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Hosting a Course on Udemy: Pros & Cons + Results

Can’t decide where you want to host your online course?

Finding the right online home ain’t easy (I talked about the different ecourse delivery options when I first created SL&I), which is why I asked Alexander Ernst, founder of Earn Enough to join us today to discuss the platform Udemy.

In this post he talks about how to find success on Udemy and whether you should choose Udemy to host your course, or if you should self-host it on your own site.

host course on udemy

The Pros & Cons of Udemy

What do you gain in hosting your course on Udemy?

  • Effortless traffic
  • SEO rankings
  • Easily adaptable course structure
  • The reality of passive income

What are the downsides?

  • No access to email addresses of students
  • Your competition is positioned directly beside you
  • Limited stylistic control
  • Udemy takes a commission on most sales
  • Pricing is a joke

The main reason to self-host your course

Complete control. You have full access to the analytics, you’re able to collect email addresses, and you setup every piece of communication between you and your students. If you’ve got a great list or want to build one with your course, then you should steer clear of Udemy. If you’re looking for a way to generate real passive income then keep reading.

If a list is not the goal of your course, then by all means consider hosting it on Udemy. They’ll provide you with a course framework, consistent traffic, and great SEO. I currently rank #1 in Google for the term “Facebook retargeting course” and “Facebook retargeting class.”

Personal Course Results

It took me 12 hours to make my course Facebook Retargeting Pro, and with $878 in earnings in 4 months, that puts me at around $73/hour. That number has only been increasing as time goes on.

Here’re the full earnings details:

Udemy Course results

Udemy Course Results

As you can see, the majority of my traffic is Udemy Organic. I didn’t leverage an email list, I didn’t find affiliates to share the course, in fact, I hardly did any promoting at all.

How To Succeed on Udemy

Pricing your course in the land of never-ending discounts

Udemy is almost always offering a discount, and a heavy one at that. Your course could be $199 and any given month your competitor’s $199 course will be offered for the insanely discounted rate of $10. My course was initially priced at $19 for testing, and then the Black Friday promotion came around and it was offered for $11. At the same time, there were courses originally priced at $199 being offered for the same price, so I jacked mine up to match theirs. Suddenly the sales started rolling in because people perceived a much greater value. Due to the non-stop launch cycle nature of Udemy, I’d recommend more people just jump to the max price of $199 and opt-in to their promotions.

The fastest way to get students and reviews

However, the most important key to success is getting your course some good reviews, until then it doesn’t have any real worth in the eyes of potential Udemy customers. My course currently has 1671 students and 20 reviews averaging 5-stars.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Join the Udemy Instructors FB group called Udemy Studio and give out coupon codes until you have a base of reviews. You need to be tactful about this, however, because it’s against the rules to ask for “reviews” in exchange for free coupons, so you need to instead offer free coupons for “feedback.” I recommend doing this at least twice, and distributing the coupons in two different ways.
  2. Your first time, write a post about your course and ask for feedback from other instructors. Provide the coupon code publicly in that initial post and set the max number of redemptions to 1000. By the next day your course will be flooded with students. A quick review of the course analytics will reveal that those aren’t other instructors– they’re actually swarms of users from blackout forums who troll the Udemy Studio group looking for free coupons. Some instructors hate that this happens, but I love it.
  3. Now that you’ve got a slew of students, you’re just missing the accompanying reviews to make it all seem more legit. This is when you strike in the Udemy Studio for a second time. Post the most lucrative description of your course you can think of and, if you can, tailor it to why it’d be particularly useful for your fellow instructors, except don’t post the coupon. Instead tell people you’ll share the coupon with them over a private Facebook message. Some will reply to your post saying they’re interested and others will just message you directly.
  4. Copy down the names of those people you give the coupon to and follow-up with them in one week. One in five will leave a review without being pestered, but you can get to three in five if you check in with them, so do it.
  5. If you’re feeling particularly savvy, try posting a third time saying that you’re going to release a free coupon for your course the following day, give a little teaser and the link to make people interested, and then instruct everyone to “like” the post so that when you reply to it with the coupon they will be notified. There are a lot of instructors making use of this group and you can boost your post past the clutter this way.

After establishing a solid base of students and reviews, I was able to start attracting students organically who then left favorable reviews of their own. Without the base, I’m convinced nobody would have purchased the program through organic search.

Love all the benefits but need to build that email list?

Create the course on Udemy and offer a coupon for a discounted rate or for free when people signup for your mailing list. That way you get the emails and people get the course.

The best of both worlds

Instead of choosing one or the other, you can play both options to their advantages. Much like Google Adwords can be used to seed test titles and copy, you can use Udemy to create several free (or paid) courses, see which get the most action, and build the winner out on your own site. Then you can even use the “Announcements” feature in Udemy to let your class registrants know that you’ve released a newer, more robust version of the class they’re interested in conveniently hosted on your site.

Note from Leah: I purchased Alex’s retargeting course and it really helped me understand how to use retargeting to maximize my FB Ads results. It walks you through all the different ways you can retarget in a super clear and understandable way. If you’ve been doing ads, but haven’t been retargeting, it’s time to start!

What’s the verdict: self-host or using a platform like Udemy? Let us know in the comments! And if you’ve got a course on Udemy, tell us your about your experience!

Alex Broderick-Forster Give him one good reason to find a stable, well-paying job and he’ll give you four potentially short-sighted reasons why it’s simply not an option for him. One– he founded his own Facebook Advertising consultancy and named it Earn Enough to reflect his anti-abundance lifestyle. Two– he works entirely remotely and has been featured by Inc. Magazine as one of 6 Masters of the Remote Working Universe. Three– he recently taught workshops alongside industry legends at Chris Guillebeau’s Pioneer Nation 2015. Four– he’s been earning passive income for over a year after designing a course on Udemy and being identified as a top instructor. Keep track of his digital working lifestyle on Instagram.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • As always – perfect timing! 🙂

  • Thanks for posting this, Leah. For anyone interested in taking the course, here’s a link to bring the price down to $19. (https://www.udemy.com/facebook-retargeting/?couponCode=FTFCOMMUNITY)

    Also, here are the results through February and May. I’m pretty happy about it– so much that I just recently went on a three day “work retreat” and wrote two new courses. (http://earnenough.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Screen-Shot-2015-04-02-at-10.37.07-AM.png)

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Awesome Alexander! Thanks so much for sharing this with our community. Jump on it FTFers!

  • Lyn

    Very interesting info!

  • Julienne

    Udemy covers VAT tax for you, so that would be helpful to you if you don’t have an “live” component of your course.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, great point! Definitely a “pro” to add to the list.

    • Great point Julienne. This is the only thing that’s been weighing on my mind on whether to go with Udemy or self-hosted with my upcoming branding course. If I go self-hosted I feel I must add the live component for the UK VAT reasons even though I’m in the US.

  • Thanks for this succinct and thoughtful write up! I would love to hear how you would compare Udemy to Shareskill.

  • I’ve thought about creating a course on Udemy (you know, way far into the future), so this was a very interesting read. A big thanks to Alex for sharing!

  • Alexander, thanks for sharing these great tips. Very interesting to read how Udemy stacks up.
    Thanks!

  • Interesting and helpful as always! Thanks a lot)

  • William

    Thanks Alexander.

    1. Any tips/trainings/recommendations you can give or refer me to about actually building a course?

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