Skillshare is a wonderful placewhere 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!
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.
“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 Premiumusing 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!”
“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.
“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 courseexploring 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.“
*This post contains affiliate links. If you buy anything from the referral links in this post, it will be at no extra cost to you and supports both The Art Spectrum and the artists featured in the post.
This modern calligraphy kit was designed to take the anxiety out of learning modern calligraphy. This kit can be purchased three different ways – as an e-book, an e-book with pens, a physical book, or the physical book with the pens – you choose! The full kit contains:
90-page spiral bound workbook *including THREE fonts*
9 different lettering tools:
2 Tombow Dual Brush Pens
1 Tombow Fudenosuke
1 Artline Stix Ombre Brush Pen (color varies)
1 Pilot G2 Pen
1 Tombow MonoTwin
1 PaperMate Flair Pen
LIFETIME ACCESS to extra copies of the worksheets.
This beautiful calligraphy starter kit from Rachel Carl comes in a gift box and a short instruction page – this kit may be easier for those who have already tried their hand at calligraphy. The kit includes:
1 Oblique Pen Holder
4 of Rachel Carl’s Favorite Nibs
Small or Large, Black or White Ink Bottles
4 Ink Holders
1 Wooden Ink Well Holder
1 Calligraphy Journal for Practicing (you can customize this with a name)
2 Exemplar Alphabets of Rachel Carl’s Signature Modern Calligraphy Font as well as a an additional Calligraphy Style Alphabet
If you’re the type of person to learn more easily from video tutorials, check out these awesome hand lettering classes on Skillshare! The Art Spectrum has partnered with Skillshare to give readers 2 free months of Skillshare Premium!
I make a small commission if you purchase something after clicking on links in this post. Thank you for your support!
I remember the day that I started my first Etsy shop to sell my art prints and originals- I had no clue what I was doing! I just jumped right in (which is sometimes the only move many of us make!), and I didn’t know how to run a business or how to keep your books for a small business. Bookkeeping and accounting basics were like a foreign idea to me. Being disorganized, though, can lead to disaster, and it’s so important for small business owners to keep track of the financial goings-on of their business throughout the year. Failing to file your taxes properly is definitely a scary thought, but on top of that not keeping your books can lead to losing your business money and being unable to pay bills or for materials.
Here are a few points to remember when keeping your books for your small business:
Keep receipts for every payment to and from your business. I would recommend starting a physical file folder of your receipts per year, and if you have a lot of electronic receipts, printing them or start a complementary folder of receipts on your computer. Separate business and personal expenses.
Keep a ledger of these receipts to keep track of everything. I keep mine in a Google Docs spreadsheet, but there are accounting platforms out there that you can use as well, such as FreshBookswhich I recommend below. This makes it easy for me to access my records from my phone or any computer. In this ledger you will want to record each transaction that passes to and from your business, so that you can balance it like you would a check book.
Balance your ledger on a consistent basis. You may not want to or have time to do this every time there is a business related transaction, but you can schedule when you’ll be balancing your ledger – whether it be weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc. This will give you a sense of your cashflow and perhaps areas that you can cut back on to save money. It will also give you a sense of when your busiest, most successful times of the year are for your business so that you can know what to expect and set some goals. Balancing your books will help you respond in smart ways to unexpected changes as well.
Understand that it’s ok to pay a professional! Professional accountants or bookkeepers will know about potential deductions that you might be eligible for, or other loopholes, and they’ll make sure everything is up to date and accurate in case you’ve missed something.
Paying taxes for your small business, its revenue and services or products bought from others that support your business, is important.
I recommend Freshbooks because they are very small business friendly! FreshBooks was designed specifically for small business owners and the self-employed to save them time and money. They also have a Free 30 Day Trial currently running – click here to try it out!
I’m excited to share these 10 awesome Skillshare classes with you! I have partnered with Skillshare to offer all of my readers a free trial of their Premium account, for an entire month! Imagine how much you can learn in that time! After that, a Premium account is only $10 – that’s cheaper than a Netflix account at this point.
“Thank you Ana for creating such an informative and helpful class. I’ve watched this class several times ….as every time I watch it, I learn a bit more about the brands and types of watercolors (I’m still a newbie to this medium in many ways). You inspired me to purchase Jess Greenleaf’s Explorer Watercolor panset which you designed with her (Greenleaf and Blueberry). I can’t wait to start using them ! Always looking forward to your next classes Ana. A pleasure to watch and learn from you !!!” – Sharon Rego
“I learned so much from this class, mostly intuitive, and hard to find information. Ana is an excellent teacher; watching her and listening to her talk about the different paints was so informative.” – Meg Cupman
Sandra Bowers is a Freelance Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer based in BC, Canada. In this classshe covers basic techniques to help get you started with watercolor painting. You have the materials down, now to the techniques!
“Ana Victoria is a super talented artist but she´s also a huge teacher. I´ve watched so many online art classes and she is the only one who made it looks like the easiest thing to do in the world and I really got it. I´m so happy I found her. <3” -Carmen M.
“Fantastic class and teacher, clear and unhurried explanations and a lot of real time examples. You do not feel she is rushing to get the class over with like some teachers. I have learnt so much from this class.” -Caron S.
This classis taught by Melissa Lee Shaw, an illustrator and watercolor painter from Northern California. It’s the perfect class for beginners who’d like to start painting portraits and need to learn how to mix colors for skin tones. Here is one of her sample projects where she asks students to paint a portrait using the techniques they’ve learned in the class:
“I think this class does a great job of breaking down how to mix skin-tones with watercolor and how to color skin-tones in general. Before this class, I had no idea how to color skin, despite looking up several sources before this, but now it is starting to make sense to me 🙂 It is not overly complicated at all and I think this class gives you a great tool-set to experiment and play with coloring your own skin-tones in your drawings :)” -Mikayla K.
“Very helpful, I have been trying to master skin tones in watercolor for awhile now. The instructor shares the best colors to use and demonstrates step by step how to get the desired finish. I highly recommend this class.” -Karen E.
This class is taught by Elisa Choi Ang, a drawing and painting teacher from Singapore. She enjoys sketching and painting her life, as well as teaching others how to do the same. Her class teaches students to narrate their life through watercolor and ink sketches.
“Just what you need to start sketching right away! Not too much information for a beginner to get scared to draw, not too much instruments needed to make it harder to get and take everywhere. I’ve dreamt of such a course for ages! Thank you!” -Elena D.
“This is a really great class for anyone who is nervous about starting a habit of sketching from life. I took this class because I want to do this more, and I am going on a vacation this summer that I am really hoping to capture in a trip sketchbook. With the tools that I have learned in this class and the confidence from Elisa’s kind words, I’m sure I’ll have a nice sketchbook from my trip (as well as before and after 🙂 ).” -Sarah D.
This class is taught by Olga Shevyakova, a graphic designer, part-time illustrator, part-time styled photographer. She takes her students step by step through the process of how to scan their watercolor paintings, edit them in Photoshop, and vectorize them in Illustrator. Very helpful for artists who would like to make prints of their work, or sell on platforms like Redbubble or Zazzle.
“This was a very simple and very helpful technique on how to give your own artwork new life in digital format using Photoshop and Illustrator. Great Job. Well worth watching and taking notes.” -Mary T.
“Easy to follow and gives step by step instructions. The transcript is much appreciated. I’ll need to look at it when I actually open Photoshop and give it a try. I learned new techniques although I’ve been digitizing my watercolors for sale on Etsy for months now! Thanks, Olga! I look forward to taking more classes from you.” -Anna K
This class is taught by commercial illustrator Amarilys Henderson. In the class she goes over the basics of brushes to use in watercolor painting so that her students will be confident in approaching their work. Amarilys’s cheat sheet for brushes:
“Thank you for the short and very informative class. As someone who is starting with watercolor painting, I found the descriptions and practical demonstrations very helpful. Looking forward to watching your other watercolor classes. Cheers!!” -Atul K.
“Super useful class to get acquainted with your material. One size doesn’t fit all! knowing the performance of the brushes make for better choices when painting. Thanks Amarilys!” -Diana S.
“Peggy Dean is a phenomenon! Her skills are awesome, her positive energy is contagious, and her teaching style is fun and practical. I’ve taken every one of her courses, and can’t wait for the next one! I highly recommend following her on Instagram as well, as she post so many inspiring works of art.” -Greer D.
“This was a great class! I’ve taken several of your other classes but this is the first lettering class using an actual brush that I’ve taken. It was very instructive and I like to see your examples in real time. It gives time to actually see the letter formation. Thank you for an eye opening experience!” -Sharon M.
This class is taught by Julia Henze, a freelance illustrator, letterer and urban sketcher living and working in Bergschenhoek, The Netherlands. Her class is for artists who aren’t sure where to start with urban sketching in ink and watercolor, or want to continue to practice. Some of Julia’s work:
“Love her breakdown of how to get the proportions right. I always forget to do that or it never really crosses my mind when I’m actually making the attempt to sketch something. It’s easy to follow and very encouraging.” -Grace T.
“I loved that we got to watch you draw/outline/paint along with us. Drawing buildings has always been such an intimidating task for me, but the way this class broke it down made me feel much more comfortable and confident about giving it a shot!” -Katie M.
“I think this was the most amazing class. It was hugely inspirational and changed the way I thought about mixing colour. It made me far more experimental.” -Lesley G.
“This class was so much fun! It’s really practical and the projects are so colorful and encouraging for beginners and for anyone who might be a little intimidated by watercolors. The Intuitive Mixing Exercise is very practical, fun and yields incredible results. I’m gonna make a habit of doing it whenever I feel stuck or un-creative, it’s sure to get you out of the dumps! Thank you Yasmina! You are a wonderful teacher and I’m looking forward to taking all your other classes.” -Lucia S.
This post contains links that I receive a small commission from at no cost to you if you purchase something
Many of us artists who are new to selling on Redbubble, or have tried to sell on Redbubble and have tried to figure out their niche and what sells best, and how and what to promote, often give up after a year or two, or even less. These 10 artists give their advice on how to successfully sell art on Redbubble and what has worked best for them.
“My most selling products are definitely phone cases, but also notebooks and t-shirts are very popular! My top selling design is Floral Dance. I have only had good experiences on Redbubble. The RB team is so helpful and really interested in promoting their artists! I’ve been featured on the RB front page three times in three months and they’ve also re-posted my work two times on their 160k Instagram account. When RB featured my work Floral Dance on their front page, my sales went crazy and now Floral Dance is one of the top selling floral designs on the site. I also do some marketing on my own Instagram account @art.iisan where I mention when there’s a sale on or just post pictures of my products. I also have other sites that I sell my designs on, but Redbubble definitely makes the best sales. But I should also say that I’ve been very active myself; I add new works almost weekly, post eye-catching product pictures on my Instagram and tag Redbubble in the pics. I also take part if Redbubble arranges competitions, such as last spring’s #Staycay design challenge. Try to build good visibility! 🙂“
“I sell stickers the most on my Redbubble shop, especially the ones that have been featured on Redbubble’s homepage, such as this one. I promote my artwork mainly on my Instagram account, I share my drawing progress and interact with people in the comments. Redbubble is a really great platform that you can sell your artwork instantly, so your followers can buy your latest work! Besides Redbubble, I also sell self-printed products on Etsy, where I pack and ship the products directly to the buyers – I love to include a small thank you card within the orders, so to show how much I appreciate every single one of them!”
“My Redbubble bestseller is a design called Missing, which imagines the Loch Ness Monster being searched for through the milk carton ads that look for missing people. Being featured a few times in Redbubble’s Found section definitely helped make this design popular, because although I have the same design available on other sites like TeePublic and Society6, none of those have come even close to the numbers Missing has done on Redbubble. To be honest, I don’t do a lot of marketing of my designs – I usually find it more fun to promote the artwork of others at my websites TeeMagnet.com and Compete-tee-tion.com. This is probably partially because my focus with my artwork tends to be sites like Shirt.Woot.com, where you sell the rights to the artwork and it becomes their exclusive property. Although many find the rights issue to be a drawback, I find that it can be a real plus for people like me who are less active in marketing their own work – in a way, the site does it for you! It gives me more time to make new designs, rather than dwelling on things I’ve already created.”
“The most successful item sold in my Redbubble shop are T-Shirts of my design “Cat Got Your Soul?” As far as marketing goes, I have a neglected Twitter account and that’s about it. I make up for my lack of marketing by being prolific when it comes to producing art. The more I create the more my work gets noticed which equals more sales across all designs. I do sell on a variety of POD sites too, but most of my income comes through Redbubble, Threadless and Design By Humans. For Threadless I submit to contests as much as possible and with DBH I simply upload all my work just like I do with Redbubble. The two things that contribute most to my overall sales would be having a design featured on the Redbubble “found feed” and getting a print on featured on Threadless.”
“So, my Redbubble shop bestseller is this guy – “Blue Beard”. I use Instagram and Facebook to promote my illustrations & stuff. Sometimes Redbubble puts my art on their Facebook cover, or make a post about it. So it works, of course :). Also, I sell my art on Society6 and TeePublic. I think that sometimes sales in my Society6 store are more successful because they offer free shipping from time to time, but sometimes I think all of my shops share somewhat equal success.”
“The design I sell the most is an 80’s retro Memphis inspired pattern, and mostly on phone cases. The sales increased drastically when RB featured this product on the homepage, and I am still selling it well as it is also featured in pattern design suggestions by RB. To promote my work I mainly post my work on Pinterest, and I also submit my work to groups when I upload new work. I don’t really use teams that much. I also sell on Society6 and find I sell a bit more there, and also a larger variety of designs. I feel that with really good texts and keywords on S6 you can make a bigger difference in terms of showing up in the search results. The kind of products I sell on RB are also different from S6. On RB I sell more lifestyle products such as phone cases and notebooks, and on S6 I sell more home decor products such as pillows.”
“My best-selling piece on Redbubble is Space Slothfollowed closely by Music Man. At the moment I haven’t been doing a lot to promote my work, since I’ve been busy with a lot of book projects. In the past I mostly used the usual social media platforms for promotion: Facebook and Instagram primarily.The staff at Redbubble have been very helpful as far as gaining more exposure, by featuring my work on the Found page, and in some of their blog postings. I sell my work on a few other sites, namely Society6, DenyDesigns, Displate, Caseable. I’ve had good success on Society6, I think because (again) the staff have been very helpful about featuring my work, and they have a good system for generating traffic with their curator program. The curator program allows other users to “curate” other artist’s work and post it to sites like Pinterest and blogs, for which they receive a royalty from each linked sale.”
“I sell the most of my coffee cup sticker. It’s a flower pattern and drawing I made for fun one day. I didn’t have to do any outside marketing. I know sharing posts on Instagram and Pinterest can really help people, but I was surprised when I started selling lots of stickers after a few months. I was lucky enough to eventually have my coffee cup sticker reach the trending pages, and eventually it got to the first page. Then, I got featured on the front page of the site and since then I’ve been starting to sell phone cases, shirts, and notebooks here and there.
I definitely think selling content that can reach a wide audience is helpful, as well as having lots of different items. Stickers are the easiest to sell because they’re cheap and people buy a few at once. I make a decent amount of money from my other sticker sales combined, but it’s not really one design in particular besides the coffee cup. From my experience, having one product that does really well can make you the most money.”
“My top selling works include Lighthouse, Redbeard, andMeow Meow Meow. People buy them on stickers very often, but also on t-shirts, pillows and canvas prints. I am not in any groups, because I don’t have much time for being active in social networking 🙂 Somehow two of my works entered into the Found page, and one on the main banner of the site and it increased sales significantly. Maybe it’s because Redbubble follows me on Instagram and sometimes likes my work?In any case, all advertising and promotion of my work I do on Instagram.
You can also find me on the websites Design By Humans (registered a couple days ago, so too early to say about success) and the Russian website maryjane.ru (not bad, but most selling works are differ from RB) and pinkbus.ru (a few sales).”
“My most popular popular piece is “River.” The items I’ve found sell the most are the more traditional, be it canvas or paper prints. However Redbubble is so interesting because they let you place your artwork on so many different mediums. I love when I sell a throw pillow or clothing apparel because I know that person is going to be interacting with my work more intimately. In this day and age having a social media presence is a key tool to help sell artwork. If a popular Youtube star reposts about your work it helps sell your product tremendously. It all comes down to who you know! Other places I have found helpful to sell art and interact with the community are coffee shops, bars, etc. Its a good place to meet people who are interested in art and have good conversations.”
Title your work with a descriptive and catchy title.
Tag your work with words that accurately describe the work, and use as many multi-word tags as possible .
Descriptions are picked up by Google and other search engines – be as descriptive as possible.
Join and participate in Redbubble groups and become an integrated part of the community.
Promote your work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, WeHeartIt, etc. Using tools like Tailwind for Pinterest can be invaluable.
Buy your own work to sell in coffee shops or other local businesses, or to give as gifts and show off.
Journal often to let people know what you’re up to or that there’s a new design in your shop.