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.
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…
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…
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 16,000 on the platform!)
Here’s the video intro from the class…