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.