MAKE YOUR VISION COME TO LIFE
Where you house your classes is the biggest decision you’ll make after what to teach. But no pressure! Online classes are becoming really popular, and we have a plethora of options. When I started teaching online classes, there was nothing out there and most people had a simple blog site with a password. That was enough, and it still is enough, but you’re better than that. Let’s make your class intentional.
When you are deciding which digital tech to use, there are two main considerations:
Do you have enough people that you can reach on your own or do you need help?
How tech savvy are you?
There are three main types of class hosts that I will be exploring. I have learned a lot from my experiences with each. While this will impact the way you present your class and the time commitment you put in, know that you can always change it. It will be difficult to change, but not impossible. Don’t get stuck on these decisions. Research your options, make a decision, and move on to the next task.
I have my favourites from each category. I’ll explore those in depth, but have given alternatives if they don’t fit you quite right. I stand behind all my recommendations and am happy to explore these more deeply one on one because I LOVE this stuff. Feel free to research each, but if you’re not technologically inclined then just follow along with what I suggest.
If you’re completely new to teaching online, I recommend contributing as a guest teacher or guest artist on a site that is bigger than you are.
If you are tech useless then I recommend Teachable.
If you are able to google and follow tech instructions then I recommend self-hosting classes. Putting together the technical parts is a creative endeavour within itself.
From most control, and highest difficulty to least amount of control and easiest to implement:
- Membership site
- LMS (Learner Management Software)
- Externally hosted
- Group class sites
- Guest teaching
For each of them, you can also pay someone to do all the tech. Because of the hours involved, it’s not a cheap option. I will assume you’re doing this yourself.
Here are the bullet points for each, along with links to explore them more deeply.
Alternatives: Wishlist Member, Paid Membership Pro, AccessAlly, although it’s very complicated to run and setup
Alternatives: LifterLMS, Woo Sensei
- It’s a simple WordPress plugin
- Everything looks pretty much the same as you’re used to with WordPress
- Bit more tech involved, but not that much, and everything’s google-able
- Good customer support
Alternatives: Teachery, Kajabi
- Super simple
- Can change basic look and feel
- The more you pay, the more customisation can take place
- Very good documentation for creating a class
- Lots of free classes on how to monetise your class
- can charge once off OR repeated fee
- has a free plan, that charges a percentage if you make a sale
GROUP CLASS SITES
Recommendation: Big Picture Classes
Alternatives: Get Messy (not currently looking for teachers), Skillshare (personally, I do not recommend this option)
These sites have no financial investment needed. You supply your class, they give it to their paying customers, and you are paid a very small fee according to how many people view your class videos.
Some group class sites (such as Get Messy and Creativebug) pay a lump sum to the teacher in advance as payment for her work, rather than the success of the class, and they take on the “risk” if the class doesn’t do well.
BIG PICTURE CLASSES
- Profit sharing
- More scrapbook focused, although it is bringing in some mixed media classes
- Personal – you can get input from staff there
- A bit clunky
- Honestly, I feel as though Big Picture Classes is not the place to be if you want to make millions, but it is a brilliant platform to “advertise” your teaching – you get access to their audience in exchange for some pocket money and you don’t have to fuss about tech at all
Good idea if you are not into marketing, although any marketing that you do create will impact your profit
On Skillshare, it is more profitable to have many small classes instead of one big one. This is a project-based teaching platform and it’s good to have more achievable things students can make. Plus more classes = more eyes and more results in Skillshare’s Search
They have amazing teachers there, such as Jessica Hirsche. BUT. There are a bunch of low level classes in there, I’m not sure of their quality control for self uploaded classes, and you align yourself with these classes too.
Skillshare offers many resources for class creation, they have a great support team, and you earn income by bringing people to the site too.
If you are feeling very overwhelmed by the idea of an entire new class, you might like to start out guest teaching on a site where you contribute a lesson to a class.
E.g. 21 Secrets, Wanderlust, etc
- You are paid no matter how well the class does, the organiser takes that risk
- Usually there is an affiliate program for you to earn more
- You receive access to a new market and new people and your “following” grows as new people fall in love with you
- You create a stronger personal brand when you align with other high quality brands
OTHER TECH CONSIDERATIONS
SEMI-SELF HOSTED OPTIONS
Beyond where you house your class, there are other tech decisions to be made that make up your tech stack. These include:
- video hosting (e.g. Vimeo, Wistia, YouTube [please never use YouTube])
- audio hosting if necessary (e.g. SoundCloud, Libsyn, Amazon AWS)
- workbook (e.g. Google Docs, Word, Adobe InDesign, Canva)
- additional files (e.g. self-hosted, Amazon S3)
- non-standard teaching tech (e.g. Zoom/Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, Crowdcast)
- community (forums, Facebook, Slack, Mighty Networks, Instagram private account, email)
- payment (e.g. PayPal, Stripe)