Skillshare vs Udemy for Online Teachers

Both Skillshare and Udemy are online course marketplaces that appear to offer a similar service. In this Skillshare vs Udemy comparison, we’re going to cover which one is actually the better option for an online teacher.

Unlike freelance platforms like Fiverr or Outschool where you get bookings and teach. Skillshare and Udemy allow you to create an online course portfolio that can potentially earn you passive income. You simply put in the upfront work and create video courses , then students can enroll in your course at any time.

While on the surface, both these websites seem to offer a similar service in that students can enroll in various courses that teachers create. That’s where the similarities end.

Both Udemy and Skillshare have unique pros and cons when compared to one another. They also operate in slightly different ways with regards to class structure and payment for the potential online teacher.

Udemy vs Skillshare breakdown for teachers

As this guide is designed for teachers who potentially want to create online courses on these two platforms, we will cover the most essential aspects that teachers need to know for Skillshare and Udemy.

  • Payment and earning potential
  • Course topics and structure
  • Course approval process
  • Student reviews and management
  • Affiliate program

Udemy vs Skillshare earning potential and payment

Both these two platforms pay you via PayPal once a month. Udemy has a 30 day refund policy so your payments are for the previous month and not the current month. Skillshare however pays you for premium minutes watched of the current month.

Udemy earnings

Udemy courses can be priced anywhere from $19.99 to $200. However, Udemy runs deep discounts on a weekly basis so you as a teacher you can realistically expect to earn $3 to $7 per course sale.

This is quite a small amount considering you need to create a 2 hour or more long course, but Udemy (like Amazon) has a massive volume of course buyers. Also, students on Udemy expect these discounts and it is what they like so much about Udemy. Quality courses for cheap. Except this reality or don’t bother with Udemy.

Your primary goal as a teacher on Udemy is to get your course on the first page for it’s search term. Rankings are a function of the amount of students enrolled, the conversion rate and the student feedback. Udemy is quite saturated so it will be difficult for new teachers to get attention but it’s not impossible if you’re in it for the long term.

Skillshare earnings

Skillshare operates as a subscription service for students and pays you as a teacher based on “premium minutes” watched of your courses. “Premium” specifically meaning minutes watched from paying members as Skillshare also allows you to create free courses where you get “free” minutes watched.

Purple is for premium minutes, blue is for total minutes (free and premium).

Each month, Skillshare collects it’s revenue from paying members. It takes 30% of this revenue and puts it in a specific fund to pay out to teachers. They divide up the payments to teachers based on premium minutes.

Your final payment will be based on a combination of how much revenue Skillshare made that month as well as how many premium minutes were watched for your courses.

In general, Skillshare does a better job of exposing new courses and course creators than Udemy. Which tends to burry new courses deep in their marketplace.

Winner: Skillshare

While the earning potential with Udemy is there as it is the biggest online course website in the world, new teachers tend to struggle to make any money as Udemy favors established courses with great reviews. If you do create Udemy courses, you’ll have to drive traffic and attention yourself to improve your course rankings.

Course topics and structure

What courses and topics can you actually teach on Udemy and Skillshare? As an online teacher who will primarily be teaching content around English, social studies, science or general life skills we have to give the edge to Udemy.

Udemy course topics

Udemy has students all over the world who are interested in a variety of topics. From learning business English, to programing to learning how to bake bread, Udemy has the greatest flexibility in course topics for an online teacher looking to diversify their income away from online teaching companies.

With Udemy, your courses can potentially be a more comprehensive experience as you can create courses that have video sections, text based guides, images and quizzes.

Example course for learning how to teach English online:

Skillshare course topics

Skillshare by comparison is much more focused on creative, business oriented courses. Content like photography, web development and programming do very well.

While you can create courses on whatever you want for Skillshare, most of Skillshare’s students want more business oriented courses.

Last, courses must be broken up into video lessons only and each course must have a clear and specific final project requirement.

Winner: Udemy

Udemy, with it’s massive student user base allows a creative teacher to make online courses on fun, interesting topics they are passionate about that can actually reach an audience. We love Skillshare, but unless you’re creating business oriented courses, it may not be for you.

Course approval process

So can just anyone go and sign up and create courses on Udemy and Skillshare? Yes, but with a catch. Both have specific requirements and rules you need to be aware of before getting started.

Udemy course approval

Once you go through the process of creating your course on Udemy, you’ll have to submit it for approval. A staff member will review your course to make sure you covered everything required to get a course published.

Things like a good thumbnail, logical organization, good teacher profile description and good course description. Most new teachers usually make a few mistakes and Udemy will not approve your course the first time around.

However, Udemy tells you exactly what needs to be fixed and having your course rejected is of no penalty. You simply need to take action and fix any issues.

Skillshare course approval

Skillshare is much more strict and works on a three strike policy. If you submit a course and it get rejected by the Skillshare staff you’ll be given a strike. Three strikes and your account is permanently closed.

If your course is given a strike, a Skillshare moderator will reach out to you via email to explain what is wrong and what you need to fix in order for your course to go live.

Strikes are rolled back after 6 months, so if your goal is to put a lot of courses on Skillshare make sure to not get two strikes as you’ll need to stop and wait for your strikes to be rolled back again so it’s safe to publish again.

Lastly, you’re allowed to publish one course a week max on Skillshare. If you try to publish two in a 7 day period, that will lead to a strike.

Winner: Udemy

Udemy allows a teacher to create courses and make changes as needed without having to worry about having their account closed. However, the strict moderation policy at Skillshare does make for a better user experience for students and less competition for established teachers.

Student reviews and management

What’s fun and engaging about both these platforms is the engagement with students you’ll have. Once you have a few courses up on Skillshare and Udemy, it’s very rewarding to see class projects created from people who enrolled in your course.

Udemy reviews and student management

Udemy has a built in messaging system and a helpful app that you can download. Through the app you can quickly respond to any course messages. Reviews on Udemy tend to all over the place. With some users leaving a 2 or 3 star review and no feedback. Unhelpful as you don’t know what could be improved.

Last, as reviews are important for course rankings there is an incentive to buy reviews. Overall, this is an area Udemy can improve on to make feedback more honest and realistic for teachers and students.

Skillshare reviews and student management

Skillshare allows students to leave a review of how helpful the course as well as a detailed written review. We’ve found the Skillshare audience to be much more professional and helpful. Leaving fair, accurate feedback both positive and negative.

Last, as part of any course on Skillshare you’ll need to set a course project. It’s fun and rewarding to see how your course actually helped someone do something.

Winner: Skillshare

Overall the quality of students and the overall feedback on Skillshare is better and more helpful. As reviews don’t play a direct roll in rankings, the review process appears to be more honest.

Affiliate program

Both these platforms have their own dedicated affiliate programs. That means you can promote Skillshare and Udemy to your Facebook page, YouTube channel or blog.

To become an affiliate you can simply sign up at udemy.com/affiliate or skillshare.com/affiliate.

Udemy affiliate program

The commission rate for Udemy is 15% on what the person actually paid for the course (not the list price). So if a $200 course is on sale for $10 and someone purchases through your link, you get 15% of $10. Again, a small amount but with the right traffic source you could make a lot.

Also, Udemy is offered in multiple languages so if you’re a bi-lingual teacher with an audience that speaks a language other than English, Udemy is a creative choice.

Skillshare affiliate program

Skillshare pays affiliates $7 per new paying customer. So if someone signs up under your affiliate link, they get a 2 month free trial. If they purchase you get a commission, if they don’t you get nothing.

Please note however that as a Skillshare teacher you get your own referral link to your profile or courses. If someone signs up under your link as a referral you get 10$ regardless if they purchase and the people you refer get 2 months free. A win win for all.

If you ever become a “top rated teacher” the 10$ referral jumps to $50. Top rated teachers already make thousands of dollars in premium minutes watched and this added bonus of $50 is very motivating.

Winner: Tie

Skillshare pays more per referral and is more ideal for promoting via a YouTube channel or Instagram bio link once you’re a teacher. The 10$ rate adds up quickly and is an easy sell as new users get 2 months free just for signing up.

The Skillshare affiliate program however is a bit disappointing as you only get 7$ if the person converts into a paying customer. It’s ideal if you want to promote other courses that are not your own, but we find Udemy better for that.

Udemy does pay a very small amount per sale. However, Udemy allows you to link to specific courses and is ideal for bloggers who want to create blog content.

So both are lucrative, they just work better in different situations.

Skillshare vs Udemy Conclusion

So which one is best? As an online teacher you should create content for both platforms. Both are marketplaces where you can sign up for free and get to work. Once established on both, you have unique opportunities to leverage their respective affiliate programs.

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