In your opinion, how do free tutorials found on the internet compare to paid material?

In your opinion, how do free tutorials found on the internet compare to paid material?


There is a lot of good material offered for free on the internet, but the problem is finding them in the first place and filtering all the good stuff from the not so good.

For example, there are good stuff on youtube that is hard to find by merely typing keywords on the search field. Usually I find them by recommendation from other users.

So, how do paid material compare to freely available stuff? Is there a lot of advanced material that is available for purchase but not at all available for free?


These resources have to be evaluated case by case, both free or paid. I do use some paid courses if the reviews are really good, one reason is because they are often redone periodically to keep them relevant in the face of all the changes going on in the web development landscape. For example, I just finished a Wes Bos course on React. It was really excellent, and the entire series had just been updated for ES6 / Babel / JSX / Firebase etc…

So I think you have it right, go by recommendations of others, search for peer reviews, that is probably the most sane way to filter through the huge amount of material available. Just on a paid side note, I’ve been a long time Lynda subscriber and like a lot of their courses very much.


I find that it’s the opposite. The big names in professional tutorials - Lynda, Treehouse, CodeSchool - are geared towards beginners, and the bulk of their material ranges from entry level to intermediate, and their topics are very mainstream. PacktPub, Pluralsight, Udemy, and Tuts+ offer some material that’s not found anywhere else (even YouTube), but I find their quality tends to suffer. The range of topics that YouTube covers is unapproachable by any single organization, and there are some great teachers, but as you’ve found, there’s also a lot of outdated or poorly made material.

The big difference between the two, I think, is not so much in the individual videos, but the planning that goes into an entire course. What people want when they are looking for videos is for someone to hold their hand through unfamiliar concepts, and that’s much more difficult to do than most YouTubers realize (if they realize it at all). Professional learning sites have entire teams that take care of audio, lighting, planning, and editing, so they can scale their production into dozens of videos per topic.

If you’re struggling with a subject and you find that a site like Treehouse or Lynda has a video series on it, try the free trial. If you find it works for you, then it’s worth the money. The more general experience you have in development, the less you need the hand-holding and the more you can get from the low quality chaff on YouTube.


I’ll also add that I’ve seen a few people ask “Why no love for PHP?” or “What about Wordpress?”

I used to earn my living off of Wordpress, and if you want to get into that, Treehouse is the way to go. There’s nothing free that even compares. I’ve paid more money for Udemy courses that just simply paled in comparison.

I don’t have an incredibly high opinion of Wordpress, but if you’re interested in it then the Treehouse Wordpress Development Track is on point. It’s well worth testing out the free trial.


@jgsimmerman thanks for the tip…