Desperation to Determination and Success Thanks to Udemy

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Desperation to Determination and Success Thanks to Udemy

I just wanted to write a bit about my story here and how udemy has helped me. Some of you will have read my story on the Udemy blog back in 2017, or may have seen me mention my story on Facebook as I passed milestones which were significant to me over the years. 

I'm not one of the top instructors, but also not one of the bottom instructors. I am a middle-of-the-road instructor. I would love the success of some of the top instructors and loved reading Mark's story the other day, that would give me greater peace of mind around finances, but I generally make enough of a living not to worry about money, I'm just aware I don't have as much saved as I would like in case of a rainy day.

I have a lot to thank Udemy for. I found Udemy in 2014 when I was looking for a way to share eCourses online. I was working full-time but outside of work I was always looking for ways to share knowledge. 

I am autistic, but I didn't know that for certain until a few years ago. Because I struggled to understand social communication and I regularly made mistakes when interacting with people I had been obsessed with hypnosis and psychology since my teens to try to figure people out. I was also obsessed with meditation and other practices which allowed me to manage my attention to reduce sensory overload. Learning hypnosis and meditation transformed my life.

I had struggled in many workplaces over the years, some I walked out of before I began work, others I would start and struggle with changing routines or sensory overload or I would make errors in how I would interact with other staff or customers and would often fall out with managers.

My obsession with topics like hypnosis, psychology and meditation led me to become qualified as a psychological therapist and then go on to hold training courses. I enjoy learning, but I don't like the idea of all the knowledge just being stuck in my head. I feel a compulsion to share it. In 2014 Udemy became that place. I didn't start Udemy to make lots of money. I liked the idea that I might one-day make a living from it, but it wasn't a driving force. I uploaded a course, told my small Facebook following about it and offered them discounted access and had about 30 signups in the first month from my promotions. I didn't do much promoting after that, I created two more courses which weren't directly related, I didn't really know anything about Udemy and those two courses didn't really get many takers. I didn't know about promotional announcements and never used these. 

Then in 2015 when I had been on Udemy for a little over a year my courses (mainly my first course) were consistently making about $300 per month without me doing any promotions. At this point I was experiencing challenges in work. I was depressed and suicidal, I felt trapped in the job I was doing. I had spent the later half of 2014 and into 2015 trying to find a job which paid enough for me to be able to leave my current job. I had had a change of manager. My previous manager started our first day together saying "I think you are autistic, is it okay if I treat you as if you are because I think it will help our relationship and help you do your job".

I was fine with this, I felt I might be autistic too, but had never sought a diagnosis. That manager set my work environment up and our work relationship up to minimise changes to my routines, to minimise sensory overload, and her way of interacting with me was done in a way that made sure I was clear about what was expected of me as I usually take things literally, but people don't necessarily always mean what they say.

Then late in 2014 I got a new manager, my new manager said I had to move where I was sat in the office and ignored me arguing that I would struggle where I was going to be placed and giving my reasons for this, they didn't feel they should have to explain instructions when telling me what to do and when I would then make mistakes they would tell me off and say things like "are you taking the p*ss?" and accusing me of not taking my job seriously. When I was moved and struggled to do my work because of sensory overload, which I had stated was going to be an issue, I was told off about this. In a supervision meeting with my manager they asked if I had some kind of mental problems because I don't seem to understand or do things correctly. 

I was aware I was struggling more and becoming increasingly depressed and anxious in work so I went to see a Doctor for a referral to see if I was autistic. It took almost a year to be seen by the autism specialist, and I was told I was autistic. My thinking was that if I was autistic and was diagnosed as autistic then my manager would have to stop discriminating against me and I would be able to have occupational health support to ensure my work environment was suitable to get the best out of me as an employee. 

Unfortunately before I had a chance to address my work problems I was made redundant. I was offered the chance to take a demotion (with my pay protected for a period of time and working under the same manager) or take enough money to last me six months and leave. I took the money. I was nervous about what the future held and whether I could make a living. My wife didn't earn enough money to cover our bills, so if I failed to make enough money or to find another job then we were homeless. But, I had a date in my mobile phone to commit suicide if I hadn't found a way out of the situation causing me to feel depressed everyday, to cry everyday, to feel anxious everyday. My mental health and immediate survival was more important than the job because I had a glimmer of hope - Udemy. 

I was making $300 per month doing nothing to earn that money on Udemy. My thinking was that if I put full-time effort into Udemy I must be able to make more than $300 per month as a worst case outcome, and the more I could make the longer my redundancy money would last and if I didn't make enough to live on maybe I would give myself more time to search for other work and make it so that I can take lower paid work.

I spent time taking Udemy's own courses and courses by people like Mark Timberlake and John Colley to learn various skills to help me, I developed a plan of courses to create, time scales a plan of action and worked hard at creating courses and building my social media presence and in my first full month following being made redundant I made $800, my second month I made $1,500, which which was what I needed to make to breakeven per month (as I wasn't paying for travel or other incurred costs of work and was cutting all costs I could to live as cheaply as possible). A year later I had made a few more courses and learned it was best to make related courses that could be cross promoted, I was making over $2000 per month, a year after that in 2017 I was making over $3000 per month and last year I was making over $3500 per month and in April last year passed $100,000 earned on Udemy. So I'm not in the big leagues and I am always improving and learning as an instructor, but I am making enough to live on. I put in lots of dedication working long hours to create my courses, answer students questions and update my courses, and also lots of time into my own promotional activities to help kick-start my courses and get the initial students to them. I don't spam forums or groups telling people to buy my course, I don't give away lots of free coupons, I just focus on being helpful in forums and groups and demonstrating I am knowledgeable in the areas I teach and make sure it is easy for people to find out more about me and my courses.

I have been so pleased with Udemy. I have felt some things could be done differently or improved at times, but Udemy and the community of instructors have always been so supportive and I now like to give back time to be supportive to other instructors. Being a Udemy instructor suits me. Some of the benefits I have seen include:

  • I get to spend lots of time alone
  • I don't have to deal with managers or colleagues
  • It is much easier dealing with students than dealing with customers and client's I have dealt with over the years
  • My outgoing's are low
  • I can work from anywhere
  • I'm not tied to having to live in any specific location
  • I can control my work environment

If there is anyone reading this who is just starting on Udemy I would say this is a great platform but it is not a get rich quick scheme, you have to put in hardwork and time, you need a plan for how you will promote your course and get traction with your course, so it is worth making sure you are building up your reputation and social media profile before your course has launched and then once the course has launched you need to work on some of your own promotions and being an active instructor supporting students in your courses. It isn't passive income, but rather residual income.


All the best


21 Replies

I realize this is an old post - but I enjoyed reading it - and thank you for sharing your story.


Best regards,


L.D. Sewell 

Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Stories and inspiration
Pull up a seat and chat with your fellow instructors. This is a great place to get to know each other, swap stories, and just relax.