Hello Instructor Community!
We are excited to bring you our first Community Champion Spotlight. Over the next few months, you will get to know some of the community’s most active instructors on a more professional and personal level.
This week we are putting the spotlight on Frank Kane who has been with Udemy since 2015 and a Community Champion since the inception of the program in 2019. Frank teaches machine learning, “big data” & data analytics.
Get to know more about Frank in our interview below:
Who is Frank Kane?
Frank is a veteran instructor based in central Florida. On Udemy he's taught over 500,000 students around the world valuable skills in machine learning and data analytics. Prior to Udemy Frank was a senior manager at Amazon.com in Seattle, where he helped develop some of Amazon's early product recommendation systems and later led the technology team for IMDb.com.
What is your teaching style?
No-nonsense and concise. I try to explain technical topics in plain English, avoiding jargon and notation as much as possible. My goal is to demystify this stuff, because at its core it's not really that complicated.
What is one thing you wish that every NEW Udemy Instructor knew?
Don't just make a course in your favorite topic without first checking the Marketplace Insights tool! It's important to have appropriate expectations, and perhaps refine your topic to one that will attract a larger audience.
Can you share your favorite experience/interaction with a student?
This happened years ago, but the first time I encountered a student "in the wild" was quite the experience! I'm an amateur astronomer, and had my telescope out at a park one night showing people views of Saturn and stuff. One person actually recognized me in the dark just based on my voice! That's when it really sunk in what sort of impact you can have with Udemy.
If you didn't teach on Udemy what would you be doing?
I probably would have crawled back to Amazon by now had Udemy not worked out!
What is your favorite thing about being an online instructor?
Hard to pick just one! Knowing the impact you're making on so many lives is rewarding, but personally the freedom that comes with being your own boss has to be my favorite thing.
Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
The correct answer is my wife! But if you're looking for a public figure... I think I'd have a lot to talk about with Elon Musk. Plus, he'd probably make a rocket out of a palm tree to get us back to civilization.
If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
Teleportation! There's so much of the world to see, but it's often hard to find time for travel.
Have a question for Frank? Ask him in the comments below!
Thanks so much for taking time to share all these tips with others. MOST impressive and MOST APPRECIATED!
I just launched my first course, and I feel like it's doing pretty well. But I don't quite have the social proof for maximum Udemy promotion, and existing social media sites tend to view new instructors as "spammy".
So my question is: After launching my very first course, what are the FIRST marketing methods I should implement? build an email list? start a YouTube channel? create a Facebook page? focus on creating more courses? etc.
Many thanks in advance! I'm wondering what my first real marketing moves should be.
The best thing you can do to promote your first course is to create a second course. Cross-promotion between students of multiple courses is the best way to drive sales of a new course (using Udemy's promotional announcements.)
I just launched a new course myself. We got a handful of enrollments through our mailing list, and maybe one or two through social media (mostly LinkedIn, where I have the most followers.) But a single promotional announcement sent to the students of my other courses through Udemy resulted in over 700 enrollments.
So I'd focus on building a more diverse audience through multiple courses, and cross-promoting your courses to them. It requires persistence and there's no guarantee of success, but I think that is still the most promising strategy.
For something quicker, it's worth the effort to put up a YouTube channel and put a link to your course in the descriptions of the videos there. It won't result in a flood of sales, but a steady trickle over time adds up.
Mind you I have tens of thousands of followers on every platform and tens of thousands of people on my mailing list, and even so it's hard to get people to do anything through those channels.
THANKS SO MUCH, Frank! It's really good to hear you say this. My next course topic ties in beautifully with the first, and both related to the Go programming language, so I believe they should cross-promote effectively. But every day, I look at my sales and think, "I need to create another coupon and start posting it everywhere!" Big time consuming distraction from new course creation.
Thanks again - GREAT advice.
thanks frank for the impact you are making in to lives of students.
can you tell me when an instructor should switch to full time online/udemy instructor by leaving job?
and what resources he/she should have before this risky switch?
thank you in advance!
Before "quitting your day job," it's responsible to:
- Have at least 3 months worth of savings, or however long you think it would take to get a new full time job again should the need arise
- Understand any extra expenses you will have being self-employed. In the US, you will have to pay for your own health insurance, retirement plan, "self employment taxes," and more - and health insurance itself can be very expensive when you are purchasing as an individual (I pay over $1800/month for a family of 3, with a $15,000 deductible). In most other countries it is much easier to strike out on your own. Then there are business-related expenses such as accountants, lawyers, web hosting, etc. you must account for.
- Prove that the income you are receiving from Udemy is enough to pay the bills. There's no reason not to build up your Udemy income on the side (unless your employment agreement prohibits it) and only move to full time once you've seen it bringing in the income you need for at least a few months.
Hi Frank Kane, I have a bad experience with Shutterstock today. I would like to ask what you think about Shutterstock. Do you buy Istockphotos instead of Shutterstock because of a bad experience on Shutterstock? Or you do have a Shutterstock account and a subscription? I do know you use Wikipedia and istockphoto, otherwise, you make it yourself. But I never heard about your experience on another stock photo platform. Also, I would like to listen to your experience on Alamy.com as well.
You ask Why i have bad shutterstock experience? it is not just me(https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.shutterstock.com)
I have never used shutterstock, only istockphoto. But I can't say I've ever had occasion to contact istockphoto's customer support, so I don't know how their customer service might compare. istockphoto is what I've used from the start, although I'm trying to use it less just to avoid that "stock photo look" in my courses. In technical courses students would prefer to see your own diagrams illustrating the concepts.
Would you want to be able to teleport yourself or have something like the TARDIS that does the teleporting for you? While you are on the island can you ask Elon to work on that?
That even if you think your job is the most important thing in the world, nobody else does. There's more to life.
In the context of Udemy - always try to do better. Everyone else is, and you gotta keep up.
@FrankKane thanks for offering help any advice. Seeing how far you've come on Udemy is very inspiring.
I have 2 questions for you:
1) When you quit your job at Amazon, If you didn't have another already money generating business besides Udemy, would you still have quit your job and do Udemy full time? Or you would have considered it too much risk at the time?
2) What tips would you be able to share that allowed you to scale and speed up the course creation by delegating tasks to others? I know at some point doing everything all by yourself just makes you a huge bottleneck.
Thanks in advance!
1) I have 4 mouths to feed and am very risk-averse in general. When I left Amazon, I already had a small software business of my own on the side as well as several months' worth of savings and enough cash to move with. I had to leave Amazon for family reasons, but if I didn't have that Plan B ready to go, I would have sought another full time job instead of trying self-employment. I'm glad it worked out the way it did, though.
2) The first thing to delegate is Q&A. By recruiting one or more TA's it will free up a lot of time for you to create new courses, and update the ones you have. Partnering with co-instructors also accelerates things, but of course at the cost of sharing revenue. I've also outsourced my social media management, mailing list management, and the sending of promotional announcements to an assistant. Everything else I still do myself, including editing videos.
I have two TA's. The first one I found by looking for students who had completed most of my courses, and were already active in Q&A. I got lucky, and my #1 choice for the job was willing to do it - and is still my primary TA to this day.
The other one I found on Upwork. I managed to find someone familiar with my courses already there, and he's also worked out great. I've had more of a problem with turnover from people hired on Upwork though; I had to go through about 3 other TA's on Upwork before finding him.