As a highly sought-after calligrapher, Bryn Chernoff’s income was dependent on the time she could make for her clients. Thanks to her Skillshare classes, she’s added a steady source of supplemental income, allowing her to grow her studio, expand her team, and make more time to be with her family. For a self-employed parent searching for a flexible work-life balance, that opportunity is invaluable.
From a young age, Bryn Chernoff was obsessed with writing by hand; it wasn’t until much later in life, however, that she realized her passion could translate into a livelihood. “I was always the kid writing on everything. I even filled out my older sister’s college application by hand! There was this unique pleasure that came from it,” she explains. Bryn went on to pursue a more conventional path in computer science, but while she loved her job as a software developer, something was missing. With requests from friends for wedding and dinner party invitations piling up, calligraphy became more than just a side project, and Bryn’s business, Paperfinger, was born. Soon after, Bryn made the decision to quit her job and focus full-time on Paperfinger; “I had never articulated this as my dream,” she tells us, “but of course it was all along. It makes so much sense to me now.”
As Paperfinger grew into a thriving business, Bryn, as her own boss, had to put in a lot of hours herself. As is true for many creative professionals, her income was dependent entirely on the time she put into it, with her own two hands. “When you work for yourself, in theory you can have all the time off you want, but that’s not so great when it’s unpaid. Especially becoming a mom, it was such a bummer to see how limited the opportunities were for paid maternity leave in the form of grants or tax breaks,” she recalls. Skillshare came along at just the right time.
Bryn published her first Skillshare class in the summer of 2014 while pregnant with her first child. The class took off, and Bryn was able to take some necessary time off as her student base continued to grow (to date, over 11,000 students have enrolled in this first class). This was exactly the source of stability she needed. “It’s the perfect set up,” she explains, “where I was able to pour all the hard work in upfront, and let it live on forever.” Since returning to her busy schedule of client work, Bryn continues to thrive as a top Skillshare teacher, constantly building on her curriculum and engaging with her students in special ways. She’s taught four popular classes and has no plans to stop. In her own words:
“Teaching on Skillshare provides a passive income stream, and that’s the holy grail for someone in my shoes.”
Another special aspect of Bryn’s success on Skillshare is her connection to her students. Bryn has been fortunate enough to turn her greatest passion into more than a hobby—to discover that as a little girl scribbling on napkins, she was actually paving the way for a brilliant career. And now it’s her turn to pass on not only her incredible skills, but her love of calligraphy as well. “Realizing that the work they did for my class was as emotionally loaded for my students as it was for me when I got started with calligraphy . . . that was the most moving experience,” she reveals. This year, Bryn deepened her connection with students even further when she hired three of those students to join the Paperfinger team.
Today, Bryn continues to find stability and fulfillment through teaching on Skillshare. Just last month, she published her latest class, Pen and Ink Calligraphy: The Art of the Envelope, in which her (adorable) daughter, now one year old, makes a cameo. We can’t wait to see what exciting opportunity she takes on next.
At Skillshare, we believe in learning by doing. Whether that’s creating a project, asking questions in an AMA, or giving feedback on your classmates’ work, the more you engage with the community, the more you can learn.
Earlier this year, we developed a TA (Teacher’s Assistant) program to recognize students who exemplify the Skillshare mantra. TAs are students who go the extra mile to participate in the community and help make Skillshare the best place to learn.
Check out these projects created by some of our awesome TAs:
Web designers love Invision for its quick prototyping, easy collaboration, and beautiful tools. And now, when you join Invision’s free Skillshare class on web design essentials, you’ll also receive a 3-month license to Invision. Join the class today for all the best practices, tips, and resources to design a site that drives results.
Each month, we sit down with one of our top teachers on the platform to learn more about their Skillshare experience. This month, we were excited to connect with illustrator and former art director at Sub Pop Records, Jesse LeDoux, who is making a huge splash this Fall on Skillshare. His newest class, Building Character 1: Design and Your Sketch Your Character, was met with tons of excitement from his followers on the site who have been hard at work on their own quirky characters. He even hosted a live AMA earlier this week to give students a chance to pick his brain. A pretty stellar teacher, we’d say!
Check out what Jesse had to say about teaching, and why he thinks you should teach too.
Skillshare: If you could take a class from anyone, who would it be?
I’d love to see how Geoff McFetridge makes his paintings. I went to his recent gallery show in NYC and was blown away by the precision and flatness of them. They’re incredible.
Why is lifelong learning important to you?
If you’re not learning, progressing and improving, what are you doing? You’re either stagnant or backsliding. Learning something new helps you look at the world in a new way. And those new skills can help augment the skills you already have. As humans, I think we have a responsibility to constantly be improving ourselves and being a better person than the one we were a year ago.
How did you decide to teach your first class?
Truth be told, I tried to wiggle out of it. I tend to keep pretty busy and teaching a class wasn’t really something I was super motivated about adding to the to-do list. But after a couple of conversations with the Skillshare team, they convinced me that others would be interested in “skills” I take for granted (like dipping a pen into a jar of ink). The process of filming the classes was less of a production than I had thought (iPhone as film crew…who knew?!?). I won’t go as far as saying it’s easy, because sitting in front of a camera is never easy for me. But it was definitely less painful than I had initially expected. I’ve found that the moments in life that get me out of my comfort zone are frequently the most rewarding. Teaching my first class definitely falls into that category. I feel I learned more from the process than I taught.
What’s been your favorite part of teaching?
Seeing students’ projects. It makes the whole thing feel like a conversation. I say something to you, via the videos, and you respond, with your project. That’s way better than me just yammering into space. So, for those of you who have taken my class(es), complete a project!
Student Project by Nora Patterson from Jesse’s first class, “Posters with LeDoux: Draw a 3-Color Poster for Your Favorite Band”
What advice would you give to someone who is considering teaching a class but doesn’t know where to start?
The simple advice is to choose a skill you like to do. It doesn’t matter if other people have already done a class on the subject. Nobody has done it the way YOU do it. So, just be yourself and do it your way. There’s a HUGE value in being able to see that.
What’s the next skill that you want to learn?
“How to follow through with the children’s picture book you started 2 years ago.” Seriously.
He may not have followed through with his children’s book yet, but we’re sure glad Jesse followed through with teaching. Check out both of Jesse’s classes here, and stay tuned for the next two in his character design series coming out later this year!
Are you ready to start your own teaching journey? Start a class today at www.skillshare.com/teach, and share your skills with our community of over 1M students.
On the first day of every month, Skillshare launches a four-week long Teach Challenge and invites every member in the community to build an online class.With milestones, prizes, and tons of support along the way, the Teach Challenge is a useful resource that helps everyone share their skills with our vibrant learning community of over 1M students.
One of our top teachers on Skillshare got his start through a monthly Teach Challenge.
Motion Graphic Artist Jake Bartlett was always interested in teaching but never thought he would have the time or the opportunity to teach motion graphics. The Teach Challenge ended up being just the motivation he needed to stay on track and successfully publish his first class. Today, Jake is teaching 9 amazing animation classes and has grown his following to over 11,000 students on Skillshare.
Last month, we invited Jake to host a live Q&A to chat directly with new teachers in our September Teach Challenge about his experience with teaching on Skillshare. He offered tons of amazing pointers on how he’s become so successful, and we pulled out some of our favorite moments below
What made you join the Teach Challenge?
I always thought I would enjoy teaching, though I never thought it would be a possibility for me financially. I decided to try out teaching on Skillshare and it just so happened they were hosting a Teach Challenge to win a MacBook Air. I thought the best thing I would get out of Skillshare was a laptop, but over the next year my class got a couple thousand students and I started teaching more frequently, and now I’m publishing a new class about once a month.
What was the biggest challenge you encountered when creating your first class?
My biggest challenge with creating my first class was figuring out how to actually do this. Recording the screen, talking at the same time, and walking someone through my process all at once. I had been using After Effects for around 9 years, but figuring out what I needed to say to be completely clear, especially to students who didn’t have experience in the software, proved to be challenging. It’s not a natural process to record yourself while you’re recording a screen, so it took some planning. I also quickly realized I’m not a good speaker at any length. A lot of times I need to repeat myself so it’s really clear, then once it’s all done and I’m in the editing phase, I go ahead and take out all the bad takes.
What software tools do you use to record your class?
I used Quicktime for my first class. Now, I use Screenflow, which is about $100 and it works really well. It manages everything much more seamlessly. For editing, I use Adobe Premiere.
How do you make the filming process easier?
You definitely should have an outline of what you want to record. I don’t go as far as writing a script other than for the trailer. I start by creating the Class Project from scratch, and as I’m creating it, I outline all the steps that are key to the process in a bullet point list. Then, I use that list as a roadmap when I’m recording. So before I start recording, I’ve already figured out all my unit lessons and established what each unit will cover. I also refer back to my bullet points in between takes while I’m recording to make sure I’m covering all my bases.
How do you make your classes so quickly?
I have a bullet-point list of things I need before publishing a class. eg trailer, 15-sec trailer for Instagram, a graphic on Twitter, Instagram, Dribbble. For the rest of the class, it’s making sure I plan it all out. I always start with what the class project is and how I can make it as simple as possible. After my project is designed and animated, that’s when I go back from scratch, recreate it from start to finish, recording the process while following my outline.
Can you give any tips to help relax when the camera starts rolling?
Keep telling yourself that no one is going to see what you don’t want them to see. So it doesn’t matter how many times you mess up, you can always edit it out, and just take the best read of whatever you’re saying. How many “ums” I’ve had to cut out in postproduction is ridiculous. If you get too nervous, I would recommend taking a break and walking around for five minutes. Also remember, that you’re going to get used to this new practice.
How do you engage your students?
The Community Page on your class is always a good way to engage students. I generally post a reminder about contests halfway through and I’ll add a note of encouragement and more information about the prizes! Always give feedback on your projects and keep an eye on your Community Page to catch any student questions. As students begin posting projects, I’m always sure to like them and leave helpful feedback.
Have you run any students contests?
Yes, I run student contests and offer a year of premium Skillshare as a prize. I also recently launched a collaborative live session with Kate Widdows and Joy + Noelle and we gave away art prints to winning projects.
What are your thoughts on Skillshare’s Membership Model?
I like Skillshare’s membership model a lot more than the a-la carte model since it allows me to reach a lot more people. That is what I want to do as a teacher- I want to be able to help as many people as I can. As you start growing a following, all of your students get a notification every time you create a new class. So the more classes you post, the more students gather, and the more quickly your classes will start to fill up. Everytime I post a new class, all my past class enrollments also go up, which brings in more residual income- it’s really a snowball effect.
How much money are you earning?
By May of this year, I was making 3,000/month and I recently got to 5,000 per month.The incredible thing about this is that every month with teaching on Skillshare it’s increased. It’s just crazy. I can’t believe I’m able to make almost as much money teaching on Skillshare as I was working at a production company that I was working at for five years. I honestly think that’s something anyone can do. If you’re teaching subjects students want to learn and you’re teaching consistently, your followers are going to increase every month and that turns into more monthly revenue.
Have you found it useful to network with other teachers?
Yes, I’m a part of the Creators Club, which is a group of Skillshare teachers. Being able to speak with other teachers directly has been really helpful. Learning how other teachers are doing things and hearing their specific challenges has been really informative in the way I think about teaching.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned after having 8 classes on Skillshare?
Your class project is everything. It doesn’t matter how cool the class seems to you, if class project isn’t enticing to students, your class won’t bring in that many students. For added context, my most successful classes are ones that encourage students to personalize the class project. In short, class projects need to be fun and give students the chance to make something they can show off to their community.
How has Skillshare impacted you?
This past January I was able to start working from home based on the amount of revenue I was bringing in from Skillshare. I never thought Skillshare would become that big of a deal in my life and in being able to support my family, but I’m really glad I took my wife’s advice and took part in the Teach Challenge. Things are really picking up and I’m really happy with where I am now.
I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to be teaching on Skillshare and what it’s allowed me to do, so congratulations on taking the first step to becoming a Skillshare teacher. Good luck and I hope to see a bunch of your classes!
Thanks to Jake for sharing his experience! Head here to view his full Q&A.
Ready to get started on a class of your own? Head here to start your class draft and join our monthly Teach Challenge!
Students don’t join Skillshare just to take classes – they come to our platform to engage with experts like you.
Many students on Skillshare are here for professional development. They want answers to questions they can’t find on Google; Students want your unique insight and guidance to help them grow in their careers.
Teachers found a way to answer these kind of student questions by hosting an “Ask Me Anything” in their class, and they’ve been a hit! So we decided to make this functionality a core part of Skillshare.
Introducing the latest and greatest Skillshare teacher tool: AMAs.
An AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) is a set place and time for students to ask you questions.
The format is simple: students write in their questions and you respond in real-time. Students can ask questions about your experience, your classes, your field of expertise or anything you’re comfortable answering.
Plus, AMAs are available to all students on Skillshare. Which means hosting an AMA will help build your following and drive new enrollments to your classes!
To learn more about hosting an AMA, head to the Teacher Handbook. If you’re ready to start taking questions, head here to post your AMA page.
Skillshare’s mission is to make learning accessible to everyone, everywhere. That’s why our classes are ongoing, so every student can learn on their own time and at their own pace.
But we also know that sometimes a little more structure can go a long way in keeping students engaged and excited to do their class project, and that’s why we created Sessions.
A Session is a set period of time (usually 2-4 weeks) for students to complete a class and upload their class project. As a teacher, you can host a Session in any of your existing classes on Skillshare, whenever you’d like.
Sessions have been a huge hit with our student community. On average, they boost class projects by 80% and lead to a 15% increase in new class enrollments.But don’t just take our word for it — check out Anne Ditmeyer’s two-week “resume redesign” session.
Anne revitalized her class, Redesign Your Resume: Making Professional Documents, which she published over a year ago. She turned her class and project into three achievable milestones. To keep students on track, she sent helpful reminders and words of encouragement. At the end of the Session, Anne saw a 21% increase in class enrollments and a 77% increase in projects.
We asked Anne to share her thoughts on hosting a Session. Here’s what she said:
“I really enjoy the Skillshare Sessions because it gives students (and myself) a more structured and focused timeline to complete a task. Re-doing a résumé is something that often gets pushed back on the to-do list, but the benefit of a Session is that it’s motivating to be working on something at the same pace as others. Additionally, it means the online classroom is more active, and there are some great exchanges and feedback happening. There’s a great energy that’s inspiring for both the students, and the teacher.”
With a handful of online learning platforms to choose from, teachers often ask us what makes teaching on Skillshare different. Today, we’ll share the three key reasons teachers prefer Skillshare over other platforms like Udemy.
Leverage Skillshare to build a following
Students on Skillshare see learning as a daily habit. Rather than taking a one-off class to land a new job or get a promotion, they sign up for Skillshare membership ($9.95/month) so that they can be constantly learning from the teachers they love. Each student who enrolls in your class automatically ‘follows’ you on Skillshare and is notified each time you publish new content. These students become your brand ambassadors because they appreciate what you have to offer and are excited to share your classes with their own communities.
For many teachers, the exposure from Skillshare has led them to new freelance clients and has even helped them to grow their followings on other platforms. Motion Graphics teacher Jake Bartlett is a great example of someone who’s built his following from the ground up by teaching more and more awesome classes for his students to enjoy and share. With each class he publishes, he finds it even easier to rise to the top of our Trending page thanks to his constantly-growing following.
Earn steady, predictable revenue through Skillshare’s membership model
Each month, Skillshare shares 50% of its membership revenue with teachers through our royalty program. As a teacher, you’ll never have to worry about pricing or running steep discounts on your classes because membership is consistent, and 50% of revenue always goes back to our teachers. When we do run special discounts on membership to bring more students to your classes, we absorb those costs on our end to make sure teacher earnings are not affected.
Although classes tend to make their biggest splash during their first month on the platform, most teachers continue to see a steady stream of enrollments over time since new students are constantly signing up for Skillshare. Because membership provides a lower barrier to enrollment (as compared to Udemy’s a la carte model), it’s easy for students to join in on your class at any time. We’ve also built tools like Live Sessions to allow you to reactivate your older classes and attract even more students.
Give back to a unique community of creators
All classes on Skillshare are project-based – they encourage students to learn by creating an awesome project to share with the community. This means that as a teacher on Skillshare, you get to watch in delight as your students take the skills you’re teaching and create something totally unique. When your class goes live, you’ll have access to all of our awesome teacher tools to connect with your students and inspire them to learn by doing. That’s top teacher Mary Kate McDevitt’s favorite part of teaching – watching her students do their own amazing projects and utilize their new skills to take their careers to the next level. Watch Mary Kate’s full story here.
Student project by Lesley Zellers, who credits Mary Kate’s classes with helping her to launch her freelance career
Already teaching on Udemy? No problem! Don’t hesitate to publish your class on Skillshare as well. Start your class draft at www.skillshare.com/teach, and if you need any help adapting your class to make it a great fit for Skillshare, email our Teacher Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!
“I first had the idea to teach when I joined the Skillshare community as a student, years ago. I’ve always appreciated the format – being able to watch videos at my own pace and get feedback from the teacher or classmates– and I cannot think of a better way to learn than from the people who inspire you. Now, I think it’s the greatest feeling when I see a really talented artist create an awesome block print and credit me with inspiring them to try it. That’s a pretty amazing thing.”
Jon Brommet, Graphic Designer. 4 classes, 2,300 students
“These days, the majority of my income come from teaching on Skillshare. This gives me the freedom and opportunity to support my family by doing something that I love.”
Jake Bartlett, Motion Graphics Artist. 9 classes, 12,000 students
“I really wanted the course to help people understand the importance of good typography. As a graphic designer I used to take my background and education in typography for granted but I realized that not everyone was lucky enough to have that initial influence … So I relished the chance to teach a course in typography that could inspire or help people use typography more effectively in their work, whether that’s design, illustration, presentations or animation.”
Faye Brown, Graphic Designer. 5 classes, 7,000 students
“For me, the audience and the quality of people that I’ve encountered on Skillshare—what they’re doing, what projects they’ve worked on, what companies they’ve started—those connections have been invaluable. More valuable than money.”
Jack Zerby, Designer & Entrepreneur. 4 classes, 7,700 students
“I was a student on Skillshare and I remember looking at all the amazing teachers and saying out loud, ‘I’d be interested in doing something like this.’ But I didn’t think I was qualified. Then one day I completed a project for Marte Marie Frosberg’s class, and someone from the Skillshare team reached out asking if I’d ever considered teaching. Not to get weird, but it was sort of like the universe answering back. Saying here’s an opportunity for you.”
Today, we’re excited to announce 3 new tools on Skillshare that make learning with your fellow classmates even more engaging! The community is what has always made learning on Skillshare special, so we hope you’ll try them out and let us know what you think.
Notes on Video Lessons
While watching videos in your favorite Skillshare class, you can now take notes to refer back to in the future. You can make these notes public so the rest of the class can also benefit, or you can make any of them private for your own personal reference. View notes in your classes →
One of the biggest requests we’ve heard is the ability to take classes in a more structured environment. With Live Sessions, you can now enroll in series of classes with date-driven project deadlines, receive feedback from students and teachers who’re taking the classes with you, and complete exciting challenges. View upcoming sessions →
Last but not least, we’ve also updated your site notifications to include activity from the classes and sessions you’re taking. It’s never been easier to discover the work from your fellow classmates. You can still find your personalized events within “Notifications.” View your recent notifications →