Have you ever thought about teaching on-line cooking classes? Are you curious about what's involved in creating a video class, revenue possibilities and whether in the end it would be worth the effort? Today Marie Asselin answers these questions and more, sharing the ins and outs of her experience as an online culinary instructor on the Skillshare platform.
**This post contains affiliate links that support Marie Asselin's Skillshare income. In plain English that means that when you click on the link and make a purchase, she receives a small commission. It does not alter the price you pay but it helps support the work she does. **
A year ago, I swore to anyone who listened that I would never do video, despite the fact that all blogging advice articles underlined video was now the thing to do. Why? I was shy of putting my face out there and I was intimidated by the process of filming, editing and publishing videos. A year later, I teach video classes online and I regularly publish short videos on my blog, too. So how did this happen?
Skillshare happened, that’s what. Last fall, I was approached by Skillshare to become one of the first teachers in their new culinary class category. I knew the platform very well from having been a student in the past, but I’d never thought of teaching myself. The opportunity was too good to pass, so I stepped out of my comfort zone. I haven’t looked back.
Following the growing success of cooking classes offered on the site, Skillshare is now looking to expand the category and they’ve reached out to many bloggers. Many people have subsequently asked about my experience, so I thought it would be useful to share my answers to the questions I’ve most frequently been asked.
A quick note: I’m not paid or endorsed by Skillshare to write this article. After being asked so many questions, I simply thought sharing my experience would be useful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel I left something out or if you have more specific enquiries.
What is Skillshare?
Skillshare is an open, online video class platform. It works on a membership model: students pay a monthly fee and get access to all classes offered on the site. Skillshare is especially renowned for its extensive design and arts class library, but it also features excellent photography, business, social media, writing and — yes — culinary classes.
How Can I Become a Skillshare Teacher?
Anyone can become a Skillshare teacher. You simply need to be a member on the site and be willing to film yourself teaching a class to become a teacher.
Who Pays for Filming and Editing My Class?
You do. Skillshare doesn't cover production costs. You can do it all on your own, or hire someone to help: it’s your choice. Some classes are very basic, with teachers filming themselves using their computer camera and sharing their screen to demonstrate their work, but culinary classes require a bit more work to be visually engaging. Skillshare allows all classes to be published on their platform, but it’s in your own best interest to create a good quality class — this is how you’ll attract students and get paid.
How Much Will I Earn?
Transparency regarding the teachers’ revenue model is Skillshare’s weakest point. It’s very hard — impossible really — to figure out exactly how much you’ll earn as a teacher on Skillshare before actually becoming one.
There are two ways to earn money on Skillshare:
- Referral program: Refer students to Skillshare and you’ll earn a one-time $10 bonus for each student that signs up for a membership through your link.
- Teacher royalties: Get paid for every student enrolment in your class.
While the referral program is fairly straightforward, teacher royalties are the core of your earnings and they are the most difficult to estimate. Skillshare is committed to pay 50 percent of the company’s monthly membership earnings to teachers. What you get from that 50 percent depends on how many new enrolments you get in your class(es). The calculation works like this:
The issue with Skillshare’s revenue model is that as a teacher you have no idea of how many site-wide monthly enrolments there are and, of course, you don’t know anything about the company’s total monthly revenue. Before publishing a class, especially the first one, it’s also difficult to estimate how many students will enrol in your class. All of those factors explain why you can’t estimate your earnings before they actually land in your Paypal account.
Skillshare estimates that the calculation breaks down to $1 to $2 per each Premium enrolment, and this calculation does reflect what my own earnings are. As of September 2016, I have 1,522 enrolled students in my classes, and I’ve earned $2,542 in teacher royalties, so my earning per student is $1.67.
To the teacher royalty earnings, you add referrals for each new student who signs up for a new membership. I consider I’m doing pretty well in that regard, as a third of my total revenues come from the referral program. Skillshare also frequently runs “Teacher’s Bonus” programs. For example, this past summer featured a program that awarded a $100 bonus if you referred a minimum of 10 new students in a month (the bonus was additional to the regular $10/student payout).
All in all, Skillshare estimates their teachers earn an average of US$3,500 per year. As of September 2016, I’ve earned US$3,562. Granted, my How to Make French Macarons video class is one of the most popular premium culinary classes on the site (with 1,200+ students).
I’m happy with the additional revenue I earn on Skillshare, and the fact that I get paid in US dollars doesn’t hurt. But you need to evaluate your own goals to see whether it’s worth diving into this new experience.
One last note: Skillshare has long been criticized for their obscure teacher revenue model. Since I’ve become a teacher in January 2016, I have to say that they’ve gotten leaps and bounds better at disclosing more information, streamlining their revenue model and building new tools to help teachers understand their earnings better. I’m confident they’ll keep on improving.
What Topic Should I Choose for My First Class?
Skillshare has a huge student community, and all new classes are pushed to the front of the Trending Classes page as soon as they reach 25 student enrolments. This really helps take new classes off the ground, but if you want to reach significant enrolment numbers, you need to carefully choose the topic of your class.
Three Tips to Pick Your First Class Topic
- Pick a topic you’re already recognized as an expert at. As a blogger, you’re uniquely positioned to know why people come to your blog. Are your most popular posts about pies? Make a class about pie dough, or creative pie fillings or holiday pies. Picking a topic that’s popular on your blog allows you to offer added value to your readers (a new video class on a topic they’re interested in), enabling you to build your student enrolment more quickly too.If you’ve never done video before, picking a topic you’re comfortable with will also allow you to be more comfortable on camera.
- Look at existing classes on Skillshare. The Culinary class category is fairly young, so it’s still easy to find a topic that hasn’t been covered yet. If a popular class already covers the topic you had in mind, it may not be worth it to create a second, very similar class. But why not ride the wave of the other class’s popularity? If you were thinking of teaching breadmaking, but a general breadmaking class exists, you could pick a more specific type of bread as the object of your class — sourdough, for example.
- Don’t be too niche — at first. Picking a very niche topic — kale smoothies, for example — may not be the best idea if you’re just starting out on Skillshare. Not that it doesn’t have potential: it’s simply that you may not reach a high student count on a very niche class, and a slow start can be discouraging. You should pick a broader topic first — all about green smoothies, for example — to get noticed, and then you can follow up with bite-size, niche classes, which your existing students will likely be interested in.
Being a successful teacher on Skillshare is all about choosing your specialty and publishing classes regularly. Every time you publish a new class, the students that follow you get notified, allowing you to get a jump start on enrolments. A new student who discovers you through a new class will likely look at your previous classes, and enrol in those too. Those numbers really build up in the long run.
How Should I Publicize My Class?
You can publicize your classes every which way you want: your blog, social media and email list are all excellent ways to attract students to your class. Skillshare has a very appealing bonus offer for new students, who can get three months of premium membership for only $0.99. This makes it fairly easy to convince your readers to give your class a shot — plus, they get to binge on any and all classes for three months!
You can also create time-limited promotional links allowing you to offer your first students free, lifetime access to your class. Skillshare offers extensive documentation about marketing your classes, and reading through it will surely spark ideas to get your class out there.
If your class is well produced, you may very well catch the eye of Skillshare editors, who are always on the lookout for culinary classes to highlight on their blog and in their weekly newsletter.
Who Owns the Rights to the Video Class I publish on Skillshare?
You keep full ownership of all the video classes you publish on Skillshare. In other words, Skillshare does not require exclusivity. This means that you could publish your video class elsewhere, such as on your own blog or to another online educational platform, if you wanted to. This is a big plus, because it means you’ll have the opportunity to make your content creation efforts as profitable as possible.
Note that it’s probably a good idea to concentrate your efforts on a single platform at first; you don’t want to drown your readers and followers in requests to join a half dozen different sites at once. But you could, for example, publish your first class lesson to your YouTube channel as a teaser; or, make a year-old Skillshare class available to everyone for free to help you get noticed and bring your student following count up. Or, you could sell your full class through your own blog at a premium cost; that way, your readers have the choice of either purchasing exclusive access to your class or paying a monthly fee to access all Skillshare classes, including your own, if they prefer.
In other words, you get to decide your marketing strategy and remain 100 percent in control of it.
Is It Worth It?
When considering whether you should become a Skillshare teacher, you should first determine what your goal is. Just like you shouldn’t be doing video just because everyone else seems to doing it, you shouldn’t do video classes just because you feel like you should. I’m not gonna lie, filming a video class is hard work. My How to Make Gelato video class took me over 50 hours to pull together from writing the class, to preparing the food, to filming the class, to publishing it on Skillshare, to publicizing it. And I didn’t even edit it myself: I hired a professional editor to do so. Don’t get into video just because you think you must, because you’ll hate it.
For me? The adventure was totally worth it. I would even define doing video as a turning point in my career: it helped me get out of my shell, define my purpose as a blogger and, ultimately, discover what I’m best at. At the end of last year, I was looking for ways to strengthen my credibility as a freelance culinary expert. I felt like I’d been doing food writing and recipe development for years with little recognition.
Since I started teaching on Skillshare in January, I’ve steadily been working with more and more clients, and receiving more and more collaboration offers. I’ve even landed a nomination at the 2016 Saveur Awards, and I’m convinced the fact that I teach on video helped me get noticed. It also gave me confidence in my own video making skills: I’ve recently started making short videos to revive my YouTube channel and make things fun on my blog.
Like anything you want to do well, it takes time to teach on Skillshare! But you reap what you sow, and I find it very rewarding.
- My Skillshare teacher page
- Teacher Handbook: An extremely useful series of articles about getting started on Skillshare.
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- How To Make A Cooking Video
- What Not To Do When Making A Video for Your Blog
Marie Asselin is a freelance food writer and translator, recipe developer, food stylist, and passionate cook with a weakness for sweets. Based in Québec City, she’s a frequent traveler who loves chronicling her discoveries from around the world and sharing recipes inspired by her trips. She is the voice behind the culinary blog Food Nouveau, the teacher of the popular Skillshare class How to Make French Macarons, and the author of the dessert eCookbook Sweet Spot: Modern, Better-for-You Dessert Recipes, with Clever Tips to Bake Dairy Free. She also writes about her hometown for a host of North American clients, including Travel+Leisure, The New York Times and Google. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube.