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.
What an amazing and inspiring journey!
May I ask how you accomplish accreditation on your Udemy courses please? Is this something that is done via the relevant accreditation body for that specific industry?
Thank you for the comment and this is a great question. I think it is important for me to share my accreditation journey while answering this question. In a nutshell, I learned that accreditation is not a necessary requirement for us to be successful on Udemy.
Below are the details:
I sell my courses on Udemy and my own teachable site. I also do several instructor based online and classroom trainings. This accreditation was a requirement of one of my major clients.
Provider Selection and Investment of Cost, Time and Effort:
Since the client requirement was specific, it was easy for me to select the accreditation provider. The provider has a thorough and detailed review process. It took about 6-8 months of rigorous review of each course. They also have vast documentation requirement and a recurring annual investment of multiple thousand pounds to keep the accreditation active. They also have the ability to reject our application if they do not find our courses suitable. Since I have a long-term contract with this client and the costs were getting covered, it made sense to invest time, energy, and effort to get the accreditation.
Whether this accreditation positively affects our sales on Udemy?
I felt that accreditation would significantly and positively affect our sales on Udemy. But considering the investment of time, cost, and effort, the return on investment for the accreditation is negligible. My sales are the same as they were before accreditation. I am making the most of this accreditation on my website. To be successful on Udemy, you need good reviews, top page ranking, good title, and subtitle, promo video, and overall a good quality course. My recent experience have taught me that accreditation is not a necessary requirement for us to be successful on Udemy.
Conclusion: In my humble opinion, if you have a strong business case to seek accreditation, then it would make sense to go for it. Their price tag is high, have a recurring annual cost, efforts are significant, documentation requirement is enormous, and they have the ability to reject our application if they do not find our programs meet their desired benchmarks.
I do not intend to discourage. Just sharing all that I had been through to seek this accreditation. If I was not selling my courses on my website and only on Udemy, I would not make this investment. I would have used the time to focus on creating more courses and maintaining the existing lot.
I hope this helps. Please do let me know if you have additional questions.
I'm going through the same journey but some way behind yourself. I just quit my job to do this full time so roughly where you were this time last year.
Would you mind outlining some of the points you learned or picked up along the way that really helped boost your sales and income? Is it just a case of continually producing new courses or are there some things you changed that really made a difference?
I look forward to seeing your $1,000,000 post soon.
I appreciate your keenness to become successful at Udemy. So instead of leaving the job, you should have done it on a part-time basis. Because it looks like making money on Udemy is possible but slow.
Thank you for the note and nice to meet you here 🙂. In my humble opinion, the definition of slow depends upon the individual and his/her effort investment to grow on Udemy. There are several factors that determine whether you go slow or grow rapidly on this platform. These factors are:
I focused on creating good quality and in-demand courses in my niche. And I focused on a particular niche that I was strong at. This helped me grow at a moderate pace on the platform. Before leaving my full-time job, my Udemy earnings were 2x of my job salary. In fact, I was earning more than the India CEO of our bank. So, leaving the job and focusing only on Udemy was a no-brainer. Yes, but to reach this stage, I definitely toiled hard for six consecutive years possibly taking no holiday. After being a full-time Udemy instructor, my earnings have been 4x of my then job salary.
So, my experience of becoming a full-time Udemy instructor has been positive. There was no looking back.
Thanks for the note. It is great to see that you are so dedicated in making your business successful on Udemy. It definitely helps to focus on one big ticket item. When you put your skin in the game, you are bound to succeed 🙂 In my opinion, you will do extremely well, Mike.
During my journey, I did not do anything exceptional. I mostly did what every other long standing instructor would do. I will summarize the key points that helped me in the long-run:
1. Learning to be successful on Udemy
A few months ago, I read a post of an instructor who was successful on Skillshare but was struggling on Udemy. After reviewing his courses on Udemy, I realized that being successful on Udemy requires a deeper understanding of the platform. I have taken many official and unofficial Udemy courses to help learn what are the do's and don't s of this platform. I must have also read every single policy on Udemy Support page to understand what works and what we must not do.
2. Respond to students and show up in the Q&A Discussion frequently
Initially, I did not respond to students on the Q&A Discussion forum of my courses. But later realized the importance of this. So, I frequently respond to them and ensure their queries are answered. Students love when their instructors respond to their queries.
3. Respond to private messages within 24 to 48 hours
When a student reaches you using a private message, they are seriously looking for help or an answer (in most cases). I make a point to respond to them as early as possible.
4. Create courses regularly
As you rightly mentioned, creating courses is important on Udemy. Tools such as Marketplace Insights have been very helpful in identifying the right topics. Student feedback is another great source.
5. Update your courses regularly - especially the thumbnails, description, promo video, and content
After the pandemic, we have observed a rise in the number of instructors and courses on Udemy. To ensure we remain at the top, it is important to regularly update all that is needed.
6. Start showing up on Social Media
Students want to know more about their instructor (as an individual). I started showing up on my social media sites frequently, and this has definitely helped in getting the right recognition for my brand.
These are the main key points that have helped me in my journey. I continue to focus on these even today. I am sure they will help you too.
Feel free to let me know for any additional questions.
Many thanks for your detailed reply. It's always good to hear from those further down the road and helps keep the momentum going.
Congratulations again and look forward to reading that $1,000,000 post from you. 😁
Greetings of the day,
Love your work and congratulations and keep it up..
I will also see your courses...God Bless you..
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