My first Skillshare class

Here’s the intro video

So a few weeks back I took up the Skillshare teach-a-class-in-a-month September challenge. I’ve had a year’s subscription to Skillshare, love doing classes (I have a lot of classes saved up), and have been meaning to create a class for some time. I knew the class would revolve around web, apps, design or development, but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to teach. Eventually I decided to teach an introductory class on HTML and CSS. I tried to make it as short and understandable as possible, with as little industry-jargon as possible. If you’re keen, jump right in. Read on for more of my behind-the-scenes story.

There are a few reasons why I wanted to make a class

  1. I enjoy teaching. I almost became a part-time design lecturer after coming back from my trip to Europe this year. I wanted to see how this video/class/project format would work. I wanted to see how people respond to me. I’m in pursuit of doing something that I and others enjoy. This would be somewhat of a test if people enjoyed being taught by me.
  2. So many people have looked over my should when I’m writing HTML and CSS and thought I was some ninja-hacker with crazy skills. I always feel like explaining that it’s easy if you just care to look and learn for a few minutes. I thought it was time to make a class for all those people.
  3. If you published your class before the end of September, you’d get a year’s free premium membership on Skillshare – that’s $96. Also, they offered the best class in September the chance of being featured in a Skillshare newsletter, and the winner an iPad mini. Incentives – my weak point. If I did it before the end of September, I’d get to do free classes for a year, and I may get my class sent to thousands of people!
  4. I like the idea of teaching things once. With this method of teaching I (and anyone else in the world) could teach 1 class and reach an untold amount of people, rather than teaching the same class over and over (boring) to a small amount of students. With this style of teaching questions asked by 1 student can be universally answered; the materials can be updated; you can communicate with all your students at once; and they can help each other. This means I can put a lot of effort into something once and make it amazing, and offer it to people to consume in their own time. This aligns itself with the way I work best – in short, highly-energised bursts.
  5. I’ve always liked the concept of passive income, but have never really pursued it. Now I can. With my class being a premium class, I’ll be able to earn revenue for the rest of my life from something that took me a month to create (I’m not a millionaire yet). Doing something I enjoy, for a potential unlimited amount of people who like what I offer, and getting paid for to do it aligns with my world-view. I’ll have to experiment with this concept a bit – but it’s a win for sure.
  6. I get to help people advance their skill set! Who doesn’t like helping people?

So many reasons! That’s why I had to do it. I published it before the end of September! I received my free year of premium membership. I also received $50 for publishing within 60 days of Skillshare’s Get $50 When You Publish Your First Class post. And then, apparently, I also got featured in a Skillshare newsletter. I now have over 150 students enrolled in my class.

The hard parts

This was no walk in the park for me. And here’s why:

  1. I’m one of the best procrastinators in the world. I have experienced many lifetimes and achieved many great things in my mind, without having to live them in real-life. I almost didn’t finish creating the class. Luckily, a 4-day weekend popped up – right before the end of September! The Skillshare team, especially Danielle, provided milestones and crazy-cool support and encouragement.
  2. One of the ways I beat procrastination was by planning my class before jumping into any filming and screen-casting. The resources provided by Skillshare were awesome. Planning was hard for me, as I tend to rock and roll with my intuition leading the way. It helped greatly down the line though – my intuition and improvisation could work their magic within the confines of a pre-defined plan.
  3. I’m a perfectionist at times (working on this), and partly why I’m a procrastinator. This meant many takes! I started with videoing myself. I took 3 hours to get 1 minute of video. I even borrowed some lighting for this purpose. But the self-shot video was blurry (I binned it). I settled for screencasts. Still, I had to do so many takes! Sometimes, when I had done the perfect take, I would see that my microphone was unplugged – rookie mistake.
  4. Putting the same amount of effort in for each of the videos was tough. The intro video was fun. Carrying that fun-ness on to the subsequent videos wasn’t easy. Had-drawing all of the titles took a long time. And trying to be fun, funny and instructional on every take was something else.
  5. Seeing my world through the eyes of a newbie was interesting, and not everything worked out how I had planned. Dropbox stopped supporting HTML pages in their free version (I had an old account so it worked when I was testing it out); Github Desktop showed different screens when logging in for the very first time to when you opened the app again (so I only had one chance at that screen, and I blew it); and using another profile on my Mac to do the screen-casting made me realise how accustomed I’ve become to my own way of doing things (keyboard shortcuts, exposé, etc.)
  6. Finally sharing it with the world and asking people to enrol was a big step for me. Although I know not all of my friends (300+) on Facebook would be interested in HTML and CSS, I thought I could get a good number of them to enrol to support me. That didn’t work as planned. It was tough getting my first 25 students. Even getting my family to enrol was hard! But I got to 25 – an important milestone as a Skillshare teacher (you become a partner from that point on and start earning revenue and can potentially start trending on the site).

I found it challenging and really fun trying to explain concepts in a simple and concise manner. I tried to make the class fun and easy to follow along with.

One of the greatest things I learned while building my class, was the potential power of community. Having the Skillshare cheering you on to create a class was awesome. But receiving feedback from a few other class-creators (people who aren’t paid to encourage and feedback) was awesome and I would highly recommend trying it – giving people compliments and feedback.

My next steps

The end of the post. What now?

  1. Check out Skillshare.
  2. Enrol in my class.
  3. Teach your own class.