Arthur Tkachenko

@arthurtkachenko

Skillshare: An Honest Review of My Experience Launching a Coding Course

Photo by Melanie Dretvic on Unsplash

Let’s start with the positives:

1) Support team is very friendly. My support manager spends a lot of time answering my questions and advising me. I hope that in future they will be able to provide feedback to the top staff and the top manager will be able to react to it.

2) Teaching a community is very friendly and also active. I saw a lot of cool courses related to art & illustrations, for example. Very friendly people.

3) I finished and published my first course with their help. And now I can teach people online! Yay!

Skillshare was a driving force for me to extend my skillset, and I am grateful for that.

Ok, now let’s jump in to the full story.

Briefly, I had a bad experience after publishing my course. This is my list of things that went wrong:

1) I was misled *

2) When I raised hard questions, I didn’t get a reply.

3) Nobody attended my course after 3 months. **

*Over-promising may be a more accurate term here.

I was oversold by messages around:

  • How cool it would be when I published my course.
  • How it would help the community of people who want to learn how to code.
  • And how profitable it would be.

** Yeah, yeah, I know.

Disclaimer:

It’s my own situation. I am responsible for the results that I got. Through sharing this story, I am not trying to harm any brand or any person, working at this company.

I want to tell my story first. I put here all the details that I remember. At the next article, I will share more tips, hacks, observations. It will be helpful for people, that want to become e-teachers. My experience related to coding courses, but there will be a lot of common notes.

By publishing this article I don’t want to share anger or my frustration only. I hoping that I have the rights to make my conclusions about this situation from my perspective.

Or I will become yet another complaining person on social media. Actually, it is not a bad thing at all — having a voice and providing REAL feedback.

“I was misled”. Or, why am I feeling like I am stupid? A manager told me that my course would be promoted by this company. Not all courses — my course. Not brand will be promoted — my course. As “Tech and Coding” was their new section and a very promising one (they plan to give it more attention).

For some reasons I get a feeling that they need me. Skillshare, you need to be more supportive of new contributors. A company needs to promote new courses on social media. Or at least promote the first course from a new contributor. It is not rocket science, right? Anyone likes warm welcome. It’s a basic principle when you grow your community.

A Note to Skillshare Managers:

I put some links, that might be useful for new teachers, that wants to teach on Skillshare, here: https://github.com/ChickenKyiv/awesome-skillshare

First problems

When SS managers reached out to me at first, they mentioned a $100 gift a few times. Let’s call it a BIG PRIZE. Details: when a teacher post his first class, they give him a BIG PRIZE. I was thinking about it like candy. It’s not a big money, but it gives you a feeling, that you can easily make a lot more money. More than a BIG PRIZE.

Actually, this situation around first $100 bucks was a first breaking point for me. It was changed my excitement to a negative emotion. Long story short — I didn’t receive it.

They promise, but didn’t release that BIG PRIZE? My first reaction was confusion.

“Ok, I’ll wait”.

I decided to wait for one month. This month went fast. I was happy to go back to code after a big pause and just check my course views. I saw 0 views and 0 students and my confusion start to grow.

I started to write this series in December. The course was published on November 17th. In the middle of December, I started going crazy because I didn’t get what I expected.

SS Manager tells me about “marketing push” that they plan to do. And they did. They start spending cash by sponsoring my favorite youtube bloggers.

I get feeling like I’m surrounded by this company. I was procrastinating and tried to forget about this situation. But when I opening Youtube — I see a SS logo. It was not one blogger. I saw that advertising at “Curious Elephant”, “Answers with Joe” and “Real Engineering” channels. I am watching Youtube a lot, proof here: https://hackernoon.com/39-videos-about-tech-moms-spaghetti-mushrooms-and-more-to-eat-your-time-d83ed4343e8d
Hope you understand my frustration.

I decided to wait for more. I read that they usually pay in the middle of the month. When the first month reached the end I started to feel like a total loser. So I sent a message to the friendly manager at support.

And she told me that I should read an article about BIG PRIZE on the separated FAQ page. When I read the answer on that page I find a hidden term:

“You will receive a BIG PRIZE only if you will bring 10 people that will be new users”.

Yes, It was not hidden, but this was not what I expected. And I start to know about it only after 4 months of chatting with managers.

For some reasons, I cannot find exact links that refer to this text. It’s strange…

So, it’s a payment for an affiliate marketing, right? Not like a gift for me as a newbie teacher. Oops.

And yeah, I understand everything. Usually, I’m a patient person and understand a lot of processes.

As you see, I didn’t jump into quick conclusions here. I wait and observe and I give my feedback after a few months of using the platform.

Side note: They told me that I can get more views (in the middle of our initial chats, by sharing with my Medium followers) But before I started to film my course — I told my manager that I don’t want to work on promotion. For me, it was better to focus on the product or at course production. It was a good time for managers to notify me that without self-promo I can get 0. (Yes, spoiler — I got $0 after few months.)

I have another reason to feel sad. I started to prepare a few courses. Actually, this one was the hardest one for me. I was learning how to plan the filming process, text scripting, etc.

And right now I have a lot of half-completed content and a lot of frustration. It will be hard for me, emotionally to get back and complete those courses…

They not only distract me from my project a few times. I also get another punch and loser’s feeling.

Next problems

I have a lot of time, so I started to explore the whole platform. I found the main group only for Skillshare teachers. And at some point, I saw a post from another teacher. He doesn’t have views too.

- He was a more experienced user of SS.

- He had published courses before (>3).

- He has a good profile.

- He has many followers and students, that completed his course. Your students and followers usually receive a notification about your new course.

- He has some courses with a good number of students, likes, etc.

- He posted a question, asking is it normal to have 0 views. And it’s a similar situation that I have.

You see — I wasn’t alone.

“Woo Hoo. I’m not the one with a problem. As he is a popular teacher -> he 100% will get an explanation or official reply”

NOTE: This group has an admin/moderator like a person who cares about teaching success. I assume this person should follow all discussions, right? So she was aware of his post (or did she fail it?)

Other teachers saw this post too. They are worried too. I can bet my ass that major players (like moderators, etc.) saw his post too. But instead of answering and having some discussion — they ignore it.

This teacher told me that his post will be buried by new posts. He was right.

Success Manager didn’t reply to us. She posted a New Year blog post, where they tactically advised — “teachers should wait sometime before their courses become popular”. (Aka in a few months you’ll only start to get views/money). It looks like a reply to our concerns.

Next thing — they introduce a contest. It was “sugar tasting” contest. Teachers should post a comment about their New Years wishes, plans for 2019 years. This contest completely moves our question to the grave.

Photo by Joel Tasche on Unsplash

Don’t take me wrong. I’m ok with this type of posts. They empower teachers, good for community, fun, etc.

But do you know what also empowers the teacher?

Ma fucking reply!

Community manager MUST explore a problem, that has come up. It’s a part of the process — in my opinion.

After this situation, I realize that this is my own problem, and nobody cares and they don’t want to solve it.

I was thinking:

“Why not trying something new, right? You never know what tomorrow will bring. And what will be a good transition if you didn’t try new opportunities.”

I tried and this is the story. It will be cool to provoke some discussion here. I mean if you think you have some ideas, like “you just didn’t want to market it”. If I didn’t convince you, we can make a bet. And I will be able to show you that ROI is very low at Skillshare (but it depends on many factors for sure).

Long story short, I’m definitely not an average teacher at Skillshare…

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