Recently I published my first course on the Pluralsight called Developer to Manager. As you can imagine I am quite excited by this as I have been a customer and fan of their training library for about 3 years, so being able to get involved was great.

I have had a lot of people ask me about the my experience of becoming a Pluralsight author, so I thought I would write a post explaining the process I have been through. Hopefully if you have heard of Pluralsight, you will find this interesting, but also if you are a new Pluralsight author, I hope you come across this post and it helps you ease into the role.

The Audition Process

I first started talking to Pluralsight towards the end of June 2014. After a few email exchanges I had a short phone interview with a content acquisition editor (Jodi). After this discussion I moved into the audition process. If I am honest, this was quite daunting as I have never done anything like this before, so not only was I coming at this new, I was also going to be heavily scrutinised.

The audition process is fairly straight forward. You have to produce a 10 minute video using the Pluralsight presentation template. The audition video has to have a beginning, middle, and end and tell a complete story. Preferably the audition should have a live coding demo too.

Pluralsight Course Being Edited in Camtasia
Pluralsight Course Being Edited in Camtasia

Once they had set me up with the the relevant templates and offered me some advice, I sat down to read the authors guide and started planning my video.

I had a false start initially. I started with one subject, but realised pretty soon that I wouldn’t be able to tell a complete story in 10 minutes. For the audition they were pretty strict on the 10 minute limit. After I realised this, I picked another subject. This time I settled on demonstrating Password Based Key Derivation Functions in .NET. It took me about a week to put the slides together. I also wrote a script as I am not one of these people that can just make it up as I go along. I needed the script in-front of me, so I used the powerpoint notes field to hold the script.

The audition took me a couple of weeks to prepare and submit. I had to wait about a week for feedback on the course. When I got the feedback, I was asked to make some tweaks to the course which resulted in a small part of it being re-recorded. I submitted the final version and waited. About a week later I received the news that I had been accepted as a Pluralsight Author. Once I had been given the news I signed the author agreement and was then asked to prepare a submission for my first course.

Equipment

When producing the audition video, you are not judged on audio quality as they don’t expect you to have a high quality microphone until you are officially signed, but I decided to buy a mic anyway, got the Samson C01U Recording and Podcasting Microphone.

Samson C01U Recording and Podcasting Microphone
Samson C01U Recording and Podcasting Microphone

This is a reasonably priced microphone and the quality is very good for the price. The pack I got came with the condenser mic, desk stand and shock mount. I also purchased a separate pop shield which help to reduce wind splutters against the mic.

For producing the course Pluralsight recommends using Camtasia. Camtasia is a screen recording and video editing package. It is easy to use and powerful. It didn’t take long to learn how to use it. I am using the PC version of Camtasia, but it is also available for the Apple Mac.

My First Course

For my first course I decided to do a careers based course based off an article I wrote on this blog earlier in the year. The article was called “Transition from a developer to a manager“. This has been one of the most read articles on this blog, so there was definitely interest in the subject. I submitted the course proposal which split the course down into modules and had a conference call with my new editor (Beth) and a Content VP (Geoffrey). They agreed that it was a good idea for a course, so once I signed a statement of works contract for that course I got started.

Pluralsight Course Microphone Setup
Pluralsight Course Microphone Setup

When you develop your first course, Pluralsight likes you to take it reasonably slow. First of all I had to produce a production sample with my new recording equipment so they can check the sound and video quality. Once I had passed that, I started preparing and recording my first module. When I had finished the module, I had to complete the XML meta data that is required, plus write the module assessment questions. I then submitted this completed module to my editor.

I was asked not to proceed any further until I had received feedback. This took just over a week. Luckily the feedback I received was very good. I had to do a few minor tweaks, but nothing that required re-recording, so the tweaks only took about half an hour. Once I had submitted the changes, I started work on the next module.

All in all it took me about 2.5 months to write and record the course. Once the finished course has been submitted, you go through a final QA check and then the course is put into the release queue. From the course being submitted to going live tool about 3 weeks. The course was finally released on November 28th. It was a great feeling to see the course finally live. Pluralsight offers its authors an analytics dashboard so that you can see how your course is doing compared to other courses. This is a very useful tool. The dashboard also tells you your estimated royalties, so you can see how the course is performing financially.

Pluralsight : Developer to Manager : Screenshot
Pluralsight : Developer to Manager : Screenshot

The Developer to Manager course is currently performing very well. It has even made it into the top 100 popular courses which is great considering it is not a coding course.

Overall I have found working with Pluralsight a very positive experience. They really are a great company to work with. Everyone there works hard to help the authors deliver content and they are very supportive if you get stuck. I have already started work on my 2nd course which I am aiming to have completed by the end of January. I will post more details on that course soon.

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. Hello, Stephen. Today I sent a letter to pluralsight and received a response. In the letter they say that they want to talk with me about 20 or 30 minutes. The problem is that I’m not good at speaking english 🙂 So, it’s a little bit scary for me to talk with them 🙂 Could you be so kind to tell me what should I be prepared to talk about?

    1. If it is a chat to talk about creating courses then just be yourself on the call. Don’t worry about English not being your first language. There are a few authors in the library where English isn’t their first language. I would write an outline for your course ideas so you can discuss them on the call. You will then hopefully get invited to do an audition after the call where you will create a 10 minute long mini pluralsight course. Good luck.

  2. Stephen,

    This is Rameshkartik from Chennai(india), i have submitted my sample video(10 mins) to plural sight couple of days ago, Can you give me your feed back of mine? since you have already done your first course.

    Kindly share your email-id, so that i can share my audition to give your valuable feedback

    1. We are not allowed to discuss actual numbers, but on the 3 courses I have live, over the last 12 months I have made roughly 60% of what I make on my day job salary. This is made up of course completion fee’s and royalties.

      So for me yes it was definitely worth it. The trick is to keep on releasing new content regularly to keep the royalty spikes up.

      Have you spoken to Pluralsight about creating a course? If not, contact me via the contact page on this blog and I can hook you up with an editor. Also feel free to ask me more questions about the authoring process via the contact form too.

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for sharing such a nice blog 🙂 Its really helpful.

    I am also planning to apply for Pluralsight as an author. I am already an author on Udemy.com and my courses are going good there. But I want to try Pluralsight as well. But I have few questions. I really appreciate your help here.

    1. Do I need to have a blog to be a pluralsight author.
    2. Do we need to have a good English accent to become an author.
    3. As I already have online courses, is it going to help me to become an author on pluralsight.
    4. Do they take any hard core interview to get selected as an author.
    5 Do you think we can start making at least $1000 a month after release of 2 courses roughly of 3 hours each.
    6. How much difficult it is now to become pluralsight author as they must be having lot of authors in there list now.

    Thanks.

    -Sandip

    1. Hi, Thanks for your comment.

      Here are some answers

      1. No, it’s not a prerequisite.
      2. You need to be able speak clearly in English that both English speakers and people where English is not their first language can understand you. This will be one of the things they look for in the audition.
      3. It all helps, but you will have to go through the audition process with Pluralsight. Udemy is like youtube, anyone can upload a course, where as with Pluralsight, the authors are carefully chosen, hence the audition process.
      4. No interview as such but they will have a chat with you first and then go through the audition process with you.
      5. Yes easily. Royalties depends on subject of course but the return can be very good.
      6. You have to go through an audition process. I heard that for every 100 people that go through the audition, perhaps 10 will pass. And from that 1 may go on to publish a completed course.

      Hope this helps. Best thing to do is get in touch with them and take it from there.

      Thanks

      Steve

  4. Hi Steve

    Thanks for the informative post. I was curious about understanding the 100:10:1 ratio in your last reply. (Point #6)

    I understand the 100:10 where quality assessment may be the reason. How does the 10:1 reduction happen? Is there some sort of rejection process while creating the course or it is just people (not so serious) giving up midway?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s