Do you want to pick up a few cutting-edge skills to help you advance your career? Are you trying to start or grow your own creative business? Do you wish you could find a way to earn a living sharing your knowledge and expertise in graphic design, film production, photography, human resources, leadership, management, marketing, data science or IT Security? If so, you need to check out Skillshare.
RewardExpert sat down with Cam Lay, Skillshare’s vice president of marketing, to explore the online community and how it’s helping more than seven million members learn and earn.
Enriching Education in an Informal Environment
Lay explained that Skillshare was founded by Michael Karnjanaprakorn in 2010. “After Hurricane Katrina, Michael did some volunteer teaching in New Orleans,” he said. “Through that experience, it dawned on him that higher education hadn’t really prepared him for the working world.
His idea for Skillshare was to get folks who have real-world experience to teach and pass on their skills in an informal environment.”
While the early iteration of Skillshare involved in-person courses, Karnjanaprakorn realized that the company’s impact could be much larger if he brought it online. “It eventually evolved into what we have today,” Lay added, which includes more than 26,000 classes in creative, business, technology and lifestyle topics. All are accessible online and through the Skillshare app, enabling students to learn anytime from anywhere.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been experiencing tremendous growth,” Lay said. “We roughly doubled our business in 2017 as well as 2018, and we’re on track for significant growth in 2019.”
Diverse Student and Teacher Membership
Lay said that there’s a great deal of diversity among Skillshare’s students. “They come from 100 countries around the world, and more than half of our new members are international,” he explained. “The vast majority of our users are between 18 and 35 years old and skew heavily creative and independent.”
While many of these students take advantage of Skillshare’s thousands of free classes, subscriptions –which offer unlimited access to Skillshare courses– are also available. “Our annual package is about $8 a month and gives you access to our entire catalog,” Lay said.
Premium subscribers can also download classes to their tablets or mobile devices, enabling offline access. Additionally, they enjoy classes ad-free and can access exclusive discounts at companies including Shutterstock, Squarespace, Adobe and more.
Skillshare’s teachers are equally diverse and Lay said they often start as students. “Demographically, they are very similar to our students, skewing independent, and they may be freelancers or entrepreneurs of sorts,” he explained. “They look at Skillshare as both a way to gain a passive income stream as well as to spread their personal brand and gain more work through the exposure.”
Teachers earn money every time a student takes their class and earn an average of $3,000 per year. Top teachers make up to $100,000 annually.
Skillshare for Teams
Skillshare has also created membership packages for businesses that want to build more productive and innovative organizations. “Marketing agencies are a great example of where we’ve seen a lot of traction with this,” Lay said. “Also, businesses whose employees skew younger. They don’t want to continue the tradition of offering continuing education that is dry and academic. They want something that is more engaging.”
Lay noted that any business can benefit from Skillshare. “What companies really need in the new economy is more creative employees. The way you do that is by giving them breadth of experience,” he explained. “If your company has a predisposition towards continual learning, and not just thinking about it as something to get somewhere, you’re going to get the best results at the top.”
Other benefits include improved job satisfaction and employee retention. “There is a lot of data around how millennial employees really care about learning opportunities as one of the most important factors about job satisfaction,” Lay said. “Don’t just think about what they need to learn today but about investing in them as people. Skillshare can be a big part of that.” Business owners interested in Skillshare for Teams can contact the company for a custom quote.
Richer Interactions Ahead
Lay said that Skillshare has two initiatives on deck in 2019. “One is pushing the company internationally and exposing it to users in other countries from both the teacher and student perspective,” he explained. “We’re also thinking about ourselves more as a community rather than just a class platform. There is tremendous value in not just learning from teachers but students learning from each other, teachers learning from each other, and richer interactions outside of the traditional platform.”