How to Choose the right Online School that suits your needs?
Why discuss how to choose the right online school for you? The luxury of having too many choices can sometimes be over whelming. Often what we need and what we want are quite different. Making the right choice can be an important decision when it comes to your career and financial considerations.
I recently wrote a post on Cake Decorating as a Profession or Hobby which has some of you ask me which class is good, which school should I join.
While I'd be happy to just take a name for you often the only person that knows what you need is you! You just not asking yourself the right questions. Some of you want to know?
- How to choose the right classes?
- Which online classes should I choose?
- Should I be spending money on online classes ? or should I go for hands on class.
- Can I afford to pay for online classes?
All these are excellent questions and I thought I'd share my thoughts on them.
Now a days, there are many many online courses available and we are spoiled for choices. Which also makes it very difficult to decide on which is good and which is more suitable for you.
My Online School Memberships
Recently I had the opportunity to subscribe to the memberships of three online schools. I wanted to check and see which I wanted and also share about them with you.
- One of those school was definitely not for me, they did have some good cake course but did not suit my profile in terms of the cakes I do and what I wanted to learn.
- The other is fairly new so there is still not enough material on there so there will be a lot I still won't find - like sugar flowers .
- The other was good and I really loved it but they were mostly cakes I do not do! It would be great for me on a personal note - wow it would be like watching cake porn - but the truth is I do not do as many novelty or gravity defying cakes so from the business perspective I'd really not be using it as much.
First - Do you need an online school or do you need individual cake course?
Let's talk about individual classes first.
When I started off I use to buy a lot of PDFs and books to learn from. Obviously because I do not have the option of taking classes from the experts I admire - they are so far away!!!
So far I have taken just one private cake class! And that had to do with sugar modelling. I learned so much !! I really did!!
It is true that you cannot replace the hands on you get in an actual class with a video class. I conduct classes myself and when I teach I can see that it does make a big difference.
BUT!! there are so many times when I am modeling I wish - If only I could see her do this one more time!! I kinda remember how she did it. I know it's in my head. I just need practice but I don't remember it fully! Did she do it left or up or down!! I can't remember?
Well that's where I find the online classes wins! You can watch the class over and over again and not be embarrassed to ask again. You can see the class and work in slow motion with the instructor until you get it! You not going to slow the rest of the class or feel terrible for being a slow learner.
Another important aspect of online classes is that they are more affordable.
I did spend a big amount on the one private class I attended!! Would you believe that with the money I spent on that one class I could have actually bought all my Craftsy Classes - And I mean all my 60 classes I have so far.
Well I have the maximum classes I own on Craftsy. I have liked almost all the classes I have taken so far. Some more, some less but I would not say that I have wasted my money on any of the classes I purchased.
The most important for me. I get to learn from the people I admire in the industry! The experts!!
Would I ever be able to be attend class and learn from the best like Nicholas Lodge, Alun Dunn, Collete Peters, Marina Sousa, Maggie Austin — for one not unless if I am in the same location as them and two - Boy would I be able to afford it??
Another thing I like about Craftsy is that their classes are so interactive. You can write to the instructor and ask them questions about the class. If you need any clarification or if you need to find a particular item the instructor is using. And you can see all the question and answers on the panel besides the class so sometime you do not need to ask - just read through the many there you probably will find the answer already.
So now that I have told you why I like Craftsy so much and also shared the number - here are some that I absolutely love.
Let's talk about Online School
A school is a great way to learn a lot at a much affordable price which I think is HUGE for a beginner. I say this from my own personal experience. I started off with Paul Bradford Sugarcraft School and I think it was the best money I ever spent for my career.
- I learned not just the basics on every cake but I also learned from one teacher.
- Paul has a way to doing things and that eventually defined my own methods and practices. I still roll fondant flipping it over my rolling pin like he does. I still use a knife instead of an exact-o knife to cut fondant. That was how I saw him do - and that's how I followed.
- As a beginner learning from one person was how I preferred to learn. Some like to have many teachers so they can then choose what they prefer.
Not one is better than the other.
I'm not saying - a school is better than just buying individual classes. I currently a membership with Paul Bradford School, Yeners Way Cake Art Tutorials, Sugar Ed Productions, Avalon Cake School and yet I have purchased close to 100 cake tutorials from online sources like Craftsy and others.
- Often I will buy an online class because I would love to learn from these specially talented cake artist. I think I have all online classes every sold by Alan Dunn, Nicholas Lodge, Faye Cahill, Zoe Clark, Jacqueline Butler. I admire their work and would love to be able to see how they achieve perfection that defines them.
- Another reason I buy an Online Class is if the technique is so unique to that individual cake decorator. Kasey Lackey has her own style of doing those special cakes
So let's talk about - How to choose the right online School for you ?
I'm mention this first because I know that a lot of you think this is the most important thing. Honestly - NO!
It's is an important aspect to look for but what's the point of paying for a cheap course if it does not do justice to your needs. I'd rather pay $9 instead of $5 if it gives me more learning opportunity. So don't just look for the price. Let's look at the bigger picture here.
The material covered in the cake course are an important aspect to consider
Home bakers and Small Bake Shops.
- We make cakes that are simple, affordable and can be put together in a couple of hours.
- I would love to make a cake that takes me thirty hours of cake decorating but I definitely don't have many customers that can pay me for thirty hours of cake decorating.
- Our customers are simple middle class customers that can afford good cakes at a decent price. And when I say decent price I don't mean cheap cake.
- I personally would not pay for thirty hours of cake decorating if I needed a race car cake for my son school birthday party. It would be hard for me to justify that budget. All birthdays have a budget and cake is not the only thing on that budget. Right?
- I need a wide range of cakes in my profile like birthday cakes for kids and adults, some special occasions cakes, some wedding cakes and some over the top cakes that can accommodate those special customers that are willing to pay a bit extra.
Hobby Bakers, Cake Boutiques
- We often have the choose the orders we want.
- Our customers are often those that will pay a bit extra for that - structure or those extra cake hours
- High profile cakes like gravity defying cakes and cake with structure are what we want to learn.
Techniques not Cakes
When you are choosing a course; it's very important to understand that you are learning not just an individual cake but rather a few techniques that you can apply to other cakes that you will do in future. So you are essentially learning beyond that cake course.
About the lessons and videos
You want to find a place that will tell you everything about your cakes, not just how to make the cake.
- Things like size of the cake,
- How many servings,
- What is the best type of cake to use (especially if it's a craved cake)
- Or what are the do and don't in terms of design; for example perishable filling and Royal Icing don't go on the same cake.
- This for a newbie is a huge advantage.
Last but not the least - Affordability - How to choose the right online School for you ?
In my previous post on cake decorating as a profession or hobby I did address this issue on why we should invest or spend for learning. I'm going to just copy a small section of that which seems to have got everybody's attention.
I personally believe spending money is often a perception of value we place on things.
We all have some money but where we invest in; is a choice we have to make. And that choice depends on the value we place on things. We spend on our kids education because their education is important. Right?
I believe if you choose to become a professional, it is your responsibility of educating your self for the profession.
Has anyone become a doctor or lawyer or teacher by simply deciding that they want to be in that profession? NO! There are no self taught doctors, lawyers etc.
We expect that they go and obtain a certain degree of knowledge and approval from the right authority before we can accept them as a professional. Right?
It's OK to start by self learning but at some point you have to realize that you need to get better. Practice makes perfect but you have to learn the right method before you can practice. You have to upgrade and go beyond only then can soar high.
Well, cake decorating is no different. Is it? Learning cake decorating is not an expensive education, you have courses that are as low as ten dollars a month to PDFs that are barely five dollars each. It’s a matter of giving importance to education.
And of course Resources
where do you find the right information - for these online schools? How do I know which one suits my needs? Well it's for you to decide but here's a few post where I have given you my thoughts on them
Here is my board on Pinterest - I have picked those Cake Tutorials I highly recommend from all online Schools and put them on one board. So you don't have to go hunting. I hope you find it useful. Pin the tutorials you like for later so you can have them on hand when you need to buy.
Disclaimer - The opinions and suggestions in this post are my own. You may or may not agree with my suggestions or view points and I respect that. Feel free to comment and let me know below. Thanks