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Online courses on Udemy - My experience as a lecturer

It's February 13th, 2019. Exactly one year ago to the day I uploaded my first online course to the Udemy platform. In this article I would like to review the past year and share my experiences as a Udemy lecturer with you. You will find out how much I have earned with the online courses, how many participants have enrolled in a year, how much time I needed to create the courses and you will also receive some tips if you are also thinking about Get started online lecturer.

Update on March 9th, 2021: You can read my conclusion after 3 years of Udemy at the end of the article.

It's been about 9 years since I bought my first web design course on Udemy. At the time I was thrilled that you can get such valuable content lasting several hours for a little more than 10 €. 8 years later, as a lecturer, I am no longer as enthusiastic about Udemy's pricing policy. But always one after the other. First, let's take a quick look at what equipment I use for my online courses.

Equipment for the online courses

This is where many bloggers would recommend any expensive Amazon product in order to get as much affiliate commission as possible. On the one hand, Amazon Affiliate does not work on this blog (I have already tested it) and on the other hand, I only use a microphone and nothing else. If you are interested, it is the auna CM001S (no affiliate link) and costs just under € 60.00. Well, of course you also need software to record and edit the videos.

The right software for the online courses

The software is similar to the rest of the equipment - there is expensive software for editing screen shots, and there is screencast-o-matic. I am a big fan of this video editing software because it is very easy to use, gives great results and, in my opinion, offers the best value for money. For only $ 18 a year, you can produce really great online videos.

My 1st course on Udemy - WordPress

The first course that I uploaded to Udemy was "WordPress course from WPC with the great Elementor plugin". I still remember the strange feeling when I clicked the "Submit" button. Questions went through my head: How will the course be received by the participants? Will anyone even buy it? ...

I worked on my first course for three full months. Three months in which I didn't know whether what I was producing would even find a buyer. Not exactly the agile approach, as they say in modern German. And with over 60,000 courses on Udemy, you can certainly imagine that my course wasn't the first WordPress course. Fortunately, I already backed the right horse back then and at the time of the article's publication my course was and is the only German-language WordPress course that covers the best page builder Elementor in detail. Some participants have already told me that this was the main reason they enrolled in the course.

But the WordPress course also serves another purpose: Since I create almost all customer websites with Elementor with my company WebGeckos, all my customers get access to the course and can thus see how they can adapt the content on their website. Advantage for the customers and for me: My customers get immediate help with various questions and I can optimize my time management and am available to my customers for more in-depth questions.

SEO at Udemy

If I look at the search algorithm or, let's say, the search function of Udemy or try to understand it, I could imagine that one day Google started like this. You take a few key figures, assign them a different weighting and the course that wins this evaluation matrix also wins first place in the Udemy search. My guess is that the conversion rate and the ratings have the highest weighting.

An example that confirms my assumption: When I search for SEO on Udemy, my course appears first and that even before the two bestselling SEO courses:

Since all 3 courses have a similar average rating, I can only justify the placement with the fact that the conversion rate is a larger "ranking factor" than, for example, the number of participants. This is why it is extremely important to create a course landing page that encourages the prospect to buy and to get as many positive reviews as possible from the participants.

Of course there is also the unofficial Udemy SEO course by Scott Duffy, but if you already know what SEO is all about (and I mean the right SEO here, that at Google & Co.), this course will not bring you any real added value . You can apply the same techniques to Udemy Search Optimization. And if you don't know what SEO is all about, then of course I recommend my SEO course 😉

Although I took a good tip with me from the course and would like to pass it on to you at this point:

WPC tip: Select a category with low competition

Before you assign your new course to a category, you should pay attention to which courses are already provided with the two badges "bestseller" or "best rating" in this category. If you decide that your course cannot compete against these courses, you should choose a different category for your course. Of course, only on the condition that the alternative category also makes sense for your course. This method increases the likelihood that you will one day receive the popular badges for your course and thus the enrollment rate increases significantly. Unfortunately, the category cannot be changed afterwards.

Reviews on Udemy

That's a fun topic 🙂

The faculty communities are full of posts about Udemy's rating system. For many, the origin of the rating stars is simply inexplicable. Here are two examples:

Example 1: A higher rating results in a lower average rating

Let's say a course has 4.50 stars and gets a new rating of 5 stars. Anyone would expect the average rating of the course to be above 4.50 by now, right? Not so with Udemy. It has happened often enough that a higher score resulted in a lower average score. Sticking to our example, it wouldn't be uncommon for the course to have a 4.40 star rating the next day. The reason for this is that Udemy only includes the most recent reviews in its result (I think it's the last 3 months).

Example 2: 2 times 5 stars and 1 time 2 stars results in an average of 2.5 stars

What average rating would you expect if a new course received 2 times a 5-star and once a 2-star rating? You can probably already imagine that 4.0 (12/3) is not the correct answer. It is quite common for such courses to have an average rating of 2.50 stars. The reason for this lies in the different weighting of the ratings. If z. For example, if the 5-star ratings were given by participants who received free access to the course or who have not yet seen much of the course, these ratings are weighted less than the 2-star rating.

My 2nd course on Udemy - Memberships

After the first sales and the first participants, I got a taste for it. The first sales were of course far too low to say: Wow, the hard work of the last 3 months has really been worth it. Nevertheless, I was very happy that participants registered regularly and that I also received great feedback for my course. That was motivation enough for me to start thinking about my next course.

One of the most popular articles on my blog was and is the post about WordPress member sites. Since I also get a lot of inquiries about this topic, the topic for my second course was quickly determined for me. A perfect WordPress setup is also important for a member site. That's why I was able to reuse about a third of the lessons from my WordPress course. So my second course "WordPress Membership - Create your own WordPress member site" was completed in just 2 weeks.

The topic is of course a small niche and that's why my membership course has comparatively few registrations. But this course also serves another purpose. Unfortunately, I have to reject a lot of inquiries about WordPress member sites due to time constraints. However, by sending a voucher link to my membership course to the inquirers, I hope to be able to offer them assistance anyway.

Prices and promotions at Udemy

One question to ask as a Udemy instructor is what price should I choose for my courses? The short answer to this question is: It doesn't matter! At least in terms of earnings. Because I claim that most instructors on Udemy make no more than $ 15 per course 99.9% of the time. Almost not a day goes by on Udemy without discounts. Since word of this has already got around among the participants, people like to wait for the next marketing campaign to buy the desired course. My courses weren't sold once in the whole year at the price I set.

The price choice has at most a mental effect. Assume that the interested parties have two similar courses with the same rating to choose from. The first course originally cost € 199 while the crossed-out price of the second course is € 39. Now, due to a promotion, you get both courses for € 11.99 each. Which course would you choose? The course for just under € 200 promises more added value and seems to be a better deal. Of course, you should make sure that the price is not set dubiously high.

Marketing program from Udemy

Participation in Udemy's marketing program is voluntary. Of course, you could always offer your courses at a price of € 200 and not participate in Udemy's marketing program. But you will probably have little success with it, unless it is an absolutely unique piece of content that will not be available again on the platform. All other course providers have to accept the dumping prices for better or worse, because otherwise the courses of the competition will be preferred.

Udemy for Business

With the Udemy for Business (UFB) program, Udemy offers certain online courses for businesses. What exactly are the criteria for the courses to be included in the UFB offer is not very clear to me personally. My Elementor Praxis course is part of the UFB Collection and can count itself lucky because it is one of the 3% of all courses that have been included in the UFB offer. Personally, I haven't noticed any advantage so far, as the course income generated by UFB participants is limited to less than 1%. However, the UFB program has a decisive disadvantage that should not be ignored: As soon as the courses are included in the Udemy for Business program, an exclusivity clause applies, which prevents you from being able to / may offer your own courses on another platform .

I have canceled my participation in the UFB program because I do not see the added value and the exclusivity clause restricts me in my further plans (see below).

My 3rd course on Udemy - GDPR

May 25, 2018 triggered a great deal of uncertainty among many website operators. It was the day the GDPR went into effect. For me that was reason enough to bring out my third course. In order to work as effectively as possible, I have chosen a different approach for this course. Instead of generating new content especially for the course, I decided to implement the GDPR on my blog and just press the record button. The result is a very practical course with only 5 PowerPoint slides. Sometimes the simple things work best. To this day (the day the article was published) my GDPR course is a best seller on Udemy and my most successful online course.

The first $ 1,000

With the help of my GDPR course, I reached my first small milestone within 2 weeks: The first $ 1,000! At this point, 4 months have passed since I started Udemy. There are certainly lecturers who can achieve this milestone in less time and with just one course. Nevertheless, I was very pleasantly surprised that there was definitely a demand for German-language WordPress courses on Udemy.

Sales of online courses after one year

Now, let's get to the question that perhaps most interests many: How much can you earn from online courses on Udemy? Mind you, with German-language courses!

The following list is my attempt to formulate the instructor participation from the Udemy Terms of Use a little more clearly:

50/50 is not the same as 50/50

If a user buys my course by going directly to the Udemy platform and selecting my course, I will receive 50% of the income. However, that is not entirely true. Udemy sells the course in euros and I receive 50% of the net amount (after deduction of sales tax) in dollars. At the current exchange rate, this means that I get 44% of every course sold.

Selling through affiliate or promotional links

If a user buys my course by accessing the Udemy platform via an integrated affiliate or advertising link on another website / app, I only get around 22% of the income, taking into account the exchange rate.

Coupons at Udemy

I get the best deal when the user buys my course via my own voucher link. This feature is one of my favorite features on Udemy. It's very easy to create your own voucher links, as you can find them in this post. The voucher is given a name in order to better track the conversion and the price and the maximum number of vouchers are set. Alternatively, you can also save an expiry date.

Of all income generated via the voucher links, the lecturer receives 97% in dollars or, at the current exchange rate, 85% in euros. Unfortunately, there are also situations in which the voucher code is not taken into account and the lecturer receives less than 50% instead of 97%. This is z. This is the case, for example, if the participant decides on the bundle offered shortly before purchasing (their own course is sold in combination with another course). Another reason why a voucher link would not work if the cookie was set at a different time or is overwritten if the participant does not immediately decide to buy.

With the various commissions, I was able to earn 4,903.59 dollars on Udemy within a year and have sold my courses almost 1,000 times (978 registrations with 845 participants).

Average of $ 5 per course

If you divide the total sales by the number of registrations, you get an average of about 5 dollars per course. Not necessarily an amount at which you immediately jump up and shout: “Boss, I'm leaving!”. But, as with so many things, it always depends on the viewing angle. While many lecturers complain that the platform is bagging a large part of the profits and the commissions for the course providers are too low, there are also voices that the lecturers compare with e-book authors or app developers. If you look at the income generated by selling an e-book or an app, $ 5 per sale is not that bad. For all 3 sources of income, the following applies: The mass counts!

Biggest downside to Udemy

Update on March 9th, 2021: After 3 years on Udemy, I am of the opinion that the low income from the sale of Udemy courses is not the biggest disadvantage of the platform. Unfortunately, I've had to see participants enroll in my course a few times, rate it with only one star and get their money back. Most of the time, the same participants as grasshoppers move across the Udemy landscape and repeat this action for my other courses as well.

It's very frustrating and that's why I'm also considering other ways to offer my online courses. I am currently creating my own online course page with what I consider to be the best LMS WordPress plugin LearnDash *.

At the same time, I am also testing another solution that is not based on WordPress, namely Coachy - your online school in 6 minutes *. My first experiences with this very personable and easy-to-use platform have been very positive. I am excited to see which solution I will choose.

My 4th course on Udemy - SEO

And again I catch myself having an inner dialogue and asking myself the question: What else can I do? Ok, I can WordPress, I can GDPR, what other knowledge do I have that I can put into an online course? My blog reached the top 10 position (1st page) on Google for almost 500 search terms. So apparently I have to do a lot of things right when it comes to SEO.And already I had the topic for my fourth course: "SEO & Content Marketing - With a system for ranking success". Since this topic is very broad, more preparation was necessary for this course in order to establish a clear focus and the appropriate structure. In total, as with my first course, I spent three months writing the script and recording and editing all of the videos.

Passive income with online courses

Oh, wouldn't that be nice? Lying on the beach, letting the sun shine on your stomach, a gin and tonic in your left hand, your mobile phone in your right so that you can check your account balance regularly and look forward to the additional euros. For many of us, including myself :-), the ideal that would certainly be possible with passive income.

But is the income generated by the online courses really passive? Finally, there are tasks that remain after the course has been completed, such as: B .:

  • Participants answer questions
  • Check the course lessons for topicality and add / revise if necessary
  • Market the courses

But how much effort does it take? So far I've been able to spend about 8 hours a month on it. Due to the limited time, it was necessary to prioritize the tasks. Participants' inquiries have top priority for me. I always try to answer these promptly. Second, I try to keep the course content up to date. If there is still time left, I try to use my blog and social channels, such as B. to market my courses via my YouTube channel.

My next course

In order to meet the wishes of participants, I am currently in the process of creating a pure Elementor practice course. The plan is to design various website elements with the great page builder.

Update on March 9th, 2021: In the meantime I have released both a German-language Elementor practice course and an English-language Elementor 3.0 course. I never would have thought that my Elementor Praxis course would become my most successful online course after just one year. This shows that an online course about a niche (WordPress plugin) in a niche (WordPress in German) is not a bad idea.

My conclusion

A year at Udemy has left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am very happy that I was able to help almost 900 participants to create their own website that is GDPR-compliant and optimized for search engines. The very positive feedback from the participants goes down like oil and definitely motivates me to continue with the online courses. On the other hand, there is always a bland aftertaste when I e.g. E.g. earn only $ 1.70 per course through an affiliate program from Udemy or if my voucher link does not work again. But I suppose these are just the quirks that have to be accepted in exchange for access to many thousands of potential customers and participants.

All in all, I'm happy with how the last year went. The hard work hasn't paid for itself after a year, but I hope it will in the coming year. I will definitely continue to offer my online courses on Udemy. I would, however, wish that Udemy would give its lecturers a fairer share of sales and that the courses would not be squandered at such extreme bargain prices. I'm pretty sure that participants would buy the courses for a minimum price of $ 19.99 as well.

My conclusion after 3 years:

After 3 years at Udemy, the feelings are still mixed 🙂 My courses now have over 4,000 participants and I am very happy that I was able to pass on my knowledge to so many people. I am very pleased with the positive feedback from the participants. I also appreciate ratings below 5 stars if there is constructive feedback behind them. Because that's the only way I can optimize my courses. If it weren't for the continued bad feeling, if participants apparently only registered for the reason to give the courses a bad rating without meaningful comment and to have the course fee reimbursed. Therefore, as mentioned, I will also try other channels to offer my courses.

Your experiences? Your plans? Your questions?

Do you already have experience with online courses or even with Udemy? Or are you just considering starting as an online lecturer? Do you have any questions that were not answered by the post? Let me know in the comments below.