Skillshare is a platform that provides educational videos for creatives, aspiring artists, designers, crafters, coders and more. I've been teaching on Skillshare since Jan 2020 and here's my profile page and the classes/courses I'm teaching (affiliate link). I teach pen, ink and watercolour sketching, and some digital art classes.
You can think of Skillshare as Netflix where people can get access to streaming videos for a monthly fee, except all the videos are instructional videos.
There are many students on Skillshare. Do a search on any subject on Skillshare and have a look yourself.
At the time of this article, the monthly subscription fee is US$19, or US$99 per year (which is around US$8.25). It's actually quite a good deal because there are some really good quality classes available on Skillshare.
There are many qualified teachers on Skillshare. Some are pretty big Youtube creators, such as Marques Brownlee, Dan Mace, Jessica Kobeissi, Ali Abdaal and more. Some of the Youtube creators I follow who are on Skillshare are James Richard and Arleesha Yetzer and Iva Mikles.
How are Skillshare teachers paid?
Skillshare teachers are paid by the minutes of videos watched by students. Payout is around US$0.05 to $0.10 per minute.
For example, a class with 1,000 minutes watch time should earn US$50 to $100. While the amount is not much and certainly cannot replace your full-time job, the earnings are considered passive income. Once you have created and uploaded your class, Skillshare will market it to the students on the platform. There's no additional effort required on your part to do any marketing except to answer some of your students' questions occasionally.
The other way to earn through Skillshare is through student referrals. For each student that signs up for the Skillshare subscription plan using your affiliate link, you'll earn $10 (one time payment). Noticed the affiliate link I mentioned in the first paragraph? That's my affiliate link so I'll earn $10 if you actually subscribe to Skillshare using that link: https://www.skillshare.com/r/profile/Teoh-Yi-Chie/599814696
The thing with affiliate marketing is, the moment you stop, your earnings also stop. Earning passive income through your courses is still the better option.
How much can Skillshare teachers earn?
Let's use the drawing course from the screenshot above as an example.
That 59-min long course has 83015 students. If the students watch every minute of the course, the total watch time is 4.8 million minutes. And the lifetime earnings for that single course would be around US$240,000 to $480,000. That class was published three years ago. After doing some math, the course is earning at least $6000 per month for the past three years. That's the potential of how much a popular class can make.
What if your course has less students?
Let's take a look at, ahem, my courses.
The 37-min course on creating watercolour swatches only has 45 students. Assuming the students watch every minute of the course, the total watch time is 1,665 minutes which translates to earnings of US$83 - $166. It's certainly not much. But considering I took just one day to create that course, it's not bad. However, since that class is always on Skillshare, it's going to continue to earn me money in the future as the course attracts more students.
By the way, if I upload that 37-minute course on my Youtube channel, I only earn $1 for every 1,000 views. If it's watched 5,000 times, I only earn $5.
At the time of writing this article, I have 15 courses on Skillshare. Popularity of the courses vary significantly. My most popular course on urban sketching has 900+ students while my least popular one has 40+ (currently anyway).
How easy is it to earn money on Skillshare?
The tough part is fighting the procrastination of creating the course. You have to come up with an idea of what you want to teach, plan your course syllabus, do the filming, edit the videos, write your class description, provide downloadable resources or reference photos. Creating an online course requires a lot of work. That's why fighting procrastination is the toughest part.
You'll also need to have basic knowledge of recording videos. You'll need to know the proper camera settings to use, what your want to show and how to record what you want to show. If you're a beginner, I highly recommend you practice making videos first by learning from the many free tutorials available on Youtube. Watch your own videos and see whether you like what you see, and think about how you can improve your videos. You don't want to spend so much time to create a video with low production value that make students drop out after a few minutes.
After you have created and uploaded your course on Skillshare, you'll earn money as long as there are students who take your course. That's the easy part.
How competitive is it on Skillshare?
Search for "drawing" on Skillshare and the long list of courses that appear can take you minutes to scroll to the bottom, that's if you can actually reach the bottom.
Because there's almost no barrier to entry, anyone can teach on Skillshare. Many people are lured by the possibility of making money that many low quality courses are starting to flood the platform, and this is a problem that will become bigger as Skillshare becomes more popular. Teachers who make great courses will have to compete with ever increasing competition, and it's going to get tougher as time goes by.
How to do well on Skillshare?
The strategy to do well on Skillshare is to create high quality courses that provide value to students, and to create such courses consistently. Helpful courses will get positive reviews from students which in turns lets Skillshare know which are the better courses to promote. By releasing courses consistently, you can build a following of students over time.
Once you have a huge following of students, each course you release will have a spike in watch time because that course will be watched by new and your past students. All past students will be notified by Skillshare whenever you release any new courses.
Skillshare pays teachers on the 16th of each month. I usually release my new course a few days after that. You can see the spike in the line chart above made possible by past students who watch my new course.
I've been using that strategy for the past year and it has been doing well for me. The chart above is my earnings with the actual numbers hidden. What you need to take away from the chart is the earnings in the more recent months are several times the first month when I got started.
So should you teach on Skillshare?
I highly recommend you try teaching on Skillshare especially if you're a professional artist because I'm sure you'll have a lot insight to offer, skills to teach.
You won't know whether you enjoy teaching, making courses, or earning money this way until you've tried it for yourself. You don't have to pay to upload courses on Skillshare. The only possible thing you can lose is the time you spend to create your course. There's a lot of upside and not many downsides.
Almost all my online income sources come from me asking myself "Why not try this for a while and see what happens". My blog now has 4,000 visitors a day and my Youtube channel has 240,000 subscribers. None of these would have happened if I was doing the same thing I've always been doing, which is just drawing.
If you want to learn more about teaching on Skillshare, just visit https://help.skillshare.com/hc/en-us
Counter argument for teaching on Skillshare
The money that's paid to teachers come from the student subscription pool. Skillshare takes a huge cut of the earnings which is understandable given that it's a company with employees to pay and servers to run.
If you prefer to earn all the money yourself without anyone else taking a cut, you can sell and market your courses on your own. I also sell some of my Skillshare courses on my gumroad page. The courses you upload to Skillshare are not exclusive. You can still upload them elsewhere either to sell or for other purposes, eg I release all my Skillshare courses to my patrons on my Patreon page.
Marketing your own courses is not easy. You'll have to find the buyers yourself. But if you do all the work yourself, you get to keep all the money. I've been doing internet marketing for almost a decade and I can tell you it's not easy to market your own product or services unless you are willing to buy Google, Facebook or Instagram ads. Personally, I prefer the hands-off approach where I just make the course and have Skillshare do the marketing. Being able to get access to Skillshare's huge pool of students is invaluable.
I don't mind doing internet marketing but I would rather spend my time making courses. Internet marketing is not a process that actually creates something.
Skillshare courses need to meet minimum quality standards
Skillshare values high quality courses. For courses that don't meet basic production standards, eg. low quality audio, the course can be removed by Skillshare and the teacher may get a strike. After three strikes, the teacher is out.
Unfortunately for me, a course of mine was removed due to having too much background noise. I actually thought the background noise was acceptable but Skillshare though otherwise. Anyway, it was a really old video of mine that I recorded when my old audio equipment wasn't that great which explains why the audio quality wasn't that good. So going forward, I always make an effort to have proper lighting and audio quality.