5 Best Watercolor Classes On Skillshare

Finding The Best Watercolor Classes On Skillshare

If you search Skillshare for “watercolor”, there are 899 results at the time of writing this blog post!
watercolor1

 

 

filter watercolour classesThat’s a lot to sort through! You could narrow them down by which ones are free to take (31) compared to premium (868), how many are over an hour long (145) compared to less than 15 minutes (89). I’m not sure what watercoloring concept can be taught in under 15 minutes, but with classes being as short as 10 minutes on Skillshare, it’s possible to take a few classes in your lunch-break if that’s something you’d like to do! 🙂

If you want new classes, you can check out the 39 watercolor classes released this month, or just the 18 released this week!

 

Alternatively, you could go for the classes Skillshare ranks as best in their search results.

The top search-result class has 5,454 students and is only 10 minutes long. It’s actually a totally free class called “Watercolor: Basic Techniques” by Sandra Bowers.

watercolor-basic-techniques
Watercolor Basic Techniques

However, to get the most from Skillshare, you will probably want to access their premium catalogue, which makes up about 90% of all classes on the platform. Premium classes are ones that generate revenue for the teacher when they’re watched by premium members, which means they’re generally of better quality. Premium membership costs $96 per year, or $15 per month, but you can get two months for just 99 cents by following this link.

Some of the best longer, Premium watercolour classes on Skillshare are by Ana Victoria Calderon…

ana-victoria-calderon
Her beginners class is called, “Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner’s Level“. Clocking in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, and with nearly 20,000 students, this class should give you a really good foundation in painting with watercolours.

watercolor-techniques

Ana describes the class as teaching…

“both basic watercolor techniques and fun new ways to use your paints mixed with other mediums and house hold supplies, such as salt and bleach. I will give you an in depth look into my favorite art supplies and how to use them properly. Watercolor can be intimidating, but I promise I will make it easy and fun with these tips and tricks. You will be amazed with the results you can obtain with my simple direction!”

She must be doing a good job, because the reviews are excellent. Of 1,853 reviews, 1,839 are positive, a whopping 99.2%! Some feedback includes..

“As the title says, it has exercises for the beginner that I think are going to come on handy!” Enhoe Paola

 

This class is awesome. The teacher makes a detailed explanation of her amazing techniques and shares unique secrets! Can’t wait to see what else I can learn from her here :)” Elizabeth Martinez

 

“I wanted to get a fresh perspective of watercolor and I had always dismissed it. I liked the title of this class “Modern Watercolor”. I respect those who can paint landscapes but landscapes aren’t how I want to express myself. I loved the video production, the atmosphere in the instructors room, and the demeanor of the the instructor. Not only were the instructions clear but the projects were beautiful and doable. I couldn’t wait to get back to the next instruction. I can’t wait to take more classes from Ana. High quality class.” Danine Robertus

People seem to like the class project which is to, “paint a fun, starry night, galaxy  or universe watercolor painting using transparencies, gradients, detail, pulse, precision and mixed media“. One of the 413 submitted projects is this beautiful nebula…

watercolour-nebula
Watercolor Galaxy / Nebula project by Tina Trimble Belliston

Ana has other popular watercolouring classes on Skillshare, such as, “Watercolor and mixed media“, which is 2 hours 45 minutes long, with nearly 6,000 students and 470 positive reviews.

watercolor-mixed-mediaThis class shows you…

“how to achieve great results painting in negative space, using either your pulse and precision skills, or masking fluid, as well as techniques for using white paint (ink or acrylics) over you watercolors.

 

I also demonstrate a variety of paintings I have created and explain why and how I used certain techniques.

 

I addition, we will dive into experimental watercolor even more, using different mediums and household supplies, including masking fluid, acetone (nail polish remover), thick grain salt… to name a few!

 

By the end of this class you will be able to complete an AMAZING watercolor illustration, using the various techniques we have learned. You will also begin to train your watercolor brain to think in layers and sections.”

A third class by Ana is called “Watercolor textures” which lasts for 2 hours 3 minutes, with 5,630 students and 436 positive reviews…

watercolor-texturesIn this class, Ana teaches how to create…

“AMAZING watercolor paintings using these simple tools and applying them to your ideas and a final work of art in mind.

 

We begin by practicing our textures is this really fun activity I like to call texture swatches. Through this activity I will bring you into my creative process and experience how I come up with new ideas.

 

I will also show you examples of fantastic artists I admire and analyze how they apply textures into their works of art.

 

By the time we get to our final project you will be a pro at textures and will have the confidence to jump into a final illustration with full commitment. Our final project will be painting an animal and/or the environment surrounding it. I promise you’ll make something beautiful! :D”

Just to round out the top-5, Ana has a class called “A guide to watercolour paints and brands” at 3 hours 48 minutes, with 1,317 students and 68 positive reviews.
watercolor-paints-brands
In this class, Ana describes…

“a BUNCH of different watercolor sets I am eager to share with you today. We will compare and review different brands, including quality, vibrance, lightfastness, transparency level, grain, presentation and pricing. My goal is for you to discover new types of paints and figure out which is the best brand for you!

 

We will go over pan sets, watercolor tubes, liquid watercolors, metallics and even neons!

 

Your final project will be creating a watercolor guide of your own. The project gallery for this class will end up being an awesome library of every type of watercolors if we all work together 😀 So feel free to share information with the rest of the class, this will be a great place to go back to.”

 

Important notes and tips…

Note, in the past, Skillshare counted anyone who signed up for your class as a “student”, whether they were free students or premium students and it was easy to pad your student numbers. Now it’s much harder to inflate the student numbers because people have to watch half of a class to be counted as a student. So classes which are older may have higher student numbers than those which are newer. Also, classes which are longer will have fewer students than those which are shorter. That’s just something to bear in mind when choosing which classes to watch.

One thing Skillshare doesn’t do on the search results pages is show the reviews a class got. You can’t tell whether a class got a lot of positive reviews, a lot of negative ones, or a mix. Only when you visit a class landing page can you see the details.

Another way to narrow down which classes to watch is to consider using a tighter search term. Do you want to paint watercolor flowers, learn about different watercolor brushes, or get started with some easy watercolor projects? By including more keywords in your searches, you can get a smaller list of possible classes, but those classes will be more likely to teach exactly what you’d like to know.

One other tip is to consider taking a quick class by a teacher you’re interested in learning from, rather than start with a class over two hours long. If you enjoy learning from the teacher’s short class, then you can check out their profile for the other classes they teach. Similarly, if you don’t like a particular teacher, it’s better to find that out after a 10 minute class than a two hour marathon! 🙂 Sandra actually uses this technique from a teacher’s point of view. The “Watercolor: Basic Techniques” class is only 10-minutes long, but is actually taken from her “Watercolor Florals: Orchids” premium class which is 1 hour and 16 minutes long.  Sandra is effectively offering the first 10 minutes of that class for free, hoping that you’ll then take the premium class, which will earn her some revenue. By contrast, all of Ana’s classes are over 2 hours long, so there’s no way to take a quick class by her, although you could just watch the first ten minutes of any of her classes and see if you like them.

How To Get A Free Skillshare Account

How To Get A Free Skillshare Account

Watch our video describing, step-by-step, how to create a free account at Skillshare.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, they don’t publicise it much, but Skillshare have about 18,000 classes in total, of which about 1,500 are totally free to watch, all you have to do is get a free account.

When you go through the sign-up process, Skillshare will naturally offer you a premium account, where you get access to all 18,000 classes. However, if you stop the sign-up process at a specific point, you’ve created a free account and can take the free classes. In the video I also show you how to find the free classes.


Teachers on Skillshare can create “free access links” to their premium classes, which you can use with your free Skillshare account, so if you see a premium class you’d really like to take, it may be worth asking the teacher if you can have a free access link.

Alternatively, you can visit our Free Skillshare Classes group on Facebook where we post several free links each day to Skillshare premium classes.

Finally, you may also be interested in the different ways we found to get a Premium Skillshare account for free, or how to get access to premium classes for free. 🙂

Skillshare Review 2018. How Useful Is Skillshare?

It’s January 2018! We’ve been on Skillshare for almost two years, have taken many classes as students, and have taught dozens of our own classes. Here you can see when we joined…

Skillshare Welcome Email

 

 

We also run two of the most popular Facebook Groups dedicated to Skillshare on Facebook. (Feel free to join us at “Free, Premium Skillshare Classes” (promotions), “Skillshare Mastermind” (discussions), or both) 🙂

Skillshare Facebook Groups

In our Skillshare review for 2018, we look at whether a Skillshare membership makes sense from the point of view of a student and a teacher…

Not many people know you can get a 100% free Skillshare account by going through the signup process, but not entering credit card details (watch our walkthrough video, here). With the free account, you can take any of the thousands of free classes at Skillshare, and redeem free access links to premium classes given out by teachers.

Getting a free account may make sense to you, or you could take advantage of the current “3 months for 99c” offer to become an immediate premium member which unlocks access to the full catalogue of 18,000 classes on Skillshare.

Teachers can earn money publishing their classes at Skillshare, which can be as short at 10 minutes, providing they teach a skill. In return, teachers earn a share of the Skillshare royalty pool, which is equivalent to roughly 5 cents per premium minute. It’s a great way to get started teaching online.

Note, you don’t have to be a premium member to teach on Skillshare, so getting a free account would also let you start teaching on Skillshare.

My recommendation is to sign up, either as a free Skillshare member, or taking the premium trial for just 99c, and see if you like the platform as a student or a teacher.

Good luck! 🙂

PS, there are legitimate ways to get a free, premium Skillshare account. If you’re interested in those, click here.

Skillshare Premium Referrals… Over $1,000 Earned In 2017!

In 2016, Skillshare paid teachers per premium enrollment in their classes, which was effectively paying teachers about $1.50 per student up-front.

In 2017, Skillshare switched to paying teachers per minute watched, effectively paying teachers only what their classes were worth based on view-time.

(learn more about the changes to Skillshare in 2017, here. We also suggested ways to adapt to the payment change, here.).

The payment system change made sense, for Skillshare.

Unfortunately, Skillshare had “trained” its teachers to create short, bite-sized classes of about 20 minutes in length, with 10 minutes being the minimum.

A class which was 20 minutes long, could only generate 20 “premium minutes”, maximum. Skillshare estimated that they’d pay 5c to 10c per premium minute. For the first few months they struggled to pay 5c, which meant a 20-minute class would only earn one dollar, even if it was watched fully. Of course, not all classes were watched in full, so teachers of bite-sized classes were looking at a 50% pay-cut. In fact, earnings falls of 70% were reported in our Skillshare Mastermind Group.

So, back in January, I thought it may be a good idea to look at the other way you can earn money at Skillshare. You can refer people to Skillshare’s Premium Trial, and earn $10 for each person who starts the trial.

Unlike the royalties program, Skillshare actually made it easier to earn money via premium referrals. They changed the trial from, “3 months for $0.99”, to a 1-month free trial. Subsequently, they changed it again, to a 2-month free trial. Human psychology tells you that people are much more likely to start a free trial than one which charges them… even if the difference is only 99 cents!

We started to drive free traffic to the Skillshare premium referral program from different sources such as blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook group posts, Instagram posts and Twitter tweets.

Could we improve on the 7 referrals, and $70, we got in January?

Here’s the data…

Monthly premium referrals
Monthly premium referrals

As you can see, 7 referrals in January had jumped to 22 in April and May, and 21 in June. July has just finished, and we set a personal record of 23 referrals, worth $230.

By comparison, a premium member would have to watch 76 HOURS of our premium content to generate the same $230.

Referring people to the premium trial at Skillshare is, in our opinion, much easier than earnings premium minutes as a teacher.

Here’s a graph of how our royalty earnings shrank as our referral earnings grew…

Royalties vs Referral Earnings
Royalties vs Referral Earnings

If you’d like to know more about how the Skillshare Premium Referral program works, and our specific tactics for generating hundreds of dollars per month from referring new trial members using only free traffic, please watch our new Skillshare class. (you can get a 2-month free trial of premium which unlocks our class and the other 18,000 on the platform!)

Here’s the video intro from the class…

Update, Jan 2018:

We have just added up our total for premium referrals in 2017, and it came to 360 referrals worth $3,600. We have been paid for each month except December. Here’s the full breakdown…

premium referrals 2017

You can see how we’ve managed to double the level from the summer, which was roughly 20 per month, to about 40 per month currently. September was our record, with 54 premium referrals worth $540, or about 10,000 premium minutes!

We’ve just created a Skillshare review for 2018, looking at how useful Skillshare is to teachers and students in 2018.

Skillshare – New Teacher Bonus Changes

Skillshare New Teacher Bonus, Guaranteed Payment, Matched Bonus

Do you remember the Skillshare “New Teacher Bonus“? 

In 2016 someone wanting to teach at Skillshare could get a cash bonus of up to $200. All they had to do was create a new class in a specific category along with a few other minor requirements such as post a project in the “Teaching A Great Skillshare Class” class and provide a comment or piece of feedback on a fellow participant’s project in the same class. In addition to the cash prize, new teachers who met the conditions would also get a year of Skillshare Premium for free.

Since then the $200 cash bonus for specific categories was dropped and the reward became $100 cash across all categories. Skillshare then changed the bonus cash to a “guaranteed $100“, meaning they only “topped up” what you earned in your first month to a maximum of $100.

Other requirements were also added, such as referring a premium member and getting 10 premium signups in your new class. Finally, the requirement of being invited was added.
Many people were unhappy that a successful new teacher who earned $100 in their first month wouldn’t get a bonus under the “guaranteed $100” system.

The New “New Teacher Bonus”…

Skillshare New Teacher Bonus, Guaranteed Payment, Matched Bonus

Now it appears that the offer has been changed. Instead of a “guaranteed $100”, Skillshare will “match your royalties” up to $100…

Skillshare Match Royalty Bonus Rules

So, in the past, $5 would be “topped up” to $100, costing Skillshare $95. Now $5 will be “matched” by $5, saving Skillshare $90.

On the other hand, in the past, someone earning $100 or more in royalties would earn nothing extra from the “guarantee” offer, but would now get an extra $100 from the “match” offer, costing Skillshare an extra $100.

I think this probably saves Skillshare money overall. I can imagine many more people earn less than $50 in their first month, than those who earn more than $50, which is the point at which Skillshare would pay out more under the new system.
However, I do like the idea. It rewards those who do well and earn money, rather than preferentially rewarding those who earn less. It will also stop people who were cheating the system by earning $1 and getting it topped up to $100.

Non-Invite Offer

The “matched royalty bonus” described above is only for people who are invited. What if you’re not invited to teach on Skillshare?

Well, you could contact them and ask for an invite. 🙂

Alternatively, you could take part in the “non-invite offer”, known as the “VIP New Teacher Challenge”, which has similar requirements to fulfil, but instead of rewarding you with a “matched bonus payment”, you’d get a “year of premium” for free.

It seems that Skillshare have separated out the cash payment part of the original “New Teacher Bonus” from the bonus year of premium into two different offers. There’s now a “matched royalty bonus” offer, by invitation only, and a “free year of Premium” offer, which is open to everyone.

Thoughts…? Please leave a comment.

To join Skillshare and get 2 months-Premium for free, click here.

How To Watch Premium Skillshare Courses For Free

Discover several ways to watch premium Skillshare courses for free…

Watch the video version of this blog post here…

Skillshare: how to watch for free

I’ve been teaching on Skillshare for over a year, and run two of the most popular Skillshare-dedicated Facebook Groups, one for promotion of Skillshare classes using free access links and one for Skillshare-related discussions.

One question which sometimes comes up is, “how can I watch premium Skillshare courses for free“?

I’ve decided to tackle that question in this blog post. 🙂

First, let’s get some basic terminology sorted out.

There are “100% free” classes on Skillshare, which you only need a free account to watch. Roughly 10% of Skillshare’s catalogue are “100% free” classes, which means about 1,600 of the total 16,000 classes will be “100% free” to watch with a free account.

The remaining 90% are “premium” classes which usually require a premium membership to watch. Teachers only get paid for premium members watching their premium classes, which is why most of the Skillshare catalogue is premium. While it’s not as easy to watch premium classes for free, there are several ways to do it!

 

Look for “free access links”

Free access links are also known as free enrollment links and free coupons. For every premium course, the teacher has the option to create free access links and give them away. If you can get one of these links, you can watch a premium course with your free account.
Why would teachers give away free access to a premium course? Well, there are a few different reasons, but mainly it’s to build awareness of their content on Skillshare. To be successful on the platform, it’s necessary to build a “following” of people who want to know about your courses. One way to build that following is to offer free access to your class. If the person taking the class likes it enough, they may take a free trial of premium. Referring people to the premium free trial earns the teacher a $10 bounty, but also means that teacher will have someone likely to take their future premium classes.

Here’s an example of us offering free access to one of our premium Skillshare classes… (if you want to access the class, click here)

The best place to find fresh, free access links is probably our dedicated Skillshare promotional group on Facebook.

(There are other similar groups on Facebook, but most accept both Skillshare and Udemy free coupons. You’ll need to check before clicking the link that it leads to Skillshare if that’s the link you want).

If you want free access to a specific class, it may be worthwhile trying to contact the teacher online, via social media or their own website to get a link. If the teacher doesn’t know how to create a free link, send them to this page where we explain how to create a free link for a premium class. 🙂

Take up Skillshare’s offer of a “free trial of premium”

A premium trial lasts for two months and will unlock all 16,000 classes on the platform. While this is an easy way to access all classes, it’s not possible if you don’t have a credit card because the free trial requires you to input your card details. Note, unless you cancel your membership within the two months, you will be charged after the trial expires. To start a free trial and access all 16,000 Skillshare courses for 2-months, including all of ours, click here.

Look for “contests” and “challenges” run by Skillshare

Some of Skillshare’s contest offer a year of premium as a prize. In the past, qualifying for a year of premium was as simple as signing up for a free account and creating a class. Nowadays there are more restrictions, such as referring a premium member and getting your class watched for a specific number of premium minutes. However, as long as you track the requirements and complete them, this is a great way to get a whole year of premium membership for free.

Here’s where you can check the current contest and challenges.

Become a “Teacher’s Assistant”

If you’re willing to put in time and be helpful on the Skillshare website, you could apply to be a “Teacher’s Assistant”. The “TA” program at Skillshare comes with a complimentary premium membership.

“As a Skillshare TA, you’ll partner with Skillshare’s Community team to help make Skillshare the most engaging and rewarding place to learn. In exchange, you’ll get a free Premium Membership, special recognition as a TA, and first access to all the cool new things happening here at Skillshare.”

Here’s where you can apply to be a TA.

Grab a scholarship

Another option to access premium Skillshare classes for free, or at a reduced price, is to take advantage of the scholarships Skillshare offer. At the moment, there are three types of scholarships available.

The first is a pool of $100,000-worth of premium scholarships available in conjunction with Mailchimp, which presumably means Skillshare and Mailchimp together are offering 1,000 year-long premium accounts.

Eligibility:
– A small business owner, working at a small business or as a solopreneur. A small business is defined as having between 2 and 150 employees.
– First-time Skillshare premium member (you have never purchased a premium Skillshare membership before)
– 13 years of age or older
– Create a Skillshare account (email address only)

(apply)

The second is a student scholarship with a 50% price reduction.

“To celebrate 500,000 class enrollments, Skillshare is offering $500,000 in Scholarships to eligible students around the world.”

Eligibility:

Scholarships will be given out based on financial need and potential for making a creative impact on the world. Eligible students will receive a 50% discount on a year of Premium Membership with unlimited video access. Scholarships are awarded on the 1st of each month, and selected applicants will be notified via email.

(apply)

The third is a 1-year premium membership scholarship donated to students in need on a 1-for-1 basis.

“For every annual Premium Membership purchased, one is donated to students in need. If our Premium Membership is out of reach, apply for a one year scholarship.”

Eligibility:

– 13 years of age or older
– Create a Skillshare account (email address only)
– Needs financial assistance

(apply)

 

Summary

So there you go… that’s quite a few ways to watch either individual premium courses on Skillshare for free, or to get access to the whole 16,000+ database of Skillshare courses for a period of time. These methods are all totally legitimate and within Skillshare’s Terms of Service. We teach on Skillshare and do not condone any attempts to watch premium Skillshare content without the permission of the content creator and the Skillshare platform.

Skillshare Changes In 2017

Wow, there have been some enormous changes at Skillshare in the first weeks of 2017 which massively change the platform. Let’s look at them…

The Payment Model Change

Skillshare used to pay teachers “per premium enrollment”. When a premium member enrolled in a teacher’s premium class, that counted as one premium enrollment. The amount paid for a premium enrollment varied between $1 and $2,  but was usually around $1.50. Skillshare announced in December that they were going to change the model and start paying teachers based on “premium minutes” from January 1st. Any time spent by premium members watching premium classes would count as premium minutes. They stated that the expected payment would be between five and ten cents per premium minute.

On 16th February teachers got paid for the first time under the new model. A quick calculation showed that the earnings per premium minute (EPPM) was only 5.5 cents, at the bottom end of predictions. Based on self-reporting in our Skillshare Mastermind Facebook group of 2,000 teachers, most teachers saw a decline in the earnings of about half, with some reporting as much as an 85% loss, and only one reporting a gain.

While it’s possible that new students taking classes in January drove down the value of the EPPM, it seems unlikely that it will rebound enough to assuage the unhappiness of teachers who will have to adjust to a lower earning environment at Skillshare.

The “Enrollments” change

In addition to removing the concept of enrollments from the teachers payment calculation, Skillshare removed the actual “enroll” button from their UI completely. They first did this for premium members, who could simply start watching any part of any of the 14,000 classes in Skillshare’s catalogue without “enrolling”.

Confusion was caused when the “enroll for free” button also disappeared. Teachers were used to giving out free enrollment links for their premium classes to build their student numbers, and lots of people has free Skillshare accounts, which could take all the free classes on Skillshare (about 1,000 of the 14,000 classes on Skillshare are free classes), and could enroll in premium classes using free enrollment links.

Unfortunately, the current Skillshare system seems to be bugged. Anyone who is signed in with a free account and clicks on a free enrollment link for a premium class cannot take that class. However, a workaround has been found. If you click the free enrollment link whilst signed OUT of your free account, then log in after clicking the free enrollment link, it works and the class is added to the list of those you can watch with your free account.

The “Free Accounts” change

Skillshare announced that free accounts would no longer be able to post reviews, discussions or projects for any classes. Perhaps free accounts were being used to “game” the system and boost classes of unethical teachers, or perhaps this was just seen as giving free account holders more reasons to upgrade to premium.

The “Followers” change

In the past, when someone clicked the button to enroll in your class, they automatically became a follower of yours. This was important to teachers because several months ago Skillshare added the ability for teachers to email their followers collectively from the teacher’s profile page. However, this system of gaining followers changed with the removal of the buttons. For a short time, people who watched a few seconds of your class lessons automatically were added as new followers. Skillshare then added “follow” buttons to the class pages, and students will now only become a new follower if they click a follower button. While this puts the decision whether or not to follow a teacher in the hands of the students, it makes it much harder for new Skillshare teachers to build a following.

The new class "follow" button
The new class “follow” button

The “Student Count” change

Similar to the follower change, students who just start watching a lesson of your class are not immediately counted as a class student. Instead, it’s necessary for the person watching the class to take a specific, undisclosed, percentage before they’re counted in the total number of class students. One consequence of this is that it makes it much harder for teachers to reach the required 25 students per class for it to start to trend. However, it seems that Skillshare are moving away from trending as a discovery mechanic in favour of more personalised recommendations, so the impact of this change may not be as large as if it had been made a few months ago.

In the image, below, the newest classes are shown in reverse chronological order. The most recent dozen don’t have a student between them, and it’s only when you get to the 33rd most recent class where you find more than 5 students!

The most recent 12 classes have no students!
The most recent 12 classes have no students!

The “Category” change

Skillshare moved from having several categories, each with sub-categories, to just four main categories (Creative, Business, Technology and Lifestyle), with more sub-categories. Teachers now have to choose a category, a sub-category and up to seven skills (tags) when they create a class. While this change was seen as generally positive, some teachers were dismayed, such as those who create “Crafts” classes and now find them listed under “Lifestyle” as a sub-category when perhaps it should’ve been under “Creative”. Previously Crafts was a main category.

The New Category Structure, with Crafts under Lifestyle
The New Category Structure, with Crafts under Lifestyle

A lot of this information had to be deduced by teachers, until Skillshare published three blog posts in one day… the same day they paid teachers under the new system for the first time.

Skillshare Payment Model Changes. How To Adapt In 2017.

[February 2017, we have a new blog post discussing several further changes Skillshare have made in 2017]

[August 2017, read about how we are earning hundreds of dollars per month from the Skillshare Premium Referral Program, in addition to our class royalties]

In this blog post we’ll look at the current payment calculation, including why it was considered to be inadequate, the new earnings calculation, whether a teacher can expect to earn more or less in 2017, and a method I’ve created to maximise Skillshare earnings in 2017.

(for the video version of this class, please click here)

yourskillshareearnings-in2017

Skillshare Payment Model Bombshell

On December 15th 2016, Skillshare dropped a bombshell on its teachers. As from January 1st 2017, which was about two weeks away, the mechanism by which teachers payments are calculated would change. This announcement set off a huge amount of debate, discussion and conjecture in our Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group, as you can see from this activity chart..

Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group activity
Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group activity

 

First, let’s start with an earnings overview, for people who aren’t familiar with Skillshare.

Skillshare’s Current Payment Model

Skillshare operated on a membership model. In exchange for a monthly payment ($12/month, or $96/year), members are designated as “Premium” and can access all classes on the Skillshare site, currently numbering about 12,000, of which most are only available to Premium members.

Teachers create the classes, and are currently paid according to a revenue share split. Skillshare totals up the revenue from Premium members each month, retains 50% for staff costs, website costs, coding and marketing, and pays the rest to teachers. Individual teachers earn a percentage of the teacher royalty pool based on the number of premium enrollments in their premium classes in a month. For example, if Skillshare earned $200,000 from membership payments in a specific month, the payment to teachers would be $100,000. If there were 100,000 premium enrollments in premium classes in the month, each premium enrollment would be worth a dollar. A teacher who gained 1,000 premium enrollments in that month would earn $1,000.

Current Skillshare Payment Calculation
Current Skillshare Payment Calculation

 

While this system is quite simple, it’s not predictable. If we use the same example, but there were just 50,000 premium enrollments in the month, each premium enrollment would be worth $2, and each teacher would’ve earned double! It’s easy to see that potential teachers could be put off teaching on Skillshare due to the unpredictable payment system.

Why would Skillshare change this sytem?

Skillshare showcases new classes that “trend” well on highly visible pages within the website. They calculate which new classes are best using a trending algorithm which takes account of reviews, enrollments and project submissions for each class. Recently, Skillshare changed their trending algorithm quite dramatically (see our explanatory class, here), to take account of the percentage of students who complete a class. We called this the “Class Completion Modifier” (CCP). We believe that the old trending score is multiplied by the percentage of students completing the class to derive a new trending score. Skillshare haven’t publically revealed this information, but we’ve deduced it by recording how well classes with different attributes trend.

One consequence of changing the algorithm was that short classes are rewarded and long classes are penalised, due to it being much easier to complete a short class than a long one. With the minimum class length being 10-minutes, it was certain that teachers would switch to short classes, with the more enterprising ones creating a “series” of short classes to maximise their income from enrollments.

It’s likely that Skillshare saw the creation of a series of multiple short classes as a way of “gaming” their payment system. What’s interesting is how they reacted. They didn’t just increase the minimum class length to 20 or 30 minutes, they did something more dramatic.

How the new payment model works at Skillshare.

From Jan 1st 2017, Skillshare will still split the membership revenue pool with teachers, but teachers will earn based on “premium minutes watched” in the month, as a percentage of total premium minutes watched. So, the “per enrollment” payment is being replaced with a “per minute watched” payment. Whereas the old “per enrollment” payment was between $1 and $2, and averaged about $1.50, the guidance from Skillshare is that the “per minute watched” payment will be between $0.05 and $0.10 per premium minute. Skillshare say that the only way to opt-out of the new payment calculation is to email them to have your content removed from the site.

Skillshare payment calculation from Jan 1st 2017
Skillshare payment calculation from Jan 1st 2017

Will teachers earn less?

This is an interesting question, and it largely depends on what kind of classes the teacher was teaching, and how good they were.

  • Teachers who created poor classes, and accrue few “minutes watched”, will see their earnings tumble. While bad classes may have generated enrollments, they’re not as likely to generate many “minutes watched” before the student abandons the class. This group of teachers will likely lose most of their income under the new payment calculation.
  • Teachers who taught short classes (10-15 minutes) will earn less, because even if a premium member watches a class completely, and using $0.10 per premium minute for the calculation, a class under 15 minutes won’t earn the same as an old premium enrollment worth $1.50. Of course, not all students watch 100% of a class, so the actual earnings will be significantly less.
  • Teachers who put good, long classes on Skillshare may benefit. Under the old system, a 2-hour class would only earn $1.50 from a premium enrollment. However, under the new system, a 2-hour class watched to completion would earn 120 (minutes) * $0.10 (value per premium minute) = $12, an eight-fold increase.
Changing Payment Calculation
Changing Payment Calculation

 

Should I create long classes?

Teachers immediately started debating whether or not to create long classes, and, if so, how long? Are “bite-sized” classes dead now? There was talk of a “sweet spot”, where a class would be short enough to trend, but long enough to earn decent money. We don’t think the sweet spot exists. In fact, we called it the “sweet spot trap“. Why? Well, if a class is 30 minutes, it could be too long to trend well and too short to earn significant payment. Classes of 30-40 minutes could “fall between two stools” and neither trend well nor earn much money.

If you have a loyal, fanatical audience on Skillshare or social media, and rarely release classes, it’s possible that your audience would watch all of your new 40-minute class and it would therefore both trend and earn you some money. In that case, 40-minutes could be called a “sweet spot”, but we think most teachers probably don’t have the benefit of a large, loyal fanbase.

Bear in mind, if your students on Skillshare are used to receiving a certain type of class from you, whether that’s short, medium or long classes, live demonstrations or slide voice-overs, and if that’s your teaching style, you may not want to change, even if you earn less revenue after the payment model changes. By changing your teaching style or class length you may alienate existing students, and that will negatively impact your earnings.

The “Jupiter Model”.

In the few days since the announcement was made, we’ve read all the comments posted to our Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group, along with our experience of teaching on Skillshare for a year, and have come up with a model for class content organisation we think will do well in 2017. We called it the Jupiter Model.

The Jupiter Model
The Jupiter Model

How it works is that a teacher would create multiple short classes teaching specific skills, such as explaining which watercolouring brushes to use, or how to set up a canvas. These short, 10-minute classes, would trend well and gain students who would then be encouraged to take a much longer (2 hour), “masterclass” on how to create the perfect watercolour from scratch. In this manner, the teacher would have one main, long, money-making class (Jupiter) and many short, specific classes (moons) driving traffic to the main class. The main class wouldn’t trend well, due to its length, but that would be OK because students would find it via the multiple small classes which would trend well. The small classes wouldn’t earn much money individually, but that would be OK because they’d drive students to the money-making class. By creating both short and long classes, you’d optimise for the new payment method at Skillshare.

Quality is everything.

Of course, the Jupiter Model requires the short and long classes to be of top-quality. A student won’t watch the short classes unless they’re good, and they certainly won’t take the masterclass unless the short classes are of value to them. However, assuming that the teacher is offering quality classes, we believe the Jupiter Model is the best way for Skillshare teachers to organise their content under the present trending algorithm, and the upcoming payment calculation.

For Udemy Instructors

One repercussion of this change is that it will become much more attractive for Udemy instructors to put their courses on Skillshare. Generally, Udemy courses are much longer than Skillshare classes. Previously, Udemy instructors were either putting their full courses on Skillshare, but only earning $1.50 per student, or they were chopping up their courses into multiple Skillshare classes to earn a “fairer” payment for their work. As from January 1st, courses of multiple hours will be rewarded pro rata for minutes watched and therefore will be rewarded more fairly. There will likely be many experienced Udemy instructors beating a path to Skillshare in the New Year. However, they will still need to be able to get visibility for their classes on Skillshare, which is not easy, and long classes are unlikely to trend well.

Skillshare Earnings Data

Let’s talk numbers! (grab come coffee, and feel free to check my maths!)

Our new class currently has 72 premium students and 962 minutes watched.

Under the current system, 72 students are worth $108 (at $1.5 per premium enrollment).

Under the new system, 962 minutes watched are worth $96.20 at $0.10 per premium minute, a 12% loss. At $0.05, the minutes are only worth $48.10, which would be a huge loss.

Note:

1: The premium minutes are updated daily, so they may not reflect the 14 students who joined today, according to Skillshare’s timestamps. Deducting 14 from the 72 gives 58 students, worth $87 at $1.5 per premium enrollment, in which case $96.20 is actually a 10% gain. However, $48.10 would still be a huge loss!

2: Students may watch the class over the next few days or weeks, which would affect the “minutes watched”, but not the “enrollments”, so these numbers may be a little bit biased towards the enrollment earnings.

Conclusions:

I would guess this class has high engagement relative to others, but it looks like it will roughly match the old system for earnings under the best payment for premium minutes, and could be a lot worse if premium minutes are only worth $0.05.

Classes with lower engagement will do worse at $0.10, and considerably worse at $0.05. The only options to make more money are to…

1: carry the high engagement through longer classes, which risks those classes trending badly if they’re not watched to completion

2: use the “Jupiter Model” of multiple short classes feeding into a much longer one.

This data has resulted in some teachers speculating that anything from 75% to 90% of teachers will earn less under the new model. If that’s true, and the teachers are still paid 50% of the “royalty pool” collectively, it means the other 10% to 25% of teachers will do very, very well!

Frequently Asked Questions

Some teachers have questions about the new model, some of which have been answered, and some haven’t. I’ll reprint them here for your convenience:

Q1: What about playing classes back at 0.5x or 2x speed?

A1: Changing the playback speed will change the earnings. Someone playing back a class at 2x speed (double speed) will earn the teacher half of the “normal playback speed” minutes watched, and 0.5x will earn double the normal minutes.

Q2: Will “minutes watched” include viewing a class via the app, even after downloading it to view offline?

A2: Yes.

Q3: Will re-watching a class earn more “minutes viewed”?

A3: Unanswered. [update: the answer is yes] “If a student were to re-watch your class multiple times, the additional minutes-watched would indeed be counted towards your payment.”

Q4: Will a premium student watching a free class count as “premium minutes”?

A4: Unanswered. [update: the answer is no] “Only minutes watched in Premium classes by students with a Premium Membership will count towards royalty payments. Minutes watched in a free class or by a free member through a free enrollment link will not count.”

Q5: Is there a minimum requirement for “minutes viewed” in a month to get paid?

A5: Yes, the minimum is 30 minutes, and it doesn’t carry over to subsequent months. You must gain over 30 minutes in a month to be paid.

Q6: When does the change to the teacher payments model happen?

A6: The new system begins Jan 1st 2017, and the first payment using the new calculation will happen on February 16th, for “premium minutes watched” in January.

Q7: Can you opt-out of the new payment model?

A7: You can email Skillshare and have your content removed from the site if you wish, otherwise you are deemed to have accepted the new payment calculation.

 

Source

Skillshare FAQ For Teachers And Students

(Last updated: April 2018)

Skillshare FAQ: If a premium member watches seven of my premium classes, do I get paid seven times?

You’d get paid for the amount of premium minutes the premium member watched in those seven classes.

Skillshare FAQ: If a premium member watches my class in June and again in July, would I get paid twice?

I believe that’s the case. You’d effectively get paid twice if a premium member re-watches a premium class of yours.

Skillshare FAQ: Do I get paid more for reviews, project or community participation?

Nope. None of those things currently play a part in your earnings, only the premium minutes generated by premium members watching premium classes.

Skillshare FAQ: How many students do I need before a class gets a trending score?

You need 25 students, free or Premium for a class to trend on the category pages at Skillshare.

Skillshare FAQ: Do I get paid for a premium member who enrolls via a free access link?

Nope, sorry. This was confirmed by Skillshare in a reply to a question posted during an “Ask Me Anything” session. (update, I don’t think this is the case. I think Premium members generate premium minutes, no matter how they arrive at a class. I haven’t had confirmation of this though)

Skillshare FAQ: How can I create a free access link for my premium class?

We’ve got a step-by-step walkthrough with images showing you how to create a free access link, here.

 

Skillshare FAQ: When do I get paid?

On the 16th of each month, for the Premium minutes generated in the previous month. To be precise, it’s usually morning-time in the USA, which is early afternoon in Europe. The minimum requirement for payment is 30 premium minutes, in total, across all your classes, in the previous month, which is about $1.50 in earnings. Skillshare only pay via PayPal, but have been very reliable.

Skillshare FAQ: Can I estimate my earnings?

Yes, if you take your headline “premium minutes” total for the month and multiply it by $0.05, you’ll have a rough idea of how much you’ll have earned in that month.

Skillshare FAQ: Where’s the “running total” for how much I’ve earned in a month?

There isn’t a “running total” for money, but there is for “premium minutes”. Skillshare pay out a percentage of their income to teachers each month, depending on how many premium minutes a teacher had, so they don’t know how much to pay out until they’ve done the calculations after the end of a month. The value of a premium minute changes each month.

Since they were introduced, the value of a premium minute has been…

Skillshare FAQ: How should I promote a new class? Is the “post an announcement” link different to making a new “Community” post?

When I launch a new class, I usually do a “post to all followers”, which sends an email to all of my followers.

However, if a class was specifically a follow-up to an existing class, say an “advanced” class for people who had taken the “basic” class, I’d announce it to only students of the basic class. I think making a post on the community tab is the same thing as clicking the “post an announcement” link. Both methods make a community post, and both allow you to also email the existing class students by ticking the “Email all students” box.

Skillshare FAQ: How can I change the class cover image?

You can change the class cover image used throughout Skillshare by uploading a new image for the first lesson…

Skillshare FAQ: Change class cover image
Skillshare FAQ: Change class cover image

 

Skillshare FAQ:  If I were to change any of the video lessons in a class, would that compromise my earnings on that course?

I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t think so. I’ve never heard of anyone mentioning any monetary discrepancies from changing video lessons.

Skillshare FAQ: What does the +sign at the front of your class student number mean? 

Skillshare FAQ: Student numbers
Skillshare FAQ: Student numbers

I think it means you know those people in the class somehow. Perhaps you’ve taken one of their classes, or they’ve taken one of yours, or you’ve both taken another class by the same teacher. I think it’s meant to highlight classes you are more likely to find interesting because you’ve got something in common with people who’ve taken it. The number is just the number of students in that class. 

Skillshare FAQ: Can I use the royalty free music from the YouTube Audio Library for Skillshare classes?

Some of the YouTube library tracks don’t require attribution. I think you can select those tracks and use them however you wish (but I’m not a lawyer, so that isn’t advice). 

Skillshare FAQ: Is there a way to add PDF files to a Skillshare class so free members can’t access them?

If you put it as an attachment in the class project only premium users will be able to download it.

Skillshare FAQ: Do I need to do a “talking head”, or is just a screen-cast and voice-over enough?

Personally, I don’t think you need a “talking head”. If your screencast + voiceover teaches the concepts well, the class will do well.

In my view, a “talking head” is more about connecting with the audience than it is an aid to teaching. That’s why I use the same “piece to camera” in the intro of our classes, to connect with the audience, but I don’t include a talking head in class content itself.

Skillshare FAQ: It appears I can review my own class! Is that allowed?

Yes, you can give your own class a “thumbs up”, and from what I remember (don’t accept it as the current Skillshare position!), at the time, Skillshare didn’t have a problem with it. Personally, I don’t see a problem with the teacher giving themselves a “thumbs up” if the system lets them… why wouldn’t they?

Skillshare FAQ: Is it worth publishing on Skillshare?

Skillshare is an easy platform to publish to. I’d suggest testing your class by posting it on Skillshare initially and getting some feedback. There’s nothing stopping you also posting it to Udemy, and selling it from your own website too. As you take your online business more seriously, you should start to view other platforms as sources of exposure and traffic to your own website (and email list), rather than sources of income.

Skillshare FAQ: How fast I should launch classes? What’s the optimum spacing between classes, to avoid saturating your audience?

There are a lot of variables involved in answering this question. How long are your classes? How hard are the projects to complete? My general answer would be that one class per week would be the “sweet spot” between keeping your audience engaged without overwhelming them.

Skillshare FAQ: What’s the difference between students and followers?

Students are specific to classes, followers are specific to teachers. You can have 200 students in a class, but only 100 followers if only 50% of your students have clicked to “follow” you. If you want to contact people, you can either email all your followers at once, or email specific class students by doing a class announcement.

 

Skillshare FAQ: What are the demographics of Skillshare’s audience?

Skillshare haven’t ever said much about their audience demographics, as far as I’m aware. However, Mike Karnjanaprakorn, Skillshare co-founder, has said that, “millennials make up the vast majority of our users, with younger millennials between 18-24 making up our fastest growing demographic.” (forbes website article). Apart from that, we can only go from our experience of teaching and running the largest Skillshare-dedicated Facebook discussion and promotion groups, that Skillshare’s audience is generally young (confirmed), generally female, generally into arts / crafts / design, generally trendy, generally USA-based and probably relatively affluent.

Skillshare FAQ: How can I earn money referring people to Skillshare?

There are two ways to earn $10 referring new premium trial members to Skillshare.

As a non-teacher, you can use the ImpactRadius affiliate program and a free Skillshare account. As a teacher, you have to use your own teacher-specific referral links. We teach on Skillshare, so can’t use the ImpactRadius program, hence we can’t explain that any further. We’ve created a class about how to use the three different types of referral links that teachers can use, and you can watch that class here. (It’s a premium class. If you’re not a premium member, you can start a trial to watch the class immediately. Yes, that’s an example of a referral link! 🙂 )

Skillshare FAQ: I have video uploading problems. What can I do?

Sometimes the file uploader can be a bit tricky. Simple solutions to uploading problems are… 1: upload one file at a time, not multiple simultaneous uploads. 2: Use something like Handbrake to reduce the file size. If the problem persists, wait a few hours and it may magically fix itself!

Skillshare FAQ: Am I allowed to put my Skillshare class on other teaching sites?

Anything you put on Skillshare as “premium” content can’t be shared freely elsewhere, but can be sold elsewhere. Note, the introductory video of a class isn’t regarded as premium, so that one introductory video can be put on other sites to promote the class.

Skillshare FAQ: Can I watch Skillshare classes in lower quality than HD?

I think you can download classes using the mobile app, then watch them later. I don’t think you can change the quality though…

Skillshare FAQ: Does Skillshare usually run promos?

Yes, Skillshare often run promos. There was a January promo (3 months for free), the current promo (two months for 99c), and there was a 24-hour Valentine’s promo a few days back (25% off an annual membership).

I’d suggest signing up for a free account, then you’ll be able to take the 1,500 free classes at Skillshare and any classes you can find “free access links” for. You’ll also get email from Skillshare with notifications of promos.

Some people get confused over how to create a free account without taking a trial of Premium. I made this quick video showing how to get a free Skillshare account, and another showing you how to watch premium classes for free.

Skillshare FAQ: I’m struggling as a new teacher. How can I get more students and premium minutes for my 2-hour course?

Skillshare has a unique student demographic online. If you want maximum leverage from the platform’s audience, it’s important to play to its strengths, which are the topics of arts, crafts, design and photography.

If you don’t have classes which are favoured by students, you’ll have to initially bring in an external audience from your own website, email lists, social media presence etc.

It’s very important for a class to get to 25 students, because at that point it appears on the category trending pages and is exposed to the full Skillshare audience.

Skillshare needs frequent content because they bill monthly, so they’re “geared up” to reward teachers who produce classes regularly. For example, some of your students will become followers whom you can email about your new classes, so reaching 25 students with each new class should become easier.

I’d suggest trying to create a few short classes (10-15 minutes) on different aspects of your class topic and mention your main class at the end of each short class.

Skillshare FAQ: I’m posting free coupons to Facebook Groups, but not seeing much benefit, why?

Posting free coupons isn’t something you post once and forget about. You need people to be interested enough in your class topic to want to redeem a coupon. The more niche your class topic is, the less likely someone is to see it and want to take it. For that reason, I’d suggest re-posting your coupons, at least until your class reaches 25 students.

 

 

For many more Skillshare “Frequently Asked Questions”, see the “Unofficial Skillshare Success Blueprint“.

Skillshare New Trending Algorithm Test August 2016

On Monday, 22nd August 2016 Skillshare updated their “trending algorithm”.

By default classes are ranking by trending score at Skillshare, so this change had a huge impact on how many students classes could attract.

We spent Tuesday, 23rd August analysing the changes, and by Tuesday evening we’d released a class explaining how we thought the algorithm had changed, and how Skillshare teachers could adapt.

However, we released the new class in a way that tested the new algorithm. Since the change, could we get a class to trend with just a small number of students?

So we released the class as “premium members only”, hoping to be able to share some data with you about whether it trended well or not. The results are in the video!

Watch the Skillshare class itself for our analysis of the new trending algorithm, and what to do to adapt to it. If you’re a Premium Skillshare member, you can take the class for free. If not, you can join as a Premium member and get 3-months access for just $0.99 and have access to all 7,000 classes on Skillshare, including all of ours. 🙂

The class is currently trending 6th, out of all 7,000 classes on Skillshare, so it is possible to get a class to trend after the algorithm change, with very few students!

Reviews of the class, all within 48 hours…

Awesome.
Adwin Ang

Thorough and insightful as always!”
Dawid Tuminski

Great and useful info! I didn’t even know the free links I was giving out were part of the score!!! The new theory is super motivating to dig down even deeper in creating my classes.”
Chris V

Very helpful class. really shed some light on the recent changes.”
Sebastiaan Destellirer

“Neil really made a great class on the recent updates from Skillshare. I think this is very helpful for any Skillshare Instructor that wants to be successful on this platform.”
Sorin Constantin

“Another helpful class by Linda and Neil. This was a really insightful look into the trending algorithm (new and old) and gives good food for thought. Thanks so much!”
Lauren Lapointe

Neil’s classes are fabulous and this one has been extremely helpful again. Thanks so much for always keeping us up-to-date, Neil! :-)”
Nathalie De Ahna

Useful information!”
Alison Kolesar

Great info!”
Lisa Palmer

“Great Class .. thanks Neil .. I also believe that the new algo works the same way
Sunil Gupta

“Very useful information and a “must-watch” class for all teachers! Thanks!”
Manoj V

“Thanks for another fantastic course. Your courses are always packed with so much information. Everyone should watch this course.”
Mike Ingram

“This is another must-watch class in this excellent series. Thank you Neil, for getting this class out so quickly!”
David Ault

“Always great classes with valuable information. If you’re a Skillshare instructor you should watch this!”
Jeremy Deighan

really interesting, current and up to date information
Philip Campbell