Meet Frank Kane - Community Champion Spotlight

cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Meet Frank Kane - Community Champion Spotlight

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.

 

Bella_0-1634918897994.jpeg

 

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!

47 Replies
FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Ask me anything folks! I'm always happy to help other instructors.

If flying on Musk's rocket palm tree was the only way to get off the island, would you risk it? Of course it would have no landing legs and would be caught by a tower...

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Heck no, the island doesn't sound that bad really!

@FrankKane ,

 

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.

 

 

 

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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.

I agree wholeheartedly, Stan.  Thank you for helping us newbies here on Yudemy.  Best of luck and success to you, Stan!  😉

 

~ PainDocPenny  

Hi Frank, thanks for the great tips and launching and marketing a course. I just launched my first one on Udemy. I appreciate the link to Marketing Insights also.

Have a fab day!

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!

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Thanks!

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)

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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.

TameraDion
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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?


*Brains behind Jason Dion*
FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Oh, well a TARDIS can also do time travel, so that's certainly more fun! Clearly Elon already has one.

Joshua George
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

What's the most valuable life lesson you've learned?

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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!

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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.

Hi Frank,

Thank you so much for all your valuable information, how did you hire your TA?

Marty

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

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.

Rahul Iyer
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, nice meeting you @FrankKane... I have been following the communication of many senior instructors on Udemy and you are definitely one of them. Your success is inspiring! I also loved the posts where you shared your revenue milestones. Sharing of those milestones helped me maintain the faith that I am on the right track and I should just keep going (here on Udemy)! Over the years, I started earning a sizable income and now, I am a full-time Udemy instructor. Thank you. 🙂 You are the best! Have a great year ahead 🙂

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Excellent! Perseverance usually pays off; I'm glad Udemy could change your life too!

@FrankKane Congratulations, thank for supporting the community. Looking forward find more positive vibe in community.

Great job and tips....with best wishes!!!!

Salil Dhawan
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Thank you for the inspiration @FrankKane !!

CourtneyL
Community Manager
Community Manager

"One person actually recognized me in the dark just based on my voice!" -  of course they did! Haha, love this. 

Bella
Community Manager
Community Manager

Frank was probably like this:

Bella_1-1635296321903.gif

drkrisharma
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Great! What is your marketing strategy, Kane?

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

My marketing strategy is to let Udemy do its marketing.

I do all the standard things, like having a YouTube channel, a mailing list, and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But it's all a drop in the bucket compared to the traffic that Udemy drives on our behalf. That's why we're giving them a cut of our revenue, after all.

 

I take full advantage of Udemy promotional announcements as well. Of all the things I do, that's the most effective by far.

Salil Dhawan
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

I love that strategy!

thank you very much for share such valuable instructor  Frank teaching journey 

Success stories are inspiration. It tell others that it's possible. To all the struggling instructors out there, don't give up. There is hope. Continue to press on! If don't give up and you continue to press on, success will surely show up. To Frank Kane, kudos, and keep on soaring high.

Hi Frank, thanks for sharing your experience, it was nice to listen to your story and was inspiring.

AMAZING ! 

I will be new instructor on Udemy      Frank , do you have an  advice for the first course to create  impact ? 🙏 

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

The biggest challenge with your first course is driving enough reviews to it. Without a few reviews, Udemy won't surface it much to students.

 

If you have any sort of existing following outside of Udemy, you'll have to be a bit of a pest and try to get them to enroll in your course. You're not allowed to ask them for a positive review, but you can ask them for a review.

 

Once you have those first few reviews, it's more about your choice of topic and how wide the appeal is for it. If you haven't already, use the Marketplace Insights tool in your instructor dashboard to set the right expectations for the organic traffic your course might generate.

 

Building a second course can also be a good way to grow traffic to your first course, as you can market your first course to students of your second and vice-versa, using Udemy promotional announcements.

 

Best of luck with your first course! I wish you the best of success.

Thanks an awesome and Inspiring story Frank, Congratulations on your achievement . Any advice on collaborations with fellow instructors. What  would be the best way for a rather new instructor to go about it? Is the revenue sharing actually worth it when an instructor hardly makes an average of $3 per course?

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Well, if you play your cards right that $3 per course adds up. It's probably not worth doing a co-instructor relationship on a topic that is only projected to earn $100/month or something (consult the Marketplace Insights tool in your instructor dashboard for that data.) But for larger opportunities, it can be an effective way to build a large, comprehensive course that would be too daunting to take on yourself.

 

The most important advice is to only work with someone you know and trust. There are unscrupulous people out there who are out to scam you and will take all of your course earnings while doing nothing in return, and it's entirely your responsibility to prevent that. Even I have had problems with co-instructors who just fell off the face of the Earth and stopped supporting their part of the course. These days I only partner with other top instructors that I know or with corporate sponsors.

 

I try to aim for arrangements where the work is split 50/50 and the revenue is also split 50/50. In any case, the revenue split should be commensurate with the work each instructor puts in. Watch out for people who want to take an outsized percentage just to expose you to their audience.

 

Get an agreement in writing, and make sure that agreement spells out who will do what, by when, who will support Q&A, and who is liable if someone uses IP they don't own in the course materials (that's also an issue I've had to deal with.)

But if you're working with someone you trust and have a solid agreement in place to produce a course with high earning potential, partnering with a co-instructor is a great way to accelerate the course creation process. For hot, emerging topics, it's an especially good way to be first to market.

Thank you so much Frank , That was quite insightful and very helpful. I'm sorry if i'm asking a stupid question but what does this mean, "if someone uses IP they don't own" I don't understand.

From what I know an IP address belongs to a system/ computer. Does it matter which computer they use? Like for example , if i hire an editor and the files are edited on their system but I upload them from mine to udemy, would that be an issue?

I think he means "intellectual property".  What if your partner uses someone else's material in your joint content?

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

Right. 

Thank you so much.

Thank you for clearning that . 

Cheers

 

May be he meant IP as Intellectual property rather than Internet Protocol.

 

I am from network background so definitely he didn’t mean Internet protocol because topic is different.

Thanks for the great story and info, Frank! Really inspiring.

I was wondering - I know you automate parts of your automation (especially Q&A). At what stage did you begin doing that? How many students / courses did you have when you began with this automation?

Thanks!

FrankKane
Community Champion Community Champion
Community Champion

I think I only had a couple of courses when I started using a TA to help with Q&A, but one of them was a top-seller and was generating enough questions every day to eat up at least an hour of my time. I was probably at around 50K students at that point if I had to guess. An hour a day doesn't sound bad, but it's weekends, holidays, and vacations too - so at that level it starts to wear on you and you need to enlist some help. Plus my courses are technical, so answers usually aren't easy.

 

I don't think it's really a function of how many courses and students you have; it's a function of how much time you are spending every day supporting those courses and whether it is starting to cut into your productivity in creating new content, or worse still if it is starting to become frustrating. Creating courses should be enjoyable, and if it's not - it's time to outsource what's preventing that.

Thanks!

Dear Frank, thank you so much for sharing this information, instructors like you tells me that its possible to reach any feet in this platform through hard work and consistency. God bless you and the family.

cancel
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.
Top Liked Authors