Skillshare is a wonderful place where you can learn how to build skills without paying the high price of taking an in-person workshop or class elsewhere online. It’s also a great place for artists to launch courses teaching others how to hone artistic skills.
This article features 5 art instructors who share their top tips for launching your Skillshare art class!
If you’re interested in learning more about Skillshare, or want to sign up for a Premium account to get 3 months for $0.99, follow my referral link here.
Artist and Illustrator Tom Froese, who most recently launched his “Odd Bodies; Illustrating Expressive, Stylized People” course on Skillshare (take the class here), shares his top tips for launching your Skillshare art class.
1. What should you teach? Find something that you are good at and that others would want to know how to do. It should be something that balances useful and fun.
2. How should you structure the class? In my experience, classes that are centered around a clearly defined, shareable project are the most successful. The more accessible (easy to do for everybody at all levels) the better, but going more niche or pro is also good. Use the project to demonstrate the skills you are teaching. Avoid teaching skills that cannot be used in the project. Keep things as concrete and practical as possible. Provide clear, actionable steps, and easy to follow examples.
3. How should you engage your students? Be positive, encouraging and authentic in your videos. Look at the camera, sit upright, and use your face muscles (this is hard for me, since I have a bad case of RBF). Follow the Skillshare Class Guidelines and Class Publishing Checklist. Once you publish your class, respond ASAP to each and every class project. Encourage and praise all efforts. Don’t offer too much critique unless asked. I find most students want to share and celebrate, and often feel quite vulnerable. Share their work on your social media feeds if possible. Keep the overall class length to 30-60 minutes if possible.
4. How should you produce your class? While quality matters, and the better your A/V equipment the better the quality of your class, the absolute most important thing is the quality of your content/topic, the structure of your class, and the clarity in which you deliver that. Tabitha Park teaches this helpful class on using basic equipment to record and edit your class. You can also peruse the Skillshare Class Production AMA discussion I held in July 2018 for some tips.
5. How long will it take to produce a class? As long as it takes. Personally, I spend 100-300 hours each class, from early brainstorming, to writing, to recording, editing, and creating all the demo assets. As with most things, it takes a long time to craft something of high quality. Hopefully you can work faster than me, but be prepared to put in the time and do it right. You only get one chance to hit Publish on your class and make that first impression.
Artist and Illustrator Nic Squirrel, who most recently launched her “iPad Art: Create Robots – An Introduction to Affinity Designer” on Skillshare (take the class here) shares her top tips for launching your Skillshare art class.
“Think about something you do in your art practice that people may find helpful or interesting. Maybe you do things a certain way, have developed techniques, shortcuts and systems, or use a particular program, app or art material. Maybe you have specialist knowledge in a certain field. Teach what you know and what you do.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the technical side. I had never even filmed a video on my phone before, but if you join in with Skillshare’s 30 Day Challenge for new teachers and look at the Teacher Handbook you will be armed with all the information and encouragement you need. You can get started without a huge outlay using minimal equipment.
Once you launch your class, be sure to market it on social media to let people know about it. Again, there is plenty of information about this in the Teacher Handbook. Consider making a short taster video about your class to share on social media, and mention that people can get a free trial of Skillshare Premium using your link. The sooner you market your class, the sooner you will get enough students to appear in the Trending section, which then means you will get even more students enrolling.”
Comic artist and illustrator Camilla d’Errico, who has done work for clients such as Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Random House, Tokyopop, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, Neil Gaiman, and more, recently launched a course called “Imaginative Drawing: Developing Concept Art Characters” on Skillshare (take the class here). Camilla shares a brief comment on starting a Skillshare course:
“Starting up with Skillshare is a fantastic way to share what you know and connect with a knowledge-driven community. My pro-tip is to be prepared! Set out all your materials neatly in advance, and plan your lessons and steps ahead of filming. Then get ready to share share share your new lesson links on your social media! Promoting your new releases and where to find them is a huge part of being an independent artist!”
Illustration, design artist, and world traveler Cat Coquillette recently launched her course “A Step-By-Step Guide to Art Licensing” on Skillshare (take the course here) and shares her top tips for launching a course on Skillshare:
“My vocation goes beyond painting – I’m also passionate about using my experience and success to help other creatives reach their full potential. I believe in community over competition, and devote a large part of my brand to creating resources that allow fellow artists to thrive. I’ve published a series of video courses on Skillshare that educate fellow creative entrepreneurs in building their businesses. My classes cover a wide variety of topics, including finding your artistic niche, marketing through social media, selling artwork online, working with clients, and making a name for yourself in the online art world.
Your class doesn’t have to be 100% perfect to hit publish. You’ll learn as you go and get better as you become more familiar with the process. The first time I filmed an intro video, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought filming in a jungle cafe would be exotic and interesting, but I was dead wrong– the humidity blurred my camera lens and my voice was overshadowed by the background noise of chirping geckos. I can chalk that up to inexperience and learn from my mistakes.
Now, with several classes under my belt, I’m more familiar with the production process, including what works and what doesn’t. Teaching online is a constant learning curve; every time you publish a new class, it’ll be more polished than the one before.
Don’t forget to get involved with class discussions– this is a great opportunity for you to check in with your students and make sure they’re getting the most from your class. I’ll often answer questions in the discussion thread that give me bonus material for new class content as well.
Lastly, have fun with it! I choose my curriculum based on the things I wish I would have known when I was first getting started. I try to infuse my sense of humor into the content, especially in my more technical classes where it’s probably needed most. My classes are a mixture of art/technical content and business advice.
By creating a series of video classes on Skillshare, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to become an educator and directly help thousands of fellow creatives– whether it’s helping my students learn new tricks in Photoshop or provide tips about running your own business successfully. I’ve found it empowering to be able to use my personal experience to help other creatives reach their full potential.
Watercolor artist Denise Soden, who teaches the Skillshare course “Watercolor Mixing Based on Pigment Properties” (take the class here), encourages artists who are thinking about teaching on Skillshare to embrace their passions:
“After many years as a zoo educator, I was faced with needing to switch careers due to health complications, and so my journey as a self employed artist began. My relationship with art had ebbed and flowed through my life, but it was around this time when I first found watercolors. I immediately latched on and refused to let go. Taking hold of my background in education, I began creating content for YouTube which later expanded into Patreon tutorials, but I was missing a sense of the depth and professionalism that I used to experience in the classroom.
In addition to my love for animals and watercolor, I also found myself completely fascinated with the actual pigments that are used to make various paint colors. In watercolor, these characteristics are especially intriguing due to the transparent nature of the medium. Expanding on a few different series I had previously created on YouTube, I turned to Skillshare to make my first in depth online course exploring watercolor mixing based on pigment properties in order to provide others with information I myself was so excited to learn. I believe that is a key component to creating engaging content on this platform: embracing your own passions.“
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