Maddy Osman: The whole point of Fiverr to me is business development and productizing your services so that it’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all thing because you can also set gig extras, and you can make different packages. You could do “This is the barebones version of my service, business is the mid-tier, and then this is the works. This is everything for a premium price.” But you just want to think about your services in a way that you can consistently deliver things without needing to do a lot of additional research or questioning.
Intro: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” We are in episode 164 today, and I am talking to my friend Maddy Osman. Maddy has a unique approach to her business and agency, and it’s mostly around getting gigs on Fiverr, selling her online courses on Skillshare, and other marketplaces. When she first told me about this, I was blown away. I have not had good experience with the online course marketplaces like Udemy, so they’ve left a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t think that somebody living in the United States could make a good income off of Fiverr, and Maddy proved me wrong on all accounts. She offers fantastic advice on how you can get started, too, with both selling on Fiverr or other marketplaces, things to think about and, of course, the important rules you need to follow to make sure you stay in these marketplaces’ good graces, which has helped her considerably. She’s inspired me to start looking into some of this stuff, and I will certainly be more open to opportunities as they come across my inbox. So, thank you to Maddy for that. Let’s get into this episode, shall we?
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Joe Casabona: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that asks, “How did you build that?” Today my guest is a good friend of mine, and her name is Maddy Osman. She is an SEO content strategist at The Blogsmith. Maddy, how are you today?
Maddy: Definitely ready for a good podcast, and as I told you, I’m going for a rehearsal dinner tasting later.
Joe: That’s right.
Maddy: I’m uber stoked for that.
Joe: Awesome. I’m happy that this is the appetizer to what will hopefully be a main course.
Joe: We didn’t plan that, friends and listeners. We didn’t plan that. Today we are talking about essentially diversifying your income as a freelancer or small business owner. Maddy, I’m having you on the show because we’re in a mastermind group together, and you talked about things like Skillshare and Fiverr, which were not avenues that I’ve ever considered. I’m curious to hear how you’re using them and how it’s helped your business. But first, why don’t you tell people who you are and what you do?
Maddy: Sure. Like Joe was saying, I do SEO content creation at my own company. It’s called The Blogsmith, and I primarily work with WordPress brands. It’s my favorite community, but I also do some technology content creation, and every once in a while, I’ll get some stuff out of left field. I used to do content for a carpet cleaner, and I’ve done content for a local emergency vet. But my process is such that I try to get in touch with the people, whatever client I’m working with’s team, to get whatever knowledge I’m missing and then just help them by creating content because most people don’t want to do it. They don’t have the patience for it, and some of them just never really cared that much about spelling or grammar, so I’m happy to be that person for them.
Joe: Awesome. You touched on an interesting point there already, and that’s gathering that domain knowledge. I create videos, tutorial videos for people. If I don’t already know the product, I have to go and learn the product. It sounds like you work with somebody closely on the team to learn the five best techniques for carpet cleaning, or whatever. Right?
Maddy: In the WordPress world, it’s definitely easier for me to take the lead on a project and find whatever information I’m missing. Obviously, the most direct way to find that answer is to go through the client, but if it’s something like how to set up a certain plugin and then taking screenshots of that and documenting the process, it’s usually something that I can cobble together on my own. But for things where that’s definitely not something I ever studied, I’ve found that by just adding an interview component to my process of writing each blog post, it’s a effective way to get that subject matter expertise without having to go and scour scientific articles. Research helps to supplement whatever somebody says, but if they can make themselves available, then we can save each other a lot of time by just asking questions, getting answers, and then taking it from there.
Joe: For sure. Research, like you said, it should be supplementary. If you don’t even know what terms to search, your research is going to go poorly, or at least it’s going to take a lot longer.
Maddy: Totally, right.
Joe: I will link to the Cortex podcast. CGP Grey, a YouTuber, talks about how, when he does these deeply researched videos, and he always gets thrown down rabbit holes. I will make sure to link to that.
Maddy: That’s the other problem with research.
Joe: For sure. Awesome, so this is your company and you work with a lot of brands. First, let’s talk about, before we look at these other marketplaces, what is your primary way for getting clients? Or what maybe was your primary way for getting clients?
Maddy: I would say now, and maybe for the past year or two, the primary way I’m getting clients is a mix of word of mouth within the WordPress community especially, because I’ve found that if you do good work for one person that’s decently connected in the WordPress community that they talk to their friends. I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with a lot of awesome clients who I would also consider friends. That’s been a big thing, and I think that’s something that’s special and unique to this community. That we’re all looking out for each other and we all reward good work and are even willing to pay a premium for it. Because I wouldn’t say that my services are cheap by any means, and just especially in this community there’s a lot of independent workers, small companies, so it’s easy to take something like content and say “That’s not something we’re going to spend money on.” Or, “That’s not something we’re going to spend that much money on.” But I think that people in the WordPress community, technology in general, like any SaaS tool. They realize that if they’re not communicating their message well to customers, then they’re just not going to make any sales.
Maddy: Part of it is just deconstructing the developer speak into a public facing, customer-facing way. That’s been a big thing, and then really, the other thing that transcends the WordPress industry is the fact that when I’m writing, I get a byline. People know who’s the person who wrote it as well as where they can go to find more information about me and my services. Throughout the years, I’ve optimized my website to be leading people directly towards my services and just focusing on SEO content specifically, and just trying to proactively answer any questions that people might have up to and including “How much do these services cost?” Because I found that just by being up front about everything it saves everybody time if we’re not in the same ballpark in terms of budget, so it’s a mix of people I know and outlets I write for and then just being purposeful with my website so that it can help me to make sales even when I’m not jumping on calls with people.
Joe: That’s fantastic. Two points here, you’re touching on a couple of things that Shannon Shaffer, who I had on earlier in the season, talks about. Being upfront, she has a whole onboarding process for potential clients that will weed them out before that first call.
Maddy: Right. It’s pretty much what I’m trying to do with my process as well.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. As we record this, that episode hasn’t been published because I recorded it like two hours ago. But I’ll be sure to send you the final cut because there’s a lot of great information in there. I’ll link it in the show notes for this episode as well, over at HowIBuilt.it as well. Then the other thing you mentioned was the byline, so people have offered– When I do videos, people have offered to put my name in the video lower third. I’ve always taken a very white label approach to it. Now, the guys over at LearnDash still do. They add my picture and a link in the video, which is super nice, but I’ve always taken a white label approach, but I also never thought that was a really good way to get new customers. So I will be sure to, if not suggest, definitely take people up on that offer moving forward. Because I just always assumed that the byline was a link to an internal page, and people didn’t read that.
Maddy: I think what’s happened for me, and what I think people have in mind when they’re talking to you about it is your name can carry some weight and influence. I feel like it’s been more recently that people have been talking about me, I’ve seen my name come up in the mentions that I set up across the web more often lately. You start to get to a point in your career where you’ve built up all this content, you’ve done all this work to make yourself known, and then it finally starts to pay off in that your name carries some weight when it’s associated with the content that you create for other people. So recently, when new clients have been reaching out to me, they’ll say, “We want to have your byline next to this article,” because of whatever influence they think I have. It’s just because then when people go and they don’t know who I am, and they look it up, then they have an idea that I know what I’m talking about. That lends some credence to the publication, and it also, in some ways, makes that article more shareable because it’s associated with someone who has built up a subject matter expertise. The flip side of that is they also do ghostwriting for clients, and sometimes it’s for industries that have no relation to what I do at all. I think in cases like that, I’m happy– Maybe happy is not the right word, but I’m okay with not having the byline on that because I don’t want to confuse people in terms of what’s associated with me and my name with the content that I’m publishing. Again, it comes back to that process I have where I’ll do subject matter expert interviews with people. That’s how I am getting the information, and I’m still the person who wrote it, but I’m not necessarily the person who came up with those ideas. In cases like that, I think it’s good to have the separation of ghostwriting so that people realize that these ideas are attributed to this person, even though I’m the person who wrote it.
Joe: Gotcha, absolutely. That’s good, and I’m glad you covered both sides of that because there is definitely value in both.
Joe: It kind of depends–
Maddy: When you charge her ghostwriting, you can also charge a higher rate because then you don’t get those marketing benefits from it. To me, the way I look at it and the way that I talk to clients about it is that when they’re ordering bylined writing from me, that’s a discount from my “Normal rate,” if you want to call it that. It’s because I know that can bring me new business, and no matter what, it helps me to continue to build my subject matter expertise in technology.
Joe: Absolutely. I would do the same thing if a client didn’t want the website designed by Joe Casabona at the bottom of their page because it was, it’s a bit of social proof. Here is something out in the wild that I did.
Joe: So, that’s great. You get clients from word of mouth, through the byline, and things like that. But then you also have yourself on these other marketplaces, like primarily it seems like based on our previous conversations, primarily Fiverr. But you also have stuff on Skillshare, can you talk a little bit about that?
Maddy: Sure. We’ll start with Skillshare because I think it’s a little simpler to explain, and I have less experience with it. I can’t remember what drew me to Skillshare initially, and they might have reached out. I can’t recall, but I do know that when I started with them, they had a teacher challenge, and they do these all the time. Where they’re just trying to incentivize new teachers to come onto the platform and create their first class, and so I created my first class, and it either inspired or was inspired by a topic I did for WordCamp Denver, and it was called How to Write a Kick-Ass Blog Post. It still is my most popular class to date, and it has almost 1,000 students at this point. The reason that I even continued to be involved on Skillshare is that, during that teacher challenge, they ended up featuring that class in their marketplace where it came up in the first results for the– It was the blogging category or something like that. It was a specific category that was related, and that helped me to get an early boost in terms of students, and then and then followers. It’s different in each class as students, but your account can have followers. So it gave me an early boost in really both those regards and then I started doing more classes. It carries over from the classes you did before, where people get pinged if they’re following you that you have new classes. It also helps people to see the different areas of expertise you have, or the different sides and approaches you take to the same topics. What was I going to say–? That was the early involvement that I had for Skillshare, and it just blew up from there. Then I created a bunch of different classes, and honestly, most of the classes that I do on Skillshare are speaking topics that I’m doing for something else. So for me, it’s one of the main reasons that I’m effective with Skillshare is because I’m repurposing content that I’ve already created, or I’m creating it for Skillshare and then it has an application elsewhere that I probably already planned for. That’s the big thing with Skillshare, and then with Fiverr, I was initially drawn to the marketplace because my mentor at the time who was also my first big client had told me that it worked for him to generate new social media clients for his business. He gave me his best practices, his very methodological. How do you say that word–?
Maddy: I was trying to visualize it in my head, and I couldn’t. That’s bad for a writer.
Joe: That’s what you have Grammarly for, right?
Maddy: That’s the thing. You always have to have a grammar checker if you’re a writer because your brain just messes up. It’s like, “What is that?”
Joe: As a quick sidebar, I’m the absolute worst of proofing my own stuff. I published my blog posts, and then, sure enough, within an hour, I can always count on my friend Sal to DM me and be like, “You have a typo here.” “Thank you, Sal.”
Maddy: We’re blind to our own mistakes because we’re so used to our own writing and how it looks.
Joe: So anyway, you had a mentor who was very methodical, and–?
Maddy: He was very purposeful in everything he did, and so I took those principles to design my own gigs, and basically, I’ve been on the platform since June 2016 or something like that. It wasn’t until probably this year that I started making real money on it. I wouldn’t say that any of the other years were wasted, I was still– Here’s the thing that everybody needs to know is that Fiverr doesn’t require you to start your services at five dollars anymore. None of my services start at $5, so in order to make money, you have to be thinking about how much you would make off the platform. But also, Fiverr charges a 20% fee for anything that you bill through their platform. You have to make enough to make it worth it in regards to that specifically, but I’ve just been trying to be consistent over the years. The way that you level up is by having good metrics in terms of how you communicate with customers, things like on-time delivery, things like completing orders instead of canceling them, and getting as many five star reviews as you can by just being essentially a good communicator and playing the game on Fiverr. Eventually, the consistency will pay off in terms of these higher distinctions, so right now, I’m a top rated seller which just means that I’ve maxed out all the seller levels. It gives me some preferential terms in terms of pay outs. Usually, it’s a 14 day payout for a completed order to clear. But for me, it’s a seven day. It also helps me with preferential placement in search and things like that. Having tenure is a good thing on Fiverr, and obviously, if you’re just starting today, it’s going to take you a while to be successful. But the other side of the coin is they have a pro marketplace, which you don’t have to have tenure on Fiverr for. You just have to be essentially known outside the platform for what you do, so that’s a quicker way to better earnings if you have worked to establish an image for yourself in your industry.
Joe: Gotcha. Those by lines probably come in handy. You have got a portfolio or such proof. OK, cool. We covered a lot of ground there. I want to jump back to Skillshare for a moment because I’m looking at it, and I’m now considering it. It looks like–
Maddy: [It would be perfect] for you, honestly.
Joe: It sounds like it. Here’s the thing. A little backstory, longtime listeners probably already know this story, but I did a course for Udemy, and Udemy promised me the world. But then they didn’t tell me how to play the game, and Brad Hussie later told me how to play the game, but I was already a lover scorned by this point. I wrote off all of these platforms that are like, “Make the course, and then we’ll pay you.” Instead of being paid upfront or a royalty based thing. I put a lot of effort into that course because that’s how I make courses. With your How to Write a Kick-Ass Blog Post course, it’s about an hour and 12 minutes. How long did it take you to make that course? It looks like you’re mostly talking in front of the camera. It’s almost like you’re giving a talk. Is that right?
Maddy: That’s how I do it. A couple of things to keep in mind, first of all, is that Skillshare recommends that all classes are somewhere around an hour. It could be less too, it could be a half hour class, or it could be a 15-minute class, but I think that my sweet spot is 60 minutes. Almost exactly. The whole point of Skillshare is really that it’s bite-size. It’s like, “I want to learn. I want to know what I need to know about this topic, specifically.”
Joe: That is a trend that we’re seeing in the online space. Just-in-time learning is what Chris Badgett from Lifter calls it. People are Googling a question, and they want a course that essentially answers that question.
Maddy: That’s a good way to think about coming up with course topics for Skillshare. I probably spent an ungodly amount of time on that class because it was my first, so another point to keep in mind with Skillshare is they like varied visuals. They want– It’s OK to do like what I did with the talking over slides. An interesting thing they told me is that they don’t necessarily want you to be a talking head in the corner of your slides, but they do like when you’re a talking head in general. You got to be thinking about how you can mix up your visuals, because, at the end of the day, Skillshare is really for creatives and artists. A lot of the classes are like how to do watercolor painting or how to do cartoon animation and other related stuff. My classes do well because these are the more technical topics that people starting their own art businesses want to learn. Like different promotional strategies for them. But that’s not necessarily the bulk of the content on Skillshare, and it’s a niche for sure within the marketplace. To answer your question, I had already planned on doing this topic for WordCamp Denver. I’m pretty sure I did it for WordCamp before I did it for Skillshare, and then I just re-rerecorded it.
Joe: Gotcha. Cool, OK. So first of all, talking head in the corner is just such a pet peeve of mine.
Maddy: I did it for one video, and I was weirded out by it, so I’m glad they told me not to do that anymore.
Joe: I might have done it for a recent video because it made sense. I popped in, but exactly. Usually, I’m fading myself out because you’re just taking up screen real estate for no reason. Nobody needs to look at your face.
Maddy: [It can be] a lot of pressure to be on camera while you’re trying to go through the material. You might be wanting to look at notes, but you have to be present in the frame.
Joe: Exactly. I made a stylistic choice in a recent YouTube video, but it’s because the picture that I was showing on the screen wasn’t a 4K picture, and I didn’t want it to look grainy. So, I just put myself, and I’m pointing out stuff on the picture. Whatever, that’s a bit of a tangent.
Maddy: A little.
Joe: So they recommend 30 to 60 minutes. That makes sense. What specific question does your course answer? They like varied visuals. What do you use to edit your videos?
Maddy: Nothing. I just cobble them together.
Maddy: It’s a pretty low quality operation, but I just try to focus on helping people solve a question or solve a problem.
Joe: For sure. Then do you end up overlaying slides throughout the course of some of your videos? Is it like, you talking for a little bit and then you swiping a slide?
Maddy: It’s mostly just each lesson of the video is a series of slides, and I’ll just talk over them so that people can–
Joe: OK, cool. That makes sense.
Maddy: But then I’m giving them the meat.
Joe: I see. We’re probably looking at– I just looked at the intro video. You’re in front of the camera for that one, but for your other ones, it’s a series of slides that people are looking at? Sweet.
Maddy: But definitely the very visuals thing is important to keep in mind because they arbitrarily took one of my classes down a month or two ago, and they said it was because the visuals were not varied enough, even though I had pictures on my slide. I had a talking head or two, but just to warn people that are thinking about using the platform. That is a really important thing to them moving forward, so just to make sure that your hard work pays off, make sure that you’re mixing it up as much as you can.
Joe: Gotcha. OK, cool. That’s good to know. The reason I’m digging a little bit into this is because I want to let the listeners know that creating a course doesn’t necessarily need to be a several month process. You can repurpose content.
Maddy: It’s probably better to start with something like this to validate your idea.
Joe: For sure. I think that’s great. I’m definitely going to borrow some stuff from my Podcast Liftoff course and maybe put it over on Skillshare, just to see how it does. We’ve already been talking for a half hour. So then, you moved into talking about Fiverr. I think the big takeaway here is that Fiverr doesn’t require you to start your services at $5 anymore.
Maddy: That is the big takeaway.
Joe: So, this is great. You mentioned being consistent and working your way up from the bottom, and I think a lot of people don’t want to do that anymore. They want to start at the top. But to quote the great philosopher Drake, started from the bottom and now we’re here. You can level up by having good metrics. What services do you feel lend themselves really to Fiverr, like as a web developer I don’t necessarily feel like website design is going to be what I offer on Fiverr.
Maddy: Sure. But you could, even in the pro category. For the people who don’t want to do too much work to start making OK money, pro marketplace is going to be the best fit for you, honestly. You can still– I feel like, I guess I’m not totally sure, but it seems to me that if you did that and you kept your metrics good, and you fit all the other requirements for a top rated seller that you could still also be a top rated seller starting from pro. OK, Wait. Remind me of the question again?
Joe: That’s okay. We can– I’ll clap, and then–
Maddy: Wait one minute for the dogs to simmer down.
Joe: Sounds good.
Maddy: It’s probably UPS, and as soon as they can’t see them, they’ll shut up.
Joe: They’ll be good to go? Nice. UPS delivered a package that is not my own package, and it’s somebody else’s. It was supposed to go to 335 instead of 535. I was like, “Now I have to tell– Now I’ve got to put a note on this and say it’s not ours.” Erin’s like, “You could just bring it to them.” I’m like, “The point is not that I could easily deliver the package to whom it belongs.”
Maddy: You’re not a package delivery company.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. It’s that UPS made a mistake, and they should fix it. I shouldn’t have to take time out of my day to fix it.
Maddy: All right, I think they’re good. Remind me what the question was, though?
Joe: Before we jump back into it, Joel, you can cut out everything from the dogs barking to the clap. It was, “What services do you feel are best suited for Fiverr?
Joe: All right.
Maddy: Other services to consider besides possibly website design, the only problem with a multi-step service like website design where you have to get feedback is that one of the metrics you’re judged on in Fiverr is on time delivery. You can technically deliver an order, and then a customer can request modifications. Them requesting modifications wouldn’t affect your on-time delivery.
Joe: It resets the clock?
Maddy: In a sense, yeah. But it also makes it so that if someone requests modifications and you don’t deliver again in a timely manner, that they could cancel the order. Essentially or ideally, you want to think about services that you can deliver in one go that you don’t need a lot of feedback for. Because when somebody places a new order, they are prompted with whatever questions that you set up in your gig. It’s called the gig requirements, and ideally, your questions are getting whatever information that you need, and maybe you have to ask for more after that if it’s not– If you see it and you know that it’s just not enough information to get the job done. But that’s the whole point of Fiverr to me, is that it cuts down on business development. I’m doing everything I can in the gig itself and the description. You can set an FAQ in the gig requirement questions. Just trying to answer any possible question that people have, which becomes easier to do after you’re on the platform for a while because you’ll notice a trend when people DM you. So basically, the whole point of Fiverr to me is business development and productizing your services so that it’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all thing because you can also set gig extras, and you can make different packages. You could do “This is the barebones version of my service, business is the mid-tier, and then this is the works. This is everything for a premium price.” But you just want to think about your services in a way that you can consistently deliver things without needing to do a lot of additional research or questioning. The whole thing on Fiverr is you have to have a good process for delivering those services, so if it’s something that you’re offering that you’re excited about, but it takes you a long time to do, it’s probably not going to be a good fit for Fiverr. If it’s something that mirrors the stuff you do every day, that’s probably something you have a process for. If you don’t, I would recommend getting that figured out before you go on Fiverr because all the metrics and communication that’s expected of you to maintain whatever level you have, having bad metrics will hurt you. It eventually resets after 60 days, and it’s some trailing average or something. So you have a chance if you mess up, but that’s a lot of time, 60 days.
Joe: For sure. Because if you have one bad rating, then it might kill your work for 60 days.
Maddy: Yeah. That’s the thing. You just try to under-promise and overdeliver, which it doesn’t always mean doing extra work. For me, if I’m writing an article, I try to go a little over the word count. Just so that people will get a good impression for me that I’m not just doing the bare minimum. But over-delivery can also be delivering an order a day before it’s due. When you make your gig, and when you set up your gig, you have to be thinking about “How do I be competitive with other sellers on the marketplace? What are they doing for these prices?” For things like delivery time, you should make your delivery time maybe even a day longer than you think you need just to preserve your metrics. You can also offer a one day delivery option for however much percent it’s worth to you of the total order value, and then for those people, it’s annoying to rearrange your schedule to accommodate those orders unless you build in a Fiverr block every day. Like, “This is what I’m going to put in foreseeing that this could happen.” It’s just thinking of ways to surprise and delight so that people won’t condemn you with their ratings.
Joe: That’s a really good piece of advice. That’s like project estimation time. I always multiply it by two.
Maddy: That’s a good way to do it.
Joe: Surprise and delight, I like that a lot. I’m going to ask you something that I’m worried is taboo. So if you don’t want to answer it, you don’t have to. But has there been a situation where you found a client on Fiverr, and then you took that relationship off Fiverr? I feel like that is something Fiverr frowns upon because they’re losing 20% of your gigs.
Maddy: I think there was probably a temptation for me to do that earlier on, like before I became a pro and a top rated seller. But now I don’t necessarily have that temptation because most of my Fiverr customers it’s just self-service on the platform. Again, I just really dislike business development, and I would rather just do the work and have some other system facilitate it. Of course, there’s always temptation because they take 20%.
Joe: But if you look at that 20% as a business development investment, or Fiverr is your virtual assistant, finding you clients and managing that relationship.
Maddy: That’s how I see it, honestly. There is this book, and it’s called The Million Dollar Consultant, or something like that. They have this formula for how people make money off a given client or project, and it’s something to the effect of 50% of the whole project price is for whoever brings in the lead. Whoever did the business development, and then I always mess this up. It’s between 30 and 20 percent. One of those goes to the person who does the work, and one of those goes to the person whose processes were used to do the work for the company, or whatever.
Maddy: If you think about it from that perspective, and if you think about it compared to other freelance marketplaces, it’s not unreasonable. The 20% is something that you can use as a tax deduction because that’s a cost of doing business. I would say that I wish it scaled as you moved up the platform, so now that I’m doing pro orders and more orders because by nature of me coming up more in search. It would be nice to be rewarded for my seniority and for all the work that I’ve done up until this point, it would also be nice– My main beef with Fiverr is that they always side with the customer in an issue with an order. To some extent, I get it. I get publicly siding with the customer. That’s what I do in my own business. But what I don’t understand is when it’s very clear that a customer is taking advantage of me, and I did the work that was promised exactly as written, that they should still compensate me. They can refund the customer if they want, but it shouldn’t come out of whatever that order was supposed to go to me.
Joe: Yeah. That’s interesting.
Maddy: [It’s rare that it happens.] I will say to Fiverr’s credit most of the customers, 99% of the customers I work with are amazing. They tip me on top of the order value because they’re very happy with the work that I do. They’re very awesome to talk to, like genuinely great human beings. If I ever have to deliver in an order, late people are so cool, as long as you just explain things to them and are a good communicator they’ll be a good customer. But in the handful of times that I’ve had just a awful customer, I just wish that they would have my back a little bit more because even in this interview, I have their back.
Joe: Absolutely. I feel the same way about– This is what soured me on Udemy because I think that Udemy is way worse than what you’re describing at Fiverr. But Udemy will do whatever they need to do to get more new students, usually at the expense of the author or the course creator. It’s unfair to bite the hand of the people who are doing the work for you, or whatever. But in any case, this is not a dump on Udemy fest.
Maddy: Not today.
Joe: Yeah, that’ll be a bonus episode.
Joe: As we wrap up here, Maddy, could you give the listeners maybe three tips or five tips or whatever for starting to diversify your income? Whether it be, “How do you launch your first course on Skillshare?” Or “How do you get started on Fiverr? Something like that.
Maddy: On Fiverr, I think it all starts with a really good gig. You have to think of your gig as a sales page. Just like you would on your website, describing your services, but you have to be more focused on the deliverable than everything else around it. Which is how you might approach it on your website. You have to anticipate questions that people might have about your process, and up to literally describing, “Once you place the order, then I take your answers, this is my process, and then this is what delivery looks like.” A lot of people like to know what the final deliverable will look like, which is maybe a little bit more relevant for my UX audit gig that I do because some people are just unfamiliar with the terminology even if they’ve managed to find my gig. They might be unclear about what they’re getting for the price, and so in my FAQ section, I just say, “Here’s what the deliverable looks like, here’s what you can expect.” Sometimes people still have questions after that, and it’s just directly sending them, “Here’s what the report looks like. Here’s what a screen recording looks like,” or whatever. So having examples ready, Fiverr technically has a portfolio and customers when they give you a star rating they can either say “Add this to your portfolio,” or “I don’t want this added because it might have sensitive material.” Like, company-specific material. That helps too because then people can see what you’ve done for other sellers alongside their star rating for you. So if they’re really happy and you have a good deliverable to show them, then that’s good social proof right there.
Maddy: Let’s jump to Skillshare. What I was saying before, I think that some people make decent money on Skillshare, but I don’t think that anybody’s making six figures on Skillshare. I think that people whenever they send emails to students to incentivize people, they’ll talk about “We have one teacher who makes $50-60,000 dollars a year,” which for that person might be awesome. For me, I would want more. That was my full time job, so you have to treat it as a side income. For most people, I don’t think it would make sense to put all your eggs in that basket because the way that Skillshare pays out to students is it’s based on membership revenue for that month. Then you get a percentage of that based on how many minutes your classes were watched versus everybody else’s.
Joe: Gotcha. That seems to generally be the model. But it’s based on membership revenue for that month, so people are paying a monthly fee to be on Skillshare. Then if you got five percent of minutes watched, you’ll get five percent of that monthly revenue or whatever. Over-simplification of the formula probably, because they’re taking a cut.
Maddy: Right, but it’s essentially that. There’s variability between months, so for me, it would drive me crazy to wait because I don’t think you know until the 16th of the month after, that’s when they send the check. I don’t think that they post the metrics until then, at least I’m not a 100% sure on that. But it’s like, and you wouldn’t even know how much you’re making for that month until literally the 16th. Then it’s like, this month is already halfway over, so if you needed to course correct, you have minimal time before your next check is done, and the metrics have been figured out. So for me, the best advice I can give for Skillshare is, “Don’t make it your primary income, but use it to repurpose content you’ve already created.” That might be things like speaking sides, but it could be a blog post that you wrote that’s super in-depth, and you just need to modify it for the platform.
Joe: I think that’s a really good idea. It’s definitely something that I’m going to consider moving forward, because I give a lot of talks, and then they fall into the ether or maybe course previews.
Maddy: You might as well make money off them. Here’s the benefit of Skillshare for me, whenever I’m giving a talk that I’ve already given because they’re all on Skillshare, I can just watch them. That’s part of my prep now.
Joe: Nice. That’s fantastic.
Maddy: So I’ll watch them, I’ll take note of things that I might want to change because maybe I need to update the content, but I’ll take notes so that I have an outline of it too, even though I’ve probably created an outline to make the class in the first place. It’s just another way to prep and remember the knowledge, and once I take those notes, then that’s another thing I can read to prep because I can’t watch the videos if I only have ten minutes to go over my notes before or something like that. So it can help with that, and what was I going to say? There’s one other thing about Skillshare.
Joe: Does it help you build your–? Do you believe that it could help you get clients off of Skillshare, or do you think it’s a totally different audience?
Maddy: I think it’s a different audience for me. I think it would depend, like maybe with the people who are doing work, creative and artistic stuff, people watching those classes and maybe getting frustrated that they’re not producing the same results. I might say, “I have an art project for you.” The other thing I was going to say is when you do give it a try, go in when they’re doing a teacher challenge because you have the possibility of getting a greater placement in a relevant category for whatever class that you’re making. Like I said, with my class, that’s what helped me find early success, was getting a feature in the marketplace. Then it carried on to everything else I’ve done since then.
Maddy: they usually do it monthly, so as long as you go on their website and say “I want to be a student,” then you’ll be on your email list, and you’ll be able to find out when the next one is. Which, I would imagine there’s either one already going on, or there will definitely be one for the new year.
Joe: There is one going on now, so have I missed the boat? Like, if I know how to make a course, do I still need to take that? Do I still need to start at the challenge, at the beginning of the challenge?
Maddy: You don’t have to, and the thing about the challenges is they have resources, but you don’t have to go through them to qualify. For the Skillshare-specific stuff, it might be worth it to understand their students specifically, and what they’re looking for, and what they would feature classwork, essentially.
Joe: Gotcha. OK, cool. What I will do for those listening, if you’re interested, I will link to Skillshare’s workshops page. That way, whenever you happen to be listening to us, you can go there and see what the next teacher challenge workshop and when that’s happening. Cool. Maddy, thank you so much for your time. I do have one more question for you, and it’s my favorite question. It’s do you have any trade secrets for us?
Maddy: Trade secrets? Let’s see. In terms of one of these things, or SEO content writing?
Joe: Anything that you think will be helpful to the listeners.
Maddy: Something people liked about my WordCamp US talk that came up during the Q&A, is for doing a user experience audit of your website. It helps to also do a user experience audit of your competitors website, or websites, to see how users are responding to each entity, essentially. Something that you might be missing about your own website and a related offshoot tip of that is when you’re considering adding new design element or some functionality to your website. Look and see what enterprise businesses are doing, because they have more budget to test things out. They’ve probably done there a/b testing and other experiments to figure out exactly why that’s the way that it should be. So use your competition to make decisions about your own website. Obviously not the straight up copying stuff, but draw inspiration.
Joe: Sure, absolutely. I love that. I do that, so I’m happy to hear that’s good advice. Inspiration and why reinvent the wheel? If something is working.
Joe: Awesome. Maddy, thank you so much for your time today. Where can people find you to learn more?
Maddy: I would say check out my website, which is just The-Blogsmith.Com. Or, I’m most active on Twitter. It’s just @MaddyOsman.
Joe: All right. I will link both of those in the show notes, which you can find over at HowIBuilt.it. Maddy, thanks again for your time. I appreciate it.
Maddy: Thank you, Joe.
Outro: Thanks so much to Maddy for joining me this week. There are lots of resources, lots of links to check out. You can find all of those over at HowIBuilt.it/164. I like a lot of what she said about the importance of word of mouth in the WordPress community is, how we’re all looking out for each other. Vito Peleg touched on that a couple of episodes ago. Her advice specifically about Fiverr and the pro marketplace, I think, was really good, and her tips on diversifying your income are super important. Again, I will link to all of the resources that she talked about over at HowIBuilt.it/164. Thanks so much to Ahrefs and TextExpander for sponsoring the show. Maddy actually, this was not planned, but Maddy uses Ahrefs a lot, and she loves it. It’s nice to have a guest vouching for one of our sponsors. I have been using TextExpander for a long time, and it saves me a bunch of time. Definitely check both of those companies out as well, they support the show, and they make sure that I’m able to bring it to you on a weekly basis. Now, if you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe and rate the show, review it in Apple podcasts because it helps people discover the show. New people start discovering the show and listening, and things like that. You can find the links to everything I’ve talked about so far, again over at HowIBuilt.it/164. If you are interested in starting your own podcast and you want to get that free podcast workbook I talked about at the top of the show, you can go over to PodcastWorkbook.com. That’s everything that I have to request of you today, thank you so much for listening. Until next time, get out there and build something.