10 Ways to Start Teaching Your Own Online Class
Are you awesome at something and want to teach other people? Do you want to make money doing so?
Great news! It has never been easier to distribute your knowledge to others via the internet, and many new platforms are available to help you do this, each having their own mix of features and support.
Here are 10 ways to get started teaching your online class.
1. Do It Yourself
This undoubtedly requires the most legwork because you will have to build the website, produce the content, and market the class all by yourself. To get the most out of what you build, it will need to have e-commerce built in, be responsive for mobile and tablets, have a content management system, and set up tracking and analytics to optimize the user experience and marketing efficacy.
While you get to keep all the proceeds, the upfront investment and ongoing maintenance is also very high. If you have the skills, time and money to do this, then go for it!
WHITE LABEL PLATFORMS
Starting in 2013, some new alternative became available to instructors who wanted to pay a flat rate plus service fees without giving up the lion’s share of revenue to a marketplace, which can be as high as 60%. These are also good options for corporate trainers, K-12 school teachers, and colleges who want to create a blended environment with some online content.
If you still want to keep your own brand (logo, theme, styling and domain) but get a ready made platform to host your content, here are a few options. Be aware that while some offer some out of the box marketing solutions and support, you will still be the primary method of promoting your content.
SchoolKeep is a simple solution that will give you immediate ability to customize your site and start creating class content. Your site will already be optimized for mobile and tablet experiences, and you will have real-time analytics insight into sales, enrollments, and student progress. In addition, they give you the integrated capabilities to create coupons and share over social media to help grow your business.
If you need help, they also offer an array of services for class development, site design, and promotion. This all comes with extra service fees of course.
As an added marketing benefit, you can find all their customers on Allclasses as well as some other class directories.
Similarly to SchoolKeep, SkillJar gets you immediately set up with a customized site and e-commerce solution. While they do not advertise the same array of professional services (you have to contact them), they do integrate with popular CRMs, analytics and email marketing platforms.
With a free starter package, SkillJar can immediately get you going on a single domain with basic analytics and email only support. The only cost to you will be 10% of whatever courses you sell. Premium packages as high as $500 per month give you the capability to make private classes, increase the bandwidth, access advanced analytics, and have your own dedicated account manager, all with the benefit of no transaction fees.
Fedora is another package that emphasizes the ability to “create a beautiful school without any technical or design experience.” They also integrate with other well known CRMs, analytics and email marketing platforms, and they even set you up with your own built in affiliate program to help distribute your classes.
The “free” package is bare bones with basic integrations (Google Analytics and Mailchimp), you do not get you own custom domain, and the transactions fees are $1 + 10% of every class sold. Premium packages go as high as $299 per month with lower transaction fees of 2% per sale, and you get all the bells and whistles of advanced integrations, custom domain, daily bank deposits, ability to charge subscriptions, and more.
What they do not give much information on is the level of other professional services available to help optimize content and marketing options.
Pathwright seems to be a bit more popular with people creating private class content, and community appears to be a bigger factor. They still have the same feature sets for branding, integrations, adding content and tracking analytics as the other white label platforms, but they also offer the ability to create a community with member profiles, interactive discussions and activity feeds for each class.
There are two pricing paths available: Pay as you go and monthly. In the pay as you go plan, there is a one-time setup fee of $99, and then you get dinged $7 per new registrant plus 4% of sales. They say this is a good option when classes are priced over $20 and last 8 weeks or more, so this way you only pay for what you need as your business grows. With the monthly plan, it all depends on the size of your community, with tiers of 5 or less, 50 or less, and 150 or more. In each case, you get hit for 4% of sales, but the monthly charge ranges from $19 to $299 and per new registrant goes from $5 on the low end to $3 on the high end.
Pathwright has a wide range of support packages for curriculum design, 3rd party software integrations, branding, design and customization.
PLATFORM + MARKETPLACE
Don’t need to have your own branded website and do not have the time and resources to market your content? There are options for that as well where you can post your class alongside everyone else in a marketplace format.
Udemy popped up in 2010 as a way for anyone to create and publish their own class to sell. It is as straightforward and simple as they come. They have the tools to plan your class, create the content, get it published, and track sales. At that point, your class is searchable by their 3 million users.
You can still market your class and keep 100% of any sales (minus payment fees) that come in through your promotions. Any sales that Udemy brings in will only yield you 50% instead. Udemy also markets some of the content by featuring it in trending sections of the site and offering instructors the ability to offer coupon codes.
Here is a great example of a class on Udemy for $499: How to Teach Online Courses and Make Passive Income
They say that the average instructor on Udemy will make $7,000. However, there have been some disgruntled instructors recently due to difficulty in tracking sales and changing commission structures.
PLATFORM + MARKETPLACE + CURATION
The following options are curated communities with highly vetted content and high production value. In other words, not just anyone can be an instructor at these places because there is an application and approval process. They will do all of the heavy lifting, including helping you write and produce your content, adding it to their limited marketplace, and marketing it. It appears that you can get paid for all of them, but none of them make it clear how much you will make. If what you want to teach is already on the platform, you need a new spin on it, or you are out of luck.
Oh yeah, and you will not own the content once it is published….
Skillshare is a little closer to Udemy than the others in this section as they tend to offer instructors more marketing tools like referral links, discount codes, and hosted challenges. Students brought in through the instructor have the Skillshare fees cut similar to Udemy, although I was not able to find the fee structure anywhere. All they tell you is that instructors get a percentage of the subscription fee based on their popularity.
They offer a wide array of categories (Advertising, Business, Design, Fashion, Film, Food & Drink, Photography, Publishing, Technology, Television, and Writing), but their focus is on real world skills and hands on projects. Anyone can teach on Skillshare, but there is an application process, not all of which are accepted.
Also, you are required to film your own video lessons, and they give you a few tutorials and resources to aid in this process.
Tuts+ is a platform for creative and technical skills in the form of tutorials (written or screen cast lessons) or courses (90+ minutes of screencast and live video content).
In order to become part of the Tuts+ platform, you must submit a pitch for a course or tutorial idea. This must be your own original work not found anywhere else.
If you are interested in teaching for Lynda.com, you can submit your information, class proposal, and qualifications. They appear to prefer people with prior teaching experience and who are recognized as leaders in their field. They do not publicize their training needs, but if your proposal matches a need, then you will be contacted.
Having personally taken a classes on all the curated platforms, the content on Lynda.com is definitely the most polished.
CreativeLive is unique in that all live classes are 100% free, but after that, it becomes walled off content to only those who pay for it. This means that you need to be good on camera and in a studio with a live audience asking questions.
To become an instructor in this community, you need to email CreativeLive your proposal in addition to any links to websites with your work, social media sites, or videos of you leading instruction. How much money you will make is a mystery….
By the way, if you are on any of the following platforms, your classes are listed on Allclasses!