Udemy is a huge player in the online courses market – akin to Amazon in retail, but a lot of course creators who sell on their own platforms turn their noses up at it.
Pricing, and the lack of access to promote higher-priced courses to students seem to be the two main complaints, but both of these can be used to your advantage.
Read on to find out how.
This post is based on current understanding and experience of using these strategies at the time of writing. These are based on my experience working with a mix of small courses and some of Udemy's highest-paid instructors. It is your responsibility to read the Instructor Terms, and the policies it links from, and to exercise your own judgment.
In short, use this post for inspiration, not blind instruction. If you cross Udemy's lines and get burned, be a grown-up, and take responsibility for your own actions.
Udemy is like Amazon, but for online courses.
They've built a huge audience of course addicts that you can put your course in front of, but that audience cost them millions to build so they are justifiably protective of it.
So, straight away, Udemy is a good solution if you want to create courses that you get paid for and you're happy not having a direct relationship with your students.
Despite all their efforts, Udemy's buyers are, on the whole, quite cheap. Courss at around the $10-$15 mark sell best, and most instructors adopt a strategy of pricing the course as high as possible, then discounting down to these prices, and participating in the almost constant cycle of sales that Udemy runs.
How to gather student emails.
Remember that requesting personal data in your courses is explicitly forbidden in the Udemy terms, however, you can build a list off your Udemy students with some legitimate strategies.
Here's a few exceptions to the “no email capture” rule”
If the tool you link to needs an email to function
One example of this would be a software tool that needs a login.
This doesn't have to be too complex. To accompany a memory course I built this memory test. The email is a necessity so we can send them the second part of the test after 24 hours.
If the email collection isn't the primary function of the page
If your course is about a fast-changing topic, like news or technology, then linking to an external resource is allowed, if it would be impractical to keep updating the course.
Just make sure that collecting emails isn't the main aim of the page. You can't put this information behind a squeeze page for example.
Use your educational announcements.
You get a certain number of opportunities to update your students with non-commercial messages each month. A lot of instructors make no use of these at all.
A podcast can be a really useful resource to tell your students about, and having email capture as a non-essential part of the page is usually ok.
Embedding YouTube videos in your page is frowned on though, there's no reason not to link directly to YouTube.
Course Content and Branding
Lite vs Sequential Courses
One huge trap that a lot of instructors fall in to is using Udemy as a “Lite” version of their premium course.
This is a huge mistake.
There's a thing called Google you know.
If someone is considering buying a $500 course, a lot of them will go to Google to try to find reviews or discounts. If you have a course with a similar name or subject, guess what, they'll take the cheaper option to get started.
Let's look at this as a diagram:
If your Udemy course is just a smaller version of the main course, then people will start there. People will always look for the quickest ways to get to their goals so if you offer the a 1 hour route vs an 8 hour route, they'll take it.
The other route is to think about the sequence of learning.
Your smaller course should be an early, small step, without overlap to the premium course. That way there's a definite reason to buy it, but it won't get you all the way to the same goal.
For example, if my main course is teaching about Email List Building, my Udemy course could be about creating a good quality lead magnet.
It's not an end-to-end solution like the premium course, but it gets the student to an important milestone.
My main course can carry on and talk about the rest of the process without needing to repeat the material, and there's no “cheaper” option for our premium content.
Now, what happens if someone comes across our course and feels like they've missed a step? There atr three options here:
- Give the Udemy course content as a bonus, delivered on your own platform
- Sell the Udemy course content on your own platform, maybe even cheaper than on Udemy. That way if they find both courses theyre more likely to come direct to you.
- Point them back to the Udemy course – this is my least preferred option. Why send a customer you have contact with back to a marketplace? Well, there is a small benefit if you want to get your reviews up on Udemy and get your original course ranked well.
This brings us on to our last topic…
Doing battle with Udemy Coupon Codes
My biggest beef with Udemy is their affiliate programme. It's an absolute mess.
Students are pretty much trained to Google for coupon codes. These searches take them to hundreds of voucher code websites who not only reduce your margin, but then take a commission for the sale on top of that, leaving you with very little.
Don't believe he line that these sites bring new customers in. They don't. They're just parasites that Udemy is too lazy to act against. Udemy gets their cut, the affiliate network gets another cut, it all comes out of your end.
But we have a weapon. Our own websites.
When a prospect is off searching for discounts, we may as well give them one via our own route.
Here's how it works.
- Put the same content on your own learning platform, or if you don't have your own platform and you're just selling on Udemy, use Gumroad as a super-simple option.
- Maybe charge a little less than your Udemy course to start with, pick up those sales from people Googling just your course name.
- Create a discount code for your Gumroad version of the course.
- Create a post on Gumroad promoting the discount code
- Create a post on your own site promoting the discount code.
- Link to it via social media
Hopefully, this will be enough to get your own sites ranked in Google ahead of the discount code vulture sites, pick up plenty of those sales via your own platform and have the email addresses so you can sell them onto the next steps in your premium course.
If you're a Udemy instructor wanting to achieve bigger sales, I've written up the most detailed case study that I thinn you'll find on how we grew one of Udemy's instructors to over $3m in sales of his premium course.