Note: I am republishing this from my LinkedIn Newsletter, the Instructional Media Insider
The Problem with Video Production
To access a template for the Instructional Video Planning Tool discussed in this article, open the template and click File —> Make a Copy. You must be signed in to your Google Account to make a copy of the template. From there, you can export to Excel if you prefer it to Google Sheets.
I know firsthand how time-consuming and expensive video production can be. It seems like there are a million things to keep track of, and when things go wrong, it can be a real headache. That's why I'm excited to share a planning tool with you that can cut your production time and costs by 50%.
Without proper planning and organization, we can find ourselves floundering and wasting precious resources. Have you ever found yourself scratching your head, trying to figure out what needs to be done next or redoing work that wasn't done correctly the first time? It's frustrating, and it can cause major delays and increased costs.
But fear not, my friend! With the right planning tool, we can streamline workflows, improve communication, and reduce production time and costs. Imagine having a clear plan of action, assigning tasks to team members, and tracking progress in real-time. It's a game-changer!
So, if you're tired of headaches and want to save time and money, give this planning tool a try. I promise you won't regret it!
The Tool: Instructional Video Planning Document
I'm a huge proponent of spending time in the preproduction process. A thorough process you reuse every time will provide several efficiencies once you adopt it.
Every hour you spend in the preproduction process can save you two hours — or more — of expensive production time.
Remember that the most expensive part of the production process is production and post-production— so spending time in the relatively inexpensive pre-production process makes sense if it saves time in the expensive later stages of production.
Pre-production is often given short-shrift because it's not sexy. Pre-production is planning, spreadsheets, and writing. These activities are not why we became video producers, but they make us good video producers.
I like to think of my production process as follows:
Pre-Production: Plan the production process scene by scene using the instructional video planning document.
Production: Shoot the video and create the assets according to the document created.
Post-Production: Assemble the video and assets according to the document created.
If the process seems over-simplistic: Good!
Processes bogged down in lots of minute detail tend to move slower, be more expensive, and don't often yield a better result.
Step 1: Plan Your Scene Inventory
When using the instructional video planning document, the very first thing I do is create an inventory of shots that I'm going to use in production. You can think of these scenes as "screen layouts" that we will use in the video series.
To keep viewers engaged, I recommend changing your shot every 15 seconds or so. At first, this may seem like a lot, but this is critical to keep viewers from fatiguing and zoning out when watching your video.
Check out the average network tv show and observe how often they change shots. You'll find that the big network producers change shots or perspectives every 3-5 seconds. They do this because it engages audiences. Much instructional video is shot with a single shot of the instructor and/or slides. How do you think this engages as compared to the media that viewers are watching on HBO?
I placed a sample inventory of 10 shots in the instructional video planning document template.
You might have different types of shots or a different number of shots depending on the type of video you're shooting. The sample provided is for an eight-video-long WordPress course with a live instructor and screencast videos.
If you're creating a video about workplace safety, you'd likely include B-roll shots and more infographic shots in your inventory.
The thing to keep in mind is that your shot selection during this stage of pre-production planning is not arbitrary. Your shot selection is closely related to the training topic and video resources you have available. (This is where you put on your instructional designer hat!)
I recommend creating obvious, descriptive titles for each shot when producing your shot inventory. I use an abbreviated version of the shot title for the image assets corresponding to each shot. If your video is complex and contains many different types of shots, it will prove helpful to identify your shot templates by their filename.
Step 2: Plan Your Video Sequence
When my Scene Inventory is completed, it's time to move on to planning my video sequence. While unnecessary for a stand-alone video, for a series of videos, this is an essential process. This planning process essentially yields my course outline.
For each video in the series, I first develop a title and a learning objective. I'm a huge proponent of having only one learning objective per video, which keeps videos more focused and shorter. (I won't have the video length debate here, but let's say I think shorter videos are, in general, better.)
The video description column is completed with a user-facing description of the video. This is not the same thing as the learning objective, although it may be similar. In the video description, I'm writing instructional marketing copy — text encouraging the user to watch the video. This text often appears in LMS systems or sales sites where your video series is offered.
If I plan to include any external resources with the video, like a PDF tipsheet or lab exercise, I note that in the column labeled Resources included.
Finally, the filename prefix is created automatically by joining the course prefix from the document header and the video number. In a busy studio like mine, where we create up to 10 videos daily, this is a critical organizational element and prevents us from losing video and other important assets. Every file associated with a video is named with the respective file prefix. For example, an infographic might be named WP_02_infographic_01.png, meaning it's the first infographic associated with the second video in the series.
Step 3: Plan Your Individual Videos
This is the giant meatball and where you'll find most of your time efficiencies realized.
Every video can be broken down into a sequence of shots. Your planning process for invidiual videos in your series will amount to a shot-by-shot plan of what you intend to compile.
In the first column, you can label each shot (known as blocks). I assign a letter identifying each shot in the video. The next column, populated for you, provides a filename prefix for all assets associated with the individual video and shot. We use this religiously, and it almost makes our file assets self-organizing. We can search globally because, as long as your series prefix is unique, each asset filename will be unique.
The dropdown in the next column is populated from our first spreadsheet. Each of the shot types defined in the Shot Inventory Tab appears. You'll choose the type of shot you want, and the following two columns displaying the shot thumbnail and the template filename will populate automatically.
We use the following two columns to insert either our scripts or outlines if sections are being voiced extemporaneously. (Our on-camera instructors don't script the meat of lessons word-for-word and instead depend on outlines to seem more natural.)
Finally, we have a column to link to relevant assets, such as individual infographics developed from the templates. The final two columns provide a space for production notes and editor notes.
Step 4: Shoot Your Videos Shot by Shot
I shoot each video in sequence, shot by shot. My producer has the completed instructional video planning document open during the shoot, marks off each shot as completed, and makes any relevant notes for the editor right in the document itself.
This shot-by-shot strategy has several advantages. First, because each section is short, we have fewer on-camera errors. In fact, we don't "edit out" errors but, instead, reshoot any short sections where the presenter (or producer) makes an error. This is much less time-consuming than having an editor attempt to edit out individual errors during the post-production process. We can also avoid discontinuities that lead to jump cuts.
Jump cuts might work on YouTube, but we're creating professional education here!
I've also found that people who are new on camera find this approach much less intimidating because they have a minimal amount of material to get through in any section. The producer does have to keep things moving, but, in the end, avoiding long reshoots and edits is a huge time saver.
As we go, we're naming our file assets according to the document. We have separate audio and video files, so we would name assets we shoot for a section like this:
Step 5: Put it All Together in Post-Production
Once we've shot everything, the document and all the assets go to our video editors, who work remotely.
The Instructional Video Planning document provides them with everything they need to assemble high-quality videos according to my plan. There's no question about how any screen should look, and due to our strict naming convention defined in the document, no lost or mislabeled assets to track down.
I hope you find this process and my Instructional Video Planning Document helpful. Please feel free to modify it works with your own studio workflow! Good luck!
This is the video resulting from the workflow in the template:
Make sure to include a welcome message and congratulations message on each course you create! If you ignore this, you may be missing out on wonderful student engagement opportunities! In your welcome message, you can include a guide on how to get started with your course, how to move throughout the course and even where resources are located. I also let students know about community areas where they can post student projects or get in touch with me.
Also, congrats messages are great ways to talk about next steps in their learning journeys but also letting students know if they would like to review your course, they have that opportunity. You can encourage students to also complete any student projects. Just a quick thought on how important this little area is in your course creation process is! I ignored it for a long time but just finished up having a personal message for each course. I think it goes a long way in establishing trust between teacher and student.
Before you start creating your course content, it is important to dedicate some time to think about who your intended learners are.
A few simple questions can help you do this:
Who are they?
Where are they?
What do they need?
What are their goals or challenges?
Why do they need it?
Having a good definition of your target audience will help you improve your marketing strategies, such as:
Developing a language and identity that is in line with your audience;
Creating your learning objectives
Defining your communication channels;
Producing relevant content for your target audience;
Knowing how and when to offer promotions;
Learners are more engaged and motivated when courses are tailored to their specific interests. Keeping your audience in mind when creating your course will be essential to its success on Udemy.
For more guidance, learn more about how to define your audience in this article and
How to gain potential students before you publish!
Hello & happy Wednesday Instructors!
Earlier this week we were fortunate enough to sit down and chat with Jimmy Naraine, Udemy instructor to over 350k+ students, about his course creation process. His presentation was one part tactical application, one part motivation & one part mindset shift...it's definitely a must-see!
Here's what other instructors were saying after the webinar:
"His enthusiasm and energy are contagious, but even more importantly are some of his ideas and suggestions about topics I hadn't even considered"
"Jimmy is a great motivator. Because of his experience in his field, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s one instructor who people should listen to."
If you missed it, don't worry, we've got the replay for you below! Enjoy!
Happy to share that I have crossed a personal milestone of $250,000 on Udemy this month. This has been an absolutely delightful journey as a course creator. I want to begin by sharing my humble thanks to Udemy for providing an outstanding platform for instructors like us. Here's a glimpse of my journey:
Why I joined Udemy?
I joined Udemy in August 2016. The primary reason to join was to manage work-life balance and achieve financial freedom. Two mortgages and other loans amounted to over INR 80 lakhs (>$114K) of my personal debt. Although I was earning exceptionally well in my full-time job, I realized (much later) that most of my earnings were paid as interest to banks and taxes to the government. So, something had to be done. These huge loans were to be eliminated. Hence, in 2014, I had started taking cohort based trainings and the initiative was successful. My new side-hustle had a great start. However, with the full-time job, I had to manage marketing, execution, conversion, training, admin, and everything else for this side hustle (my new company). Plus, my weekends were packed with 12 hours of training each day. So, the initial success was at the cost of non-stop work for 3 consecutive years (2014 to 2016).
How I found Udemy?
During this period of extreme hustle, I realized my core strength was content creation. So I needed someone who could do the rest (marketing, sales, administration, etc). That's when I stumbled upon Udemy. I saw @SandeepKumar's Six Sigma courses on Udemy. That was my niche. I saw the number of enrollments and like everyone else, I thought the price per course was $200 (Lol 😂). I was blown by calculating the numbers of the high price per course and the number of enrollments. I later realized that the price point is not very high, however, a sustained effort can bring outstanding success on this platform. I joined the platform instantly in August 2016.
The Initial 2.5 Years on Udemy (2016 - 2018):
During this period, I dabbled with my full-time job, cohort based trainings, and creation of new courses. Below is my income of the first three months:
Aug 2016 - $15.70
Sep 2016 - $10.00
Oct 2016 - $11.25
I continued the path of earning a three figure income until September 2017. I was still fairly new on the platform and realized the importance of in-demand topics much later.
By mid-2018, I had heard much about @PhilEbiner and @ScottDuffy's success on Udemy. So I enrolled in their courses. I was also inspired by revenue posts from @FrankKane. I also regularly tuned in to Phil's Podcasts where he would interview successful Udemy instructors.
This became a perfect foundation for a sound and thriving business that was ready to be built on Udemy.
The Year that picked pace - 2019
My mantra was to create quality courses on in-demand topics and release new courses frequently. I followed this path and it helped me hit my first 4 figure mark in 2018:
Oct 2018 - $1,024.54
Nov 2018 - $2,384.91
Dec 2018 - $1,461.21
Jan 2019 - $1,664.59
As I continued this journey, I hit my first $5,000 mark per month ($5,196.01) in Dec 2019.
As my income increased and showed promising signs of success, I stopped efforts on my cohort based, reduced the frequency of my visiting faculty sessions, and focused only on my full-time job and Udemy. My non-stop work schedule was getting relaxed and work-life was getting in control.
The Year of My Corporate Life Retirement - 2020
I had never imagined I would ever retire the corporate life. And that too when I am in my mid-30's. But by 2020, early retirement was on my mind. I was earning twice as much as my full-time job salary. At a few occasions, my earnings surpassed the monthly salary of the CEO of BNY Mellon, India (my employer). And to top it all, I had cleared my mortgage and all other loans of >80 lakhs INR (> $114K). So, I was saving every penny earned. As I consistently started earning more than $7K per month, I decided to quit my full-time job. This was in October 2020. In the next month (November 2020), I hit my first 5 figure mark ($10,260.18). This assured that my decision to quit full-time job was right.
This was my first year as a full-time Udemy instructor. With more time at hand, I dabbled with a number of other activities such as eBooks, Audiobooks, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. But it was Udemy that continued to increase income significantly. No other source was even close to Udemy earnings. The return on time and effort investment in making Udemy courses was way higher than any other sources. November 2021 turned out to be my best month on Udemy with a monthly income that crossed $15K. And in December 2021, I crossed $250K in life-time earnings.
That has been my journey so far. I achieved financial freedom. The standard of living increased significantly. I control my own schedule. I never have to leave my house. After clearing the debt, I purchased two villas - all cash. And the best part, I can see my daughter grow each day - all the time.
This post is definitely not to brag about achievements. These are several other instructors who have been on this path. I have just followed their path. Milestone posts (like these) from seasoned instructors used to inspire me.
To be successful, all you need to do is stick to the path with utmost dedication and passion. I am open for any questions. Feel free to drop them on this post.
I wanted to post this screenshot to give inspiration to you guys teaching on Udemy. I started here in April 2016, and it was slow going at first… achieving $50 in my first month and only $700 overall after 4 months. But I had an overwhelming passion to make Udemy my full-time job and be the best I can be at it.
After year 1, I had made just over $20k. I was happy but felt I could achieve more and help more people. Eventually it was when I posted the first Cryptocurrency course on Udemy that things changed!
I am 1m% grateful to Udemy for the support, guidance and motivation, in addition to the brilliant resources, to make courses. I have been exclusive with Udemy, no starting my own website, no posting on multiple e-learning websites… because I didn’t need or want to. Everything I have is here and I hope this achievement can show you that all you need is Udemy and great courses!
I thought I was late to the party starting in 2016 when Udemy had been going for years already. But it shows you if you make a knowledge rich, long course on Udemy in a trending area and you have worked hard building your student numbers and are genuinely helpful as a teacher, you can achieve your goals no matter when you join.
Hope this helped inspire you today…
Let me know if you have any questions.
I achieved an amazing milestone on Udemy this week.
I launched my first course on Udemy in January 2016. That month I did about $750 in sales.
Since then I've launched 16 additional courses. A lot of nights, weekends, and holidays have gone into course creation. Today, I'll see single days greater than my first month.
It's been a journey. The quality of my first course was awful. I recorded dreey lectures against a grey backdrop. And used a Blue Yeti that picked up EVERYTHING. You could hear planes flying overhead, my dog crying... Yeah, it was that awful! LOL
But I've learned a lot along the way. The organization and quality of my recent courses has significantly improved. Each course I created, I reflected on what I could do to improve. Some came from student feedback. Some came from learning from other successful instructors. The important part is to always be learning and improving.
I know when I was starting out, this level of success seemed unattainable. I hope newer instructors find inspiration from this post. There is no easy button. It takes work and time. Every lecture you create, grows your content. Every day that passes, more students will find you. Until someday, you look back and say wow! To steal a slogan from the folks at ConvertKit - "Create Everyday!"
The purpose of this post is not to show the money I make on Udemy (in fact there are no numbers in the screenshot I uploaded), but to share my journey as an instructor, in the hope of inspiring others who are perhaps just starting theirs, or who are frustrated because things are not turning out as they expected, and can't spot what is going wrong.
I have divided my journey into 4 stages. In all of them there is a single common denominator (mistake-learning process) and a single result when adding up all the parts (growth).
Stage A represents what we could call "magical thinking": I'm going to publish a course and I'm going to get rich right away. Who hasn't fallen into that wonderful fantasy? I have. And in the worst way. When that didn't happen I got frustrated, I blamed Udemy, I blamed the students, I blamed the review system, and I blamed my competitors. I blamed everyone except the person I was supposed to blame: myself.
The obvious result of this mentality was to stop trying. Why would I do that? I had created what I thought was the most magnificent course possible and no one was smart enough to give it the sacred value it had! As a result I lost 2 valuable years.
Stage B begins when I said to myself: "let's try it one more time, but this time let's look at what the winners do, and let's start from there". In this stage I dedicated myself to do two things: to be inspired by the right people (thanks Phil) and to produce non-stop, without focusing on the numbers. The only thing I was looking at was what I could do better in my next course.
Something very important at this stage was that I understood that nobody is an expert in everything (specially me), and therefore I needed to learn a lot, and for that I had to associate with others, exchange experiences, link up with my colleagues.
I took advantage of every opportunity that Udemy offered to network. These actions were reflected in my charts, and reinforced that conviction. The big step (fruit of this mentality) and that gave way to the next stage, was the decision to participate in the global event Udemy Live Berlin 2019. It was not easy, I live in Argentina, and my income still did not allow me to travel so comfortably, but I knew that this was the right step.
Stage C (immediate growth and subsequent fall) was a direct consequence of 2 aspects: the Berlin meeting on the one hand (which gave me contacts, successful partnerships, support groups, great friends, and mostly a lot of learning) and on the other hand the explosion of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
At first my sales exploded, the quality of my products improved, I started to develop a team (why did I resist so much?) and everything seemed to go up. But there were still lessons to be learned.
Sales dropped sharply in the following months, and then just kept growing slightly. But this time I was ready to blame the right person: me.
I was guilty of taken for granted that success was guaranteed. I was being kidnapped by the dumb idea that my students will love my next course, just because they loved my previous one. At the same time the world was changing and I couldn't see where it was going, and I was letting my courses be a constant reproduction of themselves. I was giving my students more of the same, in an ever-improving package. Something needed to change, and fast.
That's how stage D began, where the chart shows the biggest growth lines I've had in my entire career. What are they due to? Because I reacted to what I learned during Stage C. I decided to stop thinking about making courses that make money, and focused on making courses that improve the life of my students. When it used to take me 1 month to do a course, now it takes me 6 months. I plan my next courses as if it were a Netflix show (I'm not saying I'll make it, I'm saying I use that concept as a goal).
The paradox is that I learned that when you produce with total love, the student falls in love with you, and you achieve in an indirect way the objective you were looking for directly before.
My success on Udemy does not mean that I have surpassed anyone, it only shows that I have surpassed myself. That I have learned from my mistakes and that I must have a humble attitude if I want to keep growing. That's why I shared this graph without numbers, because what's important are those lines that go up and down, moving to the rhythm of my own wisdom and my own stupidity.
If you ever feel stuck in your career as a course creator, run to the nearest mirror, there you will find all the answers.
What a great Black Friday / Cyber Monday. I hit two milestones: $100,000 Total and $10,000 / month in less than 2 years. Thank you Udemy, for this great platform and all your efforts!
I started my first course just for fun and I didn´t expect anything because I
teach extremely competitive topics (Python, Data Science, Finance)
teach in English and I am not a native Speaker
had no following
never made courses / taught anything before (in fact, presentations had never been my favorite activity)
hadn´t worked in B2C before (only B2B)
don´t do any marketing
In my view, it´s still possible to start a successful (side-) Business on Udemy
If you are an Expert in your Topics and provide additional benefits/insight/niches
If you have some talent in structuring and explaining complex topics in a way that 98% of your students really understand and digest what you are saying. I have always been a good and passionate learner. I guess this really helps to create and optimize content for students.
If you have patience and realistic expectations. Even if your first course is (in your opinion) the best and most comprehensive course in its category you probably won´t make thousands in the first couple of months. Algorithms prefer/promote those Instructors/Courses with an existing track record, which is OK.
Some insights and tips:
Udemy is not passive Income -> It´s hard work to create (& update) 10h, 50h, or even 100h of video content. If you are new, it´s even more important to answer student questions and help your students as good as you can (can be very time consuming and nerve-racking)
Udemy is not a getting rich quick scheme. It´s a bet on continuous growth: I crossed the $1,000 Milestone after 4 months, the next $99,000 took 19 months. But the truth is that I am still months/year(s) away from break-even (income if I had invested the time spent on Udemy into the next best opportunity). -> Udemy is more than just money, it´s a lifestyle. If you are an expert in something and earn good money, Udemy is probably not the best alternative if money is your first priority.
Don´t start with your “flagship” course. Start with 2 or 3 short/free courses, improve your course making skills, understand how the platform works, and build a first audience/following.
I'd love to see some posts of course videos and some of the things that make your videos unique.
For those of us who work in competitive sectors there are often dozens or even hundreds of videos covering the same material-- so how do you make the experience unique for viewers? Here's a recent video:
A couple of things that help make our videos stand out:
1) We annotate screencasts with arrows to guide the viewer to what we're talking about.
2) Our instructors appear on screen at different points in the video to refocus the learner and re-engage.
3) We create a graphical theme that carries through the video and video series.
Let's see your videos and some things you do that are different!
Love the graphics by the way! Going to add a few more points.... 1.) I like to do an ease in ease out smooth zooming in on parts of the application I am working on. This helps to reduce clutter on the screen other parts of the software that we are not needing at the time. As you mention, annotations are so helpful! 2.) The first 5 seconds I do some sort of animation (of moving image) that shows the end product that we produce. 3.) The first 5 seconds I do a unique music clip that you do not hear elsewhere in the course. I have seen courses have the same 5 second audio clip and by video 20 you are needing something fresh to shake it up. Sometimes, I take the same audio track and do a continuance. So, video 1 will have the first 5 seconds of the song, second video another 5 second clip from the same audio track so it is different yet thematic. 4.) I always have small titles fly out at the top of the screen like a small tab that shows the topic we are talking about. This helps when someone scrubs the video and can see it like a bookmark. Never too large to obstruct the learning experience. 5.) Never do pure talking heads for more than 30 seconds. Break it up by showing a visual or software application etc. I have seen too many videos will a talking head the entire time with no visual aids. 6.) I make the end of my videos as exciting as my intros. The last 5 seconds eases in the music a bit and shows what we are working on in the next video (maybe even a clip from the next video). 7.) Videos should stop around 10-12 minutes in length (or shorter).
View the full discussion here
After almost full 5 years of Udemy experience, I reached USD 250K today! I owe this success to inspiring instructors who always go before us and show us what are possible. Special thanks to @LindsayMarsh and @PhilEbiner who showed me basic strategy to be successful in Udemy. That is just keep making courses. I learned to be good contributor to Udemy community from @ScottDuffy. Helping others and serving community themselves are rewarding. @LawrenceMMiller always gives wisdom and insight.
For those who have just started Udemy journey, I want to share one secret to be successful in Udemy. That is, there is no such secret. All you need to know is shared in this Udemy community. BY learning Udemy courses by yourselves, you can learn how successful Udemy instructors teach and how they structure their courses. Stop chasing "best way", "short cut" nor "Only_successful instructors_know_things". Because there are no such things.
I am merely a high school graduate and no degree in higher education. I was raised by single mom. Most of Japanese companies denied my resume because of my academic background. I am a husband and a father of 3 daughters. I still work for 9 to 5 job. Meaning I am just a normal guy.
But one thing I did was I kept making courses. After 59 months of Udemy career, I have published 48 courses and still continue.
Those who feel that your revenue grow very slow, I know how you feel. But, once you get momentum, things go really quickly. I calculate how much months I needed to earn every USD 50K;
1st 50K 38 months
2nd 50K another 7 months
3rd 50K another 6 months
4th 50K another 4 months
5th 50K another 4 months.
As you see, to earn first 50K, it took me 3 years. But another 50K was easy, just 7 month. 5 times faster than 1st 50K. It is because during the 3 years, you cumulate skills and you cumulate courses, students and reviews. Another 50K , you can use these. I know by observing come-and-go in communities (it used to be Facebook, and now this official community) for 5 years, that not many are patient. So stick to it and just keep moving on, you are already special here!
Shigeru Masukawa from Tokyo, Japan
Udemy Senior Product Marketing Manager, Katie Bent presented an hour-long webinar "Making the Most of your Instructor Experience" and we've got the replay for you below!
In this hour-long webinar Katie goes over:
The 4 P's of being an online instructor
How to make the most of Marketplace Insights
The importance of the first 15 minutes of your course
How to optimize your course landing page
Today we are happy to bring you the replay of the webinar with @MarkLassoff & @DiogoAlvesd487 . In this hour-long session, our panel discussed their top post-publishing tips and took questions from the audience.
Here are a few more marketing resources for you to check out:
Establishing your credibility with reviews
Making the most of your coupons & referrals
Reach out to your learners
In this hour-long webinar Chen answers the following questions:
What are the Udemy SEO considerations that I should be looking at before the course launches?
How can I check that my course titles & instructor page are optimized for SEO?
Is it possible to rank a new course on 1st page of search results if all other courses on 1st page already have 100’s - 1,000’s of reviews?
What can Udemy instructors do to promote their own courses?
How has marketing for Udemy instructors changed in the past two years
Our approach is much different than most on here-- Our business on Udemy has diminished over the last few years, but, we're still very grateful for the partnership.
My company, Framework Television, has evolved from a Udemy seller to independent publisher to fledgling educational digital television network.
Not the normal Udemy path.
I started on Udemy because of cancer.
Strange but true. I had been flying around the world as a technical trainer, teaching the first generation of mobile developers and multi-media web developers. I had a great client base-- Lockheed, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Boeing and even the US House of Representatives were all my training clients. I was making buckets of money and having a great time. It was the life. First class seats on planes, great hotels, and great people.
Then one day nine years ago, I was about to start a course for the FAA. I was about to begin teaching and realized my muscles were so fatigued; I couldn't get out of the chair.
They brought me to the ER, and the eventual diagnosis was colon cancer.
I was 35 years old.
What they don't tell you about fighting cancer is that (for me at least) it was not so debilitating that you can't do anything, but, I wasn't able to travel and continue working. So there was a lot of Price is Right and a lot of web surfing.
One day in my web surfing, I discovered Udemy. And I thought to myself, "I can do this better than these people! Maybe this is a chance to make some extra coin."
To my surprise, the course made money.
Suddenly it was making lots of money. I was lucky.
So I made another course. Then another. Soon I had to hire an assistant. Then he had to work full time.
So years later (and two paradigm shifts later) here I am. I've had a #1 computer book on Amazon. I've authored dozens of courses myself and published dozens of courses authored by others. Now I'm on the adventure of my life starting a streaming video network teaching people coding, digital design, and game development. It all started with Udemy. And we're still there.
So a few recommendations for those just starting out:
1) Focus on quality. You're not going to do well trying to find the shortest path between you and making a buck. We've continually improved quality over the years in an attempt to better engage, better explain and create a better degree of success.
It's amazing that when you provide actual quality, you don't worry about the review system much.
2) Video lectures are not enough. Students learn better if you provide a multi-modal education. Add worksheets, labs, even a written version of the lectures. We now include the equivalent of an entire book with our courses as well as exercises, additional practice, etc.
3) Learn production. Sorry, if I have to watch another Powerpoint presentation masquerading as a course I'm going to scream. Differentiate yourself and create something worth watching. We know why you use PowerPoint-- It's easy. I can read the PowerPoint slides, thank you. Reading them to me does not make a course. (Argue all you want. PowerPoint makes bad courses and makes you lazy).
Here's a screenshot from one of our courses:
We're shooting against a green screen. Everything else -- lower thirds, animated backgrounds, etc, we learned in Udemy courses. You'd be surprised what you can learn here.
Production matters because your audience isn't comparing your work to other online courses... They're comparing it to other media. Video games, movies, TV Shows, are all your competition for eyeballs. Can you engage as they can? Do everything you can to engage your audience.
If they're not watching your snooze-fest, it's your fault. Not theirs.
4) Work as you've never worked before. I love every minute of the work we do. I cannot be more excited to take the 30-minute train ride to our studio each day. I work 12-14 hours on many days. I've created a team of folks that I love.
This is my passion.
5) Be an expert. I cringe whenever I hear the word niche. When someone is seeking a niche, they're looking for a way to make money-- not teaching what they are passionate about. We don't need another Facebook ads instructor who wants to do it because it's lucrative. Of those of us who've made it to the million dollar mark I guarantee most of us are experts teaching what we're passionate about.
The opportunities always lose in the end, because there is a shiner quarter somewhere.
6) If you don't like it, quit. Today. There is no imperative to make a course. It's even worse to make a lousy course and hate the process. If you don't like it, quit. Life is short and, in the end, you should spend time doing what you're passionate about.
That's all for now. Ask me anything.
Congrats Mark, what a great achievement!
It's an AMA, so here I go with the tough questions:
1) How long did it take you to get there?
2) You have over a quarter million students, are they all paid? It seems that ~$4 per student is a low number, that would mean most of them aren't repeat buyers? Any free coupons?
3) I see you have almost 7,000 reviews. How do you explain the low review to student count ratio? Do you think that has any impact on your sales?
4) You said your Udemy review has been dwindling. What do you attribute this to, what and when was your peak revenue and your monthly revenue now?
Thanks for the inspiration Stephane
Thanks. I don't mind tough questions. Not sure how some of these are helpful to you or help you sell more courses, but, here goes...
1) About 8 years.
2) I actually have over 375,000 students across different accounts. I have other accounts generating revenue as well. This was just the first one to reach a major milestone like this. For a period a few years back when I worked closely with Udemy they systematically gave away one of my courses as a way to entice people into buying. They don't do that anymore as their strategy has changed. I have no idea how many are repeat buyers. It seems like we have a significant number based on names I notice again and again, but, since Udemy doesn't provide a convenient way to track that, we have more constructive metrics to focus on. 3) We've never focused on trying to get students to review courses. Before the algorithm changes in 2016(15?) the number of reviews wasn't a huge factor. Now Udemy has made the number of reviews a major factor in search. (The unintended consequence was wide-spread cheating). We had plenty of reviews for social proof. Our current strategy focuses more on reviews and class participation. 4) We used to do over $25k a month up to $45K a month. Now we do under $5K some months. Our courses used to be featured by Udemy and supported with advertising. The competition used to be a lot less. Now that support goes to others. (Yes, I'm a bit bitter about the way in which we were unceremoniously dropped, but, life goes on). We are still participating and still trying to grow on the platform. In fact, last month, with the help of friends we had a pretty good launch in a healthy category... We'll see what happens.
View the full thread: 1 Million. Ask me anything. (And I'm NOT one of Udemy's Favorites)
I'm Phil Ebiner. I'm a long-time Udemy instructor - been here since 2012. And I'm excited to be a part of this community. Please feel free to ask me any questions!
Since 2012, I've made over $1.5 million from Udemy. And I don't say that to brag, but to show you what a normal guy like me can do... someone who started like many of you without an audience, experience teaching, experience selling, email list, website... nothing.
It has taken a lot of hard work and time to do this, but I believe you can achieve your goals if you have the right mindset and put in the right amount of effort!
I love Udemy, and hope to help you out on this amazing platform!
very inspiring, what kind of courses you are doing
I just joined Udemy I am an Artist and art instructor for many years I want to start a cours but don’t know how .
can you guide me to start
how many hours should a cours be is it like continued courses ,
should a cours or a project be finished in one course and continue doing another project ?
I teach creative skills like photography, photo editing, video editing, motion graphics.
Great question about how long a course should be. I always say that they should be 'as long as it takes to teach the topic.' I wouldn't focus on just simply trying to reach a certain length of course... just focus on teaching a topic in an efficient and easy-to-digest manner. You don't want to drag on and on about a topic. On the flip side, I've seen longer courses do better on Udemy. So adding additional topics/content, and making the course comprehensive enough to be 5+ hours is generally my rule of thumb.
In terms of finishing the course - do it! Just get the course done and launched!
View the full thread: Ask Me Anything - Phil Ebiner, long-time instructor - Udemy Instructor Community
Sometimes it's a bit intimidating to start a whole new Post just to ask a question.
So go ahead and ask your question as a comment in this thread, and I'll do my best to answer. No stress, no worries. No dumb questions. Ask away.
Who am I? I'm a fellow instructor, and I've been on Udemy for about 7 years. Udemy's my full-time income these days and they've been very good to me over the years. I've seen a lot. And I'm here to help. So how can I help you? What do you need to succeed? LMK below.
Thank you for offering your help on here.
My course was recently flagged for not generating enough enrollments. The email from Udemy said that I need to update my course with a fresh video at least every 6 months. What else can I add to it?
Also, do you have any tips to attract new students? I've been marketing it through my Instagram page.
Hi there, thanks for asking.
I notice your course is called "Structural Analysis of Statically Determinate Trusses".
I can't say that this is a topic that I am familiar with.
For this particular course, you need to identify who your ideal student is. I think you did a pretty good job describing them in the course landing page. It appears to be Engineering students who are stuck on this particular element of learning structural engineering, who also speak English. Do you have an idea of how many people in the world that may be? Maybe 10,000 total? I don't know.
Next, you have to get this course in front of them. I am not sure if enough of those 10,000 are on Instagram and searching the right hashtags for your posts to get in front of them.
You might try Facebook ads, to catch people in the right age group, college and university engineering students, etc. But it's hard to see how you can make money advertising to a small group of people at this price point.
Your course has 4 students and 0 reviews. I always say that you need to push that thing to at least 10 reviews. So you might have to give your course away for free to "a few" people and ask them nicely to review it (honestly). 0 reviews is not a great place to be.
To be honest, I'd think about your next course. That's your highest expected value move. Something that might have some mainstream appeal.
Think about the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, and mass entertainment youtube channels and tv shows - and what kind of programs they air related to your expertise in Engineering.
Find the most-watched engineering videos on YouTube. Find the most popular TV shows in your field. What are they teaching?
"The Science of Suspension Bridges - How They Stay Up"
"The Science of Burj Khalifa and Other Mega Skyscrapers"
"How to Build in Earthquake Zones"
Things like that. What would a million people potentially be interested in when they are bored on a Saturday afternoon related to engineering?
I think your success on Udemy will be in that space.
If you want to remain on the academic side of engineering, you might have to do more marketing. Write a newsletter, build a mailing list, start a community, start a YouTube channel on the topic.... find a way to bring free information to people that can hook them into your paid course.
Have a look at Arjit Raj on Udemy, you might have some things in common: https://www.udemy.com/user/arjit/
Hi @ScottDuffy I am completely new to this field and also english is not my native language but i am trying very hard to improve english and delivery so that i can reach to wider audience’s. In June i have launched my two course. Conversation rate for first is 3.4 % and for second is 5.2% I able to earned in June :- $341.11 and July:- $412 Actually can you suggest me how can i improve my courses. Is it possible for me to earn $1500/month from udemy? maybe dumb question. Thanks in advance
There are no dumb questions, first of all.
"Is it possible for me to earn $1500/month from Udemy?" Don't let me or anyone else tell you what you can achieve. General life advice, OK? I know it's possible to make much more than that on Udemy. Maybe not easy for everyone. But it's possible. I know hundreds of people that do.
"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford.
For future courses, you'll have to improve the sound quality. There is quite a lot of echo. It sounds like you are recording in an empty room. I can understand you OK, but as a future improvement, you need to figure out how to record without so much echo.
In fact, if you get bad reviews saying the student can't understand you, some of that will be because of the echo. I think this is probably the most important thing you need to work on.
The course I previewed is called "Full stack project with spring boot java and react - TDD".
It's a minor thing, but you should learn about "Title Case" because book titles, course titles, blog post titles, etc should have every word start with a capital.
In my search, you are #4 for "spring boot react" on Udemy. But I see that you expect students to have beginner-level skills in Spring and React already. So you're not "teaching" spring, you're just using it?
So what are you teaching? Test-Driven Development? You should use the word "Test Driven Development (TDD)" in your course title. TDD alone is not enough.
"Master Test-Driven Development (TDD) with Spring Boot & React"
I don't know if that title fits, but I would try that as a title and see if it improves things.
Those are my suggestions for now. It's a competitive category. Good luck!
View the full thread here
Hi There, I'm Denise and I have been on Udemy for a few years. I have 10 courses. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about NOT being the most successful of Udemy instructors. I think when you first come to Udemy it can be easy to give up before you have even got going with creating your course. Or you create your course and it isn't successful at all and you feel deflated. It's comparisonitis!!! Comparing yourself to other people. Some course creators just nail their course and their niche and are immensely successful from the word go. I want you all to know that there is room for everyone to get some success and over time you can be more successful. It just takes more time and perseverance for some / many people. Don't give up. Learn. For me I overcome my technical shortcomings just by learning bit by bit. It was an enormous mountain to climb.I am still learning. I have become more successful and Udemy does reap rewards as long as you keep at it Sometimes it is important to keep in your mind that there are course creators who earn nothing but also there are course creators who earn a fortune. However there are a lot more who earn somewhere inbetween and that is ok and can pay your bills or help you earn extra money if you have lost your job, you need more money, you need to work flexibly because of family commitments, you have been ill or you are retired.
Just keep the end in mind and your reason, your why for create online learning
This post might come off sounding a bit self-centered and egotistical. Apologies in advance if it comes off that way. My intention tonight was to reflect on my 7+ years as a Udemy instructor. I thought I would share them.
As always, if any of these spark questions or interest, feel free to ask about them in the comments below.
1. I don’t read my reviews. Stranger’s opinions about me are not important. I do, however, have someone to read them and respond.
I once heard Seth Godin say something similar at Udemy Live. I care about the opinions of people I trust and respect, not Internet strangers.
2. If one person says something bad about me or my course, I don’t believe them. They’re having a bad day. I forget about what they said. Everyone has a right to their opinion. But I also have the right to ignore it.
You have to have thick skin to survive in an Internet Marketplace. Or a Facebook Group. I really don't let what people say to me affect me. That's on them.
3. If multiple people say something bad about me or my course, ok maybe there’s something that can be improved. So I improve it. And then I forget about what they said. My lack of memory for inconsequential things is my greatest strength.
At some point, there's a quorum. If a few people say something needs to be improved, OK, I improve it. But I still don't let their harsh judgements affect me. It's fixed! Moving on!
4. I don’t read emails, private messages, social media messages, or answer phone calls unless I want to hear from that person. I currently have 26.999 unread emails and I’m perfectly fine with it.
I view being hard to reach as a strength.
5. I am not perfect. I can always be better.
6. I am not a perfectionist. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a perfectionist actually. There are just people making excuses for why something isn’t done.
7. Great is the enemy of good.
A book I have not read. But it makes sense. If you spend too much time trying to be perfect or trying to reach greatness, your competition will have passed you 6 times.
8. Practice makes you better. Create one video, and it’s at-best “ok”. Create 100 videos, and you get better. Create 1000 and you get better. Do it again, and again, and again.
Practice, practice, practice. What we do is a skill. You can't beat me with your first course. I've been doing this for years. Work harder. Practice harder.
9. Not every course I have made has been a success.
You don't see the failures. Shhh....
10. I watch my own courses frequently enough. I’ll just sit and watch 1-2 hours of each of my courses every few months. And that spurs ideas for making them better.
How many instructors watch their own courses one or two times per year? I bet it's less than 1%.
11. I don’t give away all my best secrets to public Internet forums.