Why I will no longer be promoting my online courses on SkillShare

Disclaimer: TL;DR summarized at the end of this artilce.

SkillShare is one of the largest online elearning communities. It has thousands of courses and millions of users. In fact, according to SimilarWeb it has over 10M monthly users, making it firmly one of the most popular websites in the world.

Even if you have never used SkillShare as a student or instructor, if you watch YouTube videos you’ve likely heard the name from one of the many videos they’ve sponsored as part of their marketing campaigns.

SkillShare’s basic premise is simple. Anyone can sign up as either a student or instructor. If you’re a student looking to learn anything from coding to cooking you can sign up and for a flat monthly fee and take unlimited courses. If you’re an instructor you can upload content you’ve made in order to monetize it on their platform from the paying students.

Instructors (which until the end of June 2020 I am part of) get paid based on how much of their content is viewed. A certain percent of the total monthly dues paid by students goes into a royalty pool and then distributed at the end of the month based on consumption.

Until recently this has worked well. While I always got a little less per minute watched on SkillShare than other platforms like Udemy or my own site, it was a decent amount of money and helped me grow my business. However, in early 2020 this started to change. My minutes watched per month started increasing pretty significantly while my revenue dropped.

From December 2019 to May 2020 my minutes watched increased 233%. During that same time my revenue per minute watched dropped from $0.07 to $0.023, a 67% drop. With this drop, even as more and more of my content was consumed, I was making less money month over month.

SkillShare addressed this in a few blog posts and emails to instructors, but unfortunately that only furthered my concerns. They claimed this drop in revenue was due to two factors.

  1. They ran promotions to get new students, but those new students got two months free. This means they were consuming content without paying into the royalty pool. They claimed that this started in January and by April those same students would start paying and monthly payouts would increase (this did not happen).
  2. Due to COVID-19 people are consuming more content. With the “all you can eat” payment plan this meant revenue per minute would decrease as the same paying students viewed more content
    1. I don’t disagree with this idea, but without any further details about overall consumption trends it’s hard to know how much this affected my courses, and hard to imagine this increased so much than it cased a nearly 70% drop in monthly revenue

They also told instructors that only 30% of what students pay goes to instructors. This was a big red flag to me. There are lots of other elearning platforms, from Udemy to TabletWise, SkillSuccess, StackCommerce, and more. All of these pay on average 50% - 70% of total revenue to instructors.

SkillShare Blog Post

Here are screenshots of Udemy and TabletWise

When I reached out to SkillShare about this concerning trend I got the same links as everyone else without any real way to address the issue.

Out of all of this I have two main problems:

  1. I was not the one promoting two free months of content. If SkillShare decided to do this in order to get new students I feel that they should still compensate instructors for those minutes watched
  2. The 30% royalty pool is significantly less than other elearning platforms

Due to those two reasons I felt that SkillShare is not valuing the content that makes their site such an attractive option for millions of users. As such I decided I no longer wanted to be a part of this platform.

I have had my own platform, AdCoach, for a couple of years now and at the end of June 2020 I will removing all my courses from SkillShare. I am waiting until the end of June because I want to give my current students time to process the news and choose to move to my platform should they want to. However, even this has been difficult as SkillShare has started removing my messages to students which let them know about this change and how to access the content on my new platform.

The elearning industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, expected to be worth over $300B a year in 2025. It’s a shame that one of the largest platforms doesn’t value the content creators as much as they should, but for any creators looking to take full advantage of the space there are still lots of options from other platforms, to your own hosting services.

If you’re a student or creator looking to help there are a couple ways you can do so. First is by sharing this article. Let people know how this industry works and it’s value. If you’re a creator I recommend looking into Udemy (the largest elearning platform) and your own LMS (Learning Management System) like Teachable. Controlling your own content, pricing, students, and communication is really important.

I hope to continue to grow my business with own owned and operated platform, as well as on other elearning platforms that fairly compensate their instructors. I believe I am not the only one experiencing these issues with SkillShare, and should they change their policy I may be open to returning to them in the future. Until then I will focus on my current students from my direct website and other elearning platforms.

- Over the past six months my minutes watched on SkillShare have more than doubled, but at the same time my monthly revenue earned has dropped by nearly 70%. SkillShare no longer values the creators on their platform, and as such I have decided to leave.