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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ratafor 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.
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.
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?
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.
This post was most recently updated on January 1st, 2019
Welcome to the Unofficial Skillshare FAQ for Teachers and Students 🙂
I created this FAQ in 2016 because there was quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding some of Skillshare’s policies and how things worked at their website. I thought it’d be helpful for people to see the answers I got to questions I asked Skillshare. I’ve updated the FAQ over the years with extra questions and answers which people have submitted to our Skillshare Mastermind Facebook Group.
The FAQ is now 55 questions and answers! If you have a specific question, I suggest searching the page for a keyword or two. If you still have an unanswered question, join the Mastermind Group for free and let us know. Hopefully one of our members will know the answer, and I’ll include the question and answer in the FAQ for others to learn from. If you like this page, please share it on social media. Sharing buttons are at the bottom of the page. 🙂
Please note, this is an “unofficial FAQ”. I do my best to keep this Skillshare FAQ up-to-date and helpful, but errors may creep in. If you absolutely need a 100% accurate and up-to-date answer to a specific question, you’ll have to ask Skillshare directly. Please see Question 1 for a link to their support site. If you have any knowledge which contradicts any answers in the FAQ, please let me know via the contact page for this website. Thanks. 🙂
Skillshare FAQ: How do I contact Skillshare support?
The best way is probably to open a support ticket. Note, Skillshare run a ticketing system where they reply to you via email without quoting your original reply, which makes it a bit confusing if you have multiple tickets open. There’s also no way to see your ticket comments and their replies online. I suggest keeping your own copy of what you type into their ticket form. You can open a ticket here.
Skillshare FAQ: How much does Skillshare cost?
At the time of writing this, a Skillshare Premium account costs $15 per month if paid monthly, or $8.25 per month if paid annually ($99/year). For that you get access to all the classes on the platform (over 21,000) and the ability to download classes to a tablet or phone to watch offline, as well as helping pay the teachers!
Note, there are over 1,000 completely free classes on Skillshare, which you only need a free account to watch. You can also get “free access links” for premium classes directly from the teachers and use those links with a free account. I’ve created a walkthrough page for how to get a 100% free Skillshare account.
Finally, if you use our referral link, you can get a month of premium for free when you start a premium trial. 🙂
Skillshare FAQ: I’ve heard about “premium perks”, what are they?
Premium perks are bonuses offered to people who become annual Skillshare premium members. In addition to a large discount on the monthly price of membership, annual members get “premium perks”. At the time of writing, the perks 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
Skillshare FAQ: Can I teach on Skillshare?
Yes! Anyone can teach on Skillshare. All you need to do is record yourself teaching something, either doing a “slides with voice-over” presentation or a “real-life” demonstration, depending on what you want to teach. For example, teaching “economics” would probably be suited to the “slides with voice-over”, but teaching watercolouring would be more suited to a real-life demonstration.
It’s free to teach on Skillshare, you don’t need to pay anything or even be a premium member. The only real “catch” is that you’ll need a PayPal account to get paid, because that’s the only way Skillshare pay their teachers.
You could just sign up at Skillshare for a free account and start teaching, or you could send me your name and email address which I’ll forward to Skillshare and they’ll help you create a class. When it’s published, you just need to do a bit of promotion to get 10 premium students and refer one member to Skillshare in the first 30 days, and you’ll get a $50 bonus with your first payment. (full disclosure: I’ll also get a bonus $50 from Skillshare when you get yours!) 🙂
Skillshare FAQ: If a premium member watches seven of my premium classes, do I get paid seven times?
You’ll 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: If a premium member watches the introductory “lesson”, does it count as premium minutes?
Ahh, great question! I don’t think Skillshare have explicitly said whether the intro lesson counts as premium or free minutes. It all depends how Skillshare is configured. It seems like they count all minutes watched by premium members. If that’s the case, the intro lesson would count as premium minutes. However, everyone can watch the initial video, and teachers can even put them on other websites such as YouTube because Skillshare doesn’t consider the intro lesson to be part of their premium catalogue, in which case you’d expect Skillshare to void any minutes watched of the intro videos.
Note: people have reported “free” minutes being generated without ever handing out free coupons. The only way I can explain that is if the intro video is counted as free, not premium.
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.
Update 2018: (detailed answer):
This has become an argument over semantics, which is a shame, because it creates confusion.
Skillshare used to say that classes needed 25 students to trend, and teachers agreed.
Several months ago, Skillshare started to say that classes appear on trending pages immediately after being published, which may be technically correct, but is confusing.
The confusion arises from the difference between category trending pages, which is what pretty much everyone outside of Skillshare support consider to be the trending pages, and other trending pages, such as trending pages for tags.
A class will immediately appear on tag trending pages, but not on category trending pages, but the category trending pages are the only ones teachers care about.
When someone shows me a class with less than 25 students on a category trending page, I’ll stop saying that it takes 25 students for a class to trend.
PS, I’ve just seen a class on a category trending page which was over 2 years old, so perhaps the threshold for trending has been lowered… but I still couldn’t find a class with fewer than 25 students!
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. Here’s what Skillshare have paid for a premium minute since their introduction in January 2017…
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 roughly 5 cents. See the chart above for details. 🙂
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: 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?
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.
However, a lot of topics lend themselves to being taught as a “live demo”, such as painting, flower-arranging, cooking, drawing, and making items such as jewellery. In those cases, a “live demo” class is probably best if you have the room and equipment.
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. (update: you can no longer publish more than one class per week)
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: Why were my premium minutes adjusted downwards? I had X number of minutes yesterday, then it was adjusted to Y minutes. Why?
Skillshare publish the premium minutes generated for all your classes without a delay. You can know your premium minute total for Tuesday on Wednesday!
The fact that they don’t have any delay means that whenever they remove accounts for fraudulent activity or have technical problems resulting in something like duplicate minutes being counted on a specific platform or device, they remove those minutes to be fair to all teachers.
Unfortunately, it’s likely to mean your premium minutes are adjusted downwards, which isn’t nice to see, especially if someone used a fraudulent account to watch your classes and you didn’t do anything wrong! It’s simply a consequence of Skillshare publishing the premium minutes total without a delay.
The alternative is for Skillshare to build a delay into the system and report premium minutes only after removing any erroneous minutes.
Please note, sometimes the adjustments can be large. In the Mastermind Group, we’ve seen reports of significant reductions in minutes, such as a recent one where a teacher had a report of 4,715 daily premium minutes reduced to 2,200 a few hours later. I’m not sure what would cause such a sizeable reduction. Perhaps that teacher’s classes were randomly targeted by fraudulent accounts. It’s impossible to know because Skillshare, naturally, don’t disclose the precise details of these adjustments.
It’s important to be aware that the initial reporting of your daily stats should be taken with a large pinch of salt, or even ignored completely. I can imagine it’s not a nice feeling to have what looks to be an excellent day, only to see the minutes halved!
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! 🙂 )
You can also refer new teachers to Skillshare and earn $50 when they publish their first class and promote it successfully, getting 10 premium students and a referral within the first 30 days.
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?
Premium members can download classes using the mobile app, then watch them later, which may fix any streaming issues. 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.
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?
People’s most valuable commodity is time. Even when you post free coupons and links, people have to take the time to redeem them, which means there’s a cost to them. You need to overcome that “cost hurdle” to get students.
Try to get people interested enough in your class topic to want to redeem your coupon. Make your post interesting, attractive, eye-catching, exciting. Try adding deadlines for the expiration of the coupon such as limited numbers or limited quantities, without using hyperbole.
Include tags and hashtags depending on where you’re promoting your coupons to give them a better chance of being found. Think about which words to use as tags… ones people are searching for, but without too much competition! 🙂
The more niche your class topic is, the less likely a member of a generic coupon-sharing group want to take it. For that reason, I’d suggest re-posting your coupons, at least until your class reaches 25 students. (our Skillshare promo group allows one post per class per day, and some people have VA’s to cycle through their classes posting coupons!)
You should also use other promotional methods if your class is niche, such as blogging about your subject, creating YouTube videos, posting tweets and Instagram messages with niche-specific hashtags and posting in any niche-specific forums online. If you have a generic class such as a “for beginners” introduction, it will probably do better on generic coupon sites and groups than a niche class.
Skillshare FAQ: I have two courses on a platform that are several hours each. Should I just put them on Skillshare, or split them into smaller segments?
Skillshare used to have a motto about “bite-sized learning”. They suggest that the “sweet spot” for a class is about 40 minutes in length. If you can make natural breaks in your longer courses so that they form standalone classes of 30-60 minutes each, then that’s probably the best choice because you can release a class each week and gain more exposure on the platform with multiple classes your audience can find, enjoy and recommend.
I’d recommend mentioning both the previous and next classes at the end of each class, as appropriate, so that students can easily find each class in the “series” and you’ll accrue premium minutes from them watching multiple classes. Skillshare teachers are paid for premium minutes their students generate, so it doesn’t make sense to split up a multi-hour course into separate parts if people only watch one part instead of the whole.
However, please note that each class on Skillshare must have a project for students to complete. So each class must independently teach a skill which the student can demonstrate in the project. If your current courses spends several hours leading up to a final event such as passing an exam or something similar, you may not be able to cleanly split them into separate, standalone classes and should then leave the course as it is.
Skillshare FAQ: Can I really only upload one class per week to Skillshare?
Yes, it appears so. This is a fairly new rule, which I’m not sure was even enforced until very recently. However, one teacher tried to upload 15 classes which I think he already had on Udemy, and reported getting an email from Skillshare support saying that one class was published and the other 14 were made “invisible” and would be published at one per week. So, it seems that Skillshare now do enforce the maximum of one class per week per teacher.
Skillshare FAQ: Are premium minutes generated when students download classes to watch later?
Yes, I believe that Skillshare said they could track classes which were watched after being downloaded via the Skillshare app by premium members, and teachers would be credited accordingly.
Skillshare FAQ: Where can I get the Skillshare mobile app?
Skillshare FAQ: I heard about a new review system at Skillshare. How does it work?
Skillshare recently overhauled their review system. Instead of a simple “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, there are now multiple sections to a review. I’ve done a blog post about the new Skillshare review system, here.
Skillshare FAQ: I found a Skillshare page which says your Facebook and Twitter followers will automatically become followers on Skillshare if you link your social media profiles to your Skillshare profile. What’s the best way to link Skillshare to FB and get those followers automatically brought over?
I’m not sure this works anymore. If you test it, please let me know! 🙂
Firstly, the link from the page you mentioned to, “connect your profile” gives a 404 error!
Secondly, Facebook has a specific meaning for “Followers”, and it isn’t your friends list! I doubt most people have “Followers” if we’re being precise. I have almost 4,000 friends but no followers because I haven’t turned the option on! 🙂
( https://www.facebook.com/about/follow )
Thirdly, I connected my Fb account and a Twitter account years ago but don’t remember seeing anyone follow me on Skillshare because of it.
Fourthly, if I followed someone on social media, then got email from them via Skillshare (because they’d connected their social media account to their Skillshare account, and I have a Skillshare account), I’d be a bit surprised!
Skillshare FAQ: How can I increase my Skillshare premium minutes watched?
Create more classes! Skillshare always need fresh classes because of their subscription model… look at how Netflix are pouring out quality content, and Spotify always has new songs because that’s what musicians do. Of course, your classes must be great to get people to watch them in this ultra-low-attention span age. Creating great classes has other benefits too… students will positive review them, Skillshare may help promote them, students will complete the projects, and they may also follow you and watch your other classes leading to more minutes.
Skillshare FAQ: Can I create my class videos with watermarks (with the free version of screen recording software like screencast-o-Matic)?
Good question! I don’t think it’s specifically ruled out. I have an unobtrusive watermark in my video lessons. I guess it depends on how large/distracting it is…
Skillshare FAQ: Where do “free” minutes come from in my teacher’s stats area?
Either you’ve given out free coupons which have been used, or it could be the “intro” lesson of your class which is available to everyone and so probably counts as free minutes.
Skillshare FAQ: What happened to the “groups” section of the Skillshare mobile app?
“Groups” was removed from the mobile app, re-worked, and added to the website.
Skillshare FAQ: Is it allowed to include affiliate links in a class? For example, recommending a product and putting my affiliate link?
Yes, it’s allowed, as long as the class teaches a skill which the student can demonstrate in the project. In other words, the affiliate link must be ancillary to the class, not the reason for it. For best practice you may want to disclose that the link is an affiliate link when posting it. I’ve seen classes where the class description contained a wall of affiliate links with no disclosure. I would suggest that eventually Skillshare will remove such classes, and if you don’t want yours caught in the sweep, be sure to use affiliate links sparingly, with disclosure and without them being the reason you created the class!
Skillshare FAQ: How do “Featured Classes” get chosen? Are featured classes chosen at random and promoted for a certain time or are there any qualifications in order to be featured?
Featured classes are chosen by Skillshare and are often classes Skillshare co-created with the teacher, however, sometimes you can win a featured spot as a prize in a Skillshare competition for teachers. See an example of the “featured classes” at the top of the “Fine Arts” category page…
Skillshare FAQ: What are “Skillshare Teams” and can I use them to give my VA access to my account without sharing my personal account info such as payment details?
Skillshare Teams seem to be a way for businesses to provide all of their staff with premium accounts at Skillshare but with just one point of billing. So, if you ran CompanyX and wanted all 1,000 employees to have access to all the premium catalogue of Skillshare classes as a company expense, you’d contact the sales people at Skillshare and, presumably, negotiate a big discount on paying for 1,000 individual premium accounts. I don’t think “team” accounts are a way to manage VA access to an individual premium account, although that would be a great suggestion to send to Skillshare!
Skillshare FAQ: What’s a “Staff Pick”?
In June 2018, Skillshare are starting to award “Staff Pick” badges to only 60 classes initially, then they’re adding a few each week. They say, “The Staff Picks badge is a way for the Skillshare team to highlight exceptional teachers who go above and beyond to provide students with a valuable, engaging experience”. Interestingly, only classes created in 2018 are eligible.
The name “Staff Pick” probably came from Vimeo. Michael Karnjanaprakorn did an interview with Vimeo in 2017 where he said, “Internally, our video team turns to Vimeo Staff Picks for inspiration all the time. At least once a week, you’ll find our producers and videographers sharing links in Slack and calling out perfect transitions and scenes that can fuel their own work.”
Skillshare FAQ: How can I make my class a “Staff Pick”?
You can’t, at least not directly. Skillshare chooses the Staff Picks, but they gave pointers for how they make the selections in a blog post. They describe how they look for classes which are,
Demystifying: provides information that is insightful and accurate
Actionable: how to use their new skills in their daily life or work
Organized: presents ideas in a structured way
Personal: engaging and authentic
Clear Value Proposition: sets clear expectations and delivers on what it promises
Polished: the teacher has invested effort and is a trusted guide.
Relevant: covers a topic that is relevant to a wider industry or audience conversation.
Compelling: engaging and inspiring.
Skillshare FAQ: What are “Skillshare Originals”?
“Skillshare Originals” are classes filmed and edited by Skillshare, with the teacher providing expertise in their field. The new label will be applied to, “all classes produced by Skillshare’s in-house content team. In support of our mission to increase access to a variety of teachers and topics on Skillshare, we are proud to partner with world-renowned creators, influencers, and industry leaders, creating unique and innovative classes for the Skillshare community.”
Skillshare FAQ: Are there topics I can’t teach about on Skillshare?
When I first started teaching on Skillshare, back at in January 2016, I don’t remember there being any rules about what you could or couldn’t teach. As long as a class was educational and contained a project for students to attempt, that was acceptable.
Of course, there was the usual website terms and conditions saying that you couldn’t publish anything hateful or obscene, but there weren’t any topics that were otherwise outright banned, to the best of my recollection.
Well, that changed a while ago, with the creation of a list of topics which Skillshare wouldn’t accept. Not only would future content on these topics be rejected, but classes already published were removed too.
Interestingly, the list has grown over time, so teachers should know that there’s a list of topics you can’t teach on, and teachers should also keep a close eye on the page where the list is published because topics can be added to it.
Classes focused on passive income business strategies, or amassing fast followers are not permitted.
Classes about dating, romance, or relationships are not permitted.
Classes about teaching on other educational platforms are not permitted.
Classes that show students how to resell existing products or services (such as drop-shipping or multi-level marketing) are not permitted on Skillshare.
As a teacher, it would make sense to check the official page frequently for banned topics and also other changes that Skillshare make occasionally.
Skillshare FAQ: How do I email my students and followers?
This can be a bit confusing. 🙂 After you’ve read about the difference between followers and students, it’s important to understand that you contact them differently. Note, you can’t directly message anyone on Skillshare… not your students, not your followers, no-one… the system simply doesn’t exist. However, you can trigger notifications and emails.
To email students of a specific class you teach, you’d firstly go to the class page and click the “Community” tab, then click on, “Start A Conversation”. As you’re creating the new post, there’s an option to “Email all students”…
When your post is ready, and you’ve clicked the “Email all students” option, you can click, “Post”, which will create the new “conversation” and email the new content to that class’ students.
To contact your Followers, you simply log in with your teacher account, then select the “Post To All Followers” from the “Teach” drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the page…
Important: Please consider the volume of email students get. When you launch a new class it can be tempting to contact students of your previous class(es) and your followers.
Please be aware that Skillshare sends an auto-notification email to your followers when you publish a new class. If you then contact your students and followers using the methods above, some people will get multiple emails about your new class… the auto-notification, the followers email and one or more student updates! You could quickly find that person choosing not to follow you anymore!
My advice would be to send a tailored email to your followers on the day the class is published, explaining what’s in the class, why they’ll like it, and what they’ll learn.
I wouldn’t contact students of previous classes, unless the new class was a direct follow-up to a previous one… for example, the new class is, “Advanced Excel”, and you already have a popular, “Beginners Excel”. In that case, I’d send a new, tailored, email to the students of, “Beginners Excel”, a few days after the launch of “Advanced Excel”, letting them know what’s in the class. I’d also include a positive review or two, assuming the new class had some!
Skillshare FAQ: Do teachers get access to all premium classes?
Unfortunately, no, Skillshare teachers aren’t automatically premium members, so they don’t have access to all premium content on the website. However, if you create your first class as part of a Skillshare “Teach Challenge“, which they run each month, you can “win” a year of premium membership. In November there’s even a grand prize of a trip to New York! Please note, you have to meet deadlines during the challenge, and hit other targets, such as getting some premium students in your new class, before you can win a prize.
Skillshare FAQ: Can I earn $50 for referring a new Skillshare teacher?
Yes, you can! if you know of someone who’d like to teach on Skillshare, and would probably be good at it, you can refer that person to Skillshare and you’ll both earn $50!
However, there are some criteria which need to be met before you’ll earn your money. They are…
1: The teacher must publish their first class within 30 days.
2: You only get $50 in cash if you’re a teacher already… otherwise it’s a $50 “digital gift card”.
3: This promotion can’t be combined with others. One of the most popular other promotions is the “New Teacher Challenge”, which rewards the new teacher with an “earnings match” for their first month, up to $100. So the “refer a teacher” promotion isn’t actually more generous than the “Teacher Challenge”, it’s just that the money is split between the referrer and the new teacher, assuming the new teacher earns $100 or more in their first month.
4: The new teacher must get a minimum of “10 premium students” and “1 teacher referral” in their first month. This may actually be difficult for some teachers, for example if they teach a very niche class, or don’t have contacts to refer to Skillshare. I assume the “teacher referral” should be “premium referral” because that’s the same conditions as the “Teacher Challenge”.
Full details of this promotion are available here.
Skillshare FAQ: Do Skillshare accept PayPal?
Until very recently, Skillshare didn’t accept PayPal for their premium subscriptions, either monthly or annually. However, on Cyber Monday of 2018 they offered a deal where you could take a 3-month trial premium membership for 99c and pay using PayPal.
Whether or not that was a unique opportunity to use PayPal, or the ability to use PayPal is now permanent, I don’t know. However, it would be very strange to do a “test” acceptance of Paypal during one of the busiest sales days of the year! I suspect a deal has been done with PayPal, and it will be accepted as a payment source at Skillshare.
(update: I just checked… PayPal is now an on-going payment option, alongside a credit or debit card)
I remember having a message exchange with the then-CEO of Skillshare, Mike Karnjanaprakorn, asking why Skillshare didn’t accept Paypal, even though it was the only way their paid their teachers, and he replied with words to the effect that the integrations of the systems was complex. It seems that those complexities have been overcome. I think it’s great that Skillshare accept PayPal which is one of the largest payment providers online and in 2017 processed transactions worth 451 billion U.S. dollars!
Skillshare FAQ: Can I Join A Class Without Having A Premium Account?
Here’s how it works…
Skillshare have about 25,000 classes, of which 24,000 are premium and 1,000 are free (roughly).
With a free account you can take any of the 1,000 free classes *and* any premium classes you can find a free access link for.
(At our Facebook Group there are lots of free access links for premium classes posted daily.)
What you can’t do as a free member is take any of the premium classes without a free access link. To take premium classes you either need to be on a free trial of premium, or a currently paying premium member.
This post was most recently updated on April 3rd, 2019
(update: the trending algorithm has since been updated at Skillshare. We think the same scoring system applies, but the results are probably averaged over a week or two, instead of daily. This change means new classes are far less likely to trend well, and old classes are able to trend indefinitely. Also, free students can no longer review premium classes or submit projects.)
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 2-months access for free, and have access to all 7,000 23,000 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…
“Thorough and insightful as always!”
“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.”
“Very helpful class. really shed some light on the recent changes.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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
“Great Class .. thanks Neil .. I also believe that the new algo works the same way”
“Very useful information and a “must-watch” class for all teachers! Thanks!”
“Thanks for another fantastic course. Your courses are always packed with so much information. Everyone should watch this course.”
“This is another must-watch class in this excellent series. Thank you Neil, for getting this class out so quickly!”
“Always great classes with valuable information. If you’re a Skillshare instructor you should watch this!”
“really interesting, current and up to date information”
This post was most recently updated on April 3rd, 2019
It’s quite straightforward to make a free enrollment link for a Premium Skillshare class, once you know what you’re doing! 🙂
Here’s how it works.
First, make sure your class is Premium…
Second, click to “promote” your class…
Third, click on “Create A New Link“…
Decide on how many free enrollments the link should allow, choose a name for tracking purposes (optional, only you see this information), and choose an expiry date (optional). I recommend you allow a lot of enrollments, choose a good tracking name such as “MyFacebookGroup” and don’t set an expiration date.
Next, click on “Create“…
Your tracking link is then created. Simply copy the link and paste it wherever you want to offer free enrollment to a Premium Skillshare class!
Note, in the image I have included an expiration date for you to see what it looks like. I don’t actually recommend having links that expire because of the possibility of upsetting someone who sees the free enrollment link after it expires.
Another thing to note is that free Skillshare members who use your free enrolment link won’t be able to post reviews, start a discussion or post a project. I think this change was made to prevent teachers from manipulating their class’ trending score by getting many reviews and projects from free members.
Passive income is the “holy grail” of most business owners and entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, in most businesses, passive income is almost impossible. You can only get truly passive income by growing a business to a large enough size to sustain all the processes of the business while being profitable, and have a management team and oversight by boardroom executives. Even then, if you’re the business owner, you should probably be reading the quarterly statements! 🙂
However, the good news is that entrepreneurs and small business owners can build up assets online that generate “almost passive income“. One such mechanism is building an affiliate website that earns commissions over time. I built a website in about 1999 that has earned affiliate income from one merchant since the year 2000! All I had to do was keep the site running by checking on the server once in a while, and pay for the domain-name renewal fees. Sixteen years later, it’s still making money. (I have to admit, that’s very rare. No other affiliate program has lasted that long for me)
Another way to earn “almost passive income” is to put your saleable digital content on third party platforms. For example, you could put ebooks on Amazon Kindle, training courses on Udemy and teaching classes on Skillshare.
In a similar way to earning money as an affiliate, you’re not actually making the sale on a platform. Either Amazon, Udemy or Skillshare makes the sale, delivers the product to the customer, handles the technical aspect of running the website, deals with customer support and refunds. When you’ve uploaded an ebook or digital course, it’s available for purchase for weeks, months and possibly years, meaning each one can contribute to a passive income stream.
Basically, the way classes are ranked by default at Skillshare is their “trending” algorithm, which allows new classes to rank well. Unfortunately, that means old classes don’t rank so well, and can’t generate much residual income.
However, there are other ways classes can be found on Skillshare, namely keyword searches and the “Best” tab. Those two options give us a much better chance of passive income.
If you can get a class to the top of Skillshare when someone searches, which means optimising your class for specific keywords and gaining high enrollments, you can generate enrollments over time, which equals passive income. In the same way, if you can get to the top of the “Best” tab for your category through positive reviews and enrollments, you can also generate passive income.
Finally, by having multiple classes, you can “cross-pollinate” students from one class to others, thereby amplifying any passive income you manage to generate.
As you can see, it will take a while to build up residual income on Skillshare, but it can be done! 🙂
This post was most recently updated on June 18th, 2018
Here at InternetSuccess, we’re all about achieving success online. To us, that means making money and getting personal satisfaction from offering quality digital products that customers enjoy.
One of the places we offer our digital information is Skillshare.
In face, we enjoy Skillshare so much, we’ve created classes explaining how you can create and make money from your own Skillshare classes.
We called these classes our “Skillshare Crash Course”. Here are the classes we’ve created so far. You can get free access to all these classes at the moment, but that may change at any time.
“How To Start Your First Skillshare Class”…
Sometimes it can seem difficult to know where to begin when creating a Skillshare class.
We’ve been creating “how to” guides since 1997 (nearly 20 years!) and we’ll walk you through the process of creating a Skillshare class, step-by-step.
We’ll show you what you need and then how do do it!
From how to brainstorm a class, to how to record your screen with demos of Camtasia, and the free alternatives Screencast-o-matic and Open Broadcasting Software.
From microphone tips to editing video, from class meta-data to the important first class image, we cover a huge amount in this quality course. Join this class for free!
“How To Earn Money On Skillshare”…
In this class we take a close look at the different ways you can earn money on Skillshare, from premium enrollments to bonus payments and referral payments.
We also look at how much money other teachers on Skillshare are earning, and how much you could potentially earn!
Recently, Skillshare changed the algorithm for calculating teacher’s earnings. Don’t miss out on the latest information… take this class today for free. 🙂
“How To Get More Skillshare Followers”…
The Skillshare platform is built around followers. Every teacher needs to know why followers are so important to your Skillshare success and how to get more followers.
This class teaches you what followers are, why they’re important and several ways to get more followers, from releasing more classes, promoting your classes, leveraging the platform and encouraging engagement.
This class is one of several we’ve created to help you understand the Skillshare platform and be as successful as possible on it.
“Free Promotion For Your Premium Skillshare Class!”
Are you a Skillshare teacher?
If so, we want to help you get more enrollments in your Premium Skillshare class!
Promote your class for free in our Facebook Group, the largest dedicated to Skillshare !
So, there you have it. Our entire “crash course” for succeeding on Skillshare. What do you think? Is there a topic I’ve missed?
One of the things I think Skillshare could do better is have more interaction with teachers and potential teachers. I’ve written about it here… “how to contact Skillshare“. I’ve also written a blog post about how much money you could potentially earn on Skillshare. Interestingly, Skillshare just released new stats. They say that their top 100 teachers earn $1,300 per month, which is about $15,600 per year. That’s not a bad income for publishing digital courses. 🙂
I’ve also published two tutorials on Skillshare relating to succeeding on Skillshare. You can find them here, and here.
This post was most recently updated on June 18th, 2018
One of the things that Udemy do well is help instructors via a central resource. Surprisingly, that resource isn’t a Udemy-run forum or chat system, it’s actually a Facebook Group. To be more precise, it’s two Facebook groups… the Udemy Studio for instructors working on their courses (30,000 members) and the Faculty Lounge for instructors who’ve published a course (3,100 members). I’m not really sure what the benefits of having two Groups are, especially when people often post to both and you don’t know which to answer!
Anyway, the Facebook Groups are well moderated and serve as a central place to get help. After asking a question, you often get early replies from other members and an official reply a bit later. It actually works quite well.
However, when we contrast that with Skillshare, we see that the same does not apply. Skillshare has a very helpful community team consisting of Nataleigh, Megan, Nicole, Cara and Danielle, but no central place where you can ask questions. Skillshare support seems to be spread out all over the place.
They have “Teach Challenge” workshops and Teacher AMA’s (ask me anything) along with a standard helpcenter, teacher handbook and ticket system at the website.
Having only just wrapped my head around the pretty bizarre pricing model at Udemy, they go and change it!
Let’s rewind to get a necessary perspective.
Udemy sells online educational courses which are primarily video-based. Those courses could be priced from $9 to $299. However, a lot of the time, courses were priced towards the high end ($249, $299), but actually sold at the low end ($10, $15). The discounting was done by both course instructors, using deep discount coupons they created and sent via mailouts to their Udemy students, and by Udemy themselves who would have offers and sales events such as the “Black-Friday” site-wide offer where you could pick up any course for $10. Of course, the discounts appeared highest for courses priced near the maximum, hence instructors gravitated to the high end of pricing, knowing that a “90%-off” deal was much juicier than a “20%-off” deal to prospective buyers.
However, this pricing caused a trust issue to build up for Udemy. What happened to someone new to Udemy who wasn’t wise to the discounting games? What if that person bought a $299 course, only to find it was on sale along with every other course at just $10 the week after. It’s not hard to guess their reaction, nor their likely response which would probably be never to buy from Udemy again!
And so it came to pass that Udemy decreed that, as of 4th April 2016, all courses would be priced from $20 to $50, rising in $5 increments. So there would only be seven possible prices for all courses, site-wide. Not only that, but the maximum discount offered, by either an instructor or Udemy themselves, would be 50%.
Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the “discounters” who offered courses for less than $10, and there were a LOT of discounters. FaceBook coupon groups had to be re-named swiftly from “Udemy courses under $10!” to, erm, “Udemy courses over $10!”
So Udemy is trying to shed its discounting image. They want to remove the possibility of Bob being mortified at spending $299 for a course he could’ve got for just $10. They also want to iron-out the spikes in sales throughout the calendar year. It seemed to me that the big sale events of November and January hoovered up about 75% of the year’s sales because a lot of people put off buying any course at anything over $10 until then next sale, then “stocked up” on courses to last them the next several months.
As Udemy grows past 10-million users towards 11-million and beyond, it may be that people forget their “early days” with the “wild west” discounts. Both Udemy and their instructors need to hope so!
This post was most recently updated on June 18th, 2018
When you’re an instructor at Udemy, you have to aim for top-ratings and reviews for your courses, especially if your course is in a competitive category or sub-category.
The overall rating of your course is an important ranking factor. If your course doesn’t have a high overall rating, it can suffer in two ways…
it will be less likely to appear high in the Udemy search results
it won’t be well placed on the list of category and sub-categories it’s in.
Before we look at what you can do to get a 1-star rating or review changed, let’s back up a bit and go over some basics for those people who are unaware of them.
How Does A Rating Differ From A Review?
Basically, when your course gets feedback from a student, they can either just give it a star rating, from one to five, or they can give it a rating and leave a comment. A star rating doesn’t appear on the course description page, so only you, the instructor, will know who left it, but it does still count towards your course’s overall average score, and is included in the “tally” of stars received.
A review happens when a student leaves both a rating and a comment at the same time. The most recent reviews appear on the course description page, along with the name and profile picture of who left them, so they’re a bit less anonymous.
Examples Of Udemy Star Ratings…
Examples Of Udemy Reviews…
However, both ratings and reviews count towards the overall course average, shown here…
The course overall average rating is very important for determining where a course is ranked for any given search term at Udemy, and also for appearance and placement on the category and sub-category pages.
This is what a 1-star rating can do to your overall average…
Now, I can imagine you may be thinking, if the second picture is older, what happened to the 1-star rating? Was the one-star rating changed to a four-star or five-star rating, or was it deleted?
I’m glad you asked. 🙂
When I got the one-star review for my “Domain Name Essentials” course, it had previously received 16 fives and a four. As you can imagine, I was not pleased at the 1-star review, so I checked whether or not Udemy would remove it. They say, on their website… (update: the web-address for the page has changed and the wording has since been edited. Please check their latest version, here)
Removal of Course Reviews
Occasionally a student may write a review that does not follow Udemy’s review guidelines. Reviews that are disrespectful, offensive, or unrelated to the course can harm the instructor’s experience as well as the Udemy community and may be removed. However, reviews that simply include negative commentary about the course (and do not violate any review guidelines) can provide valuable feedback for instructors and, therefore, will not be removed.
Instructors may request that Udemy investigate any review that meets one or more of the following criteria:
Contains language that is rude, hateful, or aggressive.
Is fake, fraudulent, offensive, spammy, or misleading.
Is unrelated to the course or course material.
Udemy will remove a student review only if it meets one or more of the criteria above.
Udemy will not remove a review simply because it has one or more of the following:
Negative commentary about the course or course content.
Negative commentary about the instructor’s teaching style or delivery.
Low number rating.
Suggestions on how to improve the course.
When Udemy declines a review removal request, this represents a final decision and the instructor may not resubmit the review for reconsideration.
If you believe that a review of your course fits the removal criteria above, you should request an investigation through email@example.com
The important point is that Udemy believes that students should be allowed to leave critical reviews (and low star ratings) under most circumstances. As you can see, they state that they won’t remove a review simply because it has a “low number rating”. So saying, “my course had all fives, now someone’s left a 1-star review, please remove it”, is not going to work.
So, I put my thinking cap on and tried to call the review “misleading”. To my mind, if the course had 17 reviews, 16 five stars and a 4 star, then a 1-star rating (no comment was left, so it wasn’t a review), was misleading and spurious.
Here’s what I sent…
What can I do about someone leaving a spurious 1-star review
after only completing 10% of my course?
Until this 1-star rating my course had 16x fives and a four!
Almost all of the people who left 5-star reviews had completed
100% of the course.
How can a guy complete 10% and leave a 1-star rating with no comment and it not be spurious?
I’ve tried to message him, with no reply.
That one rating brought the course average down from 4.94 to 4.72 which is devastating. I’d worked really hard to get the almost perfect rating… from people who had actually completed the course!
Is there not a statistical analysis which could show that
a course with a 4.94 average getting a 1-star rating would
be exceptionally unlikely and the rating is therefore likely to
I didn’t hold out much hope for Udemy removing the 1-star rating. However, as a former scientist, it did intrigue me as to whether or not a rating could be viewed as an “outlier” and removed as such. In science, statistical tests can be done to determine whether data points are statistical outliers and can be disregarded. Could that be applied at Udemy? I guess not, because there’s no real issue with the validity of the data, as long as Udemy choose to let someone who completed only 10% of a course leave a 1-star rating with no feedback.
I got the standard, template response from Udemy’s support people.
I’m sorry to hear that you got a negative review on your course. It is never pleasant to see this happen. We unfortunately cannot remove the review, since it is a student’s personal opinion about the content of the course.
We do recommend that you reach out to the student with our direct messaging system and use the opportunity to engage them in a discussion, get feedback on the course, and ask if they can remove the review if you incorporate their feedback. Most often with these kinds of reviews, just engaging the student in a discussion helps in resolving the issue.
We can also understand your frustration since one negative review can seem like it can significantly impact how people view your course. As you accumulate more reviews, the negative impact of one bad review will diminish, and students will be able to make an informed decision about your course based on your many reviews, as well as by looking at other aspects of your course. Since you have a large number of students in your course already, we recommend that next time you send an educational announcement about the course or updates in the field, you can also remind them to leave a review for your course. You could use language like, “If you like the course, do leave a review so other students can hear about it. If you have any feedback for me, please send me a direct message so I can incorporate it into the course.”
We hope this helps, and encourage you to not be disheartened by a single negative review.
So, my only hope was to contact the person who left the review, trying to get them to change their mind. If you can’t get a reply, then the 1-star rating will be stuck to your course forever.
I didn’t hear back from the student who left the review, despite sending him an initial message and two follow-up messages…
I tried to be polite and upbeat, but got no response.
Finally, I decided to do some research using the only information I had… the student’s name.
I found out via Google that someone with the same first-name and last-name was the registered owner of about 20 domain names under a Gmail account with the same name. This new information gave me an idea… I could send a direct email to his Gmail account stressing that my course was for beginners and he was obviously over-qualified to take it, bearing in mind his suite of domain names.
Despite not replying to my Udemy messages, or to my direct email, the 1-star rating by this student was changed to a 5-star rating.
So a little bit of persistence can make a big difference to your course average, and therefore your course rankings at Udemy.
I have also managed to get a 2-star rating changed to a 4-star rating for one of my other courses.
Note, I wouldn’t have been so persistent if the student had left anything other than a 1-star review because I would not want to upset them and risk them giving me a lower rating. However, as the student couldn’t possibly leave me a lower rating than a 1-star I felt a less concerned about negative consequences of contacting them outside of Udemy. Of course, I was always polite and professional. Being persistent and aggressive is a sure way to get into trouble, so don’t do it, no matter how much the 1-star rating stings!
Changing The Review System At Udemy
Should the review system be changed at Udemy? Here are some arguments and counter-arguments I’ve seen from their Facebook Groups…
Some people advocate not letting people leave reviews until they are halfway through a course, or have finished it. That won’t work because forcing someone to complete a course they don’t like is not going to happen. It’s like not letting people get up and leave a movie theatre when watching a movie they don’t like.
Some people say students should be required to leave comments for low-star reviews, so the instructor can know what to change. While I agree with this, I’m not sure Udemy will agree to put any requirements on leaving a rating/review. It also doesn’t help much when a student leaves a low-star review and says something you simply disagree with, such as the expert level course was too complicated, or something like that.
Personally, I think I’d require comments to be added if a review is several stars below the course average. So, if 20 people leave 5-star reviews and one student wants to leave a 1-star rating, that should trigger a message saying,
“Your intended rating is 4 stars below the average of the course to date, are you sure you want to do that? If so, please state in a few sentences why you think the course deserves such a rating”.
Have you got a 1-star or 2-star rating for your course? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? Let me know in the comments.
This post was most recently updated on March 18th, 2019
[Update: 24th April 2016: We now have a Skillshare class containing all the latest information we could find on earning money on Skillshare. It’s a premium class, so you’ll need to be a member to take it. However, if you use this link, you can join and gain access to ALL Skillshare’s premium classes for 2 months for free!]
[Update: 18th March 2016, Skillshare have just announced that “projects” will no longer count towards instructor’s earnings. Instead, only premium signups will count.]
[Update: December 2016: Skillshare have announced they’re changing the teacher payment model and earnings calculation from premium enrollments to premium minutes watched. We have a full discussion of the changes in a new blog post.
2016 information is below this point!
Beware, it’s probably out-dated, but is kept for reference purposes. For our most recent look at how much you could earn on Skillshare, see our new, 2019 post! 🙂
People seem to be genuinely confused by Skillshare’s revenue share with their teachers. As a new teacher on Skillshare, I’d like to offer what I’ve found out after trawling different websites.
Out-dated Information Everywhere!
The first point to make is that a lot of information from third party websites is out-dated. In the past, you had to garner 100 enrollments to a premium class you placed on Skillshare to be eligible for the “Partner Program” and thereby earn any money. That requirement has since been reduced to just 25 enrollments. Furthermore, you can create a “premium” class and offer free links to people so they can join your class for nothing. That’s what I did, and I got to the 25 target in about a day, so it’s not an onerous task. However, only premium enrollments count towards your earnings. Skillshare aren’t going to pay you for people you got to take your class for free! However, if those people join Skillshare within 30 days of clicking your link, you get a $10 payment per person. I’ve had two people do that already.
Here’s how the revenue share breaks down…
As you can see from the above diagram, Skillshare take 50% of all the revenue derived from monthly subscriptions to pay for their overheads. Interestingly, in their Terms of Service, Skillshare say…
Skillshare distributes at least 30% of its revenue to Skillshare Partners on a monthly basis.
Presumably, the 30% is a “floor” and the current amount of 50% is subject to change.
After Skillshare have deducted their 50%, the remainder is split between teachers who have at least one class with 25 enrollments according the the diagram. Let’s break it down…
Premium Enrollment Earnings
Skillshare say each premium enrollment in your classes earns you between $1 and $2.
On Skillshare, teachers earn between $1-2 per Premium enrollment. (source)
With the revenue-share model they have, they can’t calculate a value until they know their monthly totals, and each month the value will be different, hence the vague $1-2. However, if you take the lower end, you can guesstimate your earnings by checking whether or not an enrollment is from a premium member, and simply add up the number of premium enrollments.
Note, you can create free classes, but they don’t earn any revenue. On the other hand, you do earn multiple times if a single premium member enrolls in several of your classes, therefore it’s important to have multiple classes on Skillshare to benefit from this potential amplification of earnings.
A Revenue-Share Model Similar To Amazon Kindle
This “revenue share” model is a lot like the way Amazon used to pay out for Kindle Unlimited borrows. They’d set a pool size of millions of dollars and authors would get a percentage of that pool based on the number of borrows they had in that month relative to the total number of borrows. Amazon has since moved to a “pages read” model after they were flooded with short books trying to quality for the per-borrow payout because books had to be read to 10% to qualify for a borrow, which obviously favoured books of 20 pages compared to 500-page novels. However, the principle is the same… Kindle authors whose books are in the Kindle Unlimited program share a royalty pool based on pages read of Kindle Unlimited books in addition to direct Kindle sales.
Earning For Completed Class Projects
Skillshare also say that the number of completed student projects contributes to your earnings. I’m not sure how much a completed project is worth. As some categories of classes (photography? painting?) will have a larger percentage of students submit projects than others (build a website? write code?), it doesn’t seem particularly fair to just take the raw numbers of completed projects, so perhaps the numbers are modulated in some way. However, this is largely “hand waving”, as we have no way of knowing, although I’ve just emailed someone at Skill Share to ask, and will update this blog post if I find out more. All we do know is that the number of completed projects by your class students relative to total completed projects forms a part in your overall earnings.
Update, 18th Feb 2016. I got a reply from Cara at Skillshare who said…
I would say that enrollments are most important for your payments but projects are still significant for more than one reason. Each project shared in your class gives you 10 trending points — the more trending points you have, the higher your class is listed on the Trending Classes page, the more students discover and enroll in your class.
And we definitely do not give weight to different categories. We fundamentally believe in meritocracy, so everyone has the same chance to succeed.
So, let’s take the second point first. As all categories are treated the same, instructors really need to try to find a way to make their class projects as easy to complete and submit as possible. If an instructor creates a project to write code, or build a web-site, they are probably going to have less completed projects compared to a photography class where the project is to take a picture of a sunset and upload it. As projects are not graded for difficulty, an instructor who posts a difficult project will simply see less earnings.
As for the first point, while the “10 trending points per shared project” was interesting, an indirectly will affect revenue as a class trends and presumably earns more, I was hoping for a more direct value of a completed project, seeing as it’s included in the revenue equation.
If you refer someone to Skillshare and they join the premium membership, you get a $10 bounty. I think it even applies if someone signs up for a free trial, but that seems open to abuse so I can’t see it continuing for long.
At the moment, there’s a promotion whereby if you submit a class and reach the 25 enrollments target within 30 days of starting the class, you qualify for $50, or $250 if it’s a “culinary” class. As my class reached the target within 24 hours, I believe I’ve earned that $50.
“Video View” Earnings
In their Terms Of Service, SkillShare say…
The algorithm used to determine your monthly share as a Partner is based on the total number of new students enrolled, new projects created, and video views each month across all of your Membership classes.
I don’t know if that’s accurate, but video views are not shown in the revenue breakdown image shown above. So either the quote isn’t actually a reflection of how earnings are now calculated or the graphic is not completely accurate. I’ll try to contact Skillshare and get a clarification on whether or not video views play a role in determining the teacher’s earnings.
Update, 18th Feb 2016. I got a reply from Cara at Skillshare who said…
As to the Terms of Service, I will definitely take a look and make an update there. Views do not count toward revenue.
So that’s pretty clear… video views no longer play a part in the revenue calculation for instructors.
How Much Do Others Earn?
I haven’t seen many people reveal their Skillshare earnings. I don’t think teachers are forbidden from doing it, as far as I can tell. One person who has shown his earnings is Rob Cubbon who earned $3,124 in 2015, which I think was his first year on Skillshare.
Rob has 2331 students, and all his courses are premium, so unless he gave away free sign-up links (like I did), he probably signed up about 2,220 people in 2015, which would be $1.42 per enrollment. It could also breakdown as $1 per enrollment, worth $2,200 and $900 from ninety people signing up for a premium Skillshare account through his referral link. We don’t know as I don’t think Skillshare explains the breakdown in that level of detail.
How Much Will You Earn?
How much you will earn on SkillShare obviously depends on several factors such as…
How many courses you put on Skillshare
How good your courses are
How much competition there is in your niche at Skillshare
Whether you have an established audience you can refer to Skillshare for bounty payments and enrollments
Skillshare say that the “average” teacher earns $3,500 per year, and that the top instructors earn $30,000+. They also say they’ve paid out over $5 million in total.
Your earnings will be roughly $1 per premium enrollment, plus $10 for every person who signs up as a premium member via your link, plus some kind of payment for completed class projects and possibly “video views”.
From that, you should be able to have a fairly accurate guesstimate of your Skillshare earnings breakdown.
If you’ve created instructional video courses, my advice would be to put them on Skillshare in addition to Udemy and perhaps your own website. 🙂
What do you think?
Will you be publishing on Udemy, Skillshare or somewhere else? Are you already a publisher? If so, how’s it going…? Please leave a comment below… 🙂