Happy to share that I have crossed a personal milestone of $250,000 on Udemy this month. This has been an absolutely delightful journey as a course creator. I want to begin by sharing my humble thanks to Udemy for providing an outstanding platform for instructors like us. Here's a glimpse of my journey:
Why I joined Udemy?
I joined Udemy in August 2016. The primary reason to join was to manage work-life balance and achieve financial freedom. Two mortgages and other loans amounted to over INR 80 lakhs (>$114K) of my personal debt. Although I was earning exceptionally well in my full-time job, I realized (much later) that most of my earnings were paid as interest to banks and taxes to the government. So, something had to be done. These huge loans were to be eliminated. Hence, in 2014, I had started taking cohort based trainings and the initiative was successful. My new side-hustle had a great start. However, with the full-time job, I had to manage marketing, execution, conversion, training, admin, and everything else for this side hustle (my new company). Plus, my weekends were packed with 12 hours of training each day. So, the initial success was at the cost of non-stop work for 3 consecutive years (2014 to 2016).
How I found Udemy?
During this period of extreme hustle, I realized my core strength was content creation. So I needed someone who could do the rest (marketing, sales, administration, etc). That's when I stumbled upon Udemy. I saw @SandeepKumar's Six Sigma courses on Udemy. That was my niche. I saw the number of enrollments and like everyone else, I thought the price per course was $200 (Lol 😂). I was blown by calculating the numbers of the high price per course and the number of enrollments. I later realized that the price point is not very high, however, a sustained effort can bring outstanding success on this platform. I joined the platform instantly in August 2016.
The Initial 2.5 Years on Udemy (2016 - 2018):
During this period, I dabbled with my full-time job, cohort based trainings, and creation of new courses. Below is my income of the first three months:
I continued the path of earning a three figure income until September 2017. I was still fairly new on the platform and realized the importance of in-demand topics much later.
By mid-2018, I had heard much about @PhilEbiner and @ScottDuffy's success on Udemy. So I enrolled in their courses. I was also inspired by revenue posts from @FrankKane. I also regularly tuned in to Phil's Podcasts where he would interview successful Udemy instructors.
This became a perfect foundation for a sound and thriving business that was ready to be built on Udemy.
The Year that picked pace - 2019
My mantra was to create quality courses on in-demand topics and release new courses frequently. I followed this path and it helped me hit my first 4 figure mark in 2018:
As I continued this journey, I hit my first $5,000 mark per month ($5,196.01) in Dec 2019.
As my income increased and showed promising signs of success, I stopped efforts on my cohort based, reduced the frequency of my visiting faculty sessions, and focused only on my full-time job and Udemy. My non-stop work schedule was getting relaxed and work-life was getting in control.
The Year of My Corporate Life Retirement - 2020
I had never imagined I would ever retire the corporate life. And that too when I am in my mid-30's. But by 2020, early retirement was on my mind. I was earning twice as much as my full-time job salary. At a few occasions, my earnings surpassed the monthly salary of the CEO of BNY Mellon, India (my employer). And to top it all, I had cleared my mortgage and all other loans of >80 lakhs INR (> $114K). So, I was saving every penny earned. As I consistently started earning more than $7K per month, I decided to quit my full-time job. This was in October 2020. In the next month (November 2020), I hit my first 5 figure mark ($10,260.18). This assured that my decision to quit full-time job was right.
This was my first year as a full-time Udemy instructor. With more time at hand, I dabbled with a number of other activities such as eBooks, Audiobooks, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. But it was Udemy that continued to increase income significantly. No other source was even close to Udemy earnings. The return on time and effort investment in making Udemy courses was way higher than any other sources. November 2021 turned out to be my best month on Udemy with a monthly income that crossed $15K. And in December 2021, I crossed $250K in life-time earnings.
That has been my journey so far. I achieved financial freedom. The standard of living increased significantly. I control my own schedule. I never have to leave my house. After clearing the debt, I purchased two villas - all cash. And the best part, I can see my daughter grow each day - all the time.
This post is definitely not to brag about achievements. These are several other instructors who have been on this path. I have just followed their path. Milestone posts (like these) from seasoned instructors used to inspire me.
To be successful, all you need to do is stick to the path with utmost dedication and passion. I am open for any questions. Feel free to drop them on this post.
@Rahul Iyer Thanks again for this post. I've read it several times and learn something new each time! I've studied your earnings graph and I'm curious about your experience with Udemy Business. How and when did you make that connection? Also, do you feel like the release of each new course improves the sales of existing courses, or just adds a new income stream? Thanks!
Thank you for the questions. Below are the details for the two questions:
Experience with Udemy Business. How and when did you make that connection?
I will share my experience of UfB by answering three questions:
How did it start?
My Udemy for Business experience has been interesting. This is because when Udemy launched UfB, I had about 3-4 courses on the platform (in the marketplace). I read the terms and was excited. However, I knew that Udemy would shortlist a catalog of courses based on UfB requirements. So, I had limited control in adding my courses to the catalog. In about a month or two of the launch of UfB, I received an email from Udemy stating they picked one of my courses in their catalog. The course was picked because it had excellent ratings (4.7+) and was of a niche topic. When I compared that course with the other courses, I realized that the quality of the course was outstanding. I had used Whiteboard animation for the course and it was fully made on a software called "Moovly." It was not a typical slideshow and voiceover course. It had animations flying around which kept the audience engaged. As a result, they rated the course very high. The topic of the course was not in-demand, so the marketplace income was low. But because it was picked in the UfB catalog, it started earning more money.
The second course that got selected was even more of a pleasant surprise. I had released a forever free course. It was created with an intention to provide valuable knowledge in an excellent animated style. This course (though free) has always been rated above 4.5. UfB picked that in the catalogue. And this one started earning money too. I couldn't believe it. I thought that since this course is free on the marketplace, it will not earn money on UfB. However, I was wrong. I reached UfB support twice confirming if it will earn $$$ and they said yes both the times. And it did earn those $$$. That was a wow moment. I am not sure if UfB continues to include free courses in their catalogue today. I do not see this free course in the UfB catalogue anymore. But it did make good money for multiple years and I am happy about it.
So the start was interesting and I could see my earnings grow with UfB adding more to the bucks to the bank.
Do I make courses keeping UfB in mind?
No. Absolutely not. My niche is Six Sigma and Project Management. So, the main customers of my courses are employees of corporate organizations. However, adding my courses on UfB is not the focus.
I make courses keeping in mind the value it provides to students. My courses have the required content for the topic. I beef them up with my real-life personal experience and a number of anecdotal stories. I also try to ensure that the course quality is excellent. Plus, I prefer not to have any lose ends in the course. For example, if my course topic is Lean, I will ensure everything about Lean is added to the course outline and is covered well in the course. If something is not covered, I ensure that the course description clearly states this is not covered (for this reason).
I think these are the factors that resonate with the audience and they rate these courses very high. Once your course ratings are high, you are in the radar of UfB's algorithm (based on my experience). And as the required demand comes in, UfB will pick up your courses in their catalog.
Today, most of my courses are on UfB. And I never really struggled to add them to the catalog. I just keep getting emails that they are added one-by-one. And that is a nice place to be in.
I have seen other instructors (who focus on creating courses for UfB) getting frustrated because they expect results too soon. In my humble opinion, your job is to create a good course (basically do everything that is in your control) and trust everything else will fall in place. In time, it definitely will.
What are my earnings from UfB today?
Like most other instructors, 30% of my total income comes from UfB. Marketplace continues to dominate the revenue. But the 30% is a real cherry on the cake 🥰
Also, do you feel like the release of each new course improves the sales of existing courses, or just adds a new income stream?
It does both. As you keep releasing new courses, you start to have a dedicated following. These students become your raving fans. They love your courses and are your mouthpiece to everyone else. They regularly buy every single piece of content you publish. They have a problem and you are the go to guy/girl for resolving that problem. And each Udemy instructor who has been publishing courses for a long enough time sees this. So, this is a common phenomenon. Nothing big.
As a result, what happens when you release your new course?
This is an amazing cycle of events.
Sorry for the long post. Looking at your questions, I could feel your enthusiasm. So I kept nothing back. I hope this helps. Feel free to let me know for any additional questions 🙂
@Rahul Iyer That is awesome! Thanks for being so generous with your time and knowledge. This is the kind of exchange of experience and best practices that makes the Instructor Club so valuable to me and many others. Much continued success to you and I hope to see more milestone announcements from you soon.
Thank you. It is great to see that you are looking to publish free courses for topics such as morality and its complexity. The topics are unique. And there are hardly a few instructors who have all of their courses free.
You have asked a fantastic Q: how would you be rated on aspect of non money conscious? I will share my humble opinion and I would like to say that these are my views only.
Udemy Course Pricing:
Courses on Udemy are priced at $9.99 or slightly higher. So, you never really charge an exorbitant amount of fee that is even triple digit. Plus, Udemy policies maintain that you do not appear salesy. So, you content is always considered value-driven by the student community.
Citing these reasons, as a Udemy instructor, you are always considered to have a non-money conscious.
Free vs. Paid Content:
If you search any topic on YouTube, you will find a bunch of videos (in every niche) whose content is outstanding and provides complete end-to-end information for FREE. So, even if we have excellent videos on such a huge platform (such as YouTube), why is it that students come to Udemy and pay for the same information?
In my opinion, it is only when the student invests his/her money in buying a course, he/she becomes committed to completing it. It is a general mentality of every human: FREE stuff is great, but they will value if they are able to invest their money that will help them stay committed.
I personally think that a paid course makes a huge difference to the individual who takes it as compared to a free course. When a student invests money, he/she is invested in the course.
These are just my thoughts. I am in no way, shape, or form wanting to influence your decision of keeping your courses free or paid. Whether it is a free or paid course, all that matters is you are adding value to your audience. And that's the best thing!
Congratulations Rahul, You are my best friend now 🙂
I am at 177k, behind you.
your initial revenues were very much similar to of mine.
keep it up, I wish to see 1M Dollars post from you. Good luck
very happy for you
Hey @AshishR... Nice to meet you... $177K is awesome. I fully understand your dedication and focus to achieve this feat! Brilliant!!
Agree, we must all post our achievements in this closed forum. It inspires and motivates everyone. I wish the same $1M post from you too, very soon 🙂 Stay in touch!
@Rahul Iyer you did well by sharing this inspiring post. Thank you. Imagine how super little the beginning was...
Thanks once again for sharing.