Hello Instructor Community!
We are excited to bring you our newest 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 Rahul Iyer who has been an instructor on Udemy since August 2016 and is one of our newest Community Champions!
Get to know more about Rahul in our interview below:
Who is Rahul Iyer?
I am based in Pune, India. With an experience of over 2 decades, I teach in the field of Project Management, Operations, and Six Sigma.
My credentials include:
My last full-time job was with the Bank of New York Mellon in the capacity of a Vice President. I led various roles at the bank including the Head of Data and Analytics for Global Workplace Strategy, Head of Transformation Academy, Head of PMO (Transformation), among others.
I started my Udemy journey while working full-time at the bank. Within four years, my Udemy earnings consistently matched with the salary of the CEO of BNY Mellon, India. That’s when I decided to leave my full-time job and focus on Udemy only. Since October 2020, I have been working as a full-time Udemy instructor, and it has turned out to be the best career decision.
What is your teaching style?
Adding Real-Life Stories to Your Content: Topics in my niche are generally dry. So, I prefer to add several real-life stories based on my experience. I also dive deep into how and why particular tools and techniques came to life. Humans love stories, we have heard stories since we were kids. And when you add exciting stories, we all understand the concepts way better.
Slides and Voiceover (at the beginning): When I started on Udemy, my teaching style involved using slides and voiceover. Those courses did very well. For the first 3 years, I had only invested in a Blue Snowball Microphone and Camtasia Subscription. Talking Head Videos with Stock Photos, Videos, and Slides (Now): As my income grew in the online teaching space, I invested that money in building my personal studio laced with all the necessary equipment (such as flood lights, ring lights, dslr camera, sound absorbing curtains, teleprompter, high end desktop, bigger screens, switching from Camtasia to Premiere Pro etc). This helped in enhancing my course quality multiple times. My teaching style has enhanced to talking head videos that include stock photos, stock videos, and slides.
Sneak Peek into my Personal Studio: Here’s a sneak peek into my personal studio. The first image is the lighting set up: the rectangular lights are flood lights placed on custom made iron stands, ring light, the curtains have embedded sound absorbing sponge (custom made). The second image is of my workstation setup. It includes the 3-screen setup connected together. The desktop has the latest AMD Ryzen 7 3800X processor, 64 GB RAM, latest wifi motherboard, 1 TB SDD, and latest video card, etc. I bought all of these components separately and assembled the pc myself. I would like to stress that you don’t need sophisticated gadgets or a studio setup to be successful on Udemy. I bought the set up only when I was earning enough to easily invest.
What is one thing you wish that every NEW Udemy Instructor knew?
Many Instructors Quit after Reality Sets In
The internet is filled with stories of individuals who have earned millions selling online courses. While most of these stories are true, those videos underestimate the efforts put behind by those instructors in earning those millions. This makes us believe that online course selling has a magic wand. It boosts our confidence with fluff and unrealistic expectations. But when we release our first course, reality hits. We are dismayed and disappointed with the results. Our unrealistic expectations hit rock bottom levels. And many instructors call it quits.
3P’s – Planning, Perspiration, Perseverance
I think what every new instructor must know is that online course creation and being successful on Udemy requires 3P’s – Planning, Perspiration, and Perseverance.
Can you share your favorite experience/interaction with a student?
This one example had surprised me completely and is thus my favorite.
Receiving the Email:
During the initial days of my career as an online instructor, I did not know the importance of using closed captions. But a few senior Udemy instructors stressed that we must use closed captions as they are very helpful. So, I just followed their advice. I received an email one day from one of my students thanking me for adding closed captions to my courses. While we all frequently receive such thank you emails, this one email stood out.
What did the Student Say?
The student said that he was deaf and partially disabled. He was longing to take courses in my niche and because I had closed captions, he was able to take the course and fulfil his desire to learn this topic. This individual went on to take all of my courses and is now running his own organization selling hearing aids implementing all of the project management and process improvement concepts in his company. Wow, that was awesome.
Upon further research, I found that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than one billion people (that’s 15% of the world) live with some type of disability. Dyslexia alone affects around 10% of the population to some degree, making it one of the most common forms of learning challenges today. And as a training professional, it’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone experiences training in a positive and engaging way. The addition of closed caption script to the course video material makes it more inclusive and is a worthwhile consideration.
If you didn't teach on Udemy what would you be doing?
I would have continued my journey as an employee in the Bank. I would have probably aimed at becoming the CEO of the Indian Division of the Bank. My next step could have been joining any of the big four consulting firms as a Partner.
What is your favorite thing about being an online instructor?
In the order of importance:
Who would you want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
My young daughter. Every father who has a young daughter(s) has one common wish. They want to see their daughter(s) grow in front of their eyes. I am no different. I have a young daughter and being an online instructor gives me the ability to stay at home and watch my little angel grow in front of my eyes. What more can you ask for? 😊
If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
Time Travel: Control the nature of your time; Go back and change things that went wrong or Travel to the future to see what would happen if you made a given choice. I would just love to have this superpower.
Have a question for Rahul? Ask him in the comments below!
Great question. It actually depends on the niche that you are in. But the competitiveness in your niche will not be in your direct control. In this situation, you have control over how good a course you create and how best are you able to get good reviews for this course. These two factors play a significant role. I really cannot comment on time needed to get students. It varies for each instructor. But I will surely ask you to focus on the two factors. They should help you in getting a fairly good start.
Thanks for the question. In the first month, I believe I had about 15 to 18 students and earned $15. Second month was $10 (about 10 to 15 students). And in the third month I earned about $11.25 (about 10 to 15 students). I have posted more details of my Udemy journey so far in this link. I think it may be useful, hence sharing: