Want to Learn Something New? 14 Skills You Can Pick Up By Watching YouTube

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YouTube, which initially became famous in the early aughts for its viral videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger,” continues to be a prime source of entertainment nearly two decades later. But it’s also so much more. The platform has evolved to become one of the internet’s best sources of free, accessible education, with tutorials dedicated to nearly every topic imaginable.

Whether you’re looking for a new hobby to get you through the winter or you’ve resolved to learn something new in 2024, YouTube has you covered. Here, we’ve compiled 14 skills — some practical, others fun, and many both — that you can learn online. 

Phone Photography

You don’t need a DSLR to capture amazing photos. Many smartphones have cameras comparable to the quality of traditional point-and-shoots and provide access to countless editing apps. In this video by Adobe Creative Cloud, photographer Chris Orwig covers photography fundamentals like composition and lighting and explains how to edit and share pics like a pro.  

Floral Arrangement

Flowers can brighten your home in the dark days of winter or bring a smile to a loved one’s face. Not only that, but they’re good for mental well-being, too. A 2018 study found that “adding flowers to indoor environments results in a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in stress,” per a press release from the Society of American Florists. 

While professional bouquets are lovely, making your own can be much more affordable and personal. Videos by Ashlyn Carter and Garden Answer explain how to create beautiful arrangements with store-bought blooms. When spring arrives, you can apply the same principles using homegrown flora. 

Coding

Computer programming, aka coding, is one of the most versatile and valuable skills to have in the 21st century, and it isn’t only reserved for computer engineers to make good use of. Knowing the basics of languages such as HTML and JavaScript can help you build and edit websites while beefing up your resume and honing your analytical and problem-solving skills online and off. The above video by Free Code Camp will get you started.

Drawing or Painting

Research suggests artistic activities, such as drawing and painting, can boost your mood, improve focus, reduce stress, and help you feel more hopeful about the future. And you don’t need to be innately talented to reap the benefits. No matter if you prefer cartoons or watercolors, realism or abstract, YouTube has a plethora of tutorials for all styles and experience levels, including these videos by Brad’s Art School and Allison Lyon Art.

Simple Home Repairs

If you own your home, knowing how to perform simple repairs can save you the hassle and cost of hiring a handyperson. And if you’re renting, it may help you to get your deposit back. Videos by Smart Fox and The Home Depot tackle various tasks, including how to unclog a sink, repair a hole or dent in the drywall, and clean a dryer vent. 

Self-Defense 

Hopefully, you’ll never be in a position where you need to defend yourself or someone else from harm. But if that time comes, being prepared will be crucial. Although in-person training is ideal, channels such as Self-Defense Tips and Tricks, Master Wong, Spy Briefing, and Active Self-Protection can equip you with the basics.  

Mixology

Impress your friends at your next holiday party or summer barbecue by learning to make the perfect cocktail. You probably already know how to make a simple gin and tonic or vodka cranberry, but crafting more complex drinks is equal parts art and science. In the above video, The Educated Barfly teaches how to make six of the most popular beverages. And this series by the Tipsy Bartender is a complete course — free for those who join the channel — with everything from an intro to alcohol to selecting the right garnish.  

CPR

CPR is another skill you hope you’ll never have to use, but it can save a life if the need for it arises. The reasonably simple technique can help restart the heart once it has stopped beating due to a medical emergency and should be performed while another person calls 911 and looks for an automated external defibrillator, according to Cleveland Clinic. The above video from the American Heart Association explains how to do hands-only CPR. Click here to find a certification class near you.

Fast Typing

Like knowing how to code, being a speedy typist can give you a major leg up at the office, helping you to be more productive and efficient (and expanding your skills for typist and data entry jobs). The average person can type around 40 words per minute, but pros like Dr. Ali Abdaal can do up to 156. Learn how he does it with techniques like correct hand positioning, keyboard shortcuts, and touch typing. His video channel also addresses productivity tips, side hustles, financial advice, and more.

Speaking a New Language

Language learning can broaden your horizons, helping you connect with people and cultures outside of your own. It also gives your brain a workout, and may help to improve memory, cognitive function, focus, and creativity, according to the University of the Potomac. Communicating with other speakers is usually a key part of the process, per the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but YouTube tutorials are a great place to start. For German, Spanish, French, and Chinese, check out Get Germanized, SpanishPod101, Learn French With Alexa, and ChineseClass101, respectively.  

Bonus 

You’ve probably already got a handle on fundamentals, such as caring for houseplants, managing your finances, cooking, or meditating. But if you feel like you could use a refresher, or want to strengthen your skills, YouTube can help with that, too. 

Repotting Houseplants

Houseplants aren’t just aesthetically pleasing; they can also improve the air quality of your home and enhance mood and productivity, among other perks. If yours are outgrowing their pots, rehoming them can help them flourish. Videos from Planterina and Pick Up Limes explain how to tell when it’s time to repot a plant, which varieties can handle tight quarters, and how to propagate new plants from cuttings.   

Personal Finance

Money management can seem intimidating, but it’s a crucial skill to have. Learning the basics, including budgeting, account allocation, and investing, can help you to avoid (or pay off) debt, prepare for emergencies, and meet your goals, whether that’s saving for a vacation, buying a home, retirement, or all of the above. Videos by Big Think and Practical Wisdom can help you start building financial literacy.  

Cooking

Cooking is a delicious way to flex your creativity and explore new cuisines. It’s also a great way to more affordably eat healthily or impress your significant other on date night. Whether you’re looking to master the basics or want to expand your repertoire, there are tons of videos on YouTube to suit every palate and skill level. See this video from Pro Home Cooks if you’re an absolute beginner. Then, check out channels like Basics With Babish and Everyday Food to learn how to make anything from chicken tikka masala to broccoli and chickpea parmesan.

Meditation

Research suggests meditation can be immensely beneficial for our emotional and mental health, helping to alleviate issues such as stress, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure while enhancing cognitive function. Achieving inner calm is simple for some but incredibly challenging for others. If the latter best describes you, try these videos by Therapy in a Nutshell, Yoga With Adriene, and Goodful.

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