Susanne Woods joined the Craftsy team this fall as Quilting Acquisitions Editor. Susanne has collaborated with us here before with posts like her 10 Tips for a Great Book Proposal. Today Susanne shares a little more about Craftsy, from how to become a Craftsy instructor to the types of things she does in her new role.
Speaking of Craftsy instructors, we hope you check out Kristin’s fabulous– and free!– Craftsy classes. Learn to make a Drawstring Bag or Bucket Bag or take a class focused on the handy Reversible Tote and Zipper Pouch. (You can even buy a Custom Drawstring Bag and Bucket Bag Kit featuring Liberty Lifestyle Bloomsbury Gardens!)
Enjoy our interview with Susanne. We hope to learn from some of you in future Craftsy classes!
Kristin: Fancy meeting you at Craftsy! Congratulations on the new job. Tell us about it.
Susanne: Thanks! My role at Craftsy as their Acquisitions Editor for the Quilting Category is very similar to my prior roles within book publishing. Anyone who has talked to me for five minutes knows how passionate I am about bringing the voice of talented quilters to a platform where thousands can benefit and learn from them. The core of my job hasn’t changed, but Craftsy definitely offers a completely different delivery. Online learning is so dynamic and engaging and really speaks to the way I, personally, take in information… I am certain I am not alone in this!
Kristin: In your publishing jobs you were looking for a certain kind of talent, and at Craftsy you must be looking for something similar, but different?
Susanne: Mostly similar. I am still looking for great concepts and techniques that will grow and expand the interest in quilting. Overall, Craftsy is looking for instructors who have great experience teaching “live” so that they can anticipate where students are going to get frustrated, or to share stories of their students’ successes. With books or magazines, a technical editor and some artful photography can solve a multitude of ills, but with face-to-face teaching, your credentials need to run deep and your experience shows.
Kristin: What are you most excited about in the new job?
Susanne: That is a tough question! Probably, the biggest factor is that Craftsy has built a perfect online platform for learning. This has led to big success in the marketplace as students genuinely love to take our classes and learn new skills. Students who may have never taken a live quilting class before due to limited travel ability, limited funds, or perhaps because their local quilt shop wasn’t able to offer the type of classes they were interested in, are signing up for Craftsy classes. We have created a truly innovative learning experience with no middleman between the instructor and the student and that offers tremendous value to the users. What this means for instructors is that they are finally seeing a financial reward for their work. Due to the necessity for distribution partners in so many areas of our industry, it is difficult to be able to offer a meaningful return directly to those creating the work. With royalties going directly to the people creating the work sans distribution partners, we have instructors at Craftsy who have made $100K from their classes!
For me personally, I am always interested in changing the game, moving the industry forward and being at a company that has integrity and vision I can genuinely get behind. After years of tight margins in the print book business it feels fantastic to be able to have a completely different conversation with instructors. At Craftsy, our instructors are seeing a compelling financial return for their talents on a platform where they have tons of creative control over the product they are delivering and they work with the professionals at Craftsy to provide students with high-quality, interactive classes.
Kristin: A couple of years ago I interviewed Tricia Waddell who was then the editor at Stitch. She’s at Craftsy now too! How are your roles divided?
Susanne: This is one of the best parts of my new job. I have known Tricia for years and I have always wanted to work alongside her. I think I have a girl crush on Tricia! She is a true visionary and I think that she has been (and is) a significant force for progressive change in our sewing/quilting community. At Craftsy, Tricia acquires for the sewing category and her audience tends to be primarily looking for intermediate level fitting, tailoring, patternmaking and garment sewing techniques. We work very closely together to make sure that we don’t overlap for a particular course and share ideas for classes and content on a regular basis.
Kristin: If someone is interested in becoming a Craftsy instructor, what should they do?
Susanne: Here is my list of top 10 dos and dont’s for working with Craftsy:
Top 10 Dos and Dont’s for Working with Craftsy
#1: Do teach. I know I said this above, but this is still the primary skill we are looking for in any Craftsy instructor.
#2: Do create a great outline. For an outline, we are looking for an overall concept of the class (1 paragraph) as well as a list of 6-8, 30-minute segments you want to cover (include a 3 sentence description for each lesson). Provide some visual examples of the type of work you want to cover, a brief bio, and send it to email@example.com. We look at every submission.
#3: Do be prepared to travel. Craftsy has four studios (and counting) here in Denver, so we fly our instructors here. Whether national or international, we pay for all travel expenses to and from Denver as well as your hotel, meals and local transportation.
#4: Do want to interact with students. On the Craftsy platform, one of the great opportunities is to mimic the feel of a live classroom by having students ask questions of the instructor as well as interact with one another. For our instructors, this equates to responding to students using a Craftsy instructor account about 20 minutes, three times a week. For students, this means that you can share photos, get feedback from other students and hear back directly from the instructors themselves.
#5: Do check out our Patterns section. If you don’t feel ready to teach a class, check out our Patterns section first. We offer a commission-free platform on which to sell your patterns. True story. Craftsy gives 100% of the proceeds from the Patterns section directly to the designer. Go upload some patterns!
#6: Don’t create new content. This is another great advantage over books and magazines. While we love for at least one pattern to be a Craftsy exclusive, what really matters is the technique you are teaching. If you want to use previously made examples that you own the copyright to, we welcome featuring these in your class.
#7: Don’t be afraid of the camera. We are a friendly and energetic staff who are experienced at making you look your best and feel right at home in front of our cameras. We work with small groups on set so you are sure to feel comfortable with your production team right away.
#8: Don’t be intimidated by the online platform. We have a team of marketing support to set you up to be successful with the Craftsy instructor platform. We are here to help you and your students.
#9: Don’t think that if you record a class with us, that you can’t create a book, magazine article or teach in person. When you work with us, you only assign the rights to the recorded class to Craftsy. Feel free to use the same techniques, patterns, or content to monetize in other ways after you film with us.
#10: Don’t think in terms of years. I am acquiring at least four new quilting classes a month and Tricia is acquiring three sewing classes a month. Unlike print publishing, our ability to conceive of, solicit, film and distribute a course happens in 3-4 months instead of a year and a half to two years (or more). This means we can respond to trends more quickly, as well as get your classes out to students on a much leaner timeline.
And the bonus #11: Show-me-the-money question: We pay an up front fee to cover the costs of course development, and then work on a royalty percentage based on how many of your classes are sold. Depending on the popularity of the class and the effort instructors make to help promote their classes to their own network of fans, an instructor can do quite well!
Both Tricia and I have a good roadmap of what classes we want to present for 2013, but definitely get in touch! Follow the general guidelines above, send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will definitely take a look.
Kristin: Any plans of getting in front of those Craftsy cameras yourself?
Susanne: I think my skill set lies in the curating of content, rather than the presenting of it. Never say never, but there are so many other talented teachers out there that I want students to benefit from, that I am concentrating on signing them up first!
Do you have any experience with online learning, either as a student or an instructor? (Craft classes or anything else.) What did you think? If not, are you interested? One person who comments will win a free Craftsy class of their choice!