Are you an instructor looking to create an online course on Udemy? In this post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of teaching on Udemy and help you decide if it’s the right platform for you. We’ll also give you tips on how to create a successful Udemy course. Whether you’re a Udemy Pro, already teaching on Udemy, or just considering it, this post is for you!
What’s Udemy and What’re the Benefits for Instructors
Udemy is an online learning platform aimed at working adults and students, who access its courses via desktop computers or the mobile Udemy app. It offers over 130,000 video courses on thousands of topics taught by experienced instructors and is among the largest course platforms in the world – together with LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, etc.
I personally have been teaching part-time as a Udemy instructor since September 2014 and have now had over 46,000 students from around the world join my courses (on storytelling, writing, and production techniques).
Here is my personal Udemy student map – it’s amazing to see students joining my courses from literally everywhere in the world!
Students can learn at their own pace and earn certificates of completion. Udemy courses are typically less expensive than traditional college courses and offer flexibility and convenience that traditional courses cannot. Udemy also has a mobile app that lets you learn on the go.
Udemy course instructors can create and upload their own courses with the easy-to-use Udemy course builder, set their own prices (albeit with Udemy promotions if you choose), and promote their courses to Udemy’s huge student body. Due to the high demand for online courses, instructors can earn a full-time income or supplement their current income by teaching on Udemy.
Udemy provides instructors with resources and support to help them create effective courses and market their business. For these reasons, Udemy is a great option for anyone who wants to teach online courses.
In addition, Udemy provides instructors with access to student data and analytics that they can use to improve the quality of their courses and better target their marketing efforts.
How Much Money Can Instructors Make on Udemy? Is Udemy Legit?
As an instructor on Udemy, you have the opportunity to earn a lot of money. Of course, how much you earn with your Udemy business depends on a number of factors, such as the popularity of your courses, whether Udemy promotes them, and whether Udemy includes your courses in its Udemy for Business program.
The bottom line is that most sales are made when Udemy promotes the courses once or twice a month, usually for $10 to $20 per sale, of which you, as the course creator, receive a portion.
Affiliates also advertise the courses, again the instructor gets a cut.
Although some instructors reject marketplace advertising, most stick with it because it’s the best way to generate sales if you don’t do your own marketing (in which case it would probably be better to host your courses yourself and set up sales funnels, etc.).
Although I never publicly disclose my personal income, I can tell you that teaching on Udemy has provided me with a very useful side income over the past few years. The time I’ve invested has paid off handsomely.
How to Create a Course on the Udemy Platform
When creating a course on Udemy, there are a few important things to keep in mind to make your course successful.
You need to create an account on Udemy.com. Then you can start creating your course. Udemy offers a user-friendly course creation wizard that guides you through the process.
First, it’s important that you choose a topic that you’re passionate about and knowledgeable about. This will make creating course content much easier and more fun for you. The value you provide to your learners will be higher, the reviews will be better and you’ll make more sales. In my view, you should aim to make the best course you can on the topic. Sometimes, that may involve making a complete guide on the subject or skill.
Secondly, you should make sure that you create high-quality videos and lectures. This won’t only make your course more interesting for learners, but also help you attract more learners.
Each lecture should be about 5 to 10 minutes long and cover a specific topic related to your chosen subject. For example, if you’re offering a course on writing a screenplay, one lecture could focus on the format of screenplays and the different sections of a screenplay.
Lectures shouldn’t simply read out slides but should include bite-sized content that learners can use as a stand-alone resource.
Next, it’s important to make your course interactive by including tests, exercises, and other tools that encourage learners to engage with the course.
Finally, once your course is created, you should promote it heavily. Use social media, email marketing, and other channels to promote your course.
The Process to Get Your Course Approved by Udemy
When you create a course on Udemy, you must go through the Udemy Review (approval) process before your students can access the course. The approval process is designed to ensure that all courses on Udemy meet quality and accuracy standards.
Here you can find an overview of the process:
First, you can submit a test video for feedback. If you’re inexperienced, I highly recommend taking this step and getting feedback from Udemy before proceeding with any more recordings. You need to make sure Udemy is happy with it:
- your video quality
- your audio quality
- the text size of the text in the recordings. This can be an issue, especially for courses with a lot of text, such as a programming course when learners are following the course content on a mobile device.
Assuming your test lecture is accepted, you set about recording, editing, and uploading the various lectures in your course to Udemy, titling them, writing a course description, pricing them, and submitting them to Udemy for review.
I’ve found that Udemy approves my courses within 48 hours. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a plan to get your first reviews in as soon as possible after posting your course.
Once your course is approved, it’ll be unlocked on Udemy and available for learners to book.
Tips for Promoting Your Course and Enrolling Learners
First and foremost, it’s important to know that Udemy is a marketplace. This means that you’ll have to work hard to promote your course and attract participants to make it successful.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.
- First, you should clearly state the benefits of your course. What’ll students learn? How will they benefit from your course? Be as specific as possible and use testimonials from past students, if available.
- Another important tip is to create a meaningful course title and description. This is what potential learners will see first, so make sure it’s clear, concise, and engaging. Use keywords that people are likely to search for when looking for a course like yours.
- Also, don’t forget to consider pricing strategy. Competition on Udemy is high, so you need to price your course competitively to attract participants.
Once you’ve done all that, you need to promote your course!
Some of the best ways to do this are:
- Use social media to reach potential learners. Platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are great ways to share information about your course with a wide audience. Be sure to use relevant hashtags and include @udemy in your posts so people can easily find your course.
- Leverage your existing network. If you have a large following on social media or a large readership on your blog, let them know you created a course on Udemy. You can also reach out to people you know personally and tell them about your course. Many of them will be happy to promote the course if they think it’ll be useful for their friends or family members.
- Create engaging marketing materials. For example, if you have a blog, you could write a blog post about your course and include a CTA that leads people to your course.
- If you already have multiple courses and students on Udemy, it’s important that you promote your new course(s) on Udemy with the two promotional announcements you’re allowed to make per month on the platform. I promote my existing and new courses to learners who’re not yet enrolled in a particular course – you can do this with the promotional announcement filters.
The Pros and Cons of Teaching on Udemy
One of the biggest advantages of teaching on Udemy is that you have the opportunity to reach a huge audience. Udemy is a global marketplace, so your course can be seen by learners from all over the world.
Also, Udemy promotes its courses through its own marketing channels, which means more people will be aware of your course. If you create a high-quality course on a topic with significant demand (especially at the beginner level), chances are it’ll be successful on Udemy.
Not only does Udemy regularly run social media advertising campaigns for its existing database, but it also actively solicits businesses for its Udemy for Business activities – which can be an additional source of revenue if your courses are approved there.
Another advantage is that Udemy makes it easy for you to create and upload your course. There are clear instructions and all the tools you need to get started. And once your course is online, Udemy takes care of most of the customer support so you don’t have to. That leaves you more time to focus on creating new courses or promoting your existing ones.
Of course, there are some disadvantages to teaching on Udemy. One disadvantage is that they keep a percentage of your course sales, so you don’t earn 100% of the revenue. Also, since anyone can create a course on Udemy, there’s a lot of competition. So it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Although you do get some benefits for your professional profile as an instructor on Udemy, your courses are often marketed in the $10-$20 range if you participate in the Udemy Marketplace Promotion Plan (which I’d recommend to almost all instructors).
Although you’ll get a lot more sales this way (and a much larger audience of learners), it’ll anchor some of your courses at that price point. For some instructors and online product creators, this is one of the biggest Udemy cons.
You could put your Udemy courses on your own platform and market and sell them independently as an additional revenue stream, but you’d probably keep the price point about the same as the courses are sold on Udemy. This means that these courses would be more of a top-of-sales funnel offering, rather than a higher-end product.
How to Create Successful Courses on Udemy
When it comes to creating a successful individual course on Udemy, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
First of all, you need to be clear about your target audience.
- Who do you want to reach with your course?
- What’re their needs and desires?
Udemy has a very useful Marketplace Insights tool that lets you find out how much demand there’s for your topic on the platform and get a sense of who you’re dealing with.
Once you know your audience well, you can start creating content that’s relevant and interesting to them.
- It’s important that you choose a topic or skill that you’re passionate about and know well. Your course should be informative and helpful, but also engaging and entertaining. Remember that people are taking your course because they want to learn from you, so make sure your content is top-notch.
- It’s also important that your course is well organized and easy to understand. Make sure that each lesson builds on the previous one and that there are plenty of opportunities to practice what you’ve learned.
- Once you’ve chosen your topic, you can collate your course material and start creating your course. Start by outlining your content and structuring your lessons in a way that makes sense. Then start recording your video lectures. Make sure you use high-quality audio and video so that your lectures look clear and professional. Finally, add quizzes and other exercises to keep your students engaged.
Other Ways to Earn Money With Your Courses
While Udemy is a great platform for teachers to sell their courses, there are other ways for a course instructor to make money from your courses.
For example, you can sell your courses on your own platform – perhaps using a course app like New Zenler, Teachable, or Learn+ by Thrivecart.
If your course isn’t marked as available for the Udemy for Business subscription program, you can also offer it on platforms like Skillshare. Personally, I don’t bother with this anymore since Skillshare has gotten pretty complicated in terms of course lists, content, etc – for me, it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
You can also set up a membership site where people can access all your courses for a monthly fee. You can also offer coaching or consulting services related to your courses. By diversifying your income streams, you can make more money from your courses and provide more value to your course participants.
Last but not least, you can package your existing Udemy courses (or other courses) into other forms that are useful for your overall business. For example, as podcast material or possibly as material for a self-published e-book.
Ideally, the courses should be part of a product and marketing mix that ties everything together and allows you to eventually set up marketing and sales funnels.
What Type of Content Works Best on Udemy
When you look at the top-selling courses on Udemy, you might be tempted to think that only data science or tech courses, courses taught by established faculty, or monster courses (20+ hours) stand a chance.
That’s not the case.
The fact is that courses in all sorts of niches can have at least a decent chance of success. Provided you consider the target audience and deliver a useful experience.
An important question to ask yourself is, “Would I pay $10 for this Udemy class?” If the answer is “yes,” then take the course!
If you want to know more specifically what’s working on Udemy, you can use the Marketplace Insights tool available to instructors on the platform to check the level of competition, average sales volume, and other useful data.
From time to time, Udemy also publishes reports about its market and about the e-learning space as a whole. These can be useful to assess how the general trends in the market are developing.
What’re the Costs of Creating a Course on Udemy?
When creating courses on Udemy, there are some costs that teachers should be aware of.
First, there’s the cost of creating the actual course content. This includes hiring designers and developers to help create videos, slideshows, and other materials – although many teachers do these tasks themselves.
You may also need research materials – perhaps books or similar resources. Most of the time, however, I find that most of what I need to review or research can be found in various places on the Internet. The main task is to put together the valuable pieces that fit the concepts I want to teach in a course.
Apps for creating graphs and charts as teaching tools are relatively inexpensive – options include PowerPoint, Keynote, Visme, Piktochart, and Prezi.
Personally, I’m a big proponent of mind mapping and often use iThoughts or TheBrain to brainstorm, structure, and present my courses. I love that you can structure lectures, rearrange the order of ideas, and then teach directly from the mind map using a screen recording app (see below).
You can always add more visual layers if needed, but the mind map makes the whole course hang together.
Apps for Screen Recording and Editing
An important tool for most online teachers is to choose a screen recording app, usually in combination with a webcam (which costs about $80 – I use a Logitech 920) that allows them to record themselves at the same time.
I’d recommend Screenflow for Mac or Camtasia for Windows. Or, and this is my personal workflow these days, use Loom at 4k resolution and then import the videos via URL directly into the online editing app Flixier and save the edited course videos to Vimeo. Udemy can import the videos in batches from Vimeo. This has the double advantage that:
- Everything is done in the cloud – no more downloading and uploading videos. I’ve backups of all videos in Loom, Flixier, Vimeo, and on Udemy – so no more hard drives.
- Loom creates a very accurate transcript that I can use during course creation (I use Scrivener for transcripts). This way I can also create a course manual at the same time.
It’s worth getting a good microphone – perhaps a Rode SmartLav+ with an extension cable, a USB mic like the Rode NT-USB, or a dynamic mic like the Zoom ZDM-1 for about $100 with an audio interface like the Scarlett Solo to connect it to the computer.
Good audio quality is the secret to quality online courses, so I personally use the dynamic microphone plus audio interface option for all my courses now.
Total Running Costs
Since I own the above equipment and have secured most of the apps for life, my course production costs are literally $8 per month for Loom and a Flixier upgrade of $8 per month (to enable 4k resolution), plus an additional $10 per month for my Magistro/Vimeo subscription.
The Magistro/Vimeo package is also useful for other areas of my business.
All of this means that I have an income of several thousand dollars per month from my online courses, while the running costs are under $30 per month.
How Much Work Does It Take to Create a Course and Maintain It Over Time?
Creating a Udemy course involves a lot of work, but the time required can vary depending on the topic and format of the course.
For example, a basic course on a relatively simple topic can be created in a few weeks, while a more complex course on a niche topic can take several months to develop. It usually takes me one to two weeks to plan a course, and a few more weeks to record it and post it on Udemy.
Once a course is created, it needs to be updated regularly to make sure the information is accurate and current.
Courses also need to be marketed effectively to attract participants. While Udemy provides some tools to help with this, instructors must make their own efforts to market their courses and build their student base. Making the effort to create different courses to enable cross-promotion is totally worth it.
Then there’s the time they’ve to spend answering students’ questions in the Q&A portion of each course. However, I personally find this very useful because it gives me a good sense of what students actually want and expect in a particular subject area.
In general, Udemy courses require a significant amount of time and effort to create and maintain, but for many instructors, the rewards are worth the effort. Few income streams are purely “passive,” but with courses on Udemy, I make money 24/7, even years after the courses are first offered (because I choose evergreen topics that aren’t subject to the passage of time and change).
How Can You Get Your Money From Udemy as an Instructor?
Udemy pays monthly in arrears, via PayPal or Payoneer.