Master-ing an Investment on My Creativity
Facebook Ads convinced me to try a MasterClass subscription and this is what happened.
Last November, I was coping with being unemployed during Covid times by scrolling down on social media (of course) and browsing on the internet to see potential opportunities to do something that I'm (decently) good at: Writing.
During those days, Facebook made sure to follow up on my searches and target ads for all kinds of writing competitions and freelancer-related platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Sadly, the algorithm was a bit slow with introducing me to Vocal, but I'm glad it worked out in the end!
One day, I saw an ad for a MasterClass subscription.
It was not the first time that I considered joining Masterclass. However, $200 is no small investment, especially during these times. Therefore, I didn't take the leap right away. It took me almost two months to make the decision. But, of course, from the moment I clicked on the ad, Facebook kept casually dropping MasterClass ads on my feed (and oh surprise, Instagram started doing it too!). For the next couple of weeks, I'd get 3-5 MasterClass ads on my Instagram feed while scrolling down.
Surprisingly, the ads for a MasterClass with “top-tier” writers were not what convinced me to get a subscription. There was something else...
At this point, I'm pretty sure that our phones listen to us. It's creepy! Here's an example:
My boyfriend is a musician and a composer (who also used to be a DJ). “Casually”, when the ads began showing up, we'd been talking about some of our favorite film score composers. If you hang around us long enough, you'll hear us talk tirelessly about John Williams (that man is a legend!), Hans Zimmer, James Horner, among many “masters of film scoring”.
But, of course, the algorithms already knew this!
So, on top of getting ads for lessons with top writers, I started running into ads for classes with film composers, like Dany Elfman and Hans Zimmer, and music producers and DJs like Dead Mau5 and Armin Van Buuren.
Still, that was not enough to tempt me. Trust me, I have an iron will for shopping (most of the time). My interest peaked when the ads on my social media were advertising a 2x1 membership. And guess what? It was only a few weeks before Christmas (when I didn't have a gift for my special someone yet, whoops). Well played, Mark Zuckerberg and David Rogier!
So, eventually the inevitable happened: Caching! Take my money.
The Question Everyone is Asking: Is MasterClass Worth It?
Before buying the subscription, I did my research and read several forum posts and reviews trying to answer this same question. Many of the answers that I found went along the lines of "No" and "Absolutely not". But, my answer is: YES! (depending on what you're looking for).
For many people, MasterClass is "overrated" as the classes are too superficial or not enlightening enough. One of the most comments that I found was: "the renowned 'teachers' may be masters at their craft, but they're not very good at teaching". However, I have to say for me the experience has been quite different.
This is what I've gotten from my subscription so far:
1. Personal experiences (+ practical tips)
Aside from the speakers being famous, they're able to present real life (documented) examples of what they are preaching, which I think it's important. They also usually give useful tips supported by some of their work. However, more than the practical advice, the (very relatable) anecdotes were what I loved and learned from the most!
I think how useful you'll find the classes depends on the specific areas and classes which you're interested in. And, of course, on the speakers. Everyone is different! Also, each person's expectations while approaching the platform. For example, mine was to have some passive learning to get me inspired. If you're expecting to have a mind-blowing, personalized experience, this is probably not the best way.
2. A good deal (on the subscription)
In the end, what convinced me to buy the subscription was the 2x1 promo. I probably wouldn't have gotten in just for myself. However, knowing that someone else can use it as a way to boost their own creativity made it more appealing and "acceptable" to make the investment (that's the beauty of marketing right?).
If you think about it, $100 is still a lot. However, the value depends on what you make out of it. The membership lasts a year and provides unlimited access to all the classes available online. If you subscribe and then spend your year watching only one or two courses, it's expensive. If you use it as a tool to explore different, fun interests (i.e singing, writing, magic, cooking, cocktail-making, etc) it will surely pay off!
3. Quality time (+ creative time)
Having a 2x1 membership also meant that both my partner and I can dedicate time to learn about the things we're individually passionate about. We live together, so technically it wouldn't have been necessary for us to have two different accounts. But, our arrangement allows us to learn separately while hanging out together. I've found this is quite healthy for a relationship. Especially, since creativity can be a very personal thing!
We like sitting together, each watching some lessons for an hour or so. Then we come together to discuss what we found interesting (or not). In the process, I've learned very cool things about film music (especially about the Pirates of The Caribbean soundtrack, which I love!). And I've also gotten my SO into some very interesting rants about writing.
4. Passive learning (+ inspiring distraction)
Times in confinement are hard, especially when you're struggling with motivation to create. My goal while joining MasterClass, was to have a way to distract myself, while also having some 'productive' time. You know, to get some time off from watching one chick-flick and addictive series after another on Netflix. I wanted to watch something that had a creativity-boosting input! That's exactly what I got.
What I love about MasterClass, is that I can take each class in small doses. This way, I learn in a relaxed way, without feeling the pressure to take notes (of course you can do that) or grasp every single detail. This is, sort of, passive learning. I take my time watching MasterClasses, much like watching a documentary. For me, that's worth the investment.
My Two Favorites (So Far):
As Facebook knew very well, the first classes that I wanted to join were about writing.
By the way: Spoiler alert! Do you know what is the top writing tip from most famous writers? Write!
So, of course, my first MasterClass experience was with a world-renowned writer, but probably not one you'd expect. Any guesses? Well, my first writing class on the platform was with:
R.L. Stine on Writing for Young Audiences
Who, by the way, is quite genius (and I believe underrated):
When I was younger, his books and their show "Goosbumps" would TERRIFY me. My older sister had them all! She loved them and would read them in record time. Me, I'd just hide under my covers and try not to think about Slappy The Living Dummy.
I’m not usually one to read or write lots of horror stories (I’m too much of a chicken!), but something about R.L. Stine’s writing and his witty humor really resonated with me. I found his anecdotes and his remarks hilarious, and very enlightening! His imagination is impressive, and his honest and slightly irreverent view on writing is very refreshing.
He also has very practical tips for writing children's books and young adult fiction in particular, as well as writing and editing in general. His lessons are covered with examples and funny personal experiences. For example, (on editing and taking criticism):
"I'm married to my editor and she's a very tough editor. This is true! I once sent a manuscript to her for editing and it came back with two words at the top: psychotic ramblings."
I just chuckled again while writing that. No need to say, I enjoyed this class A LOT!
Robin Roberts on Effective and Authentic Communication
This is one of the classes that I'd say doesn't have so much practical advice as it has personal experience. And yet, it was my favorite. For one reason, this woman is empowering and inspiring as heck!
As a fellow communicator (I majored in Strategic Communications), I already had some insights into the topic of journalism and communicating effectively. From the MasterClass itself, I picked up a few practical tips. However, the emotional content of each class was incredible. For example, this small but powerful phrase stayed with me:
"Make your mess your message."
Listening to her speaking about experiences like covering hurricane Catrina, battling breast cancer, or having a very emotional interview with Selma Blair about multiple sclerosis was truly emotive. By the end of each session (aside from being teary-eyed), I was empowered to follow my dreams and work for my career. That is equally (if not more) valuable than acquiring practical skills.
More Classes To Go!
I'm only three months into the membership, so I still have a lot to see and learn. Among the classes that I want to try are: singing with Alicia Keys, cooking with Gordon Ramsey, negotiation with Chris Voss, among many many others. I'll keep you posted!
My overall conclusion: A MasterClass subscription should be used as a tool to explore different areas, especially creative ones, that you don't know much about. If you're looking for expert knowledge or in-depth explanations it's probably not the best platform for you.
For myself, I can only say that joining MasterClass, along with writing at Vocal, has significantly improved my motivation for writing and my creativity!
Disclaimer: I do not work or write for MasterClass and I didn't receive any kind of compensation or payment for this article. This article was written for fun, as it was an unfinished entry for Vocal's "Add to Cart" Challenge.
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