The Udemy instructor community is diverse. Some have an idea for one course and their interest ends there. Others seek to make teaching online their fulltime business or career. Having observed and spoken with many very successful instructors I have noticed both some common attitudes of success and some myths that hold instructors back.
So, here are a few:
Forget it! I don’t believe that any successful instructor is passive. And, I don’t think creating good courses is easy. Of course, it helps to be in a popular category, but every romance novel does not sell, and every course on web development is not successful.
The best instructors sometimes spend months researching and developing their courses. The results you get are very often in direct proportion to the time and effort you put into course development.
Some instructors seek to just get by with the minimum effort, the minimum time, the minimum requirements. Developing courses for Udemy is a business in which you serve customers, customers who have many different options for their time and money. Do you think customers are looking for courses that just provide the minimum? Or, courses developed by an instructor who is just trying to get by, by doing the least possible work?
No business succeeds that way. Why not ask yourself "what is the best course in my field and how can I develop a course that is better than the best?" That is how you succeed!
Before developing your course take the three highest rated courses in your category. Why are they the best? Why are they selling while others are not? How can you do better than them? That should be your standard.
2. Your Promo Is Your Brand!
Corporations understand “brand equity” as the most important asset of the corporation, more valuable than money in the bank or plant and equipment on the balance sheet. As an instructor you develop a personal brand… brand equity on Udemy. It becomes your greatest asset.
Here is a good example: web development is perhaps, the most popular topic on Udemy. Angela Yu is a terrific instructor and very successful on Udemy. She recently published “The Complete 2019 Web Development Bootcamp”. She has been working on it for months and it is 39 hours long, with 73 articles, etc. Even though it is recently launched I am certain it will be successful, even against other terrific instructors like Colt Steele and Rob Percival.
Why? Watch the promo video, and intro, to this course. You immediately like Angela. She is charming, warm, funny, smart and you just want to spend more time with her! And, she has been enormously successful with her App development courses (more than 100k students!) When you watch the video, count how many proof statements she makes. Count how many times she invites you to join her. Notice how her smile and manner of speech are engaging. She not only knows App and web development, she knows how to sell! Did this just magically happen? Of course not; she has worked hard at it and she deserves her success! If you want a model of a great promo video, this is a pretty good one to study.
3. Myth - Udemy favors some instructors and gives them an advantage over other instructors.
No. Udemy invests their money where the data tells them they are most likely to experience a positive return. This is a business, not a social club! And, it is a heavily data driven business. If you are a new author you probably think that your brilliant and entertaining novel should be on the front display in Barnes and Noble and you are sure that the publisher and bookstore are prejudiced against you and in favor of J.K. Rowling, Michael Crichton or John Grisham. The truth is that they don’t care about you; and they also don’t care about those famous authors! What they care about is cash flow and the most productive use of their assets. That front table when you walk in is the most valuable “shelf space” in the store. Publishers pay for that space. If they put your book out front, unknown author that you are, they know that they are likely to get X return. If they use that space to display John Grisham’s latest book, they know that they are likely to receive 1000 times X! So, how would you use that space if the bookstore was your business?
Udemy is, and must be, exactly the same. They must use their advertising dollars to invest in courses that are likely to produce a high return. Promoting web development or game development courses is more profitable than promoting management or psychology courses, I am sorry to say. So… yes, the rich get richer…. Until you crack the code! This is why it is so important that you build your personal brand, develop a great landing page and a great promo video. These are like the book cover on your book. It can make or break your course.
4. Myth - Anyone can become a successful instructor on Udemy.
Wrong! Some people who have never taught before can be successful. But, as much as my mother told me I could become successful at anything if I tried (lies mothers tell!) I will never shoot baskets like Steph Curry or Kevin Durant. I will also never sing opera, become Mr. Universe, or have my star on the Hollywood walk of fame! Sorry Mom! But, I teach pretty good management courses on Udemy.
Very often when instructors complain about their courses not selling I search their name and take a look at their courses. I wouldn’t buy them either, even if I was interested in that subject. Why? Very often the instructor appears to be someone I don’t really want to spend time with. You may say that is unfair, but, sorry, it’s true. I have no idea whether or not they are expert in their subject, but their appearance and delivery (others may respond differently) are unappealing or off putting.
Why? Here are a few reasons why:
Why do these things matter? Because the buying decision is triggered by stimuli that produce an emotional reaction. All these elements are triggers that get you sales or lose you sales. You can work at each of these things. I have… and I still am.
Everyone will not succeed as a salesperson, a scientist or a teacher. Some instructors should forget this and do something else. Make better use of your time!
So, my purpose in writing this is not to be discouraging, but to be realistic. We need more realism among instructors! The world will be a better place.
Great post! I love the reality check. Personally I hate marketing and 'promoting' myself, but in order to grow it is a very necessary part of being an instructor. I'm certainly going to be much more aware of my tonality from now on!
and some interesting takes on reallity.
I like the part "passive income". Now when I have produced my first course I know what it takes to become a teacher at UDEMY. It is a lot of work to accomplish. A bit of a learning curve in the beginning as well but extremely fun.