Thanks for stopping by to read my Skillshare review.
How do you remain relevant in an economy that changing faster than you are? You're not alone. Millions of people, myself included, feel like it's going to be hard to keep up (it's the reason I started this site).
Skillshare is attacking the problem from both sides. They help you learn new skills to keep up with the changes, and they also offer opportunities to make money teaching, which is helpful if those changes affect you financially.
However… there are some negative reviews out there and if you’ve been reading them, you may be wondering if Skillshare is a scam. In this review I’ll discuss that, as well as cover the following topics…
Please note, I am not a member or an affiliate for Skillshare. This review has been researched with information and testimonials that are available online in the public domain. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.
What Is Skillshare?
Founded in 2012 and located in New York, Skillshare has paid over $5 million to teachers who range from independent freelancers to accomplished authorities at the top of their industries.
You can teach (and learn) skills in areas such as photography, fashion, film and graphic design, as well as technology, business and entrepreneurship... just to name a few.
Those are the real benefits of Skillshare. If however, you're only interested in the money-making aspect of Skillshare and you're not certain about teaching online, there are other ways you can make money.
The easiest method to earn some spending cash online is probably with online surveys on sites like surveyjunkie.com. You can also go to swagbucks.com and earn money by watching videos and visiting websites.
For a more substantial income and to satisfy your entrepreneurial itch, you can also start an online business.
And none of these strategies need to be instead of Skillshare. Earning from multiple sources is a good way to diversify and open yourself up to different options.
Is Skillshare a Scam?
Skillshare is not a scam, but there are some serious complaints that suggest they're deceiving customers.
While most teachers seem to be happy with Skillshare, a lot of customers are not.
You can find dozens of complaints online and reviews saying they’re a scam.
It looks like Skillshare uses a free trial to suck people in, and then they charge your credit card without notifying you once the trial is over.
They’re not the only company that does this, but the issue here is that customers are finding it difficult to cancel their memberships and also claiming that Skillshare won't give them a refund.
I’m not saying Skillshare is doing this deliberately, but it’s a serious issue they’re aware of and has earned them an F rating at the Better Business Bureau. And, despite the history of complaints going back a few years, it keeps happening because some reports are as recent as last week.
But there’s also two sides to every story…
Skillshare has responded to some of these complaints and it seems they do offer refunds…
This particular response is from the Google Play Store though, and I’m only speculating… but my guess is that Skillshare must play by the rules here or risk having their app removed from the marketplace.
It’s a shame because Skillshare provides a valuable service and a great opportunity for both students and teachers. But based on these reviews I’d hesitate to give my credit card number to them… and I’m probably not the only one.
And this affects teachers at Skillshare too. You may not be paying them directly to teach, but your earnings are related to the total number of paying students they have, and these complaints are certainly not helping sales.
Having said that… there are a lot of teachers making money with Skillshare. Despite these complaints, they are a legit company and in my opinion, still worth your consideration.
And to be fair, I’m focusing on the negative here, but there are a lot of positive reviews as well, which I’ll talk more about in a moment...
How Does It Work?
You can sign up with Facebook, Google, or your email. Teachers don’t pay when they join, but customers have the option of a free account or a premium account.
The cost for customers is currently $15/month (paid monthly) or $8.25/month (one annual payment of $99)
Premium members have unlimited access to all of Skillshare’s courses.
Teacher Pay and Income Expectations
According to the Teachers handbook the average Skillshare teacher earns $1400 in their first six months. Top teachers they say earn up to 100k a year.
The handbook contradicts their website, which claims top earners are making up to 40K a year. I have no reason to doubt that a decent income is possible at Skillshare... but whether it's 100K or 40K, I don't know.
There are two ways you can earn.
You are paid based on the number of minutes your course is watched, and your earnings are calculated as a percentage of the total number of minutes watched by all premium students across all courses.
The amount you make is not only dependent on the percentage of minutes your courses are viewed, but also by the number of paying customers Skillshare has.
Membership fees are collected monthly and 30% - 50% of that revenue goes into a royalty pool… which gets disbursed according to everyone’s percentage of viewing time.
Teachers can also earn $10 for every premium member they refer to Skillshare.
Payment Method and Frequency
To qualify for payment, your course must be viewed for at least 30 minutes (within the corresponding month)
It should also be noted that your pay is calculated based on actual minutes, not course minutes. For example… if a student watches a one-hour course at 2X speed, you will only be paid for the 30 minutes it took them to watch it.
Payments are made through PayPal on the 16th of the month (calculated from the previous month).
If none of this sounds appealing to you, or you're not ready to commit the time it takes to teach online (especially if you just spent your entire day teaching)... as mentioned earlier, surveys on sites like surveyjunkie.com and swagbucks.com are stress free ways to make some extra pocket cash if that's all you currently need.
Alternatively, for those on the other end of the spectrum and looking to create passive income so you don't have to ever teach again, you're a candidate for an online business.
Teaching Your Class
Skillshare has a lot of resources and guidelines to help you create and publish your course. In addition to a Teacher’s handbook, there are Q&A’s, articles and a 30-Day Challenge that walks you through the entire process.
A few points worth mentioning are…
- Your class should range from 20 – 60 minutes in length.
- It must be based on an actual lesson plan and narrated by you.
- There is zero-tolerance for plagiarism and they want a unique course taught by YOU… not a regurgitated version of someone else’s material.
- Permission is required for supplemental materials such as images, music etc.
- Classes must include a related project that promotes practical application.
- Specific topics with actionable lessons are preferred, not broad subject overviews.
Topics You Can’t Teach
There are some topics that are off limits, which include…
- Passive income business strategies.
- Dating, relationships and romance related topics.
- Reseller businesses such as drop-shipping or MLM’s.
- "How to" courses about teaching on other platforms (Udemy for example).
Skillshare Reviews and Complaints
We’ve already gone over the complaints about billing issues, no refunds etc., but there are some others...
- Lack of customer support
- Technical issues with the Skillshare App… poor video quality, random crashes, basic features missing such as playback speed.
- There are no educational barriers so you’re going to get some unqualified teachers.
- Some classes are no better than what you'd find on YouTube.
As I mentioned earlier, not every Skillshare review is negative. There are a lot of positive ones as well.
- Some teachers say they’re able to cover their monthly rent or save enough for a family vacation.
- Being able to promote your courses outside of Skillshare.
- Students say the quality of content is extremely good.
- The app is a positive replacement for time wasters like social media and games.
Another positive I'll add is that Skillshare responds to some of their complaints. The details are not always available on some sites like the Better Business Bureau, but they seem to be helpful within the App Store reviews.
You don’t need to be the best in the world at what you’re teaching, but depending on your topic, you should know who your competition is...
Bring Your A-Game
Here are some of the instructors you can find on Skillshare.
Teaching the topic of email marketing with MailChimp is Allyson Van Houten, the Senior Marketing Manager at MailChimp.
Then there’s Soledad O’Brien teaching content crafting strategies. If you’re not familiar with Soledad O’Brien, she’s been an anchor, correspondent and executive producer for major networks like CNN, MSNBC, HBO, and PBS with dozens of other broadcasting and publishing accomplishments to her name.
Young Guru who is teaching a class on mixing music is a Grammy nominated DJ and record producer who has worked with artists such as Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Alicia Keyes.
I hadn't heard of Yuko Shimizu, but it turns out she’s an award winning illustrator who's worked for high-profile client’s such as DC Comics, Apple, Microsoft, Rolling Stone and GQ. And here she is on Skillshare teaching drawing techniques.
Others on Skillshare who are at the top of their game include Rand Fishkin (Search Engine Optimization) and Gary Vaynerchuck (founder of Vaynermedia) who is actually teaching a wine tasting course here (he is also the founder of Wine Library TV which has nearly 1000 episodes on YouTube adding up to millions of views).
The reason I mention these teachers when talking about Skillshare tips is to point out that your expectations should be high.
Reprocessed and repackaged information taken from YouTube and a few Google searches won't cut it... and I’m sure you’d agree, there's someone out there thinking they'll slap together a quick (and mediocre) course and make a quick buck.
It’s all about view time and the best way to increase your minutes watched is to create more classes. Publishing consistently also keeps you visible.
Your regular students will know they can count on you, and new students who find your current classes will be made aware of your older ones.
Choose Popular Topics
Of course, you can’t teach something you know nothing about… but whenever you can, do some research and find out which topics have the most students and minutes watched.
And also pay attention to the teachers of those topics. What are they doing to get those views and can you mimic their strategies?
Market Your Classes Outside of Skillshare
If you have an existing audience, make sure they’re aware of what you’re teaching. You might have a popular blog or social media following you can leverage to acquire new students.
This strategy works in reverse as well. Skillshare has some limitations when it comes to self promotion, but you can share your website (if you have one) and encourage students to check it out. From there they can join your mailing list and let them know of other courses you teach, affiliate offers etc.
Become a Brand
Think of yourself as a brand with a Skillshare channel rather than a teacher with a collection of random online classes.
A good resource here is to learn from popular YouTube and Instagram influencers.
They've become likeable characters within a recognizable environment... branding their videos with intros and logos, and using consistent lighting, angles, backgrounds, colors etc.
Their content usually has a common thread as well which brings everything together and builds upon itself.
What I Like
- The passive income potential. The classes you create are cumulative and increase your earning opportunities.
- Short bite-sized courses that are 20 – 60 mins in length… good whether you’re learning or teaching.
- You can modify and reformat courses you’ve created for other platforms like Udemy and publish them on Skillshare.
What I Don’t Like
- The royalty pool is 30 – 50 percent of total revenue, which means they keep 50 – 70 percent! There are some freelance platforms with fees in the 10 percent range, so 50 – 70 percent is extremely high in my opinion.
- I can’t ignore the significant number of customer complaints about unauthorized billing and refusal of refunds.
- Despite claims of decent pay, if you don’t have any outside promotion (blog traffic or speaking engagements for example), getting noticed in a pool of 23,000 courses is going to be difficult.
Where Do You Go From Here?
The first thing I’d say if you’re signing up as a customer, is to do it through either Google or Apple’s app store. The billing issues and customer service problems seem to be far less of a problem when you're not dealing with Skillshare directly.
If an app store is gets multiple complaints and refund requests for Skillshare, they’ll be answering to Google or Apple and risk getting kicked out of the marketplace.
Okay... maybe that's exaggeration 😀
A little extra money though is better than no extra money.
Another way to maximize your income with Skillshare is to create multi-platform content. If you’re creating a course for another platform like Udemy for example, why not re-purpose it on Skillshare with the potential of adding another stream of income.
If you're looking for something more... like escaping your job entirely and the laptop lifestyle appeals to you, my recommendation is the same 4-step formula that I use to earn passive income online and you can learn more about that by clicking HERE.
I hope my review of Skillshare has been helpful and if you any comments, questions, or experience with Skillshare, please share in the comments section below.