Desperation to Determination and Success Thanks to Udemy

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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

Hi @Hypnodan, thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm so happy to hear that Udemy was able to provide you a glimmer of hope during a hard point in your life. You are such an inspiration, and I wish you the very best Smiley Happy

Thank you. I really appreciate what Udemy has given me. The last two years I have been earning more than my previous full-time job but without descrimination. I have had more time for myself and my wife again, and last year when my wife's mother had a stroke, my wife and others didn't have to take lots of time off work to care for her, I was able to be there visiting her daily in hospital for a few months and then being home with her while she lived with us and was able to do things for her without losing income and just working minimal hours for a few months replying to student's questions etc, but mainly focusing on supporting my wife's mother taking the pressure off of my wife and her sister.

Congratulaions man....great are one of the successful udemy instructor...i heared udemy banned you know why they do are working on udemy from 2014 thats huge time,,,

Thank you. In my time on Udemy I have seen some instructors break rules leading to being banned. There have been people who have been successful for a time due to breaking rules, but then lost being a part of Udemy because of their actions. There are many others who have been very successful who follow the rules. If you break the rules or behave in a manner which runs the risk of students leaving Udemy due to their experience, or which puts Udemy at risk of getting a bad reputation because of your actions or is fraudulent etc then you are likely to put yourself at risk of being banned - like if someone buys reviews or copies others courses or spams people, etc. 

If you follow the rules, are respectful to Udemy, other instructors and students (that doesn't mean you have to agree, you just need to be respectful in your interactions), don't spam people and don't try to game the system in some way then you are likely to be fine. Udemy aren't likely to just ban someone for no reason.

All the best


Thanks....when you release new course how you manage first 5 you sen dany free coupn to for target audience..for  me i have a fb goup ,,sometimes i gave them free coupon ,,some students post honest review but their reviews did not live but some student went there any problem if a student post review in free coupon? does it againts udemy rules? if not then why they block free coupon reviews? do yu knwo this.

No, I have never sent free coupons. As I create a course I share on Facebook that I am creating a course, I also ask if there are things people would like it to cover, then once it is created I share that it is now live and offer discounted access. Now I have other courses I also share with my current students (using a promotional announcement) that I have created a new course and share how it will benefit them and build on what they have learned in their current training etc. 

I have never tried to get a first five reviews and never seen this as important to chase. I just want to try to get at least 30 paid students to my course in the first thirty day, so I make this my priority. I assume reviews will follow students taking the course. I never check to see if I have got any reviews yet or not.

I feel that if I gave free coupons I could be waiting ages for students to start the course, letalone reach a point where they leave a rating and review.

Obviously I don't know how the Udemy algorithm works to spot fake reviews but one thing could be whether the student signed up for free and appeared perhaps to have reviewed or rated the course having not even started it - which would look suspicious (and some of the people may have taken the course to support you, where they just signup, leave a review to say it is great having not watched a single lecture thinking they are helping and then their review doesn't show), or perhaps somehow there is a way that Udemy's system flags the review because there is a connection the system can detect between you and the student (I am unsure what that would be, but there are rumours Amazon can detect when friends or family of the author of a book has written a review, it isn't always correct as sometimes it is just a fan who interacts a lot with the author). 

I've never had a student contact me to say they have posted a review and for either them to say their review doesn't appear to be showing, or for me to have checked and not seen the students review. I've had students say they are going to leave a review, after perhaps I have given lots of time to help them with something, but I have never checked to see if the review appears, so I just assume most reviews on my courses probably aren't being blocked and if some are accidentally blocked as spam I don't know about it and assume it is a very small percentage of reviews because I don't seem to have a problem with getting reviews.

I have a Facebook group too, mine was set up by a student a few years ago. I set up rules including no spamming or spammy promotion and I won't promote my Udemy courses or anything else of mine in the group, but if asked about something will share things in replies in context with what I am asked, but I don't post to make money from those in the group. If I was posting about my courses in the group though, I wouldn't be giving free coupons, I would be doing like I do with my Facebook page, I would be sharing a discount code for group members to get access at a reduced rate. Those in the group, like those following your page, are the ones who like your work most and are most likely to pay something, so it seems a missed opportunity if you may have dozens of them signup for free when you could have had fewer signup but these would be paid showing Udemy that people are paying for this new course, helping to show others will pay for this course and then over the next few days some of those people will organically leave ratings or reviews.

All the best


Thanks a lot man.

Dan, I'm so glad you stuck around. I found your courses several years ago, and they are my favorite courses on Udemy. I've been through them several times and always seem to learn something new when I go back through them again. I'm also in your FB Group, and watch your YouTube videos and have seen the enormous value in both time and effort that you put into your posts and responses. 

Your post in the Udemy Facebook group is what prompted me to revisit the platform this year and really get serious. For the last year my earnings have been very similar to what yours were before you started making adjustments. I started making changes and being more responsive in February, and hit the $800 mark just like you! What a coincidence!

Anyway, just wanted to drop in and say hey, and also say thanks for sharing so much awesome value in your courses, and for being so open and honest about your personal journey. It really helps put things in perspective.

I HIGHLY recommend anyone who reads this to take Dan's courses. ALL of them. Every single course I've taken with Dan was worth ten times the investment, and has helped shape my career path, and growth as an entrepreneur, and I'm really grateful for his insights, and the depths of knowledge he shares.

Dan, I really do wish you the greatest continued success with your courses. If you ever need my help, or think I can return that value to you in some way, give me a shout.



Hi Lex, 

Thank you, that's very kind. Glad you find the content helpful and interesting and that you are working on developing a Udemy presence. I look forward to hearing how your success continues and increases.

All the best 


What specific classes helped you out can you share the names? If this is not allowed please PM me with the links to those classes thanks

I took Udemy's own couses ( and courses like @MarkTimberl006 Social Media Marketing course, Oxford Learning Lab's Social Media for Business course and other courses on things like using Twitter for business, using hashtags, using YouTube for marketing and business, Using Facebook for business, etc...

These are the types of things I searched for on Udemy (there are likely to be many different courses to check out now which weren't around to take in 2015, so I would do your own search on Udemy for what courses are currently available and what meets your needs), then I looked at what different courses offered, looked through the curriculum of the different courses, looked at reviews etc, to see what wasn't likely to promote the idea of doing dodgy marketing practices etc that could get me banned from these different sites or from Udemy.

The good thing about Udemy is that you can often get most courses for $10-$15 so you can take many courses to get different perspectives on the same topic.

All the best


Thanks for the shoutout Dan. 🙂

Hi Dan,

Thank you so much for sharing such an inspiring story. I can see your struggles, and I can relate to that.  I am an empath and people's energies are too much for me. I have been working from home since 1999, first with my own company, after I lost my business I worked as a Loan Officer and now I am working as a Linguist for the Government, as a BQH Practitioner, and Reiki Healing, etc. Also, I make videos for meditation, I also sing and do my recordings, I play the piano, and learn. always from home.  I took several courses here at Udemy and I fell in love being able to learn from home.

So, then I decided to use my skills as an English Teacher and create a Course (ESL) and I have not had much success. 

However, after reading your life story, I felt so encouraged and so enthused, that now I will try to see the way to take a different approach to succeed. It is not so much money that I care, I sure need it, but it is the fact that I want to do what I love. I believe that success is doing what you love and giving to others knowledge.

Thank you Dan.


This is a great read, Dan. Thanks for sharing your story. I have just signed up as an instructor on Udemy. Your story is inspirational. I look forward to checking out your courses.

All the very best in your endeavours!



Hi Dan this is fantastic-Thank you for sharing your story! You were always ment to be here...and when you look back you can see where the Universe has helped you along the way...and of course your hard work has done its job! and its all thanks to your old boss! any one of us can turn a different corner and our life could change for the better...also when we look at the Law of Attraction we see that the word (ACTION) is in there we all need to put the work in don't we...I to am into the same things as you-Meditation-Hypnosis-Studying others and Self inner Maintenence of my Mind/Body and Spirit...and these things have kept me alive also- so I understand where you once were...I love that you are doing well thank you again for your story-Peace out MK 

Dan: Great story and it is definitely inspiring.

What an amazing and inspirational story. So thanks for sharing! I'm a new instructor about to launch my first course and have been looking for ways to improve already. 


If I could be as successful as you from udemy I would be very happy. 


Thanks again 


This is very inspirational! Thanks a ton for sharing your journey @Hypnodan 

I started my Udemy journey last November and I am finally reaping the fruits. It has given me freedom to work from home and work on my courses.


It has also helped in instilling confidence in my parents who thought I was crazy to quit my job to try out something online. 

You are making a LEGIT living off of Udemy. You should be proud. Great story and journey. 


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


Best regards,


L.D. Sewell 

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