Teaching Online Classes
I have been an art teacher for over 30 years and reached a point where standing in front of a class, walking around all the desks, and bending over students work is just too taxing to my legs and back. I thought that was the end. No more teaching for me. That is until I discovered the Internet and video possibilities. It was about 10 years ago when my husband first started creating video snippets of me in action and told me I should be taping my classes that the idea came to me. He was right but I didn’t have the know-how or the equipment to do it. However today the equipment is as available as your phone and the know-how is as accessible as the YouTube tutorials for free.
Make Your Own Tripod Arm Extension
With a little time and effort, I found that I could create my own YouTube tutorials of the very things I love to do every day. Even if I can’t stand in front of a classroom, I can still teach. I even created a make-shift tripod arm that points down onto my artboard while I work. With my camera set up, I can tape, speed up, and edit my work, do a narrative voice-over and post classes each week. I was pretty excited to see it happen finally. I know, I know: people have been creating video tutorials and video content on YouTube for a decade. As usual, I’m late coming to the party, but I’m happy to be here nonetheless.
Share What You Love
I have a minimal audience and the next step is to increase that audience if I want to generate revenue from YouTube. But honestly, that doesn’t concern me as much as recording and creating content of the things I love to do and share. I found a whole universe of artists doing the same thing I’m doing and significantly better. While watching them and some of their narratives, I discovered another venue I was unaware of.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.— Thomas A. Edison
Colleges and Universities Online
I thought while I was getting my master’s degree in illustration online that I would love to teach online like these instructors were doing. How hard could it be? It wanted and even planned for just that thing for years. However, the roadblocks seemed overwhelming. As an instructor, I had experience and knowledge but the online schools wanted me to have a teaching credential as well. When I considered taking the classes necessary for that credential, I met the other obstacle. They all wanted me to have working experience as an illustrator, not a teacher. Knowing that would take a few years to achieve, I waited. And waited. And waited.
Skillshare is an online teaching platform that helps you create, publish, and promote your classes. Interested students pay a small subscription fee per month/year and get access to classes by regular people like me on subjects varying from self-help, writing, and art, to cooking, crafts, yoga, computer tech, and mental health. The variety of subject matter is astounding and there are over 22,000 classes. Each time a student takes your class, you get paid. So for creating the class once and publishing it, you could potentially get paid for it every day from now on. You also get the added benefit of two months premium subscription free by going there and creating your user name and profile. You can cancel at any time as well. That’s a good deal.
When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.— Elon Musk
Create Quality Video
They suggest for quality purposes, you write a script, create an outline, record your process from different angles, and narrate with voice-over and “talking head” for variety. They don’t expect you to be an expert at video and editing but to present the best you can possibly create. That’s good news for me because I’m not an expert videographer.
So far I have created 2 classes for Skillshare and I’m working on a third to be published soon. The more classes you create, the more possibility of people enjoying and learning from your skills and talents. I may even make a class later on cooking some of my favorite made-up recipes. The possibilities are endless.
Consider creating a class yourself. I have the opinion that everyone has some skill or talent to share and usually limited options of sharing that. This is one that costs you nothing and may even give you more than the satisfaction of sharing. You may even find a small revenue source. By the way, you could create and publish a class during the two months free subscription time and once you have published a class, you get one-year subscription free on Skillshare. That’s a nice bonus. In that way, you can join the teaching community and also take advantage of the mired of classes available to learn something new.
Publish Your Classes
Finally, I spent some time creating several books from my classes. I still feel I am full of books and possibilities but I put the ones I loved most down to pen and paper. The great boon of these days is that you don’t have to beg an established publisher to put your book into print. You can do that yourself with the many online self-publishing venues. The thing is that you do not have the benefit of a personal editor who helps to find errors, small and great. You can send your book to friends and family before publishing and ask them to review it critically for spelling, grammar, and other mistakes. I know after reviewing and rereading my book text 4 times, I still found errors the 5th that I felt should have been obvious the first read-through.
Then there is the layout. Many people have only text and cover image to think about, but my books are art related and therefore, have art and photos throughout. I use Adobe InDesign to layout my pages and then save them in PDF format. The PDF flattens all pages so that the images and text stay right where you put them. There is nothing worse than getting a proof copy and finding it shifted after you laid it out and some photo is now in the gutter or off the page. In InDesign, you have to know the final book size and build your pages just that size, especially if, like me, you are adding lots of images.
We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.— Galileo Galilei
Choose Your Publisher
If you Google self-publishers, you will get a long list that just won’t quit. Who to choose? I will tell you about my experience.
I used CreateSpace, an affiliate of Amazon, for my first few craft books and liked them very much. However just this last year CreateSpace has closed their virtual doors in favor of Kindle Direct Publishing, also an affiliate of Amazon. After working with KDP for a couple of books I have to say they are fine for books with text and terrible for books with images and full-page bleeds. In the end, I had to leave KDP in favor of Lulu Publishing. KDP would not allow pages without margins in the gutter and I was trying to publish a children’s book with images that stretched across both pages (double page bleed) and across the margins. Lulu allowed the double page bleed that I needed and they offered a larger revenue return when people purchased from them. Amazon’s revenue return was meager comparatively (15% to 20% less). If I am self-publishing my book I really should get a larger share of the profit, in my opinion.
After that I took all my books over to Lulu to republish them there and then with Global Distribution available there, they are all still available on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble and other book sites.
That’s my experience. There are so many other publishers out there and since I haven’t used them all I can’t really recommend them. Each one has it’s own marketing advice and helps, as well as a platform for loading your book. Some may be easier to use than others but all are basically the same. They publish and "print on demand" your book.
Page for Children's Book, The FairyTale Alphabet Book
Share Your Life
Whether you publish a book, publish a class or just share your experiences on YouTube, I suggest that everyone has something valuable to share. What are you doing with yours?