online course creator setup
Udemy Review
TL;DR
Udemy is a massive online course platform with unparalleled reach. Its greatest strength, lots of traffic, is also its greatest weakness, lots of noise. If you're creating your first online course it's a great place to start off. But if you're trying to generate a full-time income. Udemy won't be your best bet due to frequent promotions and the expectation of a discount.
Design
5.8
Features
8.8
Performance
6.6
Ease of Use
9.1
Value
9.7
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Pros
Unparalleled Reach
Organic Traffic
Detailed Analytics
Real-time Student Communication
Simple Setup
Cons
Tons of Competition
Low-quality Ratings
Udemy Discounts on Your Course
8
out of ten
Want to teach on Udemy?

If you’ve found this Udemy review in a Google search, I don’t want you to be disappointed. This is not a review of Udemy courses. This review is specifically for anyone wanting to become a Udemy instructor. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Udemy courses, I’ve taken a few and can highly recommend it. Udemy has more than 100,000 courses and the largest library of instructional content on the internet. Due to the overwhelming quantity of courses, you do have to be careful to find a highly-rated Udemy instructor, or else you’ll end up wasting your time and money.

Outline

  • Review
  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Alternatives
  • About the team

How I discovered Udemy

Unlike the more popular Udemy reviews out there, this isn’t a review where I tell you how to make six figures of passive income by doing nothing or daytrading my money. My experience with Udemy has been less of a hockey stick and more of a golf club.

Here’s a screenshot of my earnings from Udemy after 60 days

It’s not as depressing as it looks. Other than posting one link on IndieHackers I’ve done zero promotion for my course. I’m optimistic that once I start creating more courses and actually promote my course it will turn into consistent passive income, or at the very least a free meal every couple of weeks. 

In my review, I’ll share my missteps, pros and cons of Udemy, and why I think everyone should create an online course.

Udemy Review

For the longest time I’d wanted to create an online course, but had no idea what I could instruct people on that would actually be of value. If you’re in the same boat, spend a little time looking at all of the different courses on Udemy. It’s 10x easier than you think to put together a popular Udemy course that plenty of people would be interested in.

The first step in creating your online course is choosing a topic. The subject of your course can be almost anything, but it should be something you’re passionate about because you’ll spend a lot of time talking about it. 

Write down a list of hobbies, sports, talents, etc. that you have experience with and then use keyword research software, or Google Trends to see which ones have the highest demand.

Pro Tip – how to do keyword research

Eventually, I decided to combine my dayjob and passion for building websites through search engine optimization into a course: SEO for startups, founders, and Indie Hackers.

After going back and forth on several ideas for Udemy course topics, I decided on this one because it has the most long-term value for myself personally and professionally. It also helps that I have enough professional experience on the subject of SEO to lend some credibility to having a course on it.

The hardest part of creating the course was coming up with the outline. After I decided on the topic I changed my outline two or three times. I wanted to structure the course to be useful to anyone who knew nothing about SEO, while also giving an experienced professional some meaningful insights.

If I was doing it over again, I would probably create multiple courses so that I could speak specifically to a beginner versus someone with a little more experience. I still may do that in the future.

It was right around the middle of December that I had the outline figured out. The timing ended up being perfect because I had a week or so off of work for Christmas break to be able to create most of the content that went into the course. 

Now you don’t need to do this, but I wrote out what I wanted to share in each lesson in a blog post. This helped me organize my thoughts, do some research, and also see if each topic was too big or too small for its own lesson.

Another benefit of this approach was that I could turn each of the individual lessons into blog posts on this site after I was finished creating my course. I also took pieces of those blog posts and used them as LinkedIn articles and posts to help drive traffic to my website and course. But more on how I plan to promote my course a little later on.

Once all of your content is created and organized the actual setup within Udemy is a breeze. I can’t stress how important it is to get organized up front. Especially if you have 25+ lessons, putting the whole thing together can get very confusing if you’re trying to find videos, photos, and more for each section.

The Curriculum tab within the Udemy Instructor platform is where all of your content will go. If you’ve used any other online course software before then this will feel very familiar. You can drag and drop videos, documents, and more here to create the different sections of your course.

Once you’ve uploaded all of your content, you’ll need to create the course landing page. The course landing page is critical to the success of your course because it tells potential students and Udemy what your course is about. This section is where you’ll decide on:

  • Course title
  • Subtitle
  • Description
  • Thumbnail
  • Primary category
  • Secondary category

This image should give you an idea of where all of the different sections of your course landing page actually appear once it’s live. I would’ve loved to have the above image, since it took me a couple of tries to get all of the information into the right spot.

Since I have a background as a writer, it didn’t take me too long to fill in those details, but the thumbnail image took forever. This image is one that I created with a little help from Unsplash and Envato Elements. But if you don’t have any design experience, Udemy Design Service will actually create a thumbnail image for you.

I knew I wanted my course to stand out, so I chose to do something custom, but I did submit a request for an image from Udemy just to see what they would come up with. 

Even though I don’t love what they came up with, if I didn’t have experience with Adobe Illustrator, their thumbnail would’ve been fine for my first course.

I submitted the course for Udemy’s approval the first week of January and a few days later received this email that my course had been approved and was already live on Udemy.com.

Now I’ve done enough digital marketing to know that the internet is not magic. So when I found out that my course was live, I didn’t expect the money to come rolling in. 

At first, I had made my course free with the intent of getting some initial reviews before I started charging for it. But within the first week I had over 1,000 people enroll in my course. It was exciting to say the least, but as soon as I started charging for the course my enrollments stopped almost entirely. 

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should continue charging for this course on Udemy. I changed the pricing back to free for a day or two in February just to see if the enrollments would pick back up—and they did.

One of the nice things about getting enrollments, even if they’re free, is that it gives you the ability to get more ratings, and students in your class. Udemy has a cool feature where you can message your students back and forth.

So it might be worth it in the long run to build an audience of students even if it means charging $0 for several months to get there. I’m guessing if your content is good enough and you can promote additional courses to your students on Udemy, then you’ll be pretty successful.

Another feature of Udemy analytics that I love is being able to see all the traffic sources for your course. 

They also let you drill down into each source for some additional info. On my course, for example, I can see which search terms on Udemy are driving visitors to my content. This is super helpful if you’re like me and want optimize your course for organic search on Udemy and Google.

Overall, I really enjoyed becoming a Udemy course instructor. I don’t anticipate my Udemy earnings to pay for my mortgage anytime soon, but I’m excited to continue optimizing my course to get more students, ratings, and income next month than it did this month. If you are serious about creating an online course Udemy is a good option, however, there are plenty of great alternatives to Udemy for serious online course creators.

Pros

Massive Reach – With more than 100,000 courses, Udemy is the largest educational course platform on the internet. Udemy reaches more than 75M visitors per month. So even though there are dozens of other options for hosting your next course, none even come close to the amount of traffic on Udemy.

Organic Traffic – Not only does Udemy get a super high quantity of visitors, but they also see a high quality of visitors directly from Google thanks to some great SEO. Millions of potential students find Udemy courses every month through Google search. That’s because Udemy ranks #1 for thousands of different search terms like “digital marketing course,” “SEO Course,” and many others. I pulled AHREFs data to see just how many courses Udemy ranked #1 for in Google Search. 

This is part of a screenshot of page 1 of 34 pages. Each page filled with a list of all the search terms that Udemy ranks #1 for in Google. If you want to get your course found, it might help to leverage Udemy’s organic search dominance.

Analytics – There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours creating an online course only to have it totally flop on launch day. Udemy gives you all the analytics you could ever ask for, so if students aren’t enrolling you’ll be able to diagnose the problem. From reviews, to conversions, to search terms, and more—Udemy’s analytics are top-notch. Here’s a taste of all the dashboards you’ll get when you create your first course.

Course Management – Thanks to Udemy’s course management tools it’s a breeze to update lessons, add new sections, or reorganize lessons within your course. In the three months since starting my course I’ve updated the outline of information several times. There’s no approval process once your course has been published. As soon as you make the updates they are live. I’ve found this to be a little tougher in other online course tools.

Communication – Most online course platforms offer some way to interact with your students, but I’ve loved how simple it is to message mine on Udemy. I’ve had no problem asking students for feedback, reviews, and ideas.

Cons

Competition – One of the biggest strengths of Udemy is also it’s biggest weaknesses—competition. With so many creators and so much content it can be tough to break through the noise on Udemy. As I’ve spent time comparing courses on Udemy I’ve found that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. There are a lot of excellent courses, but there’s also a lot of duds. Before you spend any money on a Udemy course be sure to look through the ratings, reviews, and credentials of it’s author. Don’t waste your money on low-value content.

Ratings – It’s challenging to get reviews and positive ratings on Udemy. For starters, most students that enroll in courses do not leave a review. Typically, if someone is leaving a review it’s because they’re upset. So it’s hard when you’re starting out to really get traction, especially since these have a major impact in how visible you are in Udemy’s search.

Promotions – If you’ve ever spent much time looking for a course on Udemy then you’ve probably noticed a common theme—promotions. Udemy is a lot like Kohls, they’re always having a sale. You can choose whether or not to enroll your course in promotions. But if you do, expect your $199.99 course to sell for ~$10 most of the time. 

As a result of these promotions, many Udemy visitors expect not to pay full price for anything no matter how good your content. If you consider your course more Nordstrom than T.J. Maxx, you might be better off hosting it elsewhere.

Alternatives

  • Teachable – (review coming soon)
  • Podia – (review coming soon)
  • Thinkific – (review coming soon)
  • Coursera – (review coming soon)
  • Kajabi – (review coming soon)

About the Udemy Founding Team

Udemy was founded more than a decade ago by Oktay Caglar and Gagan Biyani. The team has gone on to do incredible things, but Udemy wasn’t an overnight success. According to the founders, they were rejected by investors 30 times before finally getting interest. After cold-calling dozens of course creators and begging them to list their content on the fledgling platform, the founders had to take matters into their own hands. 

They held a conference and recorded the talks from their early investors in order to create the very first course, Raising Capital for Startups. In just a few weeks the course made more than $30,000, and immediately became their first case study.
If you want to learn more about their early days, checkout The Hustle’s How Udemy Found Their First 1,000 Instructors.