Should you sell your online courses on Udemy?

Udemy is the most popular online course marketplace in the world. It allows people to sign up as instructors and submit their courses without any upfront charges or subscription charges. Once the course is approved, it goes live on Udemy and anyone can purchase the course.

Once a student purchases your course, they can watch your course using Udemy’s very professional looking course interface.

Currently (2020), Udemy has over 57000 instructors and over 400 million course enrollments have taken place on Udemy.

This means one thing is for sure – there is a great chance for you to get students if you publish a course on Udemy.

But there are a lot of different factors that will go in determining whether you should choose Udemy to publish your course or not. Let’s look at some of these factors:

The Price of Your Course

When you publish your online course on Udemy, you will be setting a list price for this course. Let’s say you choose to sell the course for $129 or Rs. 9999.

Now, once your course is approved, Udemy will provide you with a link which leads to your course page on Udemy and your list price will be reflected on that page. In this case $129 or Rs.9999.

You can share this link with anyone and they’ll be able to purchase your course.

But the issue is that Udemy also runs its promotional offers or campaigns from time to time where they will advertise your course for a selling price which is very cheap, like $10 or Rs.700.

This can create problems for your brand. Because you can have one student who has purchased your course at the list price ($129) and another student who has purchased the same course at the selling price ($10).

Currently, there is no way to opt out of Udemy’s promotional campaigns.

Key point to take away from this – Udemy is not the ideal platform if you plan to set a high price for your online course.

Marketing and Earning Capability

One of the most attractive aspects about publishing a course on Udemy is that they market your courses.

For a beginner online course creator who doesn’t know much about selling and marketing, this can be very beneficial.

But like mentioned above, most of the sales will happen at a discounted price. If you are ok with the price, then it definitely means that you have a good chance to start seeing some sales without putting in much effort. And even though the amount at which the course sells may be less, just the very fact that your course made a sale can initially be a very uplifting and motivational feeling for a beginner instructor.

Udemy takes a fair share from the sales though. If a sale is generated from Udemy’s advertising campaign, you’ll only get 25% of the amount that course sold for. That’s because Udemy is spending its own money to sell your course so they cannot afford to give you a higher commission.

If you shared your unique link for the course with a student, i.e, Udemy was not involved in anyway, then you get 97% of the amount that the course gets sold for. This involves not only selling the course at the list price but also if you shared a coupon code with a student and sold your course at a discount. Basically, whenever you do everything yourself, you almost get the entire amount.

If a student happens to find your course on Udemy on their own and buys your course (referred to as an organic sale), then you get 50% of the amount the course sold for.

Key takeaway point from this – Udemy is good for you if you are not willing to market the course yourself. But because your course will mostly be selling at a very less price due to Udemy’s promotional offers and the fact that even from that you’ll only getting 25% of the revenue, your chances of earning a very high income from Udemy are less, especially when you are starting out and don’t have multiple courses.

At the time of writing this article, I have 16 online courses published on Udemy (two of those are free) and here are own revenue figures from the past one year:

I have found these results to be satisfactory for myself because Udemy is an extra platform for me when it comes to selling online courses. My main focus is always on selling my courses on my own website. I’ll be talking about this more towards the end of this article. But the good thing is that this income from Udemy is almost completely passive since I’m not involved in the marketing part.

Access to Student’s Email

This is one major downside of selling your online courses on Udemy. You never get access to the emails of the people who purchase your courses.

This severely limits your capability to remarket to these students. You become completely reliant of Udemy without actually building the all important asset called the email list.

Now Udemy does allow you send promotional emails (currently the limit is 2 promotional emails per month) using its own email marketing interface but this is a still a limited feature for an online course creator since remarketing is not only about promotions but developing a brand via sending value adding emails too, which is much better done using your own email list and a dedicated email marketing software.

Key takeaway from this – Having the convenience of the built-in email marketing capabilities of Udemy can be decent for a complete beginner but when it comes to building a sustainable business, it’s always preferable to have an e-mail list of your own. Tomorrow if Udemy shuts down for some reason, you’ll also lose any sort of access to your students and this can mean starting from scratch.

Final Verdict

Udemy is a good place for beginner instructors who are totally against doing any sort of marketing by themselves. The earning potential will then depend on both quality and quantity of your courses.

Remember, even though it’s tougher, it’s always better to sell online courses on your own. You can use a Learning Management System to host your course and then learn how to market it yourself. That way not only will you be able to get the entire amount at which your course sells for, you’ll also not run into any pricing issues like we saw in the first point above.

Udemy can still be used as an extra platform to sell your online courses since Udemy does not stop you from selling your courses on an external platform if it’s published on Udemy. And since Udemy doesn’t charge you anything to publish your courses, it’s literally like set it and forget it.

But that will also depend on the price of your course. If your course is priced at a lower price and you don’t mind the lower prices that Udemy sells your courses at during its promotional campaigns, then it’s definitely recommended that you sell your course on Udemy too. I do that with my online courses at Creative Pad Media.

But if you courses are prices highly, then you may have to resort to using slightly clever tactics like maybe dividing each module of your course into a separate course and then uploading them separately on Udemy instead of giving it out as one main course.

Ultimately, there are a lot of points to consider and it will depend on the course creator to take the correct call according to their own situation.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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