TODAY WE’RE GONNA EXPLORE HOW TO “MAKE MORE” BY TEACHING ONLINE COURSES. THIS IS SOMETHING I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT DOING MYSELF, BECAUSE I LOVE THE IDEA THAT MY COURSE CAN BE OUT THERE MAKING MONEY FOR ME WHILE I’M RIDING MY BIKE OR WINE TASTING OR PLAYING WITH MY DAUGHTER. BUT… WHILE I HEMMED AND HAWED ABOUT IT, MY NEXT GUEST WENT FOR IT. HE’S NOW ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL COURSE CREATORS ON SKILLSHARE.COM. PLEASE WELCOME JAKE BARTLETT TO THE EASY MONEY SHOW.
JAKE, LET’S TEE THIS UP BY DESCRIBING WHERE YOU WERE WORKING AND WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE YOU STARTED TEACHING ONLINE COURSES
I graduated in 2010 and got a job with a production company in LA doing motion graphics and was there 5 years. It’s a form of animation. All done on computer. Examples are an animated logo of a product in a commercial or a video that explains how a phone app works. Kind of like a cartoon. There’s a wide range of what I can work on. I became their lead art designer/animator and jack of all trades. Anything visual that needed to be created I did.
AND THEN YOUR WIFE FOUND A WEBSITE CALLED SKILLSHARE, WHERE PEOPLE TEACH COURSES AND SHE SUGGESTED YOU CHECK IT OUT. I LOVE A GUY WHO LISTENS TO HIS WIFE. SO TELL US ABOUT THE FIRST COURSE YOU TAUGHT: WHAT WAS THE SUBJECT AND HOW DID IT DO?
First class was November 2013. It was a class on animating text. It was a successful first class. Skillshare promoted my class because it was a small category. After my first class I had 1500 followers on Skillshare. I left that class up a year. I never thought I would have anything else to offer. I thought that was all I could teach.
SO AT THIS POINT YOU WERE STILL WORKING AT THE PRODUCTION COMPANY. AND THEN SKILLSHARE ASKED YOU IF YOU COULD TEACH A SECOND COURSE. WHAT WAS THAT ONE ABOUT AND HOW DID IT DO?
To my surprise, my second class was just as much of a success. I doubled my following in a month. After that I realized I probably can do this and if I continue posting classes it could lead to a valuable source of income.
SO YOU HAD 2 COURSES ABOUT MOTION GRAPHICS AND YOU WERE ALSO FREELANCING CREATING MOTION GRAPHICS AND YOU HAD A REVELATION, RIGHT?
I realized my day job was taking away from my freelance career! I left that job in December 2014. I made it a goal to post a new class every month. It doesn’t happen consistently but that is my goal. Now I have over 20 classes.
MANY PEOPLE REALLY STRIVE AND STRUGGLE TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS ON THEIR OWN. IS THIS WORK HARD FOR YOU?
I’d say pretty easy, actually. My responsibility after I post a class is that I have to answer questions. Every class is project-based. If students want a critique on their end-of class-project I will give it —but only if they ask! 90% of the work is up front. The teaching part of it, I have a knack for explaining things clearly and concisely. The production part is probably the biggest hurdle for teachers but I have been doing that a while. I edit on Premier. It’s become easy for me.
AND NOW YOU MAKE ROUGHLY 4-THOUSAND DOLLARS A MONTH JUST ON SKILLSHARE —THROUGH COURSES YOU ALREADY PUT TOGETHER! WHAT KIND OF DIFFERENCE HAS THIS MADE IN YOUR LIFE?
It was the biggest factor in me quitting my job. Even if I had no other work, the money that comes from skillshare is enough. I quit my job before my wife got pregnant. I’ve been home every day of my son’s life and he is now 18 months. I have never had to spend a day away from him. My wife and I just bought our first house.
BY THE WAY, FOLKS, JAKE IS JUST 28, AND ALREADY A HOMEOWNER. LOVE IT! PEOPLE LISTENING ARE DEFINITELY GOING TO WANT TO EMULATE YOUR SUCCESS. SO, LET’S GET INTO SOME “HOW TO” ADVICE. FIRST, YOU SAY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK NATURALLY AND BE REAL ON CAMERA. WHY?
I used to tell anyone they could teach on Skillshare and that anyone could do this but I have seen people that don’t have such success. You need to be able to talk naturally and be real on camera. You also need to be concise. Rambling turns students off.
YOU ALSO SAY PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK COMFORTABLY INTO A MICROPHONE. WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST THEY DO?
You need to be comfortable talking into a microphone, which you can do with practice. This is not something you should jump into and expect instant great results. You need to put in the time and practice. You have to get used to how your voice sounds and be able to explain things clearly.
DO YOU RECORD YOUR CLASSES AT A SKILLSHARE STUDIO OR FROM A HOME STUDIO? AND IF THIS IS SOMETHING PEOPLE CAN DO FROM HOME, WHAT EQUIPMENT WILL THEY NEED?
I record from a home studio. I have seen people teach successful online courses using just the built-in microphone on their computer. I myself borrowed a decent mic at first. I would suggest using a decent quality microphone, which you can get for less than $100. I later purchased software that allows me to show people the steps I am taking on my computer screen. And if you want to get really fancy you can buy a green screen and a nice video camera for recording any portions where you are on camera. You can start with low or no investment and then buy equipment as you start succeeding.
YOU SAY TO KNOW WHETHER YOUR PLATFORM PAYS MORE FOR THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS OR THE NUMBER OF MINUTES WATCHED AND PRIORITIZE THAT. EXPLAIN.
The first couple of years Skillshare paid by enrollment so the goal was to attract as many students as possible. Shorter was better back then because students liked short courses. We took our lessons and broke them up into multiple short segments. It is multi video. Break up lesson in segments. My classes average between 45 minute and one hour 15 minutes per class. I break that up into 5 to 10 minute videos. It’s determined by the content.
Now we are paid by how long students are watching our classes. The payment is based on minutes of content watched. Today longer classes are beneficial. My wife made short classes but we are shifting to longer classes because the longer someone watches the more we make. This is a good model because if your course is high quality, people will continue watching. If it’s poor quality, they may sign up but then they won’t continue.
THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE OFFERING COURSES ON SITES LIKE SKILLSHARE THESE DAYS. HOW CAN PEOPLE STAND OUT?
In terms of what you are teaching, you need to be an expert in it because if a student isn’t getting valuable information they wont come back to you. Quality of your content is the biggest thing. And then you have to brand yourself. My title graphics and thumbnails are all similar designs. I want you to know they are from me. Even if you’re not a graphic artist like me, it’s a good idea to have a consistent look to all of your materials.
EVERY TIME ON EASY MONEY, WE CHOOSE ONE OF OUR 3 SEGMENTS, TO EXPLORE SOME MORE THROUGH VIDEO…IDEALLY, SOMETHING WHERE THE VISUALS WILL HELP US GO DEEPER. THIS TIME, IT WAS A NO-BRAINER. YOU JUST HEARD HOW JAKE BARTLETT IS MAKING A NICE LIVING TEACHING ONLINE MOTION GRAPHICS COURSES. WELL, IT SURE WOULD BE NICE TO SEE WHAT MOTION GRAPHICS ARE —IN CASE YOU WANT TO DO THAT. AND WHAT ONLINE COURSES LOOK LIKE -IN CASE YOU WANT TO DO THAT. I”VE POSTED THE VIDEOS AT EASYMONEYSHOW.COM/04.
AND YOU CAN READ MORE OF JAKE BARTLETT’S EXPERT ADVICE FOR YOU IN THE EPISODE 4 EXCLUSIVE GUEST BLOG POST.