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

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Teacher Tips: Designing A Successful Skillshare Class

teacher avatar Jake Bartlett, Motion Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Course Trailer


    • 2.

      Build A Channel


    • 3.

      Class Topics


    • 4.

      Bite-Sized Teaching


    • 5.

      Class Projects


    • 6.

      Class Titles


    • 7.

      Outline Your Class


    • 8.

      Class Requirements & Project Explanation


    • 9.

      Lesson Videos


    • 10.

      Explain Your Process


    • 11.

      Wrap Up


    • 12.



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About This Class


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 best tips I know for designing and planning out a successful Skillshare course. This class works great when paired with my other Teacher Tips class, where I show you how I actually produce my class content.

I'll see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Jake Bartlett

Motion Designer

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Level: Beginner

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1. Course Trailer: Hey, my name is Jake Bartlett and I am a freelance motion designer and online instructor. Over the last few years, I've become a very successful teacher on Skillshare, and I've been able to turn it into my largest form of income. Teaching on Skillshare has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. In this class, I'm going to share with you all of my best tips and practices on how I plan out each new class. I'll cover things like how I come up with new class and project ideas, how I structure my lessons, ways to boost student engagement and other tips for getting you ready to actually produce your class. For the class project, you'll be outlining your next skill share class and by the time that you're finished, you'll be completely ready for my next class, where you'll learn how to produce and publish your class. This class is for anyone interested in teaching on Skillshare, even if you're already teaching. My goal is to pass on everything 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. Build A Channel: Let's talk about the most important thing first. The very best way to become a successful teacher on Skillshare is to think of it as a channel building platform. A single class might perform well but to build a following on the platform and increase your monthly enrollments, you need to create classes regularly. Posting fun engaging classes on a regular basis will help you establish your own personal brand. Every time that you post a new class, your following will grow and this generates a snowball effect where every time you post a new class you have a following of students from your past classes that likely want to take the new class and at the same time you have new students discovering your latest class and then seeing that you have a library of other classes to enroll in. If you approach teaching on Skillshare as a way to build a channel rather than a single class, you'll be on the track to building a following, branding yourself and becoming a successful teacher. Now, I'm a motion designer so I teach animation classes specifically in After Effects. The majority of my classes have the subject of animation but you can teach almost anything you want. Design, photography, cooking, sewing, fashion. If there's something you're good at, chances are you'll be able to turn it into something you can teach on Skillshare. Now, there's more to being a successful teacher than just posting regularly. Obviously, you need to know the best way to do what you're teaching. If you don't, that's going to show up in your classes and students are probably going to pick up on it. Don't think that you can just make anything and expect it to be successful. You really need to know your stuff if you're going to teach it. Once you know the subject of what you're going to teach, you can start thinking about what your first class will be. 3. Class Topics: The first step of the class designing process is picking a class topic. I think it's super important that you only teach classes that you'd be interested in taking yourself. If you're not excited about it, the students probably won't be either. The way I go about picking topics, starts with getting inspired. As an animator, I'll go online to find inspiration. I'll use social media websites like Instagram, Dribbble, YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest. There's so much inspiration for me as an animator on the Internet. As I'm browsing all these platforms, I'll take note of certain projects that stood out to me as interesting or fun, and I especially keep an eye out for things that are trendy. Make a list of all these inspiring things. Make a pin board on Pinterest to keep everything organized, keep adding to it all the time so that you can come back to it when you're ready to make another class. Once I think of or find the fun project, that's when I start thinking about how I can teach a class around it. I try to pick a technique or an effect or some type of core principle to focus on through that class, and then incorporate that into a class project. Regardless of what subject do you want to teach, find places that inspire you on that subject, and try to think of ideas that would be attractive to a student. Another invaluable resource that you might not have thought about is Skillshare. That's actually the best place to find out what the audience you'll be marketing to is interested in. Browse the different topics on Skillshare's platform, find the one that you want to teach and then see what classes in that subject have performed the best. Look for classes with high enrollments, great reviews and lots of projects submissions. Enroll in those classes and watch through them. See how that teacher taught their class and try to break down why their class is so successful. Look at what the most successful classes topics are, and what class projects they came up with. Now there may already be one or more classes on the topic you'd like to teach. But don't let that stop you. Teaching a repeat topic actually isn't a bad thing at all. That's actually a great sign that there's an audience waiting for you. In fact, in my experience, I've noticed that students enjoy seeing multiple methods for doing the same thing. Even if somebody's already taught what you want to teach, you'll be teaching it from a different perspective than any other teacher. Don't rule anything out. 4. Bite-Sized Teaching: Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of successful Skillshare classes aren't that long. A class that tries to teach anything that you could ever want to know about Photoshop might be a successful class but it would also probably take hours to watch through. It's much easier to take that subject of Photoshop and try to teach a bite-size class about a very specific feature, effect, or technique within the program. Now, you might think about breaking up a class that might be longer into multiple classes. That's a great idea but I wouldn't really recommend that you turn it into a series with part one, part two, part three. In my personal experience, the first part of any series is the most successful and the classes that follow it always have lower numbers. Instead of making it a series of part one, part two, part three, I would suggest coming up with unique titles for each one of those lessons and teaching them in a way that they could be taken in any order. It would be fine to advertise that this class goes great with this class but not grouping them together as a prerequisite to the next class is likely going to make each class more successful. 5. Class Projects: The next step in designing a successful Skillshare class is picking a class project. In my experience, the most successful projects are fun, lightweight, and easy to start. So do some brainstorming about what you think might work with a class topic that you picked. Look back at your inspiration and see if anything that you've found could work well as a project. For example, in my animating with ease class, I teach a more advanced way of controlling your animations inside of After Effects. But the class project was to animate your house in a fun way. I'd seen this type of animation over and over online and knew that it could be a fun thing for students to create and personalize. Students loved that project and there have been over 100 projects submitted to that class. That class is a great example of picking something that you want to teach, but then teaching it through a project that's very popular and fun to do. As a student, being able to show off the student project makes them much more likely to create one. So again, just put yourself in the shoes of the student. If you read about your own class project, would you want to take your class? 6. Class Titles: Now that you've got your class topic and your class project decided, it's time to choose a class title. The class title is the first thing students will see. So it's very important that you make a good first impression. The title should be super clear and descriptive. Try to think of keywords that students might search for on the site when looking for your topic, and see if you can include them in your title. Personally, I think the shorter the title, the better. Try to be as descriptive as you can, as well as concise as possible. A good example from my classes is "The Beginner's Guide To Animating Custom Gifs." The title itself is descriptive because it tells you that anyone can take this class, you'll be making a unique and customizable project, and that it's an extremely trendy topic. Finally, be sure that you capitalize your title properly. You want to come off as professional, so make sure that your presentation is super polished. 7. Outline Your Class: Next you need to outline the class structure. Now, this is where I build a road-map for how I'm going to teach my entire class, and it's really not even that complicated. On my first-class, I actually wrote out a 10-page single-spaced script for every single video in my class. It was incredibly tedious and really hard to follow when I actually went to record. I don't recommend that that's what you do. Instead, just create a simple outline of your class that you can follow along and check off as you're recording. Here's the basic format of what I use as a class structure in my classes. I should point out that this format changes based on the type of class I'm teaching. If it's a larger class that's teaching something more complex, I'll typically include every one of these steps. If it's a much simpler class where the lessons are shorter and the project is self-explanatory, I could jump straight into teaching on the first video. So just realize there's more than one way to structure a class, and this is just the basic structure for most of my classes. I start with the trailer or intro video. If you have a shorter class and it feels right, this video could lead straight into the teaching. Generally though, I'll have a standalone video that acts as a trailer to the class before I get into the teaching. This is where you're going to sell your students on enrolling in your class. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend that you keep your trailer 60 seconds or less, and you include the following information: who you are, what you're teaching, what the class project is, and who the class is for. Hey, I'm Jake Bartlett and this is animating with light. In this class I'll teach you how to simulate light in After Effects using my own techniques for making motion graphics that appear to be illuminating. For the class project, you'll be re-imagining the name of your favorite fictional restaurant in the form of a neon sign. This class is for anyone who's interested in motion graphics. It's a good idea to be familiar with After Effects, but as with all of my classes, I'll walk you through each step of the process so you can follow along even if you're new to the software. I'll see you in class. 8. Class Requirements & Project Explanation: The next video is the required software, tools, materials, whatever the student is going to need to take your class. This is also a great video to talk about whether or not the student needs to know anything before taking your class. Is your class advanced and requires some previous knowledge of whatever you're teaching? Or is it something that a beginner could take with no prior experience? The next video covers the class project and gives a brief explanation of what the student will be creating throughout the class. Now, no matter what your class project is, I recommend that you encourage a student to post something right away, because the students much more likely to finish a project if they've already started it. As an example, in my ultimate guide to shape layers class, the class project is to animate a minimalist design based on their favorite movie. The first thing I asked them to do, is to post what movie they chose. So with very little effort on the students side, they can already have a project started and increases the chances of them finishing. Throughout your class, encourage the student to post progress on their project. At times, that makes sense. Going back to the shape layers class, once the student had finished their design, I encouraged them to post that to their class project. Once they had finished rebuilding that artwork inside of after effects, I ask them to post a screenshot. Anything you can do to increase the engagement of your students and with your class is super beneficial. 9. Lesson Videos: After you've covered all that information, you can move to actually teaching. This is going to be the bulk of your class. Generally, the teaching videos of my classes involve me creating the same projects students would from start to finish. That's a great way to ensure that your students will learn how to make the class project that you advertised in the trailer. Now, I don't just hit record and start building the project without any preparation, this is where I'll write a bullet point list of every single step from start to finish. That way I can make sure I've thought out the entire process from the perspective of somebody who's never done this before. Even if my class topic is a little bit more advanced, I always want to teach it in a way that no steps are left out so that even the less experienced students can still follow along with me. This is also a great way to catch steps of the process that might be confusing to students. If you can follow your outline from point A to point B all the way through your teaching, with no gaps or questions or anything up in the air, that's a great sign that your students are going to be able to follow along just fine. Once you've listed out all of your bullet points, try to group the steps into videos in a logical way. Going back to my animating with this class, the first section of the class is designing your house, then it moves on to bringing that artwork into after effects, then I teach you about animation, then I show you how to animate that project. Some of those sections were big enough that I wanted to break up the teaching into multiple videos. It's not crucial that you have this laid out in the planning phase. Most of the time, the videos are broken up in the editing phase, but whatever you can do in the planning phase to organize your teaching content will just make the entire process more streamlined. 10. Explain Your Process: Another thing that I think is super important about teaching is that you're doing more than just showing your process. It's not enough to just hit record and let the student watch you make something from start to finish. The key to making an engaging and informational class that students will appreciate is by explaining your process from start to finish. Don't just show how you're doing, what you're doing, but explain why you're doing what you're doing. If in my beginner's guide to custom gifs class, all I taught you is how to make my specific project, you're going to come out of that class not learning anything but how to make that project. Instead, I teach you the fundamentals of After Effects and the basics of Animation inside the program. Throughout the process of creating that project, I teach you fundamental principles of working with the software so that you can apply it to whatever you'd like. That's the type of mindset you need to come into teaching with. It's one of the best ways to ensure the quality of your classes. If the content of your class is high quality, that will make a student more interested in taking future classes from you, which is the entire goal of teaching on Skillshare. If you produce quality content on a regular basis, your student following will naturally grow every time you post a new class. 11. Wrap Up: Then finally, after you've finish the teaching videos, finish it off with a conclusion. I generally like to have a wrap-up or thank you video at the very end, congratulate the students on finishing the class, encouraged them to post their project to the class project page as well as on social media and tag you. Make sure that they know you're there for them as a teacher and that they can ask you any questions and just be grateful for them taking your class. Once you have your entire class planned, you are ready to actually produce it. Check out my other teacher tips class on producing a successful Skillshare class. For a complete rundown on how I actually produce all of my classes and for a wealth of information and knowledge, also checkout Skillshare's teacher handbook. It's an amazing resource for new teachers and it's full of great information. 12. Thanks!: That's the end of this class, and now you can create your class project. Let me know what your class topic is and share as much information about the class as you'd like. If you'd like feedback, just let me know. If there's anything that you still have questions about, post a discussion and I'll be happy to answer. I'd love it if this course became a resource for other teachers where we can all share our best tips and practices. Once you've finished designing your class, be sure to check out the next class in a series where I cover how to actually produce the content. Thanks so much for taking this class. If you liked it, I'd love it if you gave me review. Thanks again and I'll see you next time.