Has this ever happened to you? You’re scrolling through Skillshare and wonder, “how did that class get over 1,000 students?” Or you open up an email and think, “how did that class get featured in the trending section?” Or you’re reading the blog and come across an interview with a teacher and ask, “how did they earn enough to quit their day job?”

It’s easy to feel intimidated by this kind of success. You may be left thinking: “I could never do that, it must just be random chance.”

We want you to cast those doubts aside; you can absolutely see that same level of success.

Teachers don’t rise through the ranks with luck, they do so with strategy and experimentation. Taking your Skillshare channel to the next level requires planning and commitment. If you’re ready to get serious about Skillshare and earn more passive income, this guide will help you get there. 

1. Learn from your first class

Like any skill you’re just trying out, your first class may not be your most successful. What is most important about your first class is what you can learn to do better for your next class.

After you publish your class, take note of where you saw the most traction. Was there a spike in views on a certain day (you can see this in your class stats)? Did you see engagement on your marketing post on Facebook? Did you experiment with leaving your class free for a week and did it work?

Your first class is a great opportunity to try a bunch of different tactics and observe what works and what doesn’t. This is a method that we use for our own strategic planning at the Skillshare HQ, and it’s a principle we believe any teacher can apply to their own channel.

You can also use your first class to understand what students like and don’t like about your topic and maybe even your teaching style. Ask for specific feedback using the Community Board. You’ll quickly learn that students are eager to share their thoughts with you. You may find out that students want to know more of your hacks, or that they wish you elaborated more on a specific step in your project. You have direct access to the audience you’re trying to engage – tap into that to be the best teacher you can be. Check out one of Andre Wagner’s classes as an example of excellent teacher-to-student interaction.

When in doubt, ask fellow teachers for their feedback. Skillshare is a thriving community of active teachers and you can take part by joining our class on building your student following. Here, you can ask teachers for their advice and in turn help another teacher. Make use of the resources available to you on Skillshare to learn all that you can learn on marketing and building a following. You’ll be surprised by the takeaways you’ll discover that will make you more and more successful over time.

2. Develop a curriculum and class schedule

Put your learnings toward developing your channel curriculum. Consistent teaching is the way that teachers earn more revenue, grow their Skillshare following, and improve their students’ experience.

Aside from the feedback you collected from your first class, you should also ask yourself what you want to be known for on Skillshare. Carve out your place as the fill in the blank expert by designing a series of classes on that topic and setting a publishing schedule to stake your claim as an expert. There is no limit to the number of classes you can teach.

Before you begin class planning, remember that your classes should be standalone. In other words, students should be able to watch any of your classes, in any order, without having another class as a prerequisite. No class should depend entirely on another. This helps you reach a wider audience of students of all levels.

But standalone doesn’t mean that you forgo consistency. Creating a sense of cohesion in your channel helps you claim your spot as an expert for your category. There are three types of classes that we think work well on Skillshare:

Fundamentals — These classes are high-level overviews, catered to beginners. This kind of class is an introduction to a topic, more of a 101. This casts the widest net, as you can attract enthusiasts that want to pick up a new skill to passionate professionals who want your fresh take. Plus, starting off with a few fundamental classes allows you to follow up with more advanced classes later on.

Deep Dives — You can also choose to create a series of comprehensive classes on related topics. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur with an Etsy shop, you could create a deep-dive class on your craft, on freelancing best practices, and on a core aspect of running your business, like how to develop partnerships. This fashion class is a perfect example of a deep-dive.

Project-focused — With this focus, you choose to teach a core skill through a variety of projects across different classes. If watercolor is your passion, show students how to create landscapes, greeting cards, and floral patterns throughout your curriculum. Graphic Design teacher, Jon Brommet, is an Adobe Illustrator wiz. Each one of his classes teaches students how to make something unique with the software: pins, stickers, monograms, business cards, and more.

The choice of style is up to you. Choose what you are most comfortable with and confident in. You can mix and match different styles or focus just on one.

Once you have decided on the direction of your curriculum, map out a class publishing schedule. To maximize the impact of your student following and earn consistent payments every month, we think it’s best to publish a class on a monthly basis. The longer you wait to publish a new class, the harder it is to engage your followers. The benefit of frequent publishing is that it allows you to captivate your past students–as long as they’re still engaged–as well as reach a new audience.

This might seem like a lot of work, and we’d be sugar coating it to say that it wasn’t. If you want to see the same level of success as Helen Bradley and turn teaching on Skillshare into a reliable source of monthly income, this level of planning is going to get you there. If you need an extra push, sign up for our Summer Bootcamp, and stay on the lookout for similar programs in the future.

3. Invest more time in marketing

The more you teach and the more you develop your Skillshare channel, the more student followers you’ll gain (and the more revenue you’ll earn!). The larger your Skillshare audience, the easier it will be to see more students watch your classes. But reaching a multi-thousand student following takes time. That’s where marketing comes in.

While you are building your Skillshare following and even after you’ve reached significant follower counts, you’ll maximize your success by marketing your classes to an external audience.

Skillshare is just one of many platforms, and while we have over one million students taking classes, there are millions more that aren’t yet on Skillshare and left unaware of your class. By leveraging your own communities and experimenting with marketing tactics, you bring new students to Skillshare, which not only means more students in your class but another opportunity to increase your revenue through referrals.

Take for example, Skillshare teacher Teela Cunningham. Whenever she launches a new class, she has a tailored marketing plan to go with it. Teela makes use of all Skillshare-provided marketing tools and leverages her external communities to promote her class.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan, and we believe that trying new tactics is the best way to find what works best for you. If you’re not sure where to start, check out how other teachers have marketed their classes with these helpful blog posts:

If you think of your Skillshare channel as your business, you’ll quickly see why promotion is so important. You wouldn’t start your own business and wait for customers to find your shop; you’d spread the word and build up momentum to increase sales. You can drastically increase your following and revenue on Skillshare by spending some time marketing.

The bigger you grow your channel, through consistent teaching and marketing, the more return you’ll see over time. Join our Summer Bootcamp, and get serious about teaching today! 

Written by:

Cara Matteson