class combines creative inspiration with concrete skills to help you take your portrait photography up a notch.

I don’t pretend to be an amazing photographer, but I’m always snapping photos of my friends, family, and pets, and I love trying out new techniques. Sue gave me some great new ideas, and also offered interesting perspective on the business side of photography. 

I think Sue’s class would be very useful to anyone looking to get into contemporary portrait photography. She walks you through running a photography business, setting prices, working with clients, and marketing effectively. In addition, she covers topics such as posing, setting your portrait subject at ease, and taking different kinds of portraits (from the corporate headshot, to the glamour shoot, to a mother/daughter portrait). 

Sue packs an amazing 85 lessons into 28 days, for a total of over 58 hours of class content.

Find out more here.

5. Neil Patel: “Driving Traffic to Your Online Business”

How can you ensure that your business stands out online? Are potential customers finding you via search engines, or are they somehow missing you?

The internet really has a life of its own, with millions of websites, online businesses, and digital ad campaigns competing for attention. It’s hard to stand out. That’s what Neil Patel’s class is all about.Neil can help you understand the mechanics of SEO, from keywords and page optimization to link building and more. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of managing your social media presence, affiliate marketing, and building a sales funnel.

Find out more here.

4. Vanessa Van Edwards: “Master Your People Skills”

Vanessa Van Edwards from CreativeLive
Vanessa Van Edwards / CreativeLive

Another fantastic class from Vanessa Van Edwards, this course is all about inspiring, influencing, and engaging with people more effectively. This class is applicable to almost any sphere, whether business, romance, or friendships. 

Vanessa guides you through fundamental communication skills that will help you foster deeper and more satisfying relationships with friends, partners, colleagues, and clients alike. You’ll learn how to make a better first impression, engage in small talk, capture an audience’s attention, and get along with just about anyone. 

If you’re someone who finds networking intimidating, dreads the thought of small talk, or feels uncomfortable when you’re in the limelight, this is a wonderful class to take.

Learn more here.

3. Ben Willmore: “Adobe Photoshop 101”

Adobe Photoshop 101 / CreativeLive

If you’re an avid photographer, you’re probably already familiar with Adobe® Photoshop®—but are you making the most of it? Ben’s class is a fantastic tutorial that will show you how much you can accomplish with this powerful software. 

The first several lessons cover fundamentals and walk you through the basics of using the interface. Ben shows you exactly what to do and demonstrates using real-world projects. 

I had a basic understanding of Photoshop® before taking this class, but I’m now much more adept at using it. I can merge multiple images to create a panorama, correct for over- or underexposure, remove dust spots, and so on.

Highly recommended if you’re new to Photoshop® and want to get up to speed quickly!

Find out more here.

2. Alex Blumberg: “Power Your Podcast with Storytelling”

Power Your Podcast with Alex Blumberg / CreativeLive
Power Your Podcast with Alex Blumberg / CreativeLive

I’m obsessed with podcasts. I listen to them while I’m cleaning, cooking, driving, and sometimes as I fall asleep at night. Creating your own podcast is simultaneously incredibly simple and incredibly challenging. As humans, we’re all natural storytellers. But sometimes it takes a little work to hone our stories to create a truly memorable podcast.

Alex Blumberg is a professional reporter and producer for This American Life, as well as a cohost of NPR’s Planet Money. He’s an expert at storytelling in the podcast format, and this class shares his expertise in a concrete, accessible way.

This class covers topics such as: preparing for an interview, the building blocks of a good story, and production techniques. With 21 lessons (over 10 hours of content) total, there’s a ton of information in this class, making it extremely good value. 

For me, this class has been most useful in figuring out effective podcast formats: How do I want to arrange and organize the elements of my story to captivate listeners? When and how should I create suspense? How can I put my interviewees at ease and foster a dynamic back-and-forth? How should I incorporate music or other sound effects?

So, if you’re interested in launching a podcast, or in trying something new with your current podcast, give this class a try.

Find out more here.

1. John Greengo: “The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners”

Photography Starter Kit for Beginners / CreativeLive

Rounding out my list of awesome CreativeLive classes: John Greengo’s introductory course for photographers. John is an award-winning photographer who specializes in outdoor and travel photography. In his 101-level class, he really has a knack for conveying information in straightforward terms. It’s the perfect class for anyone who’s figuring out how to use a new DSLR camera.

You’ll learn the fundamentals of using your DSLR and gain an understanding of how to manipulate shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, ISO, and more to achieve a particular result with your photos. In addition, John discusses photo composition and offers tips on shooting in poor lighting conditions.

Overall, it’s a excellent class for new photographers (and a good refresher for just about anyone)! There are 16 lessons (3 hours 5 minutes of content), which makes it go by pretty quick, so it’s great if you want an efficient, good-value primer on using your DSLR.

Find out more here.

CreativeLive Alternatives

At this point, you should have a good idea of whether CreativeLive fits your interests and goals. If you’re still unsure, here are a few alternative online platforms to consider:


I’m also a big fan of MasterClass, which brings in celebrity instructors like Gordon Ramsay, Natalie Portman, and Serena Williams to teach the skills for which they are so famous. MasterClasses are beautifully produced and highly engaging, as you can read about in our review of MasterClass. They have especially strong offerings in creative writing and cooking, so the platform is worth a look if those are your interests. 

In general, I would say that CreativeLive has more of a focus on concrete skills and techniques. CreativeLive classes also tend to contain more content, which is ideal if you want more in-depth instruction.


Skillshare is overall quite similar to CreativeLive in terms of the subject areas it covers: arts and crafts, design, photography, video production, podcasting, lifestyle, wellness, entrepreneurship, and so on. I like using Skillshare when there’s one very specific skill I want to learn, or if I want a quick blast of inspiration. Skillshare classes run on the shorter side, comprising maybe 10 video lessons, each 10 minutes in length.

Again, CreativeLive classes are often crammed with content; it’s not uncommon to find a CreativeLive class with over 10 (or even over 50) hours of material. So, take a look at Skillshare if you want quicker, shorter lessons on specific skills—but for more detailed instruction, I’d prefer CreativeLive.

Great Courses

Finally, Great Courses is best known for its college-style lecture courses in traditional disciplines such as History, Philosophy, and Math. But the Great Courses platform also hosts classes on better living, fine arts, and economics and finance. For instance, there are classes such as “How to Draw,” “How to Play Piano,” and “Fundamentals of Photography.” Read our review of Great Courses.

Every platform has its benefits and drawbacks, so take your time as you figure out which one suits your goals and priorities. 

Conclusion: Is CreativeLive worth it?

I am a big fan of CreativeLive and I especially appreciate how much free content they have made available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having immediate free access to classes on health and wellness, as well as a creative live feed has made this summer much brighter than it otherwise might have been!

I’ve had several great experiences taking full classes on CreativeLive and am always impressed by the quality of the instructors. 

Have we missed out on any of your favorite CreativeLive classes? Check out what’s on offer and let us know in the comments.

CreativeLive FAQs

Is CreativeLive free?

Some materials are available for free (some classes and the CLTV live stream). Most classes are available for purchase individually or via a Creator Pass subscription.

Does CreativeLive’s Creator Pass include access to everything? Or are there exclusions?

Due to agreements with a few CreativeLive instructors, there are a handful of exclusions to the CreatorPass: You can find the list of exclusions here.

What is CreativeLive’s refund policy?

You can find the policy here. In a nutshell, if you notify CreativeLive within 30 days that you are dissatisfied with a course, you can typically receive a refund. 

Can I download class materials?

What if I’m having issues streaming the live broadcast?

On the CreativeLive video player, you have the option of streaming in low bandwidth. See other possible solutions

Does CreativeLive have an app?

Yes, you can find the CreativeLive app here. For photographers, there is also the free DailyFocus app.

Written by Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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