The next phase of Personal Plan (May 2022)

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The next phase of Personal Plan (May 2022)

ElianaC
Community Moderator
Community Moderator

Hi everyone,

 

In April, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of Personal Plan, a subscription offering for individual learners. Personal Plan has grown and evolved in its first year, and we've learned a lot from our tests, research, and analysis. 

 

We have a new update for you, including things like:

  • The latest on Personal Plan's increased availability in different markets
  • A look into upcoming explorations around free trial, promotional strategy, and learner acquisition
  • Details about a new subscriber sign-up bonus that compensates instructors whose course promotions lead to new subscription payments

 

To read the whole thing, head over to the Teaching Center. We'll see you back in the Community with your questions and feedback.

 

Teach on,

Eliana Cerna

27 Comments
VakoShvili
Level 3
Level 3

Hi @ElianaC , is there an exclusivity clause for courses in the Personal Plan as it is in Udemy for Business? To have a course opted in for UB collection, the course needs to be exclusively hosted only on Udemy as per your terms. Does the same apply for Personal Plan collection?

Joshua George
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey @ElianaC 

Great to hear the tests have been going well.

One thing I want to clarify:

"So, we’ve opened up Personal Plan to all learners in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. "

When will this actually happen as I'm in the UK and just checked the site and still do not need the subscribe option?

JohnBura
Level 3
Level 3

I made a bigger post about this topic. 


TL;DR. Udemy should stop the personal subscription and replace it with an instructor-level subscription. The PS divides instructors into haves and have-nots and makes most instructors poorer. 

 

https://community.udemy.com/t5/Marketing/The-personal-subscription-engaged-learners-and-lower-profit...

WilliamStewart
Level 3
Level 3

Please excuse the silly question, but I have not found an explanation of the Personal Subscription, or, very possibly, have forgotten where it is.

 

1.  That is, are only certain instructors included, and if so how are they selected?

 

2.  What percentage of PS revenue goes to instructors?  And is it by percentage of time students spend on our courses, like UB?

 

3.  Finally, what if a student consumed zero minutes in a month.  Does their revenue still go into the pot to be distributed to instructors?

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @VakoShvili

 

The terms of participation in individual subscriptions are the same as they are for business subscriptions (Udemy Business). So, exclusivity does apply, and the revenue share is based on minutes watched.


The content included in Udemy Business and in Personal Plan is also roughly the same, though there is a lag between curation of content into or out of Udemy Business and addition to or removal from Personal Plan. So, there isn’t effectively a new exclusivity requirement — just a continuation of that requirement for content already included in subscriptions.

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @Joshua George,

 

You should see the option to subscribe on the landing page of any included course, as shown in the example below:

 

 

There may be other placements depending on the actions you've taken as a user and whether our system thinks you're likely to be interested in subscribing. 

 

Let me know if you have any other questions! 

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community 

Joshua George
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi @Bella 

Until I read you response above to @VakoShvili, I wasn't aware that PP is only for Instructors who are exclusive on Udemy.

I was originally looking at my own courses and didn't see the subscribe option which now makes sense as I am not in UB.

What is the reasoning behind having exclusivity for PP? I can understand how it makes logical sense for business customers, but the same logic isn't justified for personal users.

Especially not when your data suggests that "a marketplace that offers learners a choice between subscriptions and one-time purchases will be more successful than a marketplace with only a purchase option."

If only a small portion of the marketplace has the subscribe option then it undermines the accuracy and reliability of that statement.

I understand this was of course not anyones attention but it would be good for us instructors to get better clarity on the thought process behind this decision.

Thanks!

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @JohnBura, we appreciate your feedback. At this time, we don’t have plans to implement individual instructor subscriptions, but your comments have been recorded in our internal feedback tool. Thank you! 

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @WilliamStewart, these aren't silly questions at all, I'm happy to answer them!

 

1. The participation criteria are the same as those for Udemy Business, you can read more about it here


2. Payouts also follow the Udemy for Business model: 25% of monthly revenue will be designated for instructors, with each instructor earning a proportion of this amount equal to the proportion of minutes consumed on their courses. 


3. Each month, we pool all payments made and minutes consumed by Personal Plan subscribers in order to calculate instructor revenue. This includes payments from students who didn’t actually spend any time learning. So whether or not a student engages, instructor payment is calculated based on 25% of the net subscription revenue.

 

If you'd like to read more information, take a look at this Teaching Center article. 🙂

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community 

JohnBura
Level 3
Level 3

@Bella Thanks for recording this. 

 

The personal subscription really should be discontinued and the sooner the better. Everyone's revenue in the "my revenue is down thread" is down because of the personal subscription and instructors are increasingly getting frustrated that it's getting harder and harder to make the same amount of money. 

 

Udemy should also consider lowering the revenue share to 30% organic and 50% for ads. That would certainly help. 

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Great question, @Joshua George

 

Currently, the content collections are the same -- so it's not so much that we've made a deliberate choice to require exclusivity for individual subscriptions, but rather that it is impossible to have an exclusivity policy that applies to one collection and not the other when the courses included in both collections are identical.

 

Let me know if that makes sense!

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community 

Joshua George
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Ok that makes sense, thanks for clarifying @Bella 

So the real question is when will Udemy expand the collection to all include courses in the marketplace? The announcement made today made it sound like that would be today as everyone would see the subscribe option on course landing pages.

ElianaC
Community Moderator
Community Moderator

@Joshua George Personal Plan is available to all learners in those markets, but the content in Personal Plan hasn't changed. For the time being, we're sticking to the content collection we've had since the pilot began, which is the same as the Business collection. It's possible we could have separate curation strategies for individuals and businesses at some point in the future, but it's not something we're planning to test in the short term.

JulianJenki396
Level 3
Level 3

@ElianaC Thank you for taking the time to write this post and to answer the questions. I operate in the Esoteric part of Udemy and it has been an amazing experience so far, but what I am seeing is the move away from the market place in terms of priority for Udemy is affecting the niches that don't fall under the Business banners. Lifestyle is a big area and I believe rolling out personal plans for these areas will allow us to catch up in proportion to other groups. I think the subscription should be rolled out across the platform im sure my students would love a monthly charge instead of individual purchases. It is the way the world is going. If you could advise when the roll out across the platform is being planned that would be great, as I believe the change in focus and ad dollar spend is affecting other instructors. Thanks x

LawrenceMMiller
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

@JohnBura you said "Everyone's revenue in the "my revenue is down thread" is down because of the personal subscription ..."

How do you know this? I can think of  many reasons why an instructor's revenue may be down. Chief among them now is increased competition from other courses in the same category. My courses are facing a lot more competition this year than in previous years. 

My revenue is just slightly better this month than last month and slightly better than this month last year. Not great, but still OK. Does that mean my results are also the effect of the personal subscriptions? Or, the results of only those who are down are the results of the personal subscription? I don't get the logic or the data to support this. 

 

I think what is very clear now is that there is a lot of lack of clarity. We don't have the data to be able to determine how this will effect us. That was also true when UFB started and when UFB cut our earnings from 50% to 25%. But, it worked out to be positive in the long run. I am simply willing to admit what I don't know.

 

MichaelPog
Level 3
Level 3

@ElianaC If a student subscribes for the trial, consumes the content of my course and then unsubscribes before he needs to pay. Will I get paid for that content consumptions?

 

WilliamStewart
Level 3
Level 3

H @Bella , couple questions.

1.  Will a new payment category be added for the PS, so that a different line is shown in the revenue report, similar to how UB is broken out separately?

 

2.  A couple of my courses are in UB, and I can see that note on the course page, as follows:

WilliamStewart_0-1654171821697.png

However, I do not see a subscription option for the PS for this course.  Am I just missing something, or is my course not in PS, even though it is in UB?

Thanks,

Bill

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @MichaelPog, that's a very good question.

 

Trial consumption isn’t currently counted towards Personal Plan payouts whether or not someone goes on to subscribe. As long as trialers are consuming roughly the same content as subscribers, this doesn’t actually affect instructor payouts for Personal Plan, since it’s relative consumption that determines your share of instructor revenue pool. 

 

But as the post mentions, we’re running some tests to assess the way learners actually use the trial to be sure it’s adding value at the moment.

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community 

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @WilliamStewart, I'm happy to answer your questions!

 

1. You can actually already see your earnings for Personal Plan under the “individual subscriptions” heading. It appears after the refund window for the relevant month has ended, so generally right before payout of that month. If you’re wondering about the dedicated tab with a course-level breakdown, like currently exists for Personal Plan, this is an improvement we do intend to deliver, but we can’t provide a timeline at this point.

 

2. There are currently some small discrepancies between the Udemy Business English collection and the Personal Plan collection, mostly caused by synchronization differences (something may be curated into or out of Udemy Business before that change is reflected in Personal Plan). This could be what’s going on with your course, but Instructor Support may be able to confirm.

 

Bella Almeida

Udemy Community 

EveWilliams
Level 3
Level 3

@Bella I don7think it would suit my business to offer my conte t exclusively on Udemy. How likely is that to pulverise my income on here?

MichaelPog
Level 3
Level 3

@Bella thank you for the reply.

"Trial consumption isn’t currently counted towards Personal Plan payouts whether or not someone goes on to subscribe. As long as trialers are consuming roughly the same content as subscribers, this doesn’t actually affect instructor payouts for Personal Plan, since it’s relative consumption that determines your share of instructor revenue pool. "

 

I read that 4 times and I'm not sure I understand this. (sorry:))

So let me try to rephrase this in 2 ways and maybe you can tell me which one is right:

  1. If student X consumed 10 minutes of my course, since he was part of a trial, that doesn't count at all, and I don't get paid for it. In other words, if those 10 minutes are all that was consumed I get paid $0.
  2. If student X consumed 10 minutes of my course, regardless of his subscription status, those 10 minutes are counted. And then I get paid based on the ratio between my minutes and all the minutes consumed across Udemy PS plan. That that ratio x 25 % * (Udemy total revenue) is my compensation

So which one is it?
Thank you

KatieBent
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hey @MichaelPog,

I think I confused both you and @Bella with a poor explanation here -- let me jump in directly to try and remedy that. 

 

1 is correct, ultimately, but I want to take a second crack at explaining this statement, which used too few words to hint at too much math: "As long as trialers are consuming roughly the same content as subscribers, this doesn’t actually affect instructor payouts for Personal Plan, since it’s relative consumption that determines your share of instructor revenue pool."

 

 Instructor payouts for Personal Plan are determined by two things: the total money being paid by subscribers for a particular month, and the proportion of minutes spent on each instructor's content. If subscriber payments create an instructor revenue pool of $10,000 in a month and an instructor accounts for 2% of total minutes of consumption, that instructor will get $200. Trialers don't contribute anything to the money being paid in, of course, but they do contribute minutes to the pool. Ultimately, though, the number of minutes doesn't determine payout; the proportion of minutes do.

 

If trialers consumed really different content than paying subscribers, then including them would change how much each instructor takes home, since the proportional minutes for each course would be different. But if trialers' consumption patterns are basically the same as paying subscribers', then the proportional minutes consumed is the same either way, and instructor payouts aren't actually affected by including or excluding them.

 

I'll illustrate with an example, using an imaginary miniature subscription:

 

Let's say in March there are just three courses in the subscription: A, B, and C.

  • Trialers spend 100 minutes on A, 400 on B, and 500 on C (total 1000)
  • Subscribers spend 50 on A, 200 on B, and 250 on C (total 500)
  • The net instructor revenue is $100

If we include trial minutes in the revenue calculation...

  • A has 150 minutes, B has 600, and C has 750 (total 1500)
  • A would get 10% of the payout, B would get 40%, and C would get 50%.
  • A would get $10, B would get $40, and C would get $50.

If we exclude them and only look at paying subscribers...

  • A still has 10% of the payout, B still has 40%, C still has 50%.
  • A still gets $10, B still gets $40, C still has $50.

Currently, we don't have reason to believe trialers consume content in a substantially different way than paying subscribers. We exclude their consumption today to ensure we're directly rewarding instructors whose content is getting engagement from our most valuable learners, and to avoid a situation where someone could sign up for free and deliberately consume content differently to skew proportional minutes and influence instructor payouts.

 

Does this make any more sense than the first attempt?

 

Then, while I'm in the neighborhood: @EveWilliams to your question about exclusivity, I want to emphasize that there aren't any new exclusivity requirements here. The Udemy Business content collection and the Personal Plan collection are generally the same (with some differences in addition/removal timing, as noted above). So, the only content with an exclusivity requirement is content that was already in Udemy Business, which has had that requirement for several years already. If what you're doing now is working for you, you shouldn't expect that staying the course on exclusivity (no pun intended) will change your performance.  I hope that helps clarify. 

 

 

Zooming out, I appreciate all the questions in this thread. They've made me realize that although we've announced the fundamental aspects of Personal Plan as we've rolled it out and grown the pilot, those details are scattered across a lot of blog posts and not easily referenced. With the pilot hitting its stride, it's a great time for us to move information about the program (what content is included, how instructors are paid, etc.) into a more permanent home in our Help Center. We'll work on getting a resource up in the next few weeks, and appreciate you helping us understand what's crucial for you to know when it comes to individual subscriptions.

MichaelPog
Level 3
Level 3

@KatieBent Thank you so much for jumping in and answering my question.
There are a few things I want to highlight:

  •  "As long as trialers are consuming roughly the same content as subscribers, this doesn’t actually affect instructor payouts"
  •  "Currently, we don't have reason to believe trialers consume content in a substantially different way than paying subscribers"

From this I read this is assumption is just an assumption and not an empirical observation.

But Udemy should have that data.
So my apologies for asking the hard questions but:
Has this assumption been validated? The pilot has been running for a while.

I completely understand the motivation to start with that assumption (prevent free students from skewing payouts without contributing any money to the pool)

And if this assumption is correct then there's no problem.

However, if this assumption is NOT correct, then Udemy essentially provides our best courses to anyone for free.

For example, someone preparing for an interview, finds my course.

They have one goal: Interview.

So they can either:

1) Buy my course $10

2) Subscribe, watch, cancel $0

 

One can make an argument that a person who doesn't want to pay can just request a refund.

But I think the barrier for asking for a refund is higher than clicking a cancel button.

Also the price of not refunding is $10. 

The price of not canceling a subscription: $30

I wonder which one they would choose?

 

So since Udemy is currently compensating us for lost sales from promotions that went to the Personal Plan, wouldn't it make sense to also compensate us for free trialers?

At the very least while Udemy is still having it as an experiment?

Thanks.

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Students gaming the system for free courses seems unavoidable, but if instructors got minutes for those trial period courses we'd also be open to fraud from instructors getting people to consume their courses for free to drive up their piece of the pie. I'd rather have one source of fraud to worry about than two.

MichaelPog
Level 3
Level 3

@FrankKane I completely see your point.

Maybe I'm naive but I expect fraud from a trusted instructor whose courses are curated into the Personal Plan collection is far less likely than fraud from a random student.

But that is of course debatable.

 

My question still remains whether the assumption that @KatieBent has mentioned is indeed correct.

I can see that for someone who already has 30+ courses this may be less of a concern.

For someone who currently has only 3 courses in the Person Plan, that can be easily watched within the 7 days trial it is a big concern.

 

I do want to stress that it's probably not a big deal at this moment, and we don't need to dwell on it too much.

I just wanted to raise this concern as this has the potential to be a revenue impacting problem.

KatieBent
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hey @MichaelPog -- you're right that this is the sort of data we're tracking; I'll try and dig in with the team to confirm that we're generally seeing the same learning trends between trialers and subscribers. As you noted, if a learner is really committed to getting a limited amount of learning for free, they can manage it through other systems on Udemy today, but I hear you that it may be more work (and less reward) for someone to refund than it is to cancel a trial.

 

In general, I'd say there's likely a bigger opportunity in getting trialers who don't consume anything to activate and see the value of instructors' great content than there is in tamping down on trialers trying to circumvent payment by speed-learning in their week of free trial. 

 

 

MichaelPog
Level 3
Level 3

@KatieBent thank you so much for your response and looking further into it.


I want to bring up the other thing @Bella mentioned which to me is a much greater concern, now that I re-read it: 
"Trial consumption isn’t currently counted towards Personal Plan payouts whether or not someone goes on to subscribe"

 

So if I read this correctly, If I am the reason someone subscribes, and as part of the first 7 days, they watch my courses, love them so much that they decide to pay for them by NOT canceling the subscription, I get nothing.

This makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

 

I can totally see the reasoning behind excluding consumption from non-paying students.

But these are paying students.

They pay by keeping their subscription, which pays for the full month including the first 7 days which are part of a trial.

 

This is the absolute opposite of rewarding us for helping Udemy get subscribers.

Even if I'm not the one driving the traffic, if after my courses are consumed the student keeps the subscription, the minimum we should get is compensation for those minutes.