I am very aware that there are as many perspectives on Udemy as there are instructors. We each have our story and they differ by category, when we started, and by the experience and skills of the instructor. Recently I have read a good number of posts that I would consider discouraging and disappointing. So, I just want to share my data and my perspective, realizing it is unique to me, but I don't think unusual. I hope it will be encouraging to others.
Below is my revenue graph from 2014 when I developed my first course. The first thing I would like new instructors to notice is that for the first two or more years, the results were very modest. It took my fourth or fifth course to get things moving in a significantly positive direction. My results were also greatly enhanced by the development of Udemy for Business which now represent around 65% of my revenue.
November was my best month ever. Marketplace revenue was just about the same as a year earlier, but overall, enrollments were up 30% from a year ago, and total revenue was up 26%. UFB revenue was up 58%. The trend is obvious. I have no idea whether or not this trend will continue, but with the infusion of $421 million from the IPO to expand the business, I don’t see why it wouldn’t. My own goal is very simple - to help maintain this trend.
Just a couple pieces of advice for new instructors, all of which may be obvious.
First, building a business is a long-term game and you shouldn’t expect short term results. Success requires sticking with it over several years.
Second, you are very unlikely to be happy with the results from one course. You must have a strategy to build a portfolio of courses on related topics that can result in repeat sales to happy customers. About one third of my enrollments are repeat customers.
Third, Udemy is a marketing organization. Marketing is what they do. It is their expertise, and that expertise is why we are here. I think there is little reason to be here if you aren’t going to participate in Udemy promotions. You will not do it better than they will.
Fourth, it would be extremely helpful if Udemy would share the data on enrollments and revenue by category. They are not equal. My guess is that courses on music, for example, are not experiencing growth similar to business courses. I think, but don’t know, that Udemy is increasingly a business-to-business company. I am lucky in that regard because my courses are well positioned for that market.
Finally, I don’t have a huge number of courses and I don’t think you need to. I am happy with my seventeen courses because they essentially represent what I know. They are my body of knowledge. But… there is increasing competition in all areas and the challenge is to continuously improve our courses to maintain our competitive position in this marketplace. That is my simple goal for the coming years.
Awesome, Lawrence!!! And I may be wrong, but I think instructors in the beggining of the carreer in Udemy have more potential to grow in the marketplace. Let's hope this is true... Awesome data and analysis, as usual
I think you are right that new instructors cannot count on UFB to get them started. They will have to establish some success in the marketplace and that will increasingly require some level of self promotion. I know some people hate this analogy, but I think it is more and more like book publishing. You can't just count on a publisher to promote your book. Publishers expect you to have what they call a "platform" which means a mailing list, speaking engagements, etc. Some brand presence. They want you to generate enough sales to cover their upfront costs. It seems "unfair" to many, but markets have never been "fair."