If you spend any time online looking at Udemy reviews, it becomes obvious that many instructors bash the platform for its practices:
- they take 50% of your sales revenue
- or 75% if they used a promotion to generate the sale
- you compete with all the other instructions on the site, and there is no way for you to stand out
- you don’t control your course’s sale price – and most sales happen at around $10, out of which you get $5 – even if your listing price is the maximum allowed of $199.
If you are an instructor, then all the above are terrible news for you!
So why do I think Udemy is fantastic?
Let’s start with who is Udemy for?
Udemy is for students looking for quality courses at affordable prices. That means that Udemy is focused on the students, and not you, the instructor. They don’t care how much money you make; they care about how many students they serve as their customers.
And if you want to build your business around selling your knowledge, you too need to start caring about the students and putting them first.
When you shift your viewpoint like that, you begin to see how Udemy is fantastic for you to grow as an instructor, especially if you are just starting out.
Udemy offers you free training on how to create a course.
They have data from 35m students using their platform: they know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t ignore this.
They offer articles on how to choose a microphone and camera to record your material.
They offer a free expert review of sample material when you signup as an instructor. You may think your video and audio is excellent, but having an expert giving you direct feedback is a massive learning opportunity.
Your course needs to be reviewed to assure some quality standards before being approved on the platform. I read many people take issue with this, and they are frustrated, but I believe they are missing the point. This review is again a free expert critique that you would do well to listen to.
They offer your marketing insights like what students are searching for, what the competition looks like around a specific topic and some estimated sales numbers.
How to make Udemy work for you?
The short answer is to embrace for what it is, and not fight against it. The really bad way to use Udemy is to have “a great idea for a course,” do some quick recordings with your phone, upload it to the site and wait for the money to flow. Frustration and disappointment are at the end of that road.
Do not even think of what you could teach before you do your marketing research. And here, Udemy can help a lot.
If there is zero interest in your topic, it does not matter how high quality your course is, what a charismatic instructor you are; you will have just wasted your time.
Use the marketing data on Udemy (that you get for free), and learn about your potential students first! (Remember when I said above that you need to focus on the students?). Once you have found some interests that you can teach about that also have students waiting, you can begin planning your course.
Next, do not record your entire course and send it to Udemy for review. What if you made a mistake that will prevent you from going through the approval process? You again just wasted your time, and you will have to re-record everything. Instead, do a sample, ask for feedback from experts and listen to what they have to say. Look at the preview of popular courses from your competitors and understand what they are doing right. You don’t have to copy them exactly, but there is a lot to learn from someone who is obviously way ahead of you.
The following step is to publish the course, set the maximum price for it, but allow Udemy to discount it. This strategy will likely drop the price to $10. Don’t despair. You are here for the learning experience, not for the money. Once you get some sales, ask for feedback from your students to improve your course. Learn from them and improve. I would also ask them for their email and permission to add them to my newsletter :).
Here is a summary of what happened so far:
- you have some research around students that may want to learn something from you
- you have much more confidence in your ability to create video content – because your creations have been reviewed and approved by the experts at Udemy
- you have a rough idea of how your course competes against others in the same topic – if it generates no sales, then maybe you need to create something else
- if you do generate sales – you have some students you can communicate with and get feedback from on Udemy – they can become your future audience for various products
Try to do this on your own, and see how far or fast you will go.
If you are new, if you don’t have your own audience, if you need to train your video creation skills, if you don’t have a budget to spend on setting up a website, and you need to find a niche of students that you can teach, you can do all of that on Udemy for free.
Once you get that training, have a product that works, an audience larger than zero, and you know how to do marketing, it may be time to create your website on Teachable.