Is Skillshare Worth It In 2020?
A discussion of Skillshare pros and cons from a course creator that makes nearly $1,000 per month. Is Skillshare worth it? You decide.
For the last long while, I’ve been making close to $1,000 extra every month from Skillshare. This side-stream of income has significantly improved my life, allowed me to say yes to more exciting experiences, and enabled me to save more money for rainy days.
I love Skillshare. It’s a new, engaging take on the traditional online course marketplace, and it’s one of the fastest growing of it’s kind on the planet. They have great marketing, fantastic fulfillment, and a solid team at work behind the scenes.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Skillshare has it’s downsides, too. And for some online course creators, they can be a total dealbreaker.
So what are the pros and cons? What’s the good and the bad? As somebody that makes close to $1,000 per month with Skillshare, here’s a brief, objective review of whether Skillshare is worth it for you in 2020.
Things That Make Skillshare Worth It
At Skillshare, you don’t sell courses. You add your courses to a Premium pool, and get paid directly based on the number of minutes of your courses that students have watched.
This is a new, exciting model for sellers and buyers alike. Course consumers love it because it provides them with an incredibly diverse range of subject areas for a low monthly price. And course sellers love it because they’re rewarded for making content that actually engages with the student — not just clickbait that gets the most hits.
High Course Engagements
On that note, Skillshare courses have high course engagements. This is mostly because of their previously mentioned minute-based payout model, but also because Skillshare places an emphasis on project-based learning.
Most online course marketplaces reward the courses that land the most hits because they’re based on sales. The courses with the most attractive thumbnails, descriptions, and SEO thus usually get the most traffic. This can be great when excellent courses have excellent marketing — but oftentimes, a fantastic, knowledge-packed course is overshadowed by low information-density clickbait.
This is how it works on Udemy, for example: clickbait is king. But not on Skillshare. Since Skillshare pays based on minutes watched, it’s actually in the self-interest of the course creator to design lessons that are short, interesting, and maximally engaging, since nobody gets paid unless students continue to watch their content.
Additionally, Skillshare pushes hard for project-based learning. A project is required for every course, and your lessons must provide a real, tangible benefit to the student. At the end of the course, students usually have the option to upload their work to a shared page, to benefit from feedback and socializing — this helps increase engagement even further.
Cross-Posting Is Free & Low Effort
Skillshare is one of the fastest-growing online course providers on the planet. To foster that level of growth, their team openly encourages any online course creators to cross-post their content onto Skillshare with the implication that everybody wins. You get more money, and Skillshare gets more cool content for their students.
I do this every time I upload a new course onto Udemy. While my files are uploading, I’ll open up a new tab, click “Create A New Class”, and upload them to Skillshare side-by-side. It takes me just one additional hour per month of upkeep and it makes me solid monthly revenue, so it’s a no-brainer.
A sidenote: back in the day, my Skillshare monthly revenue was modest and only made up a small proportion of my online course revenue. But as the platform has grown, so has the amount of money I make off of it. I now get over 50% of all my online course revenue from Skillshare (something I never would have considered possible just a few years ago!) and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.
Things That Make Skillshare Not Worth It
One notable downside to Skillshare I’ve found so far is their wretched “course limbo”. It unfortunately works like this: if you don’t have a solid fanbase to build traction on a new course right away, and you linger at between 0 to 5 students for over a few days, your course gets stuck on the zillionth page and will basically never get seen. I have several such courses, and they generate me perhaps $1 per month — this is in contrast to some of my other, non-limbo courses that generate me as much as $150 per month per course.
To combat this, I make sure to get as many eyes on my new courses as possible. My goal is to get them onto the first page of listings for a particular subject area and let organic growth take over. Since several of my students on Skillshare are now friends, I’ll always send a newly completed course over to five or ten of them immediately to boost my position. This is usually enough to get me out of course limbo and onto a more revenue-friendly page.
Customer Service Is Lacking
Hands-down the biggest problem with Skillshare is their customer service. I hate to say it — especially since they’ve been so good to me — but they seriously need to work on their ability to service course creators.
Their email response time can be very poor. Me and a few of my partners have had many occasions where we needed answers to a simple question immediately, and yet had to wait literal weeks for a simple yes or no response. Some emails sent months ago are still waiting for a reply.
As someone that owns my own fast-growing company, I understand the position that they’re in. They get hundreds, perhaps thousands of new course creators per week, and their retention rate is incredibly high because of their great model. So it’s not like they have poor customer service on purpose. When they do respond, they effectively take care of your needs. But I and many others would agree: they seriously need to work on those wait times.
So, Is Skillshare Worth It For You?
In conclusion, whether Skillshare is worth it or not is entirely up to you. Like we discussed, Skillshare is a fantastic, novel take on the online course marketplace with high engagement rates and a fast-growing userbase. But it also succumbs to course limbo and a pervasive problem often found in quick-scaling companies: poor customer service.
Personally, Skillshare is absolutely worth it for me. It requires me just one to two extra hours of upkeep every month, and nets me close to an extra $1,000 for it. The best part is, their model is “set-and-forget” — once my class is uploaded, the lions share of my work is done. All I do from that point on is check every few weeks and respond to a comment or inquiry as they come in.
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