Oftentimes, the hardest part of teaching online is getting started.

From deciding on the perfect topic to getting used to seeing yourself on screen, the process can be overwhelming at first. But, like anything worth doing, the end result is incredibly rewarding. That’s why we started the Skillshare Teach Challenge. With weekly milestones, 1-on-1 support, and fun prizes, we want to take the stress out of launching your first class.

To give you an inside peek into the challenge, we caught up with Mel Armstrong who published her class through the July Challenge – one month later, she already has over 500 students!  

Online Teacher Mel Armstrong

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’ve had a colorful career. I started out as a ballet dancer but injury ended that quite quickly. I’ve worked as an actor, a software engineer, a web designer, graphic designer and now as an illustrator and surface pattern designer.

Illustration is something I just fell into. I’ve always loved drawing, but never really thought I was any good at it. It started a few years ago when I was trying to find some fabric to make some baby clothes for my son. I couldn’t find anything I liked so I decided to design my own. I then discovered surface pattern design and become completely addicted to patterns!

I now spend my days bringing up my kids, illustrating and creating patterns for a variety of different companies and products as well as designing websites for small businesses. I’m also working on a couple of children’s picture books.

How did you hear about the Teach Challenge and what made you decide to join?

When I first heard about teaching on Skillshare, I laughed thinking what on earth could I teach? But after a while I realized that maybe I could share my skills with others. I’m completely addicted to taking classes on Skillshare. I find it a great source of inspiration and a great way to build your skills in a variety of areas without spending a fortune. People buy your joy and I realized if I could share what I love doing, maybe there would be an audience for it. The Teach Challenge came at the perfect time, I was in between projects and needed a challenge. I didn’t hesitate on clicking the join button.

Tell us about your experience in the teach challenge. What did you learn through the month of July? What aspects of the challenge did you find helpful?

It was great to have weekly goals. They really helped me to stay on target and achieve my goal of launching my class. The emphasis on planning each stage was very useful when it came time to actually recording the videos. Instead of just jumping in and filming I spent most of my time planning and writing out what I was going to have in each lesson. I don’t think I would have done this had I not done the Teach Challenge. I also think it resulted in a well structured class, which students find easy to follow.

“I’ve been blown away by the response to my first class. ”

Looking back I can’t believe how I doubted myself and my abilities. I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my class. But somehow I’ve managed to attract over 500 students in just a month. To those who’ve been hesitant about teaching, just give it a go! You might surprise yourself. I’m now in the middle of creating my 2nd class (launching the end of August) and I’ve so many ideas for more classes after that. It’s a great way to share your joy and a great way to help supplement your income!

Written by:

Astrid Adam