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Udemy Instructor Knowledge Base

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I see a lot of people asking, "Why didn’t my course succeed on Udemy?"   Honestly, though, this question often comes too late for us to help them because they have already filmed and published a course. They have spent countless hours and effort to build this course, and they are discouraged because it didn't get a bunch of students buying it up in the first week.     So, with that in mind, here are my four tips for increasing your chances of success onUdemy based on my experience. It is a long read, but worth your time and consideration before you start filming.   (Following all of these tips will NOT guarantee success, but they will certainly put you in a much higher chance of finding success here on Udemy. Remember, Udemy is a crowded place these days with 100k courses from 50k will you stand out and succeed?)   Please please please, follow these tips in order. After all, if you don’t get Tip 1 right, the rest of this post doesn’t even matter...   (1) Proper category selection.    This is probably the number one mistake of new instructors on Udemy. People think, “Hey, I know Java and the top Java course makes like $90k a month. I want some of that sweet sweet Java $$, so let me throw together a 3 hour course on it, publish it, and I am going to be instantly rich!”   What they don’t realize is topics like Java, Web Development, iOS Developer and Python are highly competitive topics with 500-1000 courses already released and in the marketplace on each of them. This means you are likely to get buried in the noise (sheer volume of available courses) and no one will be able to find your course. This equates to low or no sales.   Instead, you really need to find a topic that isn’t overcrowded and make a name for yourself there. The topics I have had the most success with (translation: the one with courses making large amounts of money if we measure success by revenue) is categories with less than 10-20 courses in them. Once you find a category like this that you are knowledgeable and can teach, we can then move on to step 2...   (2) Make a better course than what is out there.    Once I find a category, I actually watch the top 1-5 courses for that category (at least their free preview videos). I analyze their course and ask myself, “Self, if I were to make a course on this particular topic, could I do it better than this instructor?”   My first breakout hit for a course was in a topic with only 10-15 courses in it. The #1 course made around $3000/month, and when I watched the previews for that course I was bored. The videography was ok, the audio was ok, but the presentation was outright BORING. I knew I could create a better course than that instructor, so I built one. Within 3 months, my course became #1 for that category and has been my top selling course ever since. (Oddly enough, the top course revenue went up significantly as a result to, moving to 2x the previous top revenue because now there was a better option for students to buy, which in turned increased conversations for this topic area across the Udemy platform.   Now, the hard part here is that there are some categories I found that “looked” like a good opportunity (high demand from students and low number of courses), but the leading course was already very good. For some of these topics, I opted to ignore these categories because I didn’t think I could take the top spots from the existing courses. Could I make a great course? Sure. Could I make one significantly better than the existing leader? Probably not.   When you look at these existing courses, you have to be truly realistic in your approach. I have considered making a Python course before. Python is one of the most searched terms on Udemy and may be the single best selling topic on the platform, BUT the top courses are already REALLY REALLY good. I mean, Jose's Python course is top notch. Could I make a really good course, too? Sure, but there are already so many good courses (and literally hundreds of Python courses on Udemy already), I would likely get buried in the noise, so I don't make Python courses.   Let's take for example, a topic like ITIL 4 Foundation (my #1 course). If you look at the Insights tool for you would think this is clearly a topic you should make a course for. Low number of courses and high demand. But, you would be wrong...   Why? Because the top course is my course. It has great visuals, an energetic and well liked instructor, and exceptional video quality. The course is a complete study solution, where I give the student all the videos needed to pass the exam, quizzes, 2 practice exams, and a downloadable study guide. I give students so much value for their money, it would be hard to displace me from this top spot, because there isn't much you can do to give more value than I already have.    Now, if you are a brand new course creator, it is going to be hard for you to steal students from me. In fact, 9 out of 10 people who search the word ITIL on Udemy end up buying one of my courses. When I have spoken with Udemy has told me, “You clearly dominate this topic.”   But even beyond me thinking my course is the best,  (and students agreeing), you have another challenge in entering this particular topic. This topic is regulated by Axelos, owners of the ITIL brand. If you publish a course there without their authorization and approval, they will have Udemy remove your course under copyright infringement. So again, not a topic you want to join unless you jump through the very time consuming and expensive process of becoming “authorized” by Axelos to teach ITIL. (The same holds true for the CEH certificatoin for those in the IT space who want to teach hacking.)   (3) Make courses people actually want/need.    This may sound stupid, but do people want/need your course? If you are making a course on Underwater Basket Weaving, will anyone want or need it? Is there a big enough audience to support it?   I personally make most of my courses on IT certifications because it gives me a natural audience who is searching for courses to pass these exams. People go to Udemy everyday to search for “CompTIA Project+” or “AWS Associate”.    When you are starting out, people will find your course because of your topic. This is why finding a topic with less than 20 courses is so crucial, because it virtually guarantees you will be one page 1 of the search for that term. Over time, as you become more known and liked by student, then they start searching for you and you can break my 10-20 courses in a topic recommendation.    For example, many of my student search “jason dion python” or “Jason dion Java” because they want to learn those topics AND they want to learn them from me. (They won't find one, because I don't have those courses, but they keep searching.)   Going back to our Java discussion at the beginning of this thread, I now have a big enough following that I could launch a Java course and do pretty well. I won’t knock out the top guy, but I could probably make a few thousand $ a month with one because enough students know me and would buy a course in that topic from me at this point. But if I was where I was 2-3 years ago, forget it. That same course (regardless of how good I made it) would earn me maybe $100/month if I was lucky, and I would be on page 5, 10, or 15 of the search results. It would be very hard for students to find it and discover me.    (4) Happy students.    The last strategy I use is that I put my students first. I give them a complete course, a full study solution, in their Udemy course. I answer their questions. I support them in our FB group, etc.    These students are my biggest marketing effort. Just go into any CompTIA Facebook group and ask what you should study if you are going to take the CompTIA Security+ exam. I bet within the first 5 comments you get at least 3 of them saying “Jason Dion’s course on Udemy”.    This is marketing for me. Now, I don't get 97% because they didn’t use one of my coupon links (I am not the one marketing in these groups), but these recommendations are all over Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn, an they are all driving warm traffic back to my website and Udemy’s looking for my courses.    You have to be patience with this strategy though. It doesn’t happen overnight. These students took my course, passed their exam, and now they share the good news of "Jason's courses" with others because my courses worked for them. For that to happen, it takes 3-6 months from their first purchase, so you have to be patience. But, once the flow of recommendations starts to flow (you’ve primed the pump), it becomes a snowball effect.   Bottom Line:   I am not saying to go create courses in areas you are not an expert in. Please don't read it that way. I am not trying to make you a mercenary for hire. But, I do want you to consider all the things you COULD teach before deciding on a particular category. Your BEST thing, the thing you are the biggest expert in, may not be your best choice on Udemy because the market is too crowded in that topic.   For example, I have a friend who has been teaching Web Developement (HTML and JavaScript) for a few decades. He is an excellent teacher, and makes outstanding courses, but that is a tough topic to succeed in. Should he go teach a cooking class instead if that has high demand and less competition? Well, maybe...   This particular person is skilled in many things. He has been an online instructor probably longer than anyone else I know. He knows how to do some amazing things in Adobe Photoshop, Premiere, and Audition. He knows how to program computers. He knows how to run a profitable business. He knows management and human resources from running his companies. He knows educational design and learning management systems. You get the idea...this guy knows a lot of things. I just listed 6-10 different topics he could teach, teach well, and with expertise.    Most of us are like this. I look at my own background, and I have 20+ IT Certifications across cyber security, IT service management, and project management. I also can play guitar, run a business, manage people, do videography, and numerous other things that I could  teach.   So, when I started making courses on Udemy, I looked at various topics. My third course (which became my best seller) was on ITIL. It is something I had done at my job for over 10 years. It wasn't the thing I was most passionate or excited about, but it was a high demand area with a low number of courses. Yes, I have expertise in it, and I am certified in it, so I decided to make a course on it....and it paid off (big time).    That is my point here, because I could have created another Web Development course, or Java course, or Python courses, but I didn't. Even though I am knowledgeable about those things, I knew I would be fighting an uphill battle teaching them. For example, I used to own my own web development company. I have been a web programmer since the late 90s. I definitely could create a "Complete Guide to Web Development" course if I wanted to. The same with Java or Python, I program in both of those languages, but it doesn't mean they will provide me the best return on my time investment by creating courses on them. Some things may be good topics, but they may not be good FOR YOU.    Now, when I say things like this, I often get the objection, "But Jason, the only thing I know is Python", or Java, or Web Development. To that I say, "Well, nothing says you have to be on Udemy." Yes, I know this is a Udemy platform I am writing this on, but remember, no one is forcing you to use Udemy. Udemy is awesome, but if you are going to spend 50-200 hours building a course and get ZERO traction because you are hidden in a sea of other courses, then maybe you need to find your own path...or be prepared to market the heck out of the course yourself on Udemy.    Either is fine, but remember, if you are making the next Web Dev, Java, or Python course, you better have a plan for how you are going to be found and how you will stick out among 500+ other courses on that topic. If you think you will just click "Publish" and students will flock to your courses in these highly competitive topics, you are going to be sadly disappointed, I promise you.    I hope this helps some of you out there as you embark on your Udemy journey, Jason Dion   Author: @JasonDion 
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Marketing is not an event, it is a process that extends over a long period of time. Get started now!   None of these are an instant path to instructor success.  But, they are things that work if you are serious about building an online business on Udemy.   When you are planning your first course, shoot your best shot! Your first course will establish your brand and a bad hastily created course is not the way to get started. Your first course should be on a topic in which you have genuine expertise. Take your time to make sure this is a high-quality course. I am now working on my sixteenth course and I am taking three months to develop it. Take your time. Get it right. BE an expert in your topic. Read, study, and demonstrate state of the art knowledge in your field. If you aren’t this… nothing else is likely to work. Some people fake knowledge in a topic in which they have no experience and it quickly becomes obvious. It results in failure. Be sure that your course landing page communicates your expertise… “Why should I listen to you?” And, be sure that your course landing page communicates the “benefits” of your course, not merely the “features” of your course. Customers buy benefits, not features! The features describe the topics covered. The benefits answer the “so-what?” question. How will this change my life? Remember that most of your future students will be on Udemy searching for something. That “something” are key words that they will put into the search bar. Think carefully about the key words your future students may be search for and be sure they are in your title and/or your subtitle. This is how students will find you. Your promo video is what catches students after they land on your page. Spend ten times the amount of time perfecting your promo video as you do on any other lecture. State the benefits of your course, your qualifications, and invite them to join you. These are more important than outlining all the topics (features) of your course. Also, remember that buying decisions are not simply “rational” decisions; they are emotional decisions, and that is about how you make them feel! Smile! The viewer is asking him/herself, “do I really want to spend hours with this person?” Be your own “brand manager” and build your brand. Brands are built over time by building trust in your marketplace. Brand value is created by being trustworthy, creating consistent value for your customers, over time. The most successful instructors are focused on “marketing”, not just “selling.” Know the difference. Identify Facebook and LinkedIn groups related to your subject matter. Join them. Participate in discussion. Demonstrate expertise by publishing a blog/website with your biography, articles you have written, a page for your courses, and regular blog posts that are educational, value-adding posts. Google the names of some of the more successful instructors and you will find their personal websites. Then, share these blog posts or articles with all relevant groups on LinkedIn or FB. Your LinkedIn page should have articles by you, on your area of expertise. Prove that you are a “thought leader” in your field. Build your own email list by capturing visitors to your website. I use Sumo, but there are other WordPress plugins to do this… oh, use WordPress for your blog. You don’t have to be a web development expert to create a WordPress website. Your Udemy students will become your own mail list in that you can send both educational and promo announcements. As you build the number of students there is a multiplying effect when you share what you write. After your first course, plan to develop additional courses in your area of expertise. The more courses you have the easier it is to launch a new course by marketing to your current students. Obviously, do a great job of developing your on-camera presence and your courses. Engage in continuous improvement. Alexa Fischer’s Confidence on Camera course is excellent for improving your on-camera presentation skills. Develop a YouTube channel where you can upload the introductory lecture(s) to your courses and include a link, with a discount coupon, to your Udemy course. Develop a Facebook discussion page for your students and to publish articles (the same ones as on your blog page and LinkedIn page. Watch Scott Duffy’s course on Udemy SEO Marketing. It is a consensus of experienced instructors that paid Facebook ads do not work. Do not give away of free courses or thousands of free coupons. Those who take these coupons are not likely to go through the course and are likely to leave poor reviews. Give away a few free coupons to those on your personal FB page, those who know you, and may go through the course and may give a good review. This is something to do only at the first launch of a course. Do not even think about purchasing reviews!!! They are now spotted and removed by Udemy’s Trust and Safety group. Have patience… you are building a business and like starting any business, it is not a get rich quick thing. It takes patience and persistence. Udemy is not a path to quick riches and it is not “passive income.” The above is only my advice, but they are informed by the experience of many other successful instructors,   Author:  @LawrenceMMiller    View the full discussion here. 
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Hey instructors! "Personal brand" has been a pretty hot topic in the marketing world these last couple of years, especially with the boom of social media where everyday people are developing their own brands and becoming influencers.   Do you think it's important to have a personal brand as an online instructor?    Though I have been struglling with this. Not konwing how to do it. I think it's very important to have a personal brand and even a respectbale website.   I think that the Branding part is very important for anyone that has an activity online, people can recognize your product, they know where to find you (website, Fb, etc.) and this brings you more sales and more success. But I also think that for someone that is just starting this activity it is not so important for now... I think he should concentrate more on building a solid course catalog and a base of at least 1000 paying students, after that he can start spending time for branding his image and his work.     I think that you are your brand and your 'brand' improves as you produce high quality courses.   When your name becomes known as a good, or even great instructor people will start looking out for your name in the emails that come from Udemy announcments.   Quality 1st, 2nd and 3rd = Personal Brand   I think having a personal brand is important and helps with marketing. Having a brand specifically as an online instructor can’t really be achieved unless you have created good quality courses which people like and which you can build a brand as an online instructor around. Building a brand around being an expert and knowledgeable in your topics is very important and can be done from as soon as you have the opportunity to start building your reputation online. It can be done by interacting in forums, groups and on courses, through being interviewed on podcasts, writing guest articles and blogs, creating YouTube videos, etc. By being helpful and demonstrating your knowledge and being consistent in how you do this, all helps with creating a personal brand. By having the same pictures, consistent social media and website names etc, people instantly recognise that guest blog post was by you, you are who that podcaster is interviewing, that Twitter post or Facebook post is yours, those forum posts are yours etc, even before you say (or they read) a word.   It may be that you work on your reputation first, but at some point you will want to flesh out the brand to include consistent logos, images, colour palette, username, the way you word things or say things etc so that you are instantly recognisable just from the profile images to videos you have shared and so that people easily know how to find you and can easily remember your business name or tagline etc to Google you or search for you on YouTube or any other platform.   @MassimilianoAlf, yeah I think you hit on a key point. Branding is really important so people recognize your product and what you have to offer. But I think it's also true that it's more important to concentrate on creating a good base and good courses before spending a lot of time on branding.   Totally @GrahamNicholls! I think an instructor's brand could be that they have high quality courses, amont other things. I think it's also possible to have a brand that may not equate to quality. Some things examples that come to mind are Wish which has a reputation for selling super cheap things with questionable quality and some restaurants that might be dirty but have delicious food (or even vice versa, really pretty space but medicore food).   Really great tips on how to build a personal brand @Hypnodan! There are a lot of different factors that folks can leverage and really make their own.   I think its very important atleast for me.  I want to create an impression in the minds of students that I am a source of knowledge and be a "go-to " person when they want to learn something.    I feel ingraining this in the students mind is very important for long term success.   Once that trust is built then those who have been influenced will become a marketing channel indirectly through "word of mouth" and that is much more effective than ads or any other type marketing.   These are my thoughts on the subject.   
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