This post was most recently updated on October 17th, 2018
[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.
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… 🙂