Teacher Q&A: Jake Bartlett Shares His Experience with New Teachers

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.

Final thoughts?

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!

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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!