THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello. This is your host, artists Miriam Schulman. And you’re listening to episode number 103 of The Inspiration Place podcast, and I am honored that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about, you guessed it, building online art classes. I hope you’re excited. I am so, so excited to share this topic with you today.
In this episode, you’re going to discover why there’s never been a better time to teach your art online. I’ve actually got the data to back this up. I’m also going to share with you the three shortcuts that you can use to narrow down your topic. This is perfect if you have too many ideas and you can’t decide what to do. And you’ll discover the three production pathways for building your course. And by the way, one method is so ridiculously easy that even my mother could do it. Promise.
One of the things that I get asked a lot, especially now, and I’m recording this August 2020, is how my business is doing. My friends, my friends who knew that I used to work on Wall Street and left Wall Street, my friends who some of them still have very boring corporate jobs. So, they look at me with a really worried expression on their face bracing for horrible news. These friends didn’t follow their dreams. Even in the best of times, they never believed me when I told them that I’m doing well. And right now, I feel a little guilty telling them the truth. Luckily, they can’t see that I’m smiling underneath my mask because, I mean, yes, I’m thrilled about my business. But with all the heartache going on in the world, I really don’t like to brag about it too much because I don’t want to appear insensitive. Do you know what I mean? Because actually, my business is doing really well.
In fact, in April and May were the two best months I’ve ever had as an artist. And I’m not the only one. The reason is because the online art class market is on fire. In fact, many of the online class sites, platforms like Udemy, they say that art classes are the hottest, the hottest niche out there of all their classes. One of the other top ones, by the way, was Pilates.
So, that’s why I wanted to start talking to you about how you can start building your online class. I don’t need to keep this all to myself. I have a very abundant mindset. I am not afraid of you guys starting your online classes, and I want to help you with that.
You know I love creating my art. And I do believe just by selling your art alone you can make a thriving living with your art. So if you’re not ready to go beyond that, that’s fine. Before I added on online classes, when I was just doing commissions and selling originals and prints, I was doing a lot of it online, by the way, selling online, and supplementing with in-person shows. Back then, before I had a podcast, before I was teaching online, I was earning over $60,000 a year. However, what really pushed my annual art income over that elusive six-figure mark where my online classes. I bet you guessed that. Teaching art classes online has allowed me to grow my art career to multiple six figures. And for the first time, I’m going to share those secrets with you because I want you to succeed, and I want you to have some of that same success.
Having an income stream from online courses will give you the freedom. Oh, it’s such freedom. Because when you have more financial freedom, you also have more creative freedom. Now you can just say yes to the opportunities that truly light you up. You don’t have to be an art slut anymore. You don’t have to say yes to every single commission request that comes your way. Online classes are the most powerful way to make an impact in the world while growing your income and your financial freedom to life-changing levels.
With the world on lockdown in 2020, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of the growing digital course economy. It is not going anywhere. In fact, I want to slide a fact in right here. In 2015, the online course economy … Also, I’m going to introduce you to some vocabulary today. I’m going to also call it sometimes digital courses as well as online courses or the digital course economy.
So, the digital course economy was 107 billion. That’s ba, ba, ba billion before the lockdown. And they predict by 2025 it’s going to more than triple. So, this is something that you’re going to want to do. More people than ever have been turning to their computers to learn everything from how to build a bird house to, yes, how to paint a portrait, and art classes have been one of the most popular categories.
However, even though you might be excited by the possibilities, because creating an online class sounds so daunting, you might be intimidated or overwhelmed to try. That doubt and fear might lead you to miss out on one of the clearest paths to thrive and end starving artist syndrome once and for all.
Listen, this has been the secret to my success over the last seven years and has been the secret sauce behind thriving no matter what the circumstance. Yes, I sell a lot of artwork. Yes, I still sell a lot of artwork. But, having the online class as an income stream definitely provides a peace of mind and a buffer to any kind of bumps in the road. So by the way, that’s why I’m running a four-day free, yes, it’s free, live challenge to help you get started creating your online art class so that you don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated.
Now, if you’re listening to this episode when it goes live in August 2020, you can probably still take advantage of this. The challenge kicks off on August 24th, and you don’t want to miss it. The challenge is called Build Your Digital Art Course Challenge. You can sign up for that by going to schulmanart.com/challenge. Not only will I help you pick a killer name for your course topic, but we’ll be reviewing the seven key decisions you have to make and how to get started now. I’m going to be going live each day to deliver valuable training on each topic and answer your questions so that you can get inspired to take action.
Plus, my own mentor, Amy Porterfield, the queen of online classes, will be doing a special live training just for us artists inside that group on August 27th, so you don’t want to miss this. Come join me and other passionate artists for the challenge inside my free Facebook group, The Artist Profit Lab, for the month of August 2020. I’ll be sharing resources to help you get started on your art class creation journey. Again, to sign up for the challenge and make sure you don’t miss a thing, go to schulmanart.com/challenge. You’ll also find that link in today’s show notes, which is episode number 103.
All right. Let’s get back into the show. If you’re excited by all the possibilities, just know that I started off once upon a time at the same place that you are now. I had no idea what I was doing, but everyone has to begin someplace.
Now, you know I’m also ready to break it all down for you into bite-sized action steps so that you can get practical advice. Let’s get started talking about why now is the perfect time. I already shared with you before that it is a billion dollar market that is growing, growing, growing, growing. What was so exciting to me is there was an article inside The Wall Street Journal, and the article was called Coronavirus Lockdowns Spark Boom in Online Learning for Adults, Too.
What I learned in that Wall Street Journal article was that enrollments in art classes sky rocketed for both children and adults. The quarantine led to a rise in those with and without artistic experience. Anyone who’s taken my art classes know that it’s not for professional artists only. People of all levels come to our classes. Some of the top classes in these sites have included subjects like calligraphy, technical drawing, painting, and more. My own art classes, like Watercolor Portrait Academy, have never been busier with students enrolling from all over the world.
Now, here’s another article that I love. This one was in The Guardian. The name of the article is Zoom with a View: How Lockdown Art Classes are Booming Online. These are just two articles, by the way. I’m sure there’s dozens more. But, let me share with you what they reported. “Thousands of us have been turning to Zoom, the video conferencing platform, to get a creative workout. From life drawing art classes to small-town museums, pandemic cartoons, and upcycled sculptures, it seems to be the perfect answer for cooped-up creativity and our current quarantine.”
Now, there’s so several things going on here. First of all, people want to learn. They’re open to learning online. They’re savvier than ever with their computers. And most importantly, art is one of the best ways to relax and take your mind off the stresses of everyday life.
One of my Artist Incubator clients, Nicoline Mann, explained it so beautifully. Here’s what she had to say.
I think that makes sense, especially when people are feeling uncertain and scared, that art makes you feel … It gets you into a different place in your heart and your soul so you feel something you have control over. And that creates beauty, of course, too.
By the way, Nikki does some incredible watercolor paintings. Her art career started off inside my own Pet Portrait Academy classes. And now she’s commanding commissions over $500 a pop. That’s why I’m so passionate about sharing with you how to teach your art online as well. I know that not only has the digital course economy benefited me and my family financially, but it also helped me make an incredible impact on so many other people’s lives, people like Nicoline who just loved painting and now is even making a career out of it.
Now, there’s so many things you could be teaching. And in fact, I bet your wheels are spinning right now, too. In fact, Pilates, something you may remember I used to teach before art, is also one of the hottest topics for online classes. If you’re creative, you might have the problem right now of too many ideas. In fact, most people who think about teaching art classes online do have do many ideas as opposed to not enough. And it can be really hard to narrow down and figure out what to start with, especially since it’s a lot of work. You really do want to choose your topics carefully. It may be tempting to want to teach everything you know, but don’t do that. There is a strategy to narrowing down your ideas to one that will be successful.
Now, inside the free guide, I share five strategies for narrowing down your course topic. And since I don’t want to give it all away now, I’m going to share three of them with you. But just remember that the guide is free and the guide has all five. So remember to get your hands on the guide, schulmanart.com/guide, to get your hands on it. So here we go. Three creative strategies to choose your course focus.
Number one. Get out your journal. You don’t have to art journal. You can regular journal. You can art journal. It doesn’t matter. Anyway you want to do it, but start writing and letting it go brain to hand to paper, and journal without judgment. Just write down all of the creative whispers that you’re hearing. And don’t edit it yet. Just write.
Number two. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas a little bit, you can also narrow your ideas even further with a poll. This happens to be one of my favorite ways of narrowing your ideas. I like to post inside of either on my Instagram feed, or on my Facebook page, or inside my Facebook group. I’ll post two to three pictures of art that I want to teach, and I’ll ask my followers what they would love to learn. You can very quickly figure out not only what is popping up the most, but they will tell you why, which is the most important part.
Number three. Think about what lights you up. Think about what you would talk about all day, even if nobody was paying you for it. That’s one of the reasons, actually, I started the Artist Incubator program because I was just coaching people for free all the time because I love to do it. I almost can’t help myself. I just love to help people and give them good advice about how to grow their art careers.
All right. So once you’ve started thinking about what you’re going to teach, you also have to start thinking about how you’re going to do it. This part could feel really daunting, but there are three pathways to producing an online art class. Just because it’s online does not mean that the tech needs to be overwhelming. I’ve seen lots of professional artists create runaway success with an art class created with just a series of simple PDFs. And you could create them beautifully using a free tool like Canva. So, here are three ways you can create your class.
Number one. The easy peasy, yet slightly fancy, PDF. This is by far the lowest tech solution in the group. However, that does not mean your students will find the content any less valuable, nor does it mean it will be less profitable for you. I’ve seen lots of instructors embrace this approach, including Lilla Rogers and Victoria Johnson. They both teach artists how to create art for the licensing market. Pretty much, the bulk of the materials that they deliver inside their course are PDFs. And each of these artists have hundreds of happy art students happily spending between 175 and $500 for this type of class. So if you do the math, that’s thousands of dollars that these two women are making from the PDF style art class.
Now, often, when you are delivering content this way, the art class should most likely include a group, like a Facebook group, so that the students can interact with each other. I do recommend that if you are delivering your content this way that you also include live sessions. That does not mean this has to be complicated. You could go live in a Facebook group, but I do recommend you add this to your classes because … Actually, I recommend you do this no matter what. Even when I have prerecorded classes, I find my students really, really enjoy interacting with each other in a Facebook group.
And in my most recent iteration of Watercolor Portrait Academy, I included 10-minutes one-on-one calls and extra group feedback calls for the student who signed up early, and they absolutely loved them. I loved these sessions, too, because it helped me connect with those students on a more personal level and really help them see how sometimes it was really just their mindset that was getting in their way of being a better artist. It was their mindset that was getting in their way of being bolder with their art.
Now, if that sounds like the topic for another podcast, you’re right. Don’t worry. I’m writing that down right now. I’ll be sure to create an episode just for you and schedule one in the future about being a bold artist.
Number two. Meet live over Zoom. Now, this may sound like an easy way to run an art class, but there’s definitely pros and cons about it. And in many circumstances, I do discourage artists from going that route. Personally, I prefer live Zoom classes to deliver information-based classes, like coaching to small groups where interaction is more important than learning a skill, like watching me paint.
For example, my Artists Incubator program meets live each week this way over Zoom so that we can talk to each other. My feedback bonus calls for the Watercolor Portrait Academy when I was giving them feedback on their art was also delivered over Zoom. But for learning how to paint step by step, I truly believe the king of all ways to deliver that kind of class is number three.
Number three, prerecorded videos. Prerecorded videos are my favorite way to teach art techniques step by step. Unlike Zoom, you can tightly edit the session so students don’t have to watch your paint dry and you can edit out anything that might be repetitive or boring and slow down on the juiciest parts.
What I love also about prerecorded videos, just imagine how it feels when you do create a profitable art class. When you prerecord the videos, you can promote that class over and over again. And students love it because they can log into their devices at their convenience, wherever they live, all over the world, while you’re enjoying dinner with your loved ones.
Now, prerecorded videos can be challenging to learn. But trust me, if you’re a creative person, there isn’t anything more fun and more creative than turning your technique class into mini movies. Kind of like Bob Ross. But, there is a learning curve to it. I won’t kid you about that. In fact, there are so many pieces involved. Not only do you have to create the course, but you also have to learn to market it as well. That’s why I was thrilled when Amy Porterfield asked me to be an affiliate for her latest launch of Digital Course Academy.
Now, if you’re not sure how that works, let me explain. As an affiliate, I do earn a percentage from each sale. But, that’s why I’m able to offer an incredible bonus package if you sign up through me. So if you sign up for Digital Course Academy, you’ll learn from Amy exactly how to build and market your course. But if you sign up through me, you’ll also get my bonus package, so you’ll learn the exact strategies I use to create videos tutorials and how to market your online art class to artists, because we’re a little bit different than those muggles.
Now, I’m sharing this with you as a kind of tease. Because the truth is you can’t sign up for Digital Course Academy yet. And I can’t even reveal what my exact bonus package is yet. I’m not allowed to do that until … I forget if it’s September 8th or 9th. But if you’re intrigued by what I’ve shared with you today, I’d love to help you get started on your course creation journey, which is why I created that free starter guide and I also created the challenge, which are both designed for artists.
Now, I don’t want to deprive you of anything that Amy is offering. So if you go to the show notes, go to schulmanart.com/103, not only will you find links to the challenge and my starter guide, but I’m also including a link to Amy’s starter kit. It’s a bit bulkier than mine, it’s actually 19 pages, but it is a gold mine. And yes, it’s free.
But, here’s what I’ve done for you. If you get her starter kit through my link and then later, even if you forget to come back to me and you end up enrolling in Digital Course Academy, you will be eligible for all the bonuses that I’m planning, too. So, go to schulmanart.com/kit, and you can get Amy’s started kit and you can also get mine. Now, just so you know, I only recommend programs that I’ve personally used to create real results in my business, and Amy’s classes have always been on the top of that list.
We’re about to wrap up. Just remember, unlike selling your art in person through galleries or the art festival circuit, online class creators can truly live life on their own terms. Not only has 2020 proven that the online class market is recession-proof, but the additional income and flexibility allows you to enjoy both financial and creative freedom. If you’re excited by these possibilities, just know I started off at the same place you are now. Everything I’ve shared is 100% doable, and it’s my honor to help you along the way.
Now, don’t forget, if you liked this episode, then you have to check out my absolutely free brand new Quick Start Guide for learning how to teach your art online. Just go to schulmanart.com/guide. That will be available no matter what.
And if you’re listening to this episode when it goes live in August 2020, then I’d love for you to come join us for the challenge. To register for that, just go to schulmanart.com/challenge.
All right. Next week, we have on the one and only Erica Cordae. We’ll be talking about how to be an anti-racist artist. This is going to be an incredible conversation, and you won’t want to miss it. So make sure you hit the subscribe or follow button in your podcast app.
And if you’re feeling extra generous, would you please leave me a review? We’ve actually made it so much easier for you to leave a review. Just pop on over to ratethispodcast.com/inspire. By the way, if you take a screenshot of either the review or just my podcast playing in your phone right now, just screenshot it and share it on IG, I’ll give your art a shout-out as well. Just tag @schulmanart so that I’ll see it.
All right, guys. Thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Make it a great one.
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