Holy Cannoli, Y'all
So…I made Top Teacher on Skillshare.
It’s been nearly a month since it happened, and I’m still stumped for words. Seriously, though. I’ve been putting off writing this post for so long because I’m like, how…to…word…my feelings? Haha, oh man.
I guess I’ll just start from the beginning, shall I? So…I’ve been a member of Skillshare since March 2015. I’m one of the OGs, y’all. This was back when they had under a million members and a few thousand classes (they now have 4+ million members and over 22,000 classes). As most people do, I originally joined to learn. Skillshare is really good at convincing you to post your own classes, though, so in November of 2015, I joined one of the monthly new teacher competitions they used to host, and in December I posted my first class on painting abstract watercolor portraits. Now that I look back on it with a more critical eye, I don’t think it’s very good or as professional as I’d like it to be (the video and audio quality is blah and I’d organize the lessons differently if I were to do re-do it today), but other people seem to like it, and at the time I was really proud of it. Skillshare even awarded me with the top prize of that month’s competition, so that was pretty neato.
I remember thinking that I would only post the one class because I didn’t feel qualified to teach anything else, and also, it was a lot of work. (Made me really appreciate the amount of work YouTubers put into their channels, heheh.) But then, lo and behold, I had another idea for a class. And then another and another. And thus, my channel was born.
I struggled, though. I tried not to feel discouraged by the lack of attention my classes were getting, but it was hard. I put so much work into them, and it felt like no one was watching. And on top of that, through the years, I watched as other teachers joined the platform after me and quickly rose to Top Teacher status. I wish I could say that I only felt happy for them and their, let me emphasize, very much deserved notoriety on the platform, but I can’t lie, I was envious. There’s a couple people in particular I’m thinking of that I won’t name, who I absolutely adore as both teachers and humans, and I hate that I ever felt ugly jealousy towards them, but alas. I guess I’m only human, right?
In 2017, I took a six month hiatus from posting classes because it just didn’t feel worth the effort and time I was putting into it. I was making less than $15K a year with my part time jobs and design work combined. I was so tired of feeling like I was mooching off my family, so I felt it was time to focus more of my attention on my art licensing career goals.
In the meantime, however, I had taken four different character design classes outside of Skillshare for fun. I’d already decided that I didn’t want to pursue character design as a profession, as I’d interned part time at a video game company for a few years doing mostly character art and found that I really only enjoy designing my own characters. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That said, I had all this character design knowledge and experience that, at the time, I hadn’t seen presented on Skillshare, which lead me to create my latest Skillshare series, Character Design Crash Course.
I posted the first class in the series, Designing Animal Characters, in November of 2017 and for the first time, my class was chosen to be featured at the top of the Creative courses page for about a month. I was so excited because it helped boost my viewership and following like nobody’s business! I finally felt like I had some momentum on the platform.
Since then, I’ve posted two more Crash Courses and a watercolor course, and Skillshare even awarded my second Crash Course, Dynamic Design in Four Steps with another feature and a Staff Pick badge! Staff Picks are awarded to a very small percentage of classes, and they even get closed captions, which was particularly exciting to me. That gave me a much needed boost of confidence. Even though the last two classes I posted haven’t been particularly successful, I honestly don’t really mind, because I feel pretty confident in the quality of my courses now. Plus, I now make about a $1,000 a month on average from Skillshare, which makes it all very much worth it.
I’m sorry if I sound like I’m bragging. I mean, I kind of am, there’s no two ways about it, lol. But I’ve worked so hard and for so long to get here, so I feel like I’m owed a bit of bragging rights. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part…
Earlier this year, Mary Findley, who is the Teacher Success Manager at Skillshare, contacted me via email about setting up a call to discuss my future plans for my channel and such, and since I had done these sorts of calls with another Skillshare staffer before, I thought nothing of it. So in April, she called me and we had a really nice conversation about my classes and what I plan to do next; she had some really helpful suggestions, it was great. And then she dropped the bomb on me that if I agreed to all that it involves, Skillshare would like to invite me to join their Top Teacher program. After she asked — just all casual like, as though it wasn’t the coolest thing ever for me, hahaha — I think I was too busy processing to act excited, so I said, “Yes, I’d love to join” in a way more calm and reasonable tone of voice than I was actually feeling. I fully did a mental double take, haha.
After Mary filled me in on what it all entails and we said our goodbyes (and by the way, Mary is the best, just fyi), I hung up the phone, stood there for a second, and whispered, “Oh my god.” Look y’all, I have wanted to reach the coveted top teacher status on Skillshare for literal years. There’s only 87 of us and thousands of teachers on the platform. It’s…crazy, and I’m so freakin’ excited.
So thank you, Skillshare, for validating all of my online-learning-related life choices. I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t regret it! ;)