This episode is all about whether or not you should use a marketplace to sell your courses.
So that would be like Skillshare*, Udemy, or something similar.
I wanted to talk about whether or not you should teach classes on a marketplace or not. This question came up recently, because I am a teacher on Skillshare, and recently Skillshare made some changes to a teacher program they had. Right now is a good time to chat about this, as many people want to create courses online.
I wanted to mention that there are these marketplaces where you can “host” your course online. Places like Skillshare and Udemy, that you can put your course or your class and then people can search within the marketplace to find and take your classes.
We’ll dive more into this in this episode.
Listen to the episode below:
I’ve been a teacher on Skillshare for two years this coming summer. And I have really enjoyed the experience. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown as a teacher. There are a lot of positives to hosting your courses on a platform like this.
A marketplace is a platform like Etsy, Creative Market, or any type of marketplace platform. There are pros and cons to hosting a course on this type of platform, instead of on your own site. There are pluses and minuses, which is what we’ll get into in this episode.
PROS For Teaching on an Online Marketplace
When I think about teaching on Skillshare, there are some things that are automatic positives.
#1 – You have a built in audience.
First up, there is an audience there and they’re ready to learn. So, when you put your class or your course up on a site like Skillshare, you don’t necessarily have to do as much marketing of the course. This is especially good for those of you who new to having online presence. If you’ve never created a course, if you don’t have a large following, then this is an opportunity for you to get people to watch your classes without having to do as much legwork upfront.
You still have to do some marketing, but there’s more opportunity for you to be seen because you’re putting it on a platform that they do the marketing for you.
For instance, with Skillshare, my experience with the platform is that when I started out I had an audience. I had followers on Facebook, I had followers on Instagram at the time, I think I probably had under 2000 followers. I have over 2000 now, and Facebook, I’ve built up for so many years. And my email list also wasn’t very big. But my audience has grown since being on Skillshare. People from Skillshare have gone to my social media and signed up for my email as a result of me being on the platform.
The other thing is that I had classes or courses on my own website, and I had students in those courses but the amount of students was very low compared to what I now have on Skillshare.
So, right now in May of 2020, I have over 5,200 students on the Skillshare platform.
And I also have an additional 1000 people who are following me on Skillshare. Some of those people following me, they’re not in any of my classes. So, I have over 6000 people who follow me on the platform that I have access to. When I release a new class, they get notified by email that I released a new class. So, being somebody who had already taught online, I already put stuff on my own website, but seeing that opportunity, and then getting my stuff out there, and then seeing all of these people sign up for my classes, for me, it was a great experience. I thought it was awesome.
If you’re newer, I’m not saying that you’ll have the same results as me but it will give you the same opportunities. You’ll have that opportunity to put your stuff in front of an audience that already exists, they’re already there to learn.
So, when these students see your class show up, and you try to market it to people there, you will start to have students that you didn’t have before. It’s allowing you to reach people because you’re getting in front of a new audience that you maybe could have never reached. Some of the people who follow me on Skillshare they were people who were on my email list. They were people who were on my Facebook or on my Instagram, but a lot of people were new to me, they hadn’t heard of me before.
And I do get DMs from people on Instagram all the time saying that Skillshare was where they found me. So, when you join a platform like Skillshare, that is absolutely a huge pro.
#2 – You can earn revenue consistently on the platform.
The other thing for me with Skillshare (I don’t have any experience with Udemy, yet. But I do hope to try it out in the future), is that I get paid consistently.
Every single month on the 16th, I receive my payout from Skillshare. And I’ve had some really great payouts over the few years that I’ve been teaching classes in the marketplace.
I’ve had some really low payouts too. This past month, my payout was not as much as it has been in a while, but I already am on track to do better in my next payout than I did last month. So, when I look at that, as a small business owner, having this awareness that I have money that’s going to come in every single month, even if it’s low, it’s still a great feeling because it gives me some security.
I know that even if a customer doesn’t pay like their payment bounces or even if a client decides that they don’t want have hours this month, or whatever it may be, it’s a great to have something like Skillshare. Skillshare helps me to where I know consistently that I will have a payout, it will be in my email box on the 16th at around 9am.
That, for me is such an awesome thing. And I feel like for a lot of people out there who do not have a consistency with anything, you don’t have a consistency in sales, you don’t have a consistency with the amount of money that you have coming in every single month that this could be beneficial for you.
If you don’t have a consistent revenue stream, this is a great way for you to start to build that base. Then you can build on it with your other products and other things that you’re doing in your business. It is not necessarily that every single teacher will do as well as another, so do keep that in mind.
CONS For Teaching on an Online Marketplace
#1 – There might be a lot of teachers and classes in your niche.
So, I do want to mention that some of the teachers do better on a marketplace platform and some of the teachers do worse. Some teachers in certain niches, do really well. But some niches are overly-saturated, meaning there are a lot of teachers in that niche and it’s hard to be discovered. Because of this, there might be a lot of classes for people or classes to look through, meaning that your class could end up in the bottom row of the search.
*TIP* But what I did for myself and this would be something that I would suggest for you to do, if you do want to be on one of these marketplace platforms to sell your courses, what I would tell you to do is to really start out with a suite of classes. What this means is that you’re going to put together several classes that work well together and make sure that you are consistently putting those classes out.
So, I decided to make all my classes on Skillshare, centered on photography and all around Instagram. And now I have six classes that are photography and Instagram related. I haven’t made classes on anything else, although I can teach a lot of other things. Because I’ve been in business for so long, and I’ve done so many things with my business (as a photographer, designer, and business coach), so I could potentially teach on each of these topics if I wanted to. But I wanted to make sure that all of my classes were related, so that when someone took one class, and they saw that they liked me as a teacher, they could go and then take another class by me that was related to the first class they took. I believe that niching the topic of my classes on Skillshare has helped me have the success that I’ve had on the platform. So, that would be my top recommendation to you.
#2 – If you put all of your eggs into one basket anything could happen, and you’d lose your sole stream of revenue.
Putting your eggs into one basket is never good. Anything could happen, like Skillshare could suddenly go out of business. These platforms make changes all the time. For instance, there was a program that I was a part of with Skillshare, that they decided recently to get rid of. As a teacher that was like, “Oh, man, that’s a bummer,” right?
Another example is where a teacher on a marketplace teaches there one day, but then the next day, they’re not on the platform because their stuff has been taken down. This can totally happen. So, you have to make sure that you’re not putting your all your eggs in one basket.
It’s wise to make sure that you are creating multiple revenue streams in your business. Multiple revenue streams create that security in your business no matter what. It’s nice to get the payment from Skillshare or Udemy, but you need that contingency plan.
You can be excited that you have some predictable income. On the other hand, you don’t own the marketplace platform. You’ll have to look at the fine print to see if you can reuse your content on other platforms.
If I were to say anything about why you would want to sell courses or classes on your own website, the reason why is because you are in charge. And as long as you’re paying your website bills that you have associated with your website, or if you’re on a platform like Teachable, Podia, or Thinkific, as long as you’re paying that bill, then you are ensured that the content is yours. You can be assured that you’re the person who can take your content down and not anybody else.
And if you want to change from one platform to another, you totally can do that. I’m actually going through the process of changing from Kajabi, which is what I’ve used for the past almost two years to another course hosting platform called Podia*. I’m switching because I found that it has everything that I need for a much lower cost. And I can have more products on the platform, so I can have more classes and digital products in my shop, as well. So, it’s opening up a lot of doors for me.
So, ultimately, I have my own platform where I have my courses, my workshops, my digital products, plus I’m a teacher on Skillshare. I am hoping to add some courses on Udemy eventually and try some of these other smaller marketplace platforms someday.
I would suggest that if you’ve never taught online before, if you’ve never made a course or a workshop or anything like that, it might be good for you to start with a marketplace type situation. By starting teaching online through a marketplace, you can get the experience as a teacher and you will probably get paid. It may not be very much at the beginning, however, but it will be an easier learning curve.
My first check that I got from Skillshare was higher than most. When I released my first course I also got a bonus that Skillshare was offering at the time. So, I got an additional hundred dollars for participating in the challenge.
So, my first month where I got paid the full month I made I think $220, which is rare when it comes to people teaching on Skillshare (unless you have a massive audience to begin with). Some people when they first start out will make $20. Some people will make $40. But the thing is, you get the experience, and you get to gain new followers to your business. These people will likely go and check you out on social media, they’ll likely sign up for your freebies and things like that.
If you’ve never had online teaching experience, an online marketplace is a great place for you to get started and to try things out.
There are these different platforms like I mentioned that you can try. I would look at each platform and see which one lines up with what you teach. Some platforms are not good for certain industries. I see that I can do business classes on Udemy, website classes or graphic design classes there. But there are some classes that may not do as well. So, you’ll want to look at the classes on each platform, and see how many students are in those classes. See how many classes are available in your specific niche, and see if it will work for you.
You can just do a Google search to find other platforms or marketplaces where you can potentially sell your courses. And you will eventually have to take the leap and jump into it. Make yourself a class or a course and see what it’s all about.
The thing that I find with most of my clients is they do have a little bit of nervousness when teaching online for the first time, and that is going to be there for most people because there’s a lot involved. I will talk about this in future episodes if you guys want me to.
But basically, when it comes to teaching online, you have to be aware of a lot of different things. You have to know the equipment to use, you have to make decisions of where to put your classes, you have to market your classes. So, there’s a lot of different components going on. And that’s why I think a marketplace is a great way to get started. All you have to do when teaching on a marketplace is create the content and then put it up. And then from there, you should still get paid. And you just have to do a little bit of marketing. But you don’t have to worry about all the other tech stuff like how to set up a website or anything like that.
I would love to hear from you. You can DM me on Instagram and let me know if this is something that appeals to you. If you’re thinking that you would like to try out a platform like Skillshare or Udemy and what type of course that you are going to do, I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out. My handle is @amanda_creek.
So, that is it for today’s episode, I wanted to dive into this topic just a little bit to tell you the pros and cons of whether or not you should be on a marketplace website when you’re first starting teaching online.