Teaching online continues to grow in popularity as a way to make money as an artist.
There are a ton of different teaching platforms that are available, but Skillshare might be the best known among digital artists - possibly because they sponsor so many youtube creators!
Perhaps you've been considering creating your own course and putting it on Skillshare, but you aren’t sure how much you would realistically earn.
If you have a small online audience, don't expect to suddenly get rich off Skillshare - less than $50 a month earnings per class is realistic - but the income is 100% passive. If you have a big audience, Skillshare is really low-risk and approachable - perfect for first-time teachers.
If you want some hard numbers, then I’ve got some to share - I’ve had a couple of classes up on Skillshare for a few years now, and would consider myself a small-time creator without a huge social media following.
Quickly, I just want to make sure everyone is on the same page on how Skillshare works:
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is a subscription e-learning platform that's particularly great for digital artists at beginner to intermediate level. They have thousands of courses made by some of the world's leading experts on art, photography, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.
Most Skillshare classes are around an hour long and broken into 5 to 10 minute segments.
As long as you continue to pay their subscription fee, you can watch as many classes as you like, so those with a good amount of spare time on their hands will find Skillshare to be decent value for money.
Anyone can upload a class to Skillshare, and as long as it passes Skillshare’s review process they can then start earning an income from users watching their content.
How do you get Paid as a Skillshare Teacher?
Skillshare teachers get paid monthly, for premium referrals and for the number of minutes watched of their classes.
Firstly, teachers are given premium referral codes they can use to give people a 1 month free trial to Skillshare; any time a person goes on to pay for Skillshare after their free trial, the teacher that invited them earns $10.
30% of Skillshare’s monthly revenue is put in a pool to pay the teachers - you get a portion of that pool based on the number of minutes that people watched your classes, relative to all the other classes on the platform - in my experience, that means you earn about 7 cents per minute watched of your classes, but it fluctuates every month depending on Skillshare’s activity.
Paypal is currently the only way you can be paid by Skillshare, and your earnings will be paid into your Paypal account on the 16th of each month.
How Much Money can you Earn as a Skillshare Teacher?
You can find some Skillshare income reports online, such as this article from Skillshare itself.
To summarize Skillshare's article quickly, Skillshare interviewed 4 teachers individually, and they earned roughly from $250 up to $2000 per class in their first 3 months of teaching on Skillshare.
Now, these numbers are hard to use in isolation as we don’t know much about each teachers situation - do they already have huge audiences on social media, are they already experienced at teaching online on another platform, are the very same courses already popular and selling plenty on another platform?
There are a lot of unknown factors that might change how we perceive their earnings.
However, I can share my own humble earnings with you, and try to explain them to the best of my ability.
It was when I came across this income video by Arleesha Yetzer in particular that I was convinced to try out Skillshare for the first time - Arleesha was making around $2700 per month on Skillshare.
I wanted to try out making a tutorial and released my first class towards the end of September 2019, and a second class around a month later in October. Honestly, when I watch them now I cringe at how bad they are, but I was doing my best at the time.
At the very bottom of this screenshot, you can see my first few months on Skillshare.
In my first 3 months teaching on Skillshare I earned $367.45 - around 50% were from minutes watched (called ‘Royalties’ on this table), and the other 50% from premium referrals.
I had no previous experience of making tutorials, and had to figure out how to script and record everything, how to edit the videos etc.
I did already have some experience live-streaming myself painting on Twitch for about 18 months, and had amassed around 3000 followers who I shared my classes with - my other social media accounts were fairly inactive so I didn’t share them anywhere else.
I stopped streaming on Twitch in November 2019, so my earnings quickly dropped to about $50 per month as I was no longer driving any traffic to them at all - all of the earnings were coming from people finding them on Skillshare, with the occasional lucky referral.
I started to get regular premium referrals again in January 2021 after I started this blog and included Skillshare referral links in some of the articles, pushing my Skillshare income back up to around $100 per month.
In case you are wondering, this is exactly $1600 earned on Skillshare in 22 months. It took a total of around 30 hours of work to make both classes, including teaching myself how to script, record, edit etc, which equates to an hourly rate of about $50.
My experiences teaching on Skillshare
While these are not life-changing numbers for me and are a small part of my income, I think it’s important to point out that this money comes into my Paypal account every month without any further work on my side.
After I made the classes and uploaded them, I’ve automatically had this money coming into my account - it’s no get-rich-quick scheme, but it is 100% real ‘passive income’.
The classes don’t have to be exclusive to Skillshare either, so I could also put my classes on more platforms such as Udemy and Artstation. This would increase my monthly earnings from them quite a bit, but honestly I’m not proud enough of them to spread them around.
But while the earnings are not life changing, they have shown me something which has been life changing:
Passive income as an artist really does exist, and it's not just for a chosen lucky few - you can build it on platforms like Skillshare, hard work and perseverance.
After making these classes, I realized that passive income wasn't just a pipe dream, so I did a lot more research into how to build passive income the right way - and that led me to start this blog.
Skillshare's subscription removed a lot of the pressure I would have been putting on myself
It was Skillshare’s subscription system that gave me the confidence to try to make some courses, even if they ended up bad - no one would be actually directly paying for my course, but for access to the whole premium library. If they didn’t like my class they could easily exit and watch something else instead, without losing their money.
There are plenty of teachers making a lot more than me, and probably even more teachers that make less than me, but hopefully this shows that even with just a small audience you might be able to make a passive $100 a month with a couple of classes - and if you are willing to commit to putting up new classes regularly on multiple platforms, you could probably build a really solid passive income.
Should you teach on Skillshare?
Online education is only going to continue to grow as more of the world gets better internet access and people turn away from expensive traditional education, so I think it’s a great time to start teaching online.
If you are considering making your very first tutorials, I think Skillshare is the perfect place to do it. I expect you can make more money somewhere like Udemy, but people would be paying their hard-earned money for your class - and that’s going to come with a lot of pressure.
On Skillshare, the pressure is off a bit - you still want your classes to be good of course, but people can just bail out of your class if they aren’t enjoying it and only lose a few minutes of their time.
It’s not without its work - making a class takes hours of work, and making a significant amount of money each month will require either making a lot of classes or doing a lot of self-promotion.
But Skillshare is an accessible way to start growing some relatively predictable and passive income, and from there you can grow into releasing better classes on the more competitive and lucrative platforms.
What Skills can you teach on Skillshare?
Skillshare specializes in creative skills, with most of the courses being around the arts, freelance, entrepreneurship, productivity, lifestyle, that sort of thing.
Some topics are not permitted on Skillshare - they don’t allow get-rich-quick content about building easy passive income or getting lots of followers on social media, dating advice, reselling and affiliate marketing, medical advice, mathematics, life sciences or engineering, religion, spirituality, politics, fitness, pets, beauty regimens and cosmetology.
That’s quite a large list of banned topics, but they do have a specific audience they want to appeal to, and I understand why they might want to steer clear of controversial subjects.
How to Start Teaching on Skillshare
It’s absolutely free to teach on Skillshare - after you’ve made a free account on their site just click the ‘Start a Class’ button at the top right, and you’ll be moved right over to their class dashboard where you can upload your videos.
Skillshare stipulates that all classes must have high-quality audio and video, must have a free intro video, and that all self-promotion must be kept to the intro video and the very last video. You can only upload a maximum of 1 class per week, and you must own the content you're uploading.
So no using copyrighted music in your classes!
You’ll also have to come up with some sort of student project component - some task for your students to complete and then share the results under the class. For my classes, I just asked my students to practice the basic skills demonstrated in the class and share their results.
Once a class is submitted, Skillshare will review it for quality and check it doesn’t break any of their rules - if you have taken some degree of care in creating your class, I’m sure it’ll get approved no problem.
If you are intimidated by the idea of creating your first class, Skillshare has a teachers handbook with a bunch of useful guides, which I think is generally useful for creating videos for any platform really - it even covers things that most new teachers wouldn’t think of, like using basic SEO to help your course get google traffic.
It’s a useful resource that will help your course do as well as it can.
The Future of Online Learning
More people look to the internet for education now, especially video content. I’ve personally been learning from video courses for a decade already, and I’m at the point that I wouldn’t even consider going to a traditional school to learn just about anything!
With video courses I can learn at my own pace, at my own convenience, and from anywhere with a good internet connection - and I expect other people feel exactly the same way as me.