Teacher Tips: Producing A Successful Skillshare Class | Jake Bartlett | Skillshare

Teacher Tips: Producing A Successful Skillshare Class

Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

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15 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Course Trailer

      1:08
    • 2. Microphones

      3:01
    • 3. Cameras & Tripods

      1:09
    • 4. Screen Recording Software

      0:49
    • 5. Lighting & Composition

      1:18
    • 6. Slide Presentations

      0:55
    • 7. Recording Prep

      6:05
    • 8. My Best Practices

      6:22
    • 9. Jump Cuts & Single Takes

      0:38
    • 10. Audio Adjustments

      2:41
    • 11. Quality Control & Trailers

      1:33
    • 12. Publishing Your Class

      1:28
    • 13. Promotion

      0:54
    • 14. Skillshare Workshops

      0:25
    • 15. Thanks!

      0:32

About This Class

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My name is Jake Bartlett, and over the past few years I've turned teaching on Skillshare into my largest form of income. In this class I'm going to share with you all of the tips and techniques I use to produce successful Skillshare course. This class works great when paired with my other Teacher Tips class, where I show you how I design and plan my class content.

I'll see you in class!

Transcripts

1. Course Trailer: Hey, my name is Jake Bartlett. I am a Freelance Motion Designer and Online Instructor. Over the last few years, I've become very successful as a teacher on Skillshare. I've even been able to turn it into my largest form of income. I attribute a lot of that success to the way that I create my class content. In this class, I'm going to share with you everything that I know about producing Skillshare classes. I'll cover things like the equipment you need, how I handle cameras, screen recording and actually creating class content. You'll also get access to all of my best tips and practices on how to create high quality and engaging lessons. For the class project you'll be sharing a preview of your next class. By the time you're finished, you'll have everything you need to know to actually produce it. This class works great when paired with my other teacher tips class on planning a Skillshare class. This class is for anyone interested in teaching on Skillshare even if you're already teaching. My goal is to pass on everything that I've learned to other teachers so that you can learn from my mistakes and start creating high quality Skillshare classes. I'll see you in class. 2. Microphones: Now, you're going to need some equipment in order to be able to record yourself. Depending on what type of class you have, the equipment you'll need might be a little bit different. I'll talk a little bit about different scenarios that require different equipment. Regardless of what class you're going to teach, you always need a microphone. Now, purchasing an expensive microphone with amazing audio quality is absolutely not required. If you have a little bit of money to be able to invest into these classes, I highly recommend the blue snowball microphone. You can find it online at places like Amazon, for around $50. It's super easy to use, plugged straight into your computer through USB, and for the sound quality it records, $50 is an amazingly low price tag. This is the microphone I used for the first 17 of my classes. In most cases, I didn't have to do any type of audio processing after the fact. It sounded great straight out of the microphone. If you can't afford to invest into a microphone yet, but you have an iPhone, the microphone that comes with the earbuds is actually pretty decent quality. If buying a microphone isn't an option for you, that might be a better choice. If you don't have those earbuds, then using a built-in microphone that comes with your computer, is pretty much going to be your last resort. I absolutely do not recommend that you use the built-in microphone. The quality of the audio is just not going to be very good, and if you bump the computer or if you're using a laptop and you're typing and clicking on the track pad, all that noise is going to be picked up in that microphone extremely well, and it's not going to be fun to listen to. Recently, I upgraded my microphone setup to the audio-technica AT2020. I made that decision based on a recommendation from a friend and I'm very glad that I did it. It's more expensive, you can find it online for around a $135, but even compared to the blue Snowball, the audio straight out of the microphone sounds incredible. If you have the money and you're ready to invest into a nice microphone, that's going to produce great sounding audio. This is the best microphone that I can personally recommend, and you can find links to these microphones in the notes of this video. To give you an idea of the difference in quality between these microphones, I'm going to do a little demo for you right now. "Hey, I'm Jake Bartlett and this is the audio technical AT2020. " Hey, this is Jake Bartlett and I am using the blue snowball USB microphone." "Hey, this is Jake Bartlett and I'm using the Apple earbuds built-in microphone." "Hey, this is Jake Bartlett and I am using my computer's built-in microphone. " You can clearly hear the difference in quality between all of those microphones. There's some post processing you can do to the audio of the lower quality microphones to make it sound a little bit better. But we'll get into that a little bit later. When I'm on camera, I've had success positioning my microphone just out of frame so that you can't see it, but it still works for the audio. Now, that's not going to work for every single type of class. If you need to be on camera and you don't want the microphone in the shot. There are a lot of great options in wearable microphones called lavaliers. Now, I've never personally used these myself, but the skill share teacher handbook has a list of microphones that are great options, and you can find the link to that post in the notes of this video. 3. Cameras & Tripods: If you want to be on screen for any of your videos, you're going to need a camera. Now I already own a DSLR that I take photos with and it also shoots video. That's the camera I use anytime that I need to shoot something, or I need to be on camera myself. But just like a microphone, you don't have to have something so nice just to be able to take video. If you have a smartphone, it more than likely has the capability to produce very nice looking HD video, and almost all computers these days come with a built-in camera. Now generally, these cameras are not that high quality, and I would again recommend that you only use a built-in camera as a last resort. But more than likely, a smartphone is going to produce better looking video than the built-in camera on a computer. Here's a comparison of the different video qualities. This is my DSLR, the Canon 70D. This is my smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S6, and this is the built-in camera on my laptop. Another thing you'll need if you're using a camera is a tripod or something to hold your camera. If you're using something big like a DSLR, it's pretty much going to need to be a tripod. Smartphones can be propped up with books, or you can find these really inexpensive poseable stands for smartphones. 4. Screen Recording Software: If any of your lessons are going to be demonstrations on a computer, then you're going to need screen recording software. I personally use ScreenFlow, which is a Mac only application. It's $99, but 100 percent worth the price tag. It works extremely well, has lots of great options and you can even do editing right inside the program. Now while I completely encourage you to purchase ScreenFlow, I understand that $99 might be a lot to invest into program before you've even taught a class on Skillshare. That's exactly how I approached it in my first class. I actually used QuickTime, which comes with the Mac to do my first class screen recordings. It's a lot more limited than ScreenFlow in terms of features, but it got the job done. If you're on a PC, you can use Windows Movie Maker as a free option that comes with Windows, or Camtasia for a more fully featured piece of software. 5. Lighting & Composition: When using a camera, I like to use lots of natural indirect light. By that, I just mean light that's coming from the sun naturally into the room that I'm filming in without being directly in the sun. Direct sunlight is going to produce really harsh shadows, a lot of contrast in your image, and if you're looking into the light, it's obviously going to make you squint. Using natural light is a lot softer, cooler, and just produces an overall nicer image. I typically don't use artificial light because honestly, I'm just not that good at setting it up. If you know what you're doing with lighting, by all means, feel free to set it up as customized as you'd like, but for my classes, I just prefer to use natural light. Make sure that you put thought into the composition of the frame. It doesn't have to be complicated, but make sure that you or the subject is positioned nicely in the frame. Keeping the camera around eye level is likely going to be the most flattering angle. If you position the camera too low or too high, the angle that you'll be looking at the camera won't feel very natural. If you're not positioned nicely in the frame, it'll feel less professional. Think about where you're actually shooting. If you stood in front of a blank wall, that's not a very interesting thing to look at. It's just you on a wall. But if we move the camera out a little bit, and you see some picture frames or your work desk, or even just a window, that'll make the frame more interesting to look at, and the thought you've put into that will be very noticeable. 6. Slide Presentations: In many of my classes, including this one, I use a lot of voice-over where you don't see me on camera. In these instances, I'm creating slides for you, the student, to be reading through as I'm talking. There are many different options for you to be able to create slides. You could use Keynote on a Mac, PowerPoint on Windows, Google has a free app called Slides. All of these are perfectly capable pieces of software to create a set of slides for any class. The way that I prefer to work is by recording my voice-over first, then create the slides and edit them together. If you prefer, you could have those slides created before you start recording and then just screen record your presentation, recording your voice and the slides all at once; and for recording voice-over, I found that the easiest solution is a free program called Audacity. It's free on both Mac and Windows and does a really great job of making the recording process very simple so definitely check that out. 7. Recording Prep: When it actually comes time to record my screen, here's how I prepare for my recordings. I set my screen's resolution to 1280 by 720. The reason I do this is because if your resolution is large, it's going to be very difficult for the students to be able to see it at a non-full screen size. If you're like me, sometimes you like to work while you're watching the video. So making the video full screen isn't an option. Now, 1280 by 720, is a pretty tight resolution to be working in, especially if you're working in software that you're used to working in much larger resolutions. But I really believe this is a huge benefit to students so all of my classes are recorded at 1280 by 720. Here I am recording my screen at full resolution. I'm on an iMac, which has a really high resolution screen. If you're viewing this video out of full screen or on a monitor that's smaller resolution than my iMac, things are going to look very small for you. On a Mac to change the resolution, you just need to go to your System Preferences, Displays, and then change the resolution from Default for Display to Scaled. Then 1280 by 720 is an option for me. If 1280 by 720 isn't an option for you, when you're still on Default for Display, you should be able to hold down option on your keyboard and click on Scaled. Then a whole bunch of other resolutions will show up in your list. The reason why these don't show up by default is because they're not all scaled to fit the entire size of your monitor. But 1280 by 720 should be an option. If it isn't, choose the one that's closest to it without being less resolution. If the height is larger, just take that into account when you're recording and make sure that you don't have anything important happening at the bottom of the screen because your videos have to be in a 16 by 9 aspect ratio once they go on Skillshare's website. Make sure you remove all distractions and disable all notifications on all of your devices. Silence your phone, turn the notifications off on your computer, close any programs that are running that don't need to be so that you can stay 100 percent focused on recording. Also, be sure to eliminate as much noise as possible. Record in the quietest room in your house and turn off any running fans, air conditioning, or anything that can produce a lot of noise. If you live in a city or near a busy street, it can be pretty difficult to get away from all of the noise. But if a siren or a helicopter goes by and produces a lot of noise, just pause for a second, let the noise pass and then start over from your last thought. I believe that high quality content comes from paying attention to those little details. If you make the effort to create content that looks and sounds high quality, students will notice that and thank you for it. Make sure that you have a glass of water and that you're drinking it regularly. You definitely don't want your voice to dry out. Position the microphone as close to your mouth as possible. The closer you are to the microphone, the clearer your audio will be and any outside noise will be less noticeable. There is one problem with getting very close to the microphone and I'll show you what I mean. If you're very close to the microphone and you say any words that start with a P, you might start to get some popping. So if I were to say a word like pre-comp, which is a term that's used in my animation classes a lot, you can hear that that P pops every time that I say it. The reason this is happening is because when I save the P sound, I'm actually pushing air out of my mouth into the microphone and that audio is peaking and completely distorts the audio. That obviously doesn't sound good at all. But there is a great little invention called a pop filter, and it's just this fabric material stretched out into a screen, that you place directly between the microphone in your mouth and it redirects those bursts of air so I can say the word pre-comp as much as I want and I will almost never make that audio peak again. Here's a little demo. With the pop filter, I'll say pre-comp. Pre-comp. Without it, pre-comp, pre-comp with, pre-comp without, pre-comp. You can clearly hear the difference with and without the pop filter, and the great thing is they're extremely affordable. You can get one on Amazon for around ten to $15 and it clips right onto your microphone stand. Again, if you're not able or willing to invest into something like that, you're going to have to condition yourself to soften the Ps or to point your mouth away from the microphone as you say those words. Otherwise, all of your audio is going to sound drastically less professional. Another thing you need to do is check your audio levels to make sure that the microphone is recording you at an appropriate volume. If it's set to loud, your audio will peak and cause distortion. If it's set to low, It'll be very quiet and could introduce a lot of noise if you increase the volume after recording it. If you're on iMac, you can adjust the recording levels by going to your System Preferences, Sound, and then make sure you're on the input tab. Now you can see my input levels right here. What you want to do is talk into your microphone at the same volume you'll be recording at and make sure that this level never reaches the right side. If I turn my input volume up, you can hear that now the audio is peaking because I'm speaking too loud for the input volume. If I turn this back down, this is a much better range. It doesn't look like I'm going any further past this point right here, and that's exactly the sweet spot that you want to be in. On Windows, you can go to the software that you're using to record your microphone and adjust the input level through that. Finally, once you've set everything up absolutely 100 percent, every time do a test recording to make sure it's all working before you actually start recording for real. I have made the huge mistake of not checking my recording settings before I recorded two an a half hours of lesson material, and when I stopped recording, I instantly discovered that I had the recording configured incorrectly and only audio is recorded, none of the video and I had to rerecord that entire two and a half hour session over again. Just do a test recording, move something around on the screen, talk into the microphone, stop recording, and watch it back. 8. My Best Practices: This is the part of the class that I think you'll find the most knowledge. I'm going to just give you all the best teaching tips that I have, and they're all based on my personal experience with teaching on Skillshare. Get ready to take some notes. I'll start with what I think is the absolute most important thing when it comes to teaching. Don't just record yourself making something and then talk about what you're doing. Actually teach the student by explaining why you're doing what you're doing. Give them steps from start to finish so that they can follow along and understand clearly how to make their own project. Teaching why and not just what you're doing is what will enable a student to actually learn a skill rather than just a specific recipe. This is where I make the distinction between a tutorial and a class. A tutorial is a step-by-step instruction on how to make a very specific thing, without any real explanation as to why those steps are important. If you follow steps A through Z, you'll end up with the exact same product that I'm showing you how to make. Teaching a student something through a Skillshare class is giving students principles, concepts and ideas that allow them to apply the topic that you're teaching on to anything they want to create in that area. They're not limited by a fixed step-by-step process, but they're enabled by the tools that you teach them how to use to create their own original content. You're explaining the thought process behind all of the steps you're taking and why you believe that is the best way to make the project you're working on. That is my goal with every single one of my classes. Teach in a way that makes sense for students at almost any level of experience. If there's a tool or a command that you use all the time, but wouldn't be known by a beginner, point out where to find that tool or how to execute that command the first time you do it. That way, regardless of how simple or advanced your tip is, anyone will understand how to replicate it. Maybe you don't go so far as to explain how to save your file by going to file, then down to save, or copy by pressing command C and paste by pressing Command V. But anything that wouldn't be obvious or might be a stumbling block should definitely be pointed out the first time you come across it in your lesson. My approach to deciding what to say is pretty simple. I don't write out a full script, just an outline with a bullet point list of each step the student needs to take in order to complete the project. That keeps me on track to including every important step and gets me thinking about what might be confusing to a student before I record. Then I just start recording myself creating the project at step one and speak as if there was someone next to me that I'm instructing. Whilst speaking, you should sound excited and nice to listen to. There's nothing worse than having to sit through 30 minutes or more of someone who's mumbling, has a stuffy nose or just sounds plain boring. If you playback a recording of your normal voice, you'll likely notice that you sound pretty boring. It's a weird phenomenon, but it happens to everyone. You'll probably need to get a little bit out of your comfort zone and really exaggerate the way that you speak in order to come across as engaging through the microphone. The way that I'm speaking right now is not at all how I would be speaking to you if I was with you in person. It feels super weird at first and it definitely takes practice. But if you sound excited about what you're teaching, your students are going to be much more excited about learning. They'll be more engaged with what you're teaching and have one less reason to stop watching. Something that students don't see when I'm recording voice over is that my hands and my arms are going all over the place. I'm talking through my hands, and that motion is just supporting the way that I'm delivering the lines. Now obviously when I'm on camera, I try to keep my hands down at my side so you don't see that. But when it's just the microphone and it's just recording my voice, I'm really accentuating the words that I'm saying by waving my hands around in the air. That's something that you really should practice and try to get used to. It's going to feel really silly at first, but nobody is going to be seeing you, so there's nobody to be embarrassed in front of, and eventually, this will be completely natural and it really comes through the microphone. Another thing you want to make sure of is that you're not speaking too fast or too slow. Again, this takes practice. Try to speak at a leisurely pace so that you're easy to understand and follow along with. If the student can handle a faster speed or needs to slow it down, they have the ability to do that with the video player controls. Another challenge you're going to run into is speaking clearly for long spans of time. My big secret is that I hardly ever get through more than one or two sentences without messing up, needing to stop or rewording. I'm just not the type of person that can keep talking and talking for 30 minutes straight. I'll focus on one line at a time if I have to, rephrasing and re-reciting the line until I'm 100 percent happy with how efficient and clearly I was able to speak it. I'm also making sure that what the student is seeing in the screen recording is done well and make sense. Once I'm happy, I'll move on to the next bullet point and repeat the process. This might seem like it could take forever, but that's something that you'll quickly become better at with practice. You'll start to get in the groove and be able to knock out one bullet point after another like a checklist. With that said, make sure you pace yourself. You can easily get burnt out, especially if you're new to recording yourself. Drink lots of water, get up out of your seat and take breaks, then come back and work some more. Once I'm done recording, I trim all of the fat. The goal with every class I make is to produce 100 percent content. I don't add in any fluff or anything that doesn't pertain to what the class is teaching. I edit out all of the uhms, uhs and long pauses, so I don't waste any of the students time. The editing process is actually the longest part of the entire production most of the time because of this. The way that I think about it is that the students are paying for the content they're getting from me, so I need to give them the best value that I possibly can for the money that they're spending. While I do try to edit out all of the dead space, makes sure that you're not rushing the student. You've got to find a good pace in your editing so that a student can follow along with you. If you're going too fast from one step to the next, the student could get totally lost and frustrated. Trim out everything unnecessary, but make sure that you leave breathing room between thoughts. 9. Jump Cuts & Single Takes: Now, I prefer to do all of my on - camera footage in single takes, hiding any of the edits, just because I think that looks a little bit more professional. Now, there's a style of editing called jump cuts, where if you can't think of everything that you're saying and you start to leave some dead space between sentences and it doesn't necessarily sound that good if you just play it back all at once, it can really help the way that you're editing. If you make mistakes, you can cut them out. This is a pretty popular method for editing for vlogs online. Now, jump cuts might not bother you, and honestly it might not bother students either. That's just a personal preference of mine. I prefer to do everything in single takes. 10. Audio Adjustments: So I do all of my editing inside of Premier because I have a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and I'm very familiar with the software. While the audio straight out of my microphone is very high-quality, there's some things you can do inside a Premier to make it just a little bit better. Here I have the timeline for this class as a work in progress. You can actually add audio filters to an entire track of audio inside Premier. To do that, you need to open up the Audio Track Mixer. Now this is a little bit cramped since I'm recording at 1280 by 720, but if you don't have that open, just go up to Window, Audio Track Mixer, and then select the timeline you're working in. Now, if I play this audio back a little, you can see all of the audio levels for each individual track. So audio one is what all of my VO is on right now. To add an effect to that entire track, you just click on this little drop-down arrow and you have all these different slots for adding effects. I don't do anything too complicated, all I do is go down to the Special category and then Mastering. When you add that and open it up by double-clicking on it, this is a very simple, dummy-proof way to adjust the audio without really needing to know too much about audio. I'll be the first to admit that I am not a sound designer or engineer at all. I don't really know all that much, but over the last few years, through conversations with friends and just messing around with this stuff on my own, I found that this is a great way to just add a little bit of sweetness to your audio to make it sound a little bit more professional. I don't really mess around with any of the controls over here. Instead, I just come up to the Presets and go to Subtle Clarity. This adds a tiny bit of reverb, which you can adjust however you'd like. It also enables a Peaking limiter so that if your audio ever does peak, it will drop it down slightly so you won't get distortion in the speakers or headphones that you're listening to the audio through. So it's really just a one-click preset that does a lot of little adjustments to make your audio sound just a little bit better. If you're using a lower quality microphone, you can play around with these different controls to see how it's affecting the audio. You can even do it while you're playing the audio back I can hit play, turn up the Reverb and hear the difference in real-time. Just to give you a clearer picture of what this Mastering effect does, here's the Blue Snowball example that I already showed you once without mastering and then with it. Hey, this is Jake Bartlett and I am using the Blue Snowball USB microphone. Hey, this is Jake Bartlett and I am using the Blue Snowball USB microphone. So it's not making a $50 microphone sound like a $135 microphone, but it is creating nicer sounding audio. 11. Quality Control & Trailers: Once you've edited your class, watch through all of it very carefully. It's embarrassing to publish a class that has typos, which I am guilty of, or a misspoken line that should have been trimmed out. Make sure that you've triple checked your class for quality and that it's a class you'd be happy to have paid for. I believe that the presentation and design of your slides, classes and your channel are critical. Students respond to presentation. If your classes don't look professional, you shouldn't expect professional results. I put a lot of time and effort into designing each one of my classes' looks. I try to keep the design aesthetic pretty similar between all of my classes so that my channel has a consistent look and feel. So make sure that you're investing a lot of time and effort into creating content that looks professional. The place that you should be putting in the most effort into presentation is your class trailer, because that's likely what's going to make the student decide whether or not they want to take your class. You can see the formula for what I think should be contained in a trailer in my other teacher tips class. But the trailer is where I put the most effort into what the visuals look like out of the entire class. Make sure that your title graphic is eye-catching and looks awesome. Make as many examples of real-world projects that you could create based on what you're teaching in that class. Add fun music to the trailer. I use pond5.com to license all of the music for my Skillshare classes. The more fun and exciting that your class trailer looks, the more likely that a student is going to enroll in it. 12. Publishing Your Class: Now you're ready to publish your class. Start by creating a new class at Skillshare.com/teach, and fill it out with all the info you created in the planning phase, and that's your class description, your project description, and the class tax. Make sure you keep both of these descriptions very professional. Triple check your spelling. Don't leave any typos and grammatical errors and format it professionally. A lot of times these descriptions are going to be your students first impressions of you and your class content. It's extremely important to set the tone for the quality of your content. Export and upload all of your videos to your class, and you can see Skillshare suggested video export specifications in the link in the notes of this video right now. Once all of the videos are done processing you need to give the videos titles. Again make sure that they are professional, capitalize the titles, make them very clear and concise, but also don't be afraid to have a little fun with the titles, but don't overdo it make sure that the titles are descriptive and the student could easily find any part of your class just by looking at the titles. Once all of that is completed makes sure that you preview your class. Double check that all the videos start and end when they should, and that they're in the right order. Finally change the cover photo of your first video. This is the frame that's going to be used as the thumbnail for your class, and it will show up anywhere that your class lives on the website and in any emails. Once all that is finished you can publish your class. 13. Promotion: Now that your class is published, you need to promote it. The first thing I do is add a sample project to the class, so that students can instantly see an example of what you can create within that class. If you already have followers, they'll all be notified by email that you just posted a new class. But you could also post an announcement discussion to your profile to add an extra boost and enrollments a day or two after you've published. Make sure that you're also posting announcements to social media and that you're using your referral link so that you could potentially earn some referral bonuses. Don't be afraid to give out free enrollments, especially if this is your first class. You need to get to 25 enrollments in a class for it to start making you money, and for it to have the ability to trend. So if you have a lot of friends or family, and definitely if you have a following on social media, giving away the first 25 enrollments is a great way to boost the traffic to your class in the first couple of hours. 14. Skillshare Workshops: If you have 2-3 classes that work well together, definitely look into Skillshare's Workshops. Workshops are a great way to boost enrollments in past classes, where enrollments might have started to slow down. The basics of how they work is just taking a class or number of classes, setting a time frame for students to enroll in them, and then giving them a structured timeline on completing each one of the classes. 15. Thanks!: That is the end of this class. Now you can move on to making your class project. Feel free to share any sample footage, title designs, animations, class projects, anything you want to share or get feedback on. If there's anything you're still wondering about, definitely post a discussion. I'd love for this class to be a resource for other teachers where we can all share our own tips. Thank you so much for taking this class, and if you liked it, I would love it if you left me a review. Thanks again and I'll see you next time.