After taking a class on UX Design for Non Designers via Skillshare, I got the teaching bug and taught my first skillshare class a few weeks ago on creating compelling web content that gets read as part of Skillshare’s SF Tech Semester.
So how did it go?
It was a great experience. Skillshare has really built a wonderful platform and fostered a positive community where people are excited to teach and learn from one another. I had 7 brave souls show up for this newbie’s class and gave them everything I’ve learned about blogging and building an audience.
I think everyone should try teaching a class via Skillshare. They’re in tons of major cities like San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Austin, Portland, and more and there are a lot of good reasons why you should take the plunge. Here are five:
1) Empower people with new knowledge and skills, and the motivation to use them
Maybe you’re thinking – “But there’s nothing I can teach!” Baloney. If you’re reading this blog post, there are probably a few topics/subject matters that you know significantly more than the average person and that people would pay money to have you teach.
Whether it’s getting started with Python, navigating your way through a big music festival, tricking out your Gmail inbox or knitting 101, there’s probably something you would enjoy teaching and could teach well. You don’t have to be the world’s expert – most classes on Skillshare are introductory level ones that people will little background in the subject can still take and enjoy.
And you’re not just imparting information, as a teacher, you are imparting passion. One student left me this kind review: “I learned a lot, enjoyed listening to him as a speaker, and totally walked away inspired and empowered to start my blog, and start it well.”
The truth is, most people can learn the basics of blogging by searching on Google and Quora, following a few WordPress tutorials and reading Copyblogger articles. As a teacher, one of the greatest things you can provide is your sense of passion and excitement to this subject and show them where they can take these skills/knowledge to. And that can be a great feeling.
2) Consolidate (and expand) your area of expertise
You’re going to learn a lot from teaching the class. If you’ve never taught something before, you’ll quickly realize that there’s no better way to understand a subject area than to try to teach it. As I built the Keynote deck that formed the foundation of my class, I was looking things up, grabbing links, re-reading blog posts, watching videos and basically immersing in the topic of blogging.
Before you can really teach something well, you need to deeply and full understand it. If you are interested in knowing more about your field or honing your craft, I assure you that teaching a class on it will only bolster that cause.
3) Improve your communication skills
The best teachers aren’t simply domain experts. They are great communicators. It’s obvious that the people who have had the greatest influence in our society aren’t just smart or skilled or knowledgeable. They were incredible at delivering a clear and compelling message: Jobs. Gandhi. King. Churchill.
Teaching a class forces you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, think about how they see the world and build upon what they already know. For my class, I kind of struggled on how to present everything I knew until I ironed out the four-part framework:
Identifying your audience -> Content Generation -> Writing nuts & bolts -> Distribution / readership.
This made everything else much easier. Each section had important big ideas, resources and knowledge. I also created an short exercise and opened up Q&A between each section to break the class up and make it interactive.
Teaching a class on Skillshare forces you to become a better communicator and that’s a really valuable skill to have.
4) Connect with people in your field/extended network/city
Teaching a class on Skillshare is a great way to connect with people in your area - in real life! I think online education is incredible – things like Udacity, Udemy and Khan Academy are fantastic initiatives and are making our society better. But there’s something special about an in person class that forms a special connection.
My friend Derek Flanzraich has taught his class on growing to 750k uniques in under a year several times on Skillshare and he tells me that everytime, he’s developed a relationship with at least one interesting person who ends up being able to help his company Greatist in some way. I’m not saying that all connections need to be professional or work related, but the fact is, by sharing your passions via this class, you are likely to bump into people interested in similar things and it’s totally like you’ll hit it off well with your students.
5) Make some dough
Let’s face it – getting paid to do something fun is like the best of both worlds. With the money you earn from your Skillshare class, you can go treat your friends to a round of drinks, splurge on that icon set you’ve been savoring over or take that weekend getaway.
I charged $30 for my first class and with eight students, ended up making $204 after Skillshare’s fees. I raised the price by $5 because now this class is more of a sure thing and I expect to sell out. I’m not doing this class for the money, but the money isn’t bad.
So think about it. Brainstorm a list of potential classes you could teach, take a look at what’s being offered in your city and jump in. Even if you just teach a 45 min class in a coffee shop for 3 people – I promise you’re going to get something out of it.
Oh and by the way – I liked teaching my class so much I’m doing it again.
“I’ve Read Your Blog” : Creating Compelling Web Content
Wednesday May 16th from 7:30pm – 9pm at NextSpace in SF. First 5 people to sign up using this code: BLOGFTW will get 50% off the price of admission. Check it out!
Blogging not your thing? Check out my buddy Al Abut’s class: Intro to HTML & CSS! I’m signed up for his May 24th class.