This post was most recently updated on April 24th, 2019
This is a review of Skillshare’s affiliate program for non-teachers, and referral program for teachers. For a review of Skillshare as a platform, and how good it is for teachers and students, please see here.
You can promote Skillshare in one of two ways…
1: Become a teacher. Teachers get promotional links for each of their classes and for their profile page. If anyone takes a free trial of Skillshare premium after clicking a teacher’s referral link, the teacher earns $10. You can see here how we earned over $1,000 in 2017 alone through premium referrals.
2: Become an affiliate. Affiliates can promote any class on Skillshare and earn $10 if someone takes a premium trial after clicking their link. The program is run through the Impact Radius platform. Note, the Impact Radius page says affiliates earn $7 per referral, but the Skillshare page says $10. I’m not sure which is correct.
The last time I checked, Skillshare teachers cannot be affiliates, so can’t promote other teachers’ classes. It’s important to decide whether you’d like to be an affiliate or a teacher because you can’t be both. Let’s see how the two programs differ…
Teacher Or Affiliate?
The first consideration is that teachers seem to earn more, at $10 per referral, compared to the affiliate program at $7 per referral. Obviously, that’s a big reason to choose being a teacher over an affiliate.
(I’ve just sent Skillshare an email asking if teachers still can’t be affiliates, and to resolve the payout discrepancy. I’ll update this article when they reply)
However, the affiliate program allows you to promote all classes, not just those you teach, so you can potentially monetise your traffic better. This is especially important if you have one or more niche websites and would like to promote many different Skillshare classes in your niche.
How I think it works is that you sign up for a free account at Skillshare, and then your account number is used as part of your affiliate tracking code. You simply append the Skillshare URL you’d like to promote, which could be any class on the website… any of 27,000!
Teachers are limited to promoting only their classes, or their profile page.
Skillshare says that affiliates can also, “share special promotions“, which may be important when there’s a good promotion running. Teachers can’t monetise offers. An example would be the New Year “3-months premium for free” offer which beats the usual teacher offering of “2 months premium for free”. The teachers referral offer isn’t actually as good during as the homepage offer during the time the 3-month promotion is available.
Skillshare also say that affiliates get access to “real time tracking“, which sounds very useful. Presumably the tracking uses the Impact Radius platform. Skillshare probably let IR know when a sale is made via a callback and IR can then let the affiliate know which traffic source generated the referral.
One of the huge drawbacks to teacher referrals is that the tracking information is very limited. Teachers see either the name of their class associated with the referral, or the word “general“. There’s no other information apart from the name of the referral and a link to their profile. So teachers have no analytical data such as click tracking statistics or earnings per click. There’s no real way for them to know whether or not traffic converts to referrals or not.
I’ve never been a Skillshare affiliate because I started teaching on Skillshare in 2016 and you can’t be both, so I can’t personally confirm how important the affiliate advantages are.
Skillshare pay their teachers on the 16th of each month for the premium minutes and premium referrals they earned in the previous month. So, if a teacher earned $100 from premium minutes and $50 from premium referrals in April, they’d get paid $150 on the 16th May. The only way Skillshare pay teachers is via PayPal.
I’m not sure how often Skillshare pay affiliates, but their page says “get paid each month for every new customer you refer”, and the Impact Radius page says, “16 day(s) after the end of the month”, so it seems the same as for teachers. However, they also say, “Depending on the specific terms of our agreement you can get paid as frequently as daily using direct deposit into your bank account. “
As the program is run by Impact Radius, the payment methods are likely to be more than just the “PayPal” option for teachers. In fact, Impact Radius pay by these methods… PayPal, Check, Wire Transfer, Direct Deposit, and ACH Transfer.
Cost To Become An Affiliate
It doesn’t cost anything to become a Skillshare affiliate, although they will review your application and require that you have…
…at least one demonstrated channel and audience that is aligned with Skillshare’s brand. Channels include: blogs, Facebook groups, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter followers, or email newsletters.
It also doesn’t cost anything to become a teacher, although you will need to create a class before you can use a class referral link. It’s also likely that your profile referral link won’t convert very well until you have some classes.
Earn Free Months Of Skillshare Premium
If you’re a Skillshare premium member, but don’t teach on Skillshare, you can use a “invite friends” link or email function to send your friends an invitation to join Skillshare. For each person who joins and becomes a paying member, you’ll get a month of premium added to your subscription.
Interestingly, the requirement for the friend to pay is different to the requirement for teachers and affiliates, who only need to sign people up for the free trial of premium to trigger the payment. In affiliate marketing terms, this is the difference between a payment per lead (the free trial) and payment per sale (when someone pays).
I also wonder why free members who don’t teach are given invite links when they have no premium subscription to extend! Perhaps it’s to encourage them to join as premium members, then invite their friends.
Affiliate Tracking Through The Skillshare App
I don’t know whether or not teacher referrals and affiliate links track through the Skillshare app.
The Skillshare app is available on both Google Play and iTunes, but whether a cookie is set when someone clicks your link on a mobile device, and that cookie is then read when they sign up to a free trial of premium on that device, I’m not sure.
Presumably, Skillshare would need different callback scripts for Apple and Google which integrated with their own tracking (for teacher referrals) and with Impact Radius (for affiliate referrals).
I thought I’d write a bit about the strikes Skillshare hands out to teachers, and the difference between strikes and account bans.
For nearly three years I’ve run a Facebook group where we openly discuss Skillshare. One of the topics that comes up regularly is “strikes and bans“. Often teachers are upset to get a strike, because the issuing of a strike comes with the warning that, “Skillshare operates a three strike policy”.
Until recently there was no elaboration on the “three strike policy”.
You could assume, but weren’t explicitly told, that the infraction which triggered the email from Skillshare informing you about the violation of a rule, meant your account had received a strike.
You could also assume, but weren’t explicitly told, that when you got three strikes, you’d lose your account.
In the past, I received a couple of strikes. I admit, they made me fearful of losing my account. In fact, I’ve barely published classes since, and the fear of another strike was probably a major factor.
Skillshare’s Updated Strike Policy
Recently I noticed that Skillshare had created a new page, or merged existing pages, and now directly state that,
“Strikes are rolled back on a 6-month basis, meaning that in order to have your account closed for a violation of our Guidelines, all 3 strikes must have been issued within a 6-month period”.
I remember saying years ago that Udemy had a policy whereby they, “re-evaluate the strikes on an account on a six month rolling basis.”, and that if Skillshare didn’t do something similar, teachers could lose their accounts for three strikes accrued over several years, which didn’t seem fair.
Getting two strikes could even stop teachers publishing for fear of losing their account, and therefore the monthly income from the classes they’d already published.
It now looks like Skillshare have adopted Udemy’s stance, although an interesting slight difference is that Udemy say they’ll “re-evaluate the strikes”, which doesn’t necessarily mean delete them, whereas Skillshare effectively deletes them because for an account to be closed, “all 3 strikes must have been issued within a 6-month period“.
By the way, if you’re wondering which rule infractions result in strikes, I think you can get them for unprofessional actions at the website (violating “Community Guidelines“), which I’ve never got any for, and for problems with your classes (violating “Class Guidelines“), which I’ve got a few for, in the past.
Skillshare Account Bans
Strikes at Skillshare are meant to serve as a warnings and, as we now know, strikes only result in account closure if three are received withing six months. However, if the action taken by a Skillshare member is deemed to be a serious breach of the rules, Skillshare will close an account immediately.
Account closures means your content and profile are hidden on the platform, you can’t log in to your account and Skillshare won’t pay out any money owed for the previous month, or any future months.
I’ve heard of instant bans happening several times and generally it has involved financial matters such as a teacher generating fraudulent premium minutes or fraudulent referrals.
Skillshare pay their teachers for two things. Firstly, the number of premium minutes watched by premium member of a teacher’s premium classes. The more minutes you get, the more you earn, with each premium minute being worth about $0.05. Secondly, teachers can refer new members to Skillshare and earn $10 for each person who takes a premium trial.
Unfortunately, there will always be some people who look for short-cuts to make money.
Skillshare has put in place serious anti-fraud tracking measures, to catch people who try to refer themselves to “earn” $10 repeatedly, and/or who then watch their own classes to “earn” premium minutes and get an unwarranted pay-out.
Every time I’ve heard about someone losing access to their account instantly, it’s been because they’ve fallen foul of this anti-fraud tracking system.
Some people have claimed innocence and argued that Skillshare wants teachers to refer their friends and family to Skillshare, and that’s what they did, but they got an account ban. It seems likely that the friends and family shared the same IP address and Skillshare couldn’t determine whether or not the referrals were genuine or fraud.
The problem is compounded because the first thing friends and family do is watch the class by the teacher, which coincidentally looks even more suspicious.
I don’t know if any of the people who protested their innocence over the years were genuinely blameless victims of a vigilant anti-fraud algorithm. Skillshare have said to me that they only terminate accounts when they have, “clear and conclusive evidence of teacher collusion and malpractice”. At the end of the day, it’s Skillshare’s decision whether or not to close an account, and they’re the ones with the data on which to make that decision.
How To Avoid Losing Your Account
One lesson to be learned by Skillshare teachers is to only refer people to Skillshare from outside your circle of family and friends.
If you want to encourage your friends and family to join, don’t use a referral link, and don’t have them watch your classes. It may seem odd, but it makes sense if you think of the actions from the point of view of an algorithm set to detect fraud.
Referring a family member who then watches your class, especially if the family member is on a similar IP address, looks like someone referring themselves and then watching their own classes. They are exactly the actions the anti-fraud system is looking for!
It’s also important to read and follow the class guidelines before publishing, and the community guidelines before commenting or uploading anything to Skillshare. Note, I often see members doing things which are technically minor infractions. It’s important not to assume it’s OK because others are “getting away with it”. You don’t know how long they’ll continue to get away with it, and you don’t want to be caught when Skillshare do a wave of enforcement.
Also, check the rules regularly. They’ve been updated several times without any announcements being made, to my knowledge at least. What may have been acceptable last month may result in a strike this month. It’s your job to know the current rules.
If you have any doubt about interpretation of a rule, it’s much better to ask for clarification in advance than to argue about a strike afterwards!
As long as you follow the rules, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your Skillshare account open and earn money from both referrals and premium minutes. For my full review of Skillshare in 2019 for teachers and students, click here.
In this detailed Skillshare review, I want to start with a broad outline of how well I think Skillshare are doing overall, then look in more detail from a student and teacher perspective.
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Overall Skillshare Review
This is basically the “TL;DR” version of the review. 🙂 Skillshare in 2019 seem to be making steady progress, although there are still some worrying aspects about the platform which I’ll be addressing below.
Broadly speaking, Skillshare seemed to “steady the ship” in 2018. They raised a further $28 million in funding, which will help them reach profitability, assuming they haven’t reached it yet. At the time of the announcement, Matt Cooper, CEO, said, “Over the last twelve months we’ve experienced greater than 100% revenue growth“, which is also a positive sign and correlates with the increase in members to 7 million, classes to 27,000 and a website traffic rank of 3,000th most popular website compared to 5,000th a year ago (source: Alexa)
Skillshare have also been saving money by reducing the incentives paid to new teachers and making them harder to achieve. I assume reducing their outgoings was an attempt to decrease their burn rate, which was probably very high when they were paying out up to $200 to each new teacher! Now they only offer to “match” the earnings of a new teacher in the first month, up to $100, and even that offer comes with other conditions, such as getting a premium referral and a certain number of premium students or premium minutes. It’s unclear whether new teachers get a free year of premium as a reward still, which always used to be the case
Another mechanism introduced which probably saves money is restricting teachers to only uploading one class per week. Skillshare could’ve chosen to hire more reviewers, but they decided to place a cap on uploads instead.
Skillshare also seem to further save money by running a low-employee overhead model, with customer support taking a while to reply and very little interaction between staff and students or teachers. Almost everything Skillshare does seems to be on a “transmit” mode, from posts at their Facebook Page, to pinned posts in their “Groups” and blog posts with zero interaction. There’s hardly any day-to-day interaction with students or teachers.
Skillshare retained the policy of paying teachers at least 30% of the revenue pool each month, and that seems to have resulted in teachers getting slightly more money per premium minute than for the same month in 2018. In itself this is interesting. Does it mean that there are more premium members, but they’re watching less minutes? Perhaps it means there’s a core of multi-year premium members who are still paying but hardly watching any classes.
Skillshare For Students In 2019
I think Skillshare is a great place for students in 2019, even better than in 2018. Let’s look at why…
The price has remained the same, just $15 per month, or $99 per year (only $8.25 per month, equivalent), while the number of classes has jumped from 18,000 in 2018 to 27,000 in 2019!
You don’t need to leap into a premium membership. You can get a “100% free account“, which lets you take the 1,000+ free classes at Skillshare and redeem any coupons you get for premium classes, or you can take a 2-month premium trial to see whether or not Skillshare is for you.
The core Skillshare concept of learning a skill from an individual class, with the option of demonstrating it by completing the class project, is still an excellent one.
You can drop in and out of classes when you like and easily find teachers you resonate with and enjoy everything they have on the platform. With 27,000 classes, it’d be hard to get bored! 🙂
But everything isn’t perfect. Some problems for students are…
Support at Skillshare can be slow to respond. I see complaints about this in my Facebook discussion group fairly often. While there is a “help” section to the website, sometimes you just need a question answered, and support could definitely be quicker. Also, there’s no way to check your tickets online, they’re only answered by email, so be sure to white-list Skillshare’s email addresses so that you don’t miss any.
Skillshare changed their search algorithm in 2018. Most search engines will return fewer results when you increase the number of keywords in your search. So, if you’re looking for a “red sweater”, you’ll get lots of results, but if you search for, “red sweater, elephant pattern”, you’ll only get a few.
At Skillshare, you’ll get more results for the longer search phrase because Skillshare uses an “Or” operator instead of “And”, meaning you’ll get results containing “red” OR “sweater” OR “elephant” OR “pattern”. It’s a strange system.
I can only imagine Skillshare want to give maximum exposure to their top-rated classes and have them appear in as many search results as possible, even at the expense of accuracy.
Further evidence for this comes from the fact that they also use truncation of keywords (“Amazon” matches “Amazing”) and substitution of letters (“German” matches “Gorman”) to provide even more results!
Irrelevant search results cannot be a good user experience.
There’s no user-to-user communication on Skillshare. A student can’t contact a teacher with a direct question, only post to a class discussion board and hope the teacher replies.
Skillshare had a “Groups” section on their mobile app where students and teachers could communicate. The “Groups” feature was then moved from the mobile app to the website, but I’ve heard that it’s closing at the end of March 2019. I don’t know if anything is being planned to replace it. The lack of “social” features on Skillshare is quite surprising.
Some of the classes on Skillshare are of fairly low quality. Skillshare do seem to have stepped up their monitoring of classes, so I think this is less of an issue than in the past.
While the changes they’ve made to the trending algorithm and search algorithm mean that more popular classes are shown more often, it does seem that Skillshare needs its classes to be of higher quality than YouTube videos if it’s going to charge for them.
Some teachers are getting discouraged by the changes at Skillshare, which they think have made it harder to compete with established teachers. This is actually a problem for students because it means they’re missing out on the option of taking new classes by teachers who’ve abandon Skillshare. Also, existing classes on the platform by those teachers won’t get any replies or feedback.
Good teachers who would put quality content on Skillshare, interact with students and build a following are finding it too hard to compete with the “Skillshare Originals” (filmed by Skillshare with an expert on a particular topic and heavily promoted by Skillshare ) and are leaving.
That leaves two groups, Skillshare Originals, and low-quality classes thrown onto Skillshare by mediocre teachers who aren’t particularly interested in engaging with students or building a following. If Skillshare purge the low-quality classes over time, as they should, what’s left?
Too Much Choice
Skillshare as a platform suffers from the same problem as many “all you can eat” providers. There’s often too much choice, and a lack of an obvious progression path.
You know what skill you want to learn, so you take a class on the topic, but then what?
When Skillshare rolled out their new review system they let students say whether the class is “beginner”, “intermediate” or “advanced”. Interestingly, the teacher decides that when they create the class, but, based on student feedback, Skillshare can over-ride the teacher’s choice.
I think the idea is that, eventually, there will be three tiers of classes for students, so they can easily progress after taking the beginners class to an intermediate and then advanced class.
Other than the three-tier indicator, it’s quite hard to decide which class to take to best progress your new skills.
In the past, there were “workshops” where teachers would list several of their own classes relating to a particular skill, and help guide students through them over a period of weeks.
Workshops were a good idea, but they weren’t really developed or promoted much by Skillshare. Recently the concept was re-worked and now all workshops are created by Skillshare staff, and often feature Skillshare Originals.
I think workshops should be rolled out to all teachers and moderated by Skillshare. Students will then have an obvious progression pathway to learn new skills and build on them.
Skillshare For Teachers In 2019
On the surface, Skillshare hasn’t changed much for established teachers in the last year. The “Earnings Per Premium Minute” has remained quite consistent, and it’s still free to teach on Skillshare. However, there’s a growing disquiet amongst teachers as they see that it’s getting harder to build a following on the platform along with the growing dominance of Skillshare’s own classes, the “Originals”.
Let’s see what’s changed under the surface…
“New Classes” Filter Removed
In the past there was the option to sort category classes by, “Popular, Trending or New“. Recently the option to see “new” classes was removed, which also removed that potential source of exposure for new classes.
Trending Algorithm Changed
While the change went unannounced and undocumented, it seems that the trending algorithm was changed. In the past, a class got a trending score calculated every 24 hours based on new students, positive reviews and projects submitted. At some point we think that the calculation for a class’ trending score was changed to being averaged over a week or two instead of 24 hours.
This was a huge change because “trending” was the primary mechanism for new classes to be discovered by the existing body of students on Skillshare.
Changing the calculation to an average of a week or two penalised new teachers who would often announce their new classes to their followers and hope for an influx of new students, reviews and projects which could catapult their class onto a category trending page, at least for a day or two.
Now, with a longer averaging period, that new class will probably not get onto the category trending page, especially as dominant classes from the search results, such as the “Skillshare Originals”, will collect ongoing new students, projects and reviews which can keep them on the trending pages indefinitely.
By way of example, I just checked the top 30 trending classes on Skillshare. Half of them have over 1,000 students. Is that right for a mechanism which shows “trending” classes?
Search Results Broadened
Skillshare search now returns broader results due to the tweaks they made to their algorithm, such as using “Or” instead of “And”, including keyword truncation and substitutions.
As a result, the “dominant” classes, such as “Skillshare Originals” appear for many different keyword searches, even at the expense of search result accuracy. Not only does this squeeze out other classes, it creates a stream of new students, reviews and projects for the dominant classes which then feeds back into the “trending” pages, described above.
Restrictions On “Free” Students
In the past, new teachers could gain traction on Skillshare by marketing off-site to compensate for not having a following on-site. By using “free access links“, new teachers could get more students, reviews and projects. However, Skillshare has started restricting what free students can do.
Free students can only leave reviews for free classes, not premium classes, even if they have a free access link.
It’s odd, but if you try to leave a review for a premium class you have a free coupon for, you can access the review page and click all the buttons for how good or bad the class was, but when you click “review”, nothing happens. Literally, nothing.
This change makes it much harder for new teachers to get started building a following on Skillshare.
One Class Per Week
I’m not sure exactly when this happened, but it was probably in 2018. Instead of accepting as many classes as a teacher could upload, Skillshare restricted teachers to one per week. It was never explained why, as far as I know.
I would expect there to be a lifting of the restriction for top-teachers, but if that’s true, I haven’t heard about it. It seems odd to restrict good teachers, who may have 50 great classes on another platform ready to put on Skillshare to one per week, which would take almost a year to upload fully.
Without knowing Skillshare’s financial data, I don’t know how secure the company is. Hopefully the financial changes they’ve made are to ensure the future of the company, long term.
However, I’m concerned that the changes which promote the “Skillshare Originals” and “Staff Picks” in their newsletters, in the search results and on the trending pages will frustrate good teachers, who’ll end up leaving. In fact, I’ve already seen evidence of this.
Skillshare could easily end up with two sets of classes, a small set of their Originals and hand-picked favourites, and the rest by teachers who just slap up classes with no consideration of engaging with students or the health of the platform.
For now, I’d consider Skillshare to be good for students but only average for new teachers.
Hopefully Skillshare can find a way to reward good teachers with more exposure on the platform. It would be a win for the teachers, a win for the students and a win for Skillshare.
Please comment below… 🙂
I mentioned this article to my Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group, and Alexandra said that the “Skillshare Originals” were important for Skillshare for two reasons…
1: They are created by Skillshare, so are of good technical quality and they are often done with “industry experts or influencers” whom the Skillshare paying members are likely to want to hear from. The on-going generation of such classes may be needed, in the minds of premium members, to justify the membership fee.
2: The interviewee would likely have a large following on social media and it’s probably part of the class creation agreement with Skillshare that the person promotes their Skillshare class. The promotion would be likely to generate a significant number of new members for Skillshare which is good for the company, and for regular teachers who are more likely to get new students.
I agree with this point. I just wonder whether Skillshare may be over-promoting their Originals at the expense of regular teachers’ classes, and what the long-term repercussions may be.
Skillshare Competition: March 1st to March 31st 2019
Details: This is the “March Project Challenge”. In return for creating a project for any class, Skillshare will enter you into a sweepstake competition to win a year of Skillshare Premium for free. There are ten prizes in total.
How to enter: I’ve made one of my classes “free” to watch on Skillshare. Click here to watch it. All you need to do is sign up for a free account which requires an email address but not credit/debit card details, watch the class and post a project. That’s it. 🙂
Note, you could also use your free account to watch any of the other 1,000 free classes on Skillshare, or any premium classes you get a free access link for. Alternatively, start a free trial of premium and you can watch any of the 27,000 classes on the site, premium or free.
I made a video explaining the competition… 🙂
If you enter, good luck!
If the deadline for entry has passed, there are other ways to get Skillshare Premium for free, here.
This post was most recently updated on March 29th, 2019
WARNING: There’s no easy answer to this question, so I’ve written a long one! 🙂
People often want to know, “How Much Can I Earn On Skillshare?“, before creating content for the platform, or uploading their existing content.
(They usually also want to know, “How Much Do Top Teachers Earn On Skillshare?“, which is an easier question to answer, and I’ve tried, below) 🙂
It’s completely natural to want to gauge how much you’ll earn in advance because the amount will then determine whether or not it’s worth the effort for you.
However, it’s very hard to estimate how much an individual can earn, but with my 3+ year experience on the platform, I can hopefully provide some clues. 🙂
Let’s start with understanding how Skillshare pay their teachers…
Skillshare’s Revenue Split
At many platforms, such as Udemy, when course sales are made teachers get a percentage of the sale depending on whether it was tagged by the teacher, an affiliate, a platform advert, via an app store etc. As a teacher, it can be hard to figure out exactly how much a sale will be worth, but you know you have to make sales to earn money.
Skillshare uses a completely different model. Instead of selling individual courses, students can pay either monthly ($15) or annually ($99) to access ALL classes on the platform. There are about 27,000 classes on Skillshare (about 26,000 premium), covering almost every topic you could wish to learn about.
click here to try Skillshare premium for two months for free!
Because the platform charges for access, teachers don’t have to worry about generating sales. They don’t have to drive clicks, or consider conversion ratios. Instead, teachers earn money when premium students watch their premium classes.
The reason I had to write “premium” twice is that you can get a 100% free account at Skillshare, which lets you watch the 1,000 totally free classes on the platform and also take any premium classes you can get a free access link for. But, free classes and free students watching premium classes using a free access coupon don’t count towards a teacher’s premium minute total.
Only premium students watching premium classes generate premium minutes.
From the revenue Skillshare generates each month from premium student subscriptions, they deduct up to 70% as business overheads (salary, advertising, promotions). The remaining 30%+ is known as the “royalty” pool.
Skillshare take the total number of premium minutes watched across all classes in the month, and divide that into the “royalty pool” to generate the value of a premium minute for the month. The pool is then distributed between all teachers who earned more than 30 premium minutes across their classes in the month.
For each teacher, the value of a premium minute is the same. So, if “teacher A” got 10,000 minutes, and a premium minute was worth 5 cents, they’d get $500. If “teacher B” got 20,000 minutes in the same month, they’d get $1,000.
The value of a premium minute changes from month to month, based on Skillshare’s revenue and the total number of premium minutes watched.
Skillshare’s “Per Premium Minute” System
Way back at the end of 2016, Skillshare announced that they were going to change how they paid their teachers. No longer would teachers earn roughly $1.50 per premium enrolment, but instead, we would be paid for premium minutes watched by premium students in our premium classes.
Of course, the change resulted in teachers immediately trying to work out whether they’d be better or worse off, under the new system. 🙂
For most teachers, the new system resulted in them earning less. The teachers who created very short classes, of 10-minutes in length, were significantly worse off, because even if a student watched the whole 10-minute class in full, the teacher would only get 50 cents (at 5 cents per premium minute). Compared to $1.50 per enrolment, teachers of 10-minute classes would get a third of what they used to get, at best. Consider that a lot of students don’t watch classes in full, and the teacher could easily be looking at 50-75% less income.
However, many teachers offering high-quality classes of several hours in length were happier with the new system because while the old system paid them $1.50 per enrolment, a student watching the whole of a 4-hour class now earned them $12! (5 cents per minute x 240 minutes). Of course, few students would watch a full 4 hours, but even an hour was worth $3, double what the old enrolment was worth.
So, as with most things in life, there were winners and losers.
Monthly Changes In The Premium Minute Value
Due to the initial interest in what a premium minute was worth, I started to track it, and called it the “earnings per premium minute” (EPPM). I seem to remember that Skillshare initially estimated the EPPM would be between 5 and 10 cents. Over two years later, we’re still waiting to see an EPPM of 7.0 or above. However, we have seen it fall to as little as 3.8 cents!
Here’s the most recent chart, reflecting the EPPM’s from the first one in January 2017 through to the most recent, February 2019….
As you can see, the EPPM has been quite volatile over the 2+ years since it was started.
I remember the concern when it debuted at just 5.5 cents when Skillshare’s estimate was 5-10 cents. The teachers whose earnings fell significantly were not impressed. However, there was worse to come when the EPPM for March was less than 5 cents (4.8 to be exact). I remember Skillshare actually raised prices immediately afterwards, from $12 per month or $96 per year, to $15 per month or $120 per year. (They have since changed the annual payment to $99, but the monthly remains at $15).
The price increase resulted in the EPPM for the next few months jumping up to 6 cents which assuaged some anger amongst teachers.
In January, February and March of 2018 you can see a fall in the EPPM. That was due to a New Year promotion on Skillshare where students could sign up for free and get a trial premium membership of three months. Not surprisingly there was a huge influx of these new premium members in the New Year which resulted in a lot more premium minutes being watched. However, the new members hadn’t paid anything, so the royalty pool stayed the same. When the royalty pool was split across all the premium minutes, each premium minute was worth a lot less in the first few months of 2018 than in previous months.
Due to the way the Skillshare payment model works, the average teacher, all else being equal, would earn minutes from the new premium members, so the reduced EPPM wouldn’t correlate to an exact fall in income. Some of the losses from the reduced EPPM will be offset by simply getting more minutes. However, the extra minutes wouldn’t totally offset the EPPM reduction because a lot of those extra minutes were generated by new trial members who hadn’t paid anything!
Year On Year Comparison
What’s interesting is to compare two months that are a year apart. For example, Skillshare ran the “3 months for free” premium trial at the beginning of both 2018 and 2019. When we compare the EPPM for January 2018 (3.8) and 2019 (4.4) we see that the 2019 EPPM was 0.6 cents higher. Similarly, for February 2018 (4.0) and 2019 (4.9), we see that the 2019 EPPM was 0.9c higher. That’s actually a big difference.
A teacher with 20,000 premium minutes would’ve earned $800 in February 2018, but $980 in 2019!
I’m not sure whether this means that Skillshare recruited fewer free premium trial members in 2019, they recruited the same number of trial members but they watched less minutes in aggregate, or Skillshare just took a smaller share of the revenue pot in 2019 compared to 2018!
Here’s a video of me explaining a bit about the EPPM, from its beginnings, to the most recent one in February 2019…
How To Calculate The EPPM
Teachers often ask me how they can calculate “their” EPPM. Firstly the EPPM is the same for everyone, so the quickest answer is just to check the Skillshare Mastermind group where we post the EPPM within minutes of payments being sent. 🙂
However, to calculate it yourself, take the PayPal payment amount, deduct the money for any referrals and divide the remainder by the number of premium minutes for the month.
So, for example, if you got paid $200 on June 16th, and knew you had 2 referrals and 3,500 premium minutes in May, you’d deduct $20 for 2 referrals from the $200 to give $180, then divide $180 by 3,500 premium minutes, which would give 5.1 cents per premium minute.
How Much Will I Earn On Skillshare?
OK, so now you know exactly how the Skillshare payment model works.
It should be fairly easy to see that you need to create high-quality, engaging content so that students want to watch your classes to the end.
You should also encourage any students who take your classes to “follow” you on the platform. There’s a follow button next to your name on each class’ “About” page, another one on your profile page, and also one next to your name beneath the class title, shown below…
You can send your followers an email message when you create a new class, explaining why they should take it and what they’ll learn. Building a follower list and getting your classes off to a great start will help your classes to trend on the platform, which is a mechanism for class discovery by other students. It’s like a “snowball effect” as you build momentum releasing new classes.
Tip: As well as asking your students to “follow” you, also ask for a review. In the past, reviews counted towards a class’ trending score. While I’m no longer certain that’s the case with the new Skillshare review system, it most likely is. On almost any social site, the content with the most positive feedback (views, likes, shares, re-tweets, reviews) wins! 🙂
Let’s crunch some numbers. 🙂
Let’s assume you release a class each week (which is the maximum), and each class is two hours long.
Let’s assume each student watches, on average, half your class, which is 60 minutes.
Finally, let’s assume you get 10 premium students for your first class, 20 for your second, 30 for your third and 40 for your fourth.
Class 1 would earn 10 students x 60 minutes = 600 minutes x 5c per minute = $30
Class 2 would earn 20 students x 60 minutes = 1200 minutes x 5c per minute = $60
Class 3 would earn 30 students x 60 minutes = 1800 minutes x 5c per minute = $90
Class 4 would earn 40 students x 60 minutes = 2400 minutes x 5c per minute = $120
The total for your first month would be $300.
Note, that doesn’t include any of your students who watched classes 1,2,3 or 4 who then go on to watch your other classes. Some students may watch all your classes! After all, they don’t need to pay any extra. 🙂
Of course, the “snowball” effect gets bigger as you keep releasing classes. You may also get students who find your classes via the Skillshare search engine results, and the more classes you have, the more likely your classes are to be found.
Also bear in mind that if you can bring an external audience, such as from an existing blog, social media accounts or email lists, you’ll be able to “jump start” your Skillshare presence.
If you’re starting without an external audience, and are just relying on your Skillshare content to promote itself on the platform, it could take a while to build momentum.
I’d suggest offering free enrolments to your classes. I have a page showing you how to make a free link for a premium class. When you have your free link, post it to our Skillshare Free Classes Facebook group. I’ve run it for a few years and believe it’s the largest Facebook Group dedicated to Skillshare coupons.
Skillshare Premium Referrals
An interesting way to maximise your income from Skillshare is to bring students to the platform.
If you teach on a specific niche, such as water-colouring, and you have a blog or social media on that topic, you can put classes on Skillshare and refer your visitors to Skillshare via a teacher referral link.
If any of your visitors takes a free trial of Premium, you earn $10, which is great, but presumably your visitor will then go on to watch your water-colouring classes on Skillshare.
If they like your water-colouring classes they could watch several of them and the income would start to add up! 🙂
If what you teach doesn’t match up with what Skillshare’s premium members are interested in learning, it’s going to be hard for you to make money on the platform. While Skillshare is open to everyone to teach whatever skills they like, some topics are definitely more popular with their students. If you take a look at their most popular classes, you’ll quickly see that there are repeating patterns of topics which do well. Here’s a short list:
Also, the tools used for digital creations of the above topics do well, such as teaching the Adobe suite of software, or popular apps in the same fields.
If you want to teach on a less-common topic, such as “trigonometry for beginners”, it’s important to note that your potential audience on the platform will be smaller.
Of course, if you teach on a niche topic, you’ll have less competition. Just be aware that the potential earnings will be smaller if your topic is niche, and more so if it doesn’t align with Skillshare’s popular topics.
What Skillshare Say Their Teachers Earn
Interestingly, Skillshare sometimes release statistics saying how much their teachers earn. Here’s what I could find…
“Skillshare has paid out over $5 million to teachers.” (Skillshare About page, at time of writing)
“Top teachers make $100,000+ a year.” (Skillshare Teach page, at time of writing)
“On average, first-time teachers earn $200 in their first month on Skillshare, with top teachers earning upwards of $3,000!” (Skillshare Help Center)
“Our top 100 teachers made an average of $1,300 in February.” (from March 2016 Skillshare blog post)
“An average teacher on Skillshare makes about $200 a month. Top teachers on Skillshare make up to $10K a month.” (June 2017 Skillshare blog post.)
“Evgeniya and Dominic Righini-Brand have earned over $100,000 on Skillshare.” (from September 2018 blog post)
“Peggy Dean earns $6-8k per month on Skillshare.” (from August 2016 blog post)
Note, I don’t know how Skillshare defines “top” or “average”. When they say, “top 100 teachers” it’s clear. When they say, “top teachers”, or “an average teacher”, it’s not.
I think Skillshare stopped giving out precise metrics for teachers’ earnings a long time ago. I could find claims from 2016, and some from 2017, but then it stopped.
Can I Sell My Content On Skillshare And Other Websites?
Yes, this is an important point. When you put your content on Skillshare, it doesn’t mean you can’t put it anywhere else online. Skillshare only request that if you label your content as “premium” on Skillshare, i.e. you want to monetise it, you can’t make it freely available elsewhere online. So you could sell the same course content on Udemy and from your own website if you wished.
You Need A PayPal Account
Skillshare have only ever paid their teachers via PayPal, so it’s important know that you’ll need one before you can get paid! 🙂
1: If a student watches a class in 2x speed, the class counts for half the minutes! So be sure your students aren’t tempted to increase the playback speed! 🙂
2: Minutes are counted via both the app (even when offline) and the website.
3: Minutes are published in the “teacher stats” area of the website the day after they’re watched. However, adjustments are made, so if you get 10,000-minutes in a day, don’t celebrate until you get paid!
4: Payments are made on the 16th of each month for the previous month’s premium minutes and referrals.
5: You need 30 premium minutes across all your classes to get paid. At 5c per premium minute, this means the minimum payment is $1.50, which is roughly what an old premium enrolment was worth.
If you have any questions, check out our Skillshare FAQ, which has over 50 questions and answers. If the FAQ doesn’t help, please post your questions in our Skillshare Mastermind Group and we’ll try to provide some answers! 🙂
PS, Want $50?
If you’d like to start teaching on Skillshare, and would be able to create a short class (10 minutes minimum) within 30 days, just let me know and I’ll pass your details on to Skillshare. They’ll help you through the process. To contact me, just post a comment, below. 🙂
(full disclosure: if you earn the bonus $50, Skillshare will pay me $50 too.)
For The New Year, January 2019, Skillshare will be offering three months’ access to Skillshare Premium for just $0.99.
Start Your New Year With A Bang
When people make New Year’s Resolutions, they often involve learning a new skill such as bakery, painting, a foreign language or something similar, in addition to getting fit and shifting the weight of those Christmas mince pies! Where better to start a New Year’s learning resolution than Skillshare, with their premium membership offering complete access to their entire catalogue of classes, especially when you can get three months’ access for just 99c!
The Best Skillshare Premium Deal
Three months’ access for 99c is the best discount you can get for Skillshare Premium. In 2018 I think the offer was made just three times… once in January, once for a “back to school” promotion and for one day on Cyber Monday. If you miss out on the 3-months deal, you can follow a teacher’s referral link to any of their classes to get 2-months for free, an offer which has been running for over a year.
Is Skillshare Premium Right For You?
Why should you take up Skillshare’s 2019 New Year offer? Well, quite simply, it gives you a long time to evaluate your premium membership and decide whether you’d like to continue after the three months expires.
Some people prefer to learn online by taking a single “masterclass” and paying for it once. While that is an option, it can be hard to know how well you’ll like the delivery style of the teacher in advance, and if you’re going to sit through a dozen hours of tutorials by one person, you really need to enjoy their style of teaching! Also, very few teachers will update masterclasses regularly due to the work involved, so parts can often be out of date. The problem for a new student is knowing which parts are old and which are current!
Another way of learning online is the “buffet” or “all you can eat” approach offered by Skillshare Premium. The classes are usually more “bite sized” than a “masterclass”, you can expect them to be more like 30 minutes long than 12 hours, so you can learn when you have a chunk of time available here and there.
Also, it’s easier for teachers to make new 30-minute classes than create or overhaul a masterclass, so there’s often newer information available from teachers. You can dip in and out of classes by all the teachers on the platform, so you can find a teacher whose presentation style you enjoy before “committing” to watching more of their classes.
Finally, you can learn different subjects by different teachers all for the same monthly cost. There are about 24,000 classes on Skillshare, of which about 23,000 are premium classes. When you’re a premium member, you can choose to watch any of the classes at any time. Obviously, that’s a lot of classes, and a period of three months gives you a decent amount of time to check the quality of classes on offer as well as the depth of the know-how available on the platform.
Advantages Of Premium Membership
The main benefit of Skillshare Premium is that you can watch any of the content on Skillshare, at any time.
Premium members can also leave class reviews for the teacher, post class projects and start class discussions.
If you take the annual membership, you also get access to premium perks, which currently are…
20% off any plan of $50+ value at Shutterstock
Save 10% on HD and 4K Video at POND5
25% off annual subscription at Filestage
13% off Adobe Acrobat Pro
20% off Adobe Premier Pro CC
15% off Adobe Creative Cloud
10% Off Your First Purchase at Squarespace
$75 Credit at Breather
50% Off Annual Subscriptions at Noun Project
20% Off Your First Purchase at Creative Market
Free 6 month Professional license at Invision
10% off Solo plan at Harvest
40% off Freedom Annual Membership
Premium members can also download classes to their mobile devices and watch them without an online connection.
Free Skillshare Membership
If you don’t want to be re-billed at the end of 3-months, you’ll need to cancel your trial of premium. You’ll then become a “free” member, and will lose access to the premium content on Skillshare. You’ll stop being able to leave reviews, post projects and start class discussions. You’ll only have access to the 1,000 free classes on the platform, unless you manage to get “free access links” (commonly known as coupons or codes) given out by teachers of premium classes, which you can use to watch individual premium classes. However, you can teach and earn money on Skillshare, even as a free member.
Terms Of The New Year Skillshare Offer
Skillshare have recently introduced new terms for their promotional offers. It’s likely that this 2019 offer will be for new premium members only, so anyone who has previously had a trial of premium won’t be able to make use of the offer. When you join, you’ll be required to enter credit card or PayPal details, and you’ll be billed £0.99 immediately, and then re-billed at the end of the three months’ free access. If you choose to pay monthly, you’ll pay either $15 per month, or $99 for a year (which works out at about half the monthly fee, at just $8.25 per month equivalent).
What’s The Coupon Code, Or Discount Code?
There won’t be a coupon code, or discount code for this offer. When offers are restricted, such as only being sent by email, you’ll have to enter a coupon code to redeem them, but this offer is not restricted. It’s going to be promoted by email, but also on the website for anyone to join, without a coupon being needed.
Skillshare are having a Cyber Monday sale, for today only. This offer is a return of their best offer of the year… 3 months of Skillshare Premium for just 99c.
You don’t need a coupon for this offer. Just click here to visit the Skillshare website and you should see a banner, as shown in the video, saying, “Cyber Monday offer, 3 months Skillshare Premium for 99c, click here to redeem”.
Note there are some restrictions such as previous Premium members can’t use deal, even if they only had a previous Premium trial.
Finally, Skillshare now accept PayPal, so you can pay for the trial with PayPal if you previously had problems paying with a credit card. At the moment, for some reason, PayPal is not available to users from India.
Skillshare Black Friday 2018 Deal (expired)
Skillshare are having a Black Friday sale offer in 2018. Until 11:59 pm GMT (UTC) on 25th November 2018, you can get a 40% discount on their annual membership of Skillshare Premium.
This is actually the same as their Black Friday offer in 2017. However, it appears that the terms and conditions of the deal have changed. This year’s offer is not open to anyone who previously had a premium membership… even a premium trial. It also can’t be combined with other offers and isn’t available to mobile plans.
This Black Friday offer, as far as I know, is only available by email. It’s not mentioned on their website or their Facebook Page. So I don’t know if I can share it publicly. What I suggest is signing up for a free account at Skillshare, which only requires an email address, and then hopefully you’ll be emailed about the Black Friday offer or it will be promoted to you at the website when you log in.
Note, with a free Skillshare account you can watch over 1,000 classes at the website, and also watch any premium classes which you have a free access link for. You can get a lot of these free access links at our Facebook Group called Skillshare Free Classes.
If you’d just like a premium Skillshare trial, read on… 🙂
Skillshare Premium Account: Current Offer (March 2019)
Skillshare website: ONE month of unlimited access (which means a 1-month trial of Skillshare Premium).
Getting two months of Skillshare Premium for free is about the best deal Skillshare make. Only rarely have I seen a three-month offer, usually in January. The offers in January 2017 and 2018 were both actually “3 months for $0.99”, so they weren’t technically free offers.
I’m not even sure they’ll make a 3-month offer again because it absolutely hammered the earnings of teachers. The value per premium minute fell by over a third from December 2017 to January 2018 because so many free trial members started watching premium classes, but hadn’t contributed to the royalty pool from which Skillshare pays teachers.
In other words, a teacher who got 10,000 premium minutes in December would’ve earned $590, but in January those same 10,000 premium minutes would’ve earned $380. Naturally, teachers weren’t very impressed, which makes me wonder if Skillshare will offer a 3-month premium deal in January 2019.
The premium trial gives you full access to over 27,000 premium classes on Skillshare for two months. You can cancel the trial at any time and not be billed. If you choose to continue as a premium member, the cost is credit card billing of just $15 per month or $99 per year. Note, the yearly offer is a huge discount and almost halves the cost of membership, to an equivalent of just $8.25 per month!
Skillshare premium is one of the best-value offers on the Internet, especially when you consider that buying just one course on the website of a large competitor costs a minimum of $10, and it’s often significantly more if you don’t buy during a sale. If you take more than one class on Skillshare per month, you’re getting a better deal!
Skillshare do not offer refunds. If you don’t want to be re-billed, be sure to make a note of when you need to cancel by.
Skillshare only accept credit cards. I’m not sure why that is. They actually pay their teachers using PayPal, but don’t accept it for membership payments, which is a bit odd. You’ll need a credit card to start a free trial, and to continue a membership afterwards.
Some people claim to be able to offer 3-months of free Skillshare premium. The offers I’ve seen are dated, so I suggest not wasting your time trying to find a working one. Unless Skillshare are offering a unique deal somewhere, the offer on the website and the offer teachers can make are the current genuine ones.
You don’t need to be a premium member to teach on Skillshare, in case you were wondering! 🙂
If you don’t want a free trial of premium there are a few ways to get a premium account for free. Click here for our blog post about the different ways. 🙂
If you have questions about Skillshare, we’ve got a jumbo Skillshare FAQ right here! 🙂
This post was most recently updated on March 29th, 2019
It seems that Skillshare are re-working their review system.
In the past, Skillshare reviews were limited to a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down“, along with the option to leave a short text comment.
Under the new system, Skillshare will be asking class students for much more information when they leave a review, but is that a good thing?
The review system has been changed several times over the years. A while ago, free students could take a premium class using a free coupon and leave a review. When that changed, I seem to remember at the time it was called a “bug” that free students couldn’t leave reviews. However, it was never “fixed”, so it seems like it’s now policy that free students can’t leave reviews.
(update: free students can now leave reviews, but only for free classes, not premium classes)
Another change was when some reviews were reported to have disappeared, or not be published. It then emerged that if Skillshare considered there to be a relationship between the teacher and the student, or that the review didn’t accurately reflect students’ opinions of the class, the review may not be shown.
Now, the whole system is getting an overhaul…
The New Skillshare Class Review System
Apparently, each class will have a “Reviews” tab where students can leave a review and view feedback the community has provided about the class. Students will be asked several things when leaving a review, such as…
What level is the class? [Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / All levels]
What did you most like about the class? [Audio and Video Quality / Organization of Lessons / Actionable Steps / Clarity Of Instruction / Engaging Teacher / Helpful Examples]
What could be improved? [Audio quality / Organization of Lessons / More Actionable / More Examples and Tips / Clarity Of Instruction / Video Quality]
Did the class meet your expectations? [Exceeded / Yes / Somewhat / Not really]
Students who left older reviews will be able to update them into the new system, otherwise their reviews will be in an “archive” section at the bottom of the new reviews tab.
Teachers will initially be able to set the Class Level, but when enough students have rated the class, their feedback will be “factored in“, with presumably the possibility of the Class Level changing from what the teacher set.
My Concerns About The New Skillshare Review System…
I have some concerns about this…
Have all the old reviews been invalidated…? I hope not, but saying students can “update” their “old” reviews “into the new system” sound like the old ones are no longer valid.
Effectively deleting all the old reviews would be a big problem for teachers who had accrued a lot of positive reviews, and would also lead to confusion for students picking which classes to watch with very few new reviews being in the system.
While more detailed reviews would be great, it will probably result in a lot fewer reviews. People simply do not take the time to leave long reviews. Asking, “what did you most like”, “did it exceed expectations”, “what experience level would you rate it” and “what would you improve”… is probably asking for too much information to get a good number of reviews… especially when Skillshare students are used to a “thumbs up/down”.
Students will be able to select from a “list of options” what constructive feedback to send the teacher. I’m not sure a simple list of options, including “audio quality” and “video quality” would really help me improve my classes, as a teacher getting the feedback. Will students be able to leave personalised comments, such as “the audio is missing from lesson 4, or “the video goes blurry in lesson 8”? That would be useful.
Premium Members Only?
In the early days of Skillshare, free account holders could leave reviews. That was changed several months ago, so that only premium members could leave reviews. Whether or not this new, re-worked, review system will allow free members to leave reviews is currently unknown. If you’d like a premium account, we wrote a blog post about how you can get a two months free trial of Skillshare Premium, here.
Update: March 2019: It seems that free Skillshare members can only review free classes on the platform, not premium online.
What do you think
Getting more feedback from students sounds good in theory, but if it leads to a large decline in the amount of reviews, is it worthwhile?
I actually thought the simple “thumbs up/down” was a very clever part of Skillshare because it made leaving a review very quick and easy. It may not have been hugely insightful, but if thousands of people took a class, and it had a balance of 90% positive reviews, it was probably a good class. If students wanted to leave a quick comment, they could do that too.
I thought it was a good system, but now it’s changing…
This post was most recently updated on March 29th, 2019
How To Get 2-Months’ Skillshare Premium For Free In 2019!
Skillshare often run free promotions for accessing their whole catalogue of 27,000 classes, which they call “Skillshare Premium”.
The best offer I ever saw was for 3 months free premium, which was available in January 2018 and January 2019. I think they knew that many people like to make New Year’s Resolutions to learn new skills, so they offered three months free access to their whole catalogue in order to capture the avalanche of people seeking self-improvement in the New Year.
Unfortunately, that offer didn’t last. If you go to the Skillshare website most times of the year, they’ll offer you just one free month as an incentive to sign up…
However, as Skillshare teachers, we can offer you a special link where you get 2 free months of Skillshare Premium. 🙂 That’s double what you’re offered on the Skillshare homepage!
Note, the link gives you access to a trial of Premium, for which you’ll need to add your credit or debit card details and cancel if you don’t want to be billed after the free 2-months.
However, if you don’t want the 2-month premium trial, here’s how to get a 100% free Skillshare account which you can use with free premium class access links and also watch all the 100% free Skillshare classes…
… and here are several options for getting a totally free premium account, from becoming a teaching assistant to winning a year of premium membership as a prize to getting a scholarship, there are many options!
We’ve been teaching on Skillshare since the beginning of 2016 and run the two most popular Facebook Groups dedicated to Skillshare. We highly recommend getting a premium Skillshare account and obtaining total, unrestricted access to over 23,000 classes.
In this modern age, it’s almost required to continually develop your own skill-set.
If you’re looking to get hired, it’s important to be at the cutting edge of whatever field you’re looking for employment in. Skillshare classes all contain a project, where you demonstrate what you’ve learned in the class, so you prove to yourself, and perhaps to a potential employer, that you have acquired that particular skill.
If you’re a freelancer, then staying up-to-date with the latest techniques, from coding to graphic design, is very important because you’ll want to be able to bid and win contracts on any project within your field.
Unlike the simple transaction of buying access to an online course, Skillshare lets you pick and choose from thousands of classes, so if one Skillshare class gets dated and is unsupported by the teacher, you simply find a similar one which is newer and has active teacher engagement.
Of course, Skillshare isn’t just about business, you can pick up skills in almost any area of life and learn for pleasure… whether that’s baking, drawing, learning French or how to play the guitar, you get access to everything for less than $100 per year. With the 2-months free Skillshare Premium link on this page, you can try Skillshare for free and see whether or not you like it. 🙂
This post was most recently updated on March 29th, 2019
Update 2: March 2019 The search engine change has not been reverted. I’ve mentioned the repercussions of the change in my Skillshare 2019 review, just posted.
Update 1: October 2018: Skillshare didn’t revert the new search engine change, so it can only be assumed that they’re happy with the way it’s working.
Skillshare made a significant tweak to their search algorithm recently. We believe the change was made around the beginning of June 2018.
The first reports of the change in a negative sense came on June 3rd, by David who reported in our Facebook discussion group that his premium minutes had “plummeted” since 1st June.
Interestingly, I’d made a post on June 1st asking if anyone had seen their premium minutes increase over previous days. I proposed that a new Skillshare promotion was driving more signups and premium minutes. Not many people agreed that they were seeing more minutes, and it was mentioned that the new promotion may be targetted to specific demographics. In hindsight, perhaps this was an early indication of the SEO change, because, unlike David, I’ve seen my premium minutes increase.
Changes Reported By Skillshare Teachers…
So what information do we have? Well, David said that some of his most popular classes can no longer be found by searching for them (“many of my bestselling courses that had previously appeared top, or near the top, for their particular keyword phrases have suddenly disappeared without a trace – i.e. I am unable to find them with a direct search for the title of the course“).
Mark replied and agreed that he was seeing the same thing, “our courses have disappeared out of search“.
Sergey also agreed, “Yes I seen this happened as well all my best selling classes no longer showing up only newer classes are”.
Lindsay saw the same thing… “If you type in graphic design you do not come to one of my classes until 50+ rows. I used to have two in the top 10 (older class) so it looks to be an algorithm change that pushes older class lower (except their top teacher and their produced classes).”
“Up until the 1st June my Beginner’s Guide to Merch By Amazon course was top of the search results (as it has been for over a year, ever since I released it) and was getting new students every day. Now, the course is ranked 224 for the key search term, Merch By Amazon, and is actually ranked directly below a class with ZERO students called “Hand Made Creations Part 3 Amazing Fish”.
Subsequently, Mark made a new post, proposing that Skillshare search was “broken” and including a response from a Skillshare community manager…
First, I’d like to confirm that I’ve double checked and your class is open and viewable to students.
We are constantly making updates to our search algorithm, which may affect where your class appears on Skillshare. This algorithm is machine-learning based and takes into consideration a variety of factors, such as current trending popularity, course topic, category, and length.
Let me know if you have any additional questions about this.”
In response, I noted that, “because of their business model, new classes are constantly required by Skillshare. This search change seems to be weighted towards new (or popular) classes, even to the extent of sometimes beating classes with titles matching the search terms. It’s interesting to note that, in their reply, Skillshare actually listed the factor “popularity” before “course topic” for determining result positions!”
I totally understand giving priority to new classes (and to a lesser extent “popular classes”), BUT at the moment it appears the topic does not even feature in the algorithm, which is ridiculous.
For example, I could sort of understand if my Merch By Amazon class was listed last of all of the Merch By Amazon classes because it is the oldest (although I would not agree with that policy). However, coming below classes that have ZERO students and nothing in the slightest to do with the search query (apart from 4 letters in a different word within the title), just because the class is new, makes the Search function a complete farce.”
So what do we have here?
Firstly, there was a definite search algorithm change recently at Skillshare.
Secondly, that algorithm change reduced the visibility of some, but not all, classes which were previously ranking well.
Thirdly, while the age of a class may play a role in the demotion of some classes, and it does make sense that Skillshare, who charge members monthly, should promote new classes over old ones, age is not the only factor, because there are still old classes ranking well.
Fourthly, while the popularity of a class may play a role, David said that his “Merch By Amazon” for beginners had ranked well for over a year, “and was getting new students every day“. So, it was presumably a “popular” class, getting clicks from the results pages, new video views, new students, reviews and premium minutes. If not, why would David say, “I am losing quite a bit of money each day as a result” (of the algorithm change)?
So, if it’s not the age of a class, or the popularity of a class, what changed?
It’s hard to say. let’s dig deeper…
One interesting insight is a search Sergey ran. He searched for his own name, and only one class was immediately shown at the top of the results, followed by other teacher’s classes…
When I checked, I found a block of twenty-eight of his classes near the end of the search results!
That sounds much more like a ranking penalty has been applied to those classes than a SEO algorithm tweak.
But, if Skillshare have started giving out “shadow bans”, where teachers aren’t removed from the platform, but their classes are almost impossible to find in the search results, why would one of Sergey’s classes rank at the top of the same search? Having 28/29 classes rank badly, and one rank well, makes very little sense to me. Furthermore, David, Mark and Lindsay produce great classes and I would struggle to ever see them getting a demotion.
It’s also interesting to note that, in the past, Skillshare did a “sweep” of their catalogue of classes and outright deleted many classes. There was no chance to edit a class to make it compliant. If it was gone, it was gone. I expect Skillshare was swamped with customer support tickets after taking such action, so it does make a lot of sense that, if they did another sweep, they’d institute a kind of “shadow ban” which the likes of Instagram use to suppress accounts who break their rules. When a shadowban happens, the account holder is not informed, so they’re much less likely to complain and thereby start a long dialogue exchange taking up a lot of community manager’s time. However, while this is an attractive idea, it doesn’t explain why quality teachers would see their classes demoted.
Asking Some Questions…
Why does a search for “Sergey Kasimov” return 373 results?
Why does a search for another teacher, “Alex Genadinik”, return 265 results? Neither teacher has that number of classes.
Why does a search for “Social Media Marketing Masterclass” return 3434 results, but “Social Media Masterclass” returns only 1593?
The answer is that, unlike most search engines, Skillshare uses the “OR” principle when searching their database. They return results for “Sergey OR Kasimov”, “Alex OR Genadinik”, and “Social OR Media OR Marketing OR Masterclass”, hence the huge number of results for that phrase! Almost all other search engines will narrow search results by using “AND” instead of “OR”, so you get fewer results with more complex search terms.
Not only do Skillshare use the “OR” functionality, they go further… they will truncate keywords to about four letters, so “Merch by Amazon” can return results by classes containing, “Amazing Fish”!
Could it be that Skillshare recently made their search algorithm more lenient? Classes which used to rank well are now ranking less well because Skillshare are simply returning a bigger pool of results…? Have they sacrificed a degree of precision in the search results in favour of more results?
It certainly seems so.
What do you think…? Please leave a comment below, and share this post if you think others will enjoy it! Thanks! 🙂