How many courses can you create in a year? Five? Ten? Or more?
What puzzles me is that many--especially new instructors--make the mistake of thinking they can create as many courses as they want. That's true to some extent: quickly throw together a few PowerPoint slides, post them on Udemy, and call it a course. But if you're serious about making money on Udemy--and creating a course that your students actually want to take--you need to think about the sheer amount of work it takes to create quality content.
In this post, I'll distill my experience creating courses so you can get an idea of what it takes to make an impactful course from start to finish.
1. First, you need to decide on a topic. This should come relatively easily if you’re already a professional in your field. However, if you want to create a course on something you don't know much about, you'll need to spend time researching the industry. This involves reading books and articles, watching online tutorials, and talking to experts. If you don't take research seriously, you'll end up with content that is incomplete or even incorrect. (Yes, looking at you, ChatGPT!).
2. Once you have sufficient knowledge of the subject, you can start thinking about the structure of your course.
The structure is crucial. You can't just throw together a bunch of random content. That's true even if you're a master of the material. You need to create a logical flow and make sure everything is connected. Again, this takes time and effort, and it's something that you need to think about carefully before creating any courses. I always start with a brainstorming phase, which helps me identify what topics to include. Then, I come up with an outline to make sure everything is in the correct order.
Pro tip: A whiteboard can be a great tool to map out your ideas because it makes it easier to visualize things and change and rearrange topics.
3. Now that you have the structure or the outline of your course, it's time to get into the nitty-gritty work. Some of us prefer to write a detailed course script, while others may decide to create a high-level outline and some bullet points for each clip.
Now, writing a script can be tedious and time-consuming. Yet, it has many benefits over the improvisatory approach:
So, in the end, the initial investment of writing a script might save you a lot of time.
4. Okay, you've got the script or bullet point for each video clip. Next, you'll create the visual content.
If your course is about a complex topic, then chances are that you need to create some slides. You'll soon realize that creating quality slides takes more time and effort than expected. Simply adding a few bullet points and images won't cut it. You need to create visuals that are attractive, engaging, and easy to comprehend. That's an art in itself and can easily take a few days or even weeks, depending on how detailed you want to get. But even if you don't plan to complete with Kurzgesagt, you should still invest the time to ensure your slides look professional.
In addition to slides, you may want to include other visual elements, such as b-rolls, diagrams, animations, and headshots/live-action shots. These assets can make your course visually appealing and more engaging for students and add a lot of production value to your course. However, it also means extra time and money.
5. The next step is recording your audio and video.
This is where everything comes together: your slides, script, animations, and other visuals. As you know, recording audio and video can be tricky and requires some technical skills. If you're just starting out, you'll spend most of your time learning the basics, such as setting up your mic and camera. Even after all these years, I still make occasional mistakes, so don't beat yourself up if you make some goofs.
Also, a pleasant voice and some basic acting skills can make a world of difference. None of these come for free--unless you're a natural--so you'll have to put in some practice. Which, in turn, translates into additional time and effort.
6. At this point, you should have all of the raw materials. Now it's time to assemble everything. Editing is a craft in itself. You'll have to learn the basics of video editing, audio processing, color grading, and other post-production techniques. It can be pretty overwhelming at first, but that's what it takes to create a professional course.
And you're done!
7. You'll have to upload your course to Udemy, fill out the metadata, re-create your content's structure, and adapt it--if necessary,--to the expected format. If you have extra content, such as worksheets, assessments, resources, coding exercises, etc., you'll need to upload those as well. This final step may take a few hours to days, depending on the complexity of your project.
As you can see, creating a course is not an easy task and requires time, effort, and dedication.
So, can you really create dozens of courses per month? I'm sorry to say, but that's not likely--at least, I wouldn't call such a rush job a course. You can, of course, outsource specific tasks to save some time, but not all steps can be delegated easily.
In short: creating a Udemy course is time consuming.
Sure, you can cut some corners and churn out a ton of low-quality content in a few weeks, but that's not what we're aiming for, is it? 😉
Currently, I'm working on my first course on Udemy, and boy is it turning out to consume more time than I expected. The tips you provided are invaluable. I have seen the loopholes in my course already and will implement the changes. Thanks.