How I Make $5000+ A Month From Udemy And Skillfeed

If you’d told me a year ago I’d be selling hundreds of products and had passive income sources paying me thousands of dollars a month, I’d have bitten your hand off to take it.

udemy skillfeed illustration

Now I have it, I want more. Ain’t the male ego a wonderful thing? Anyway, here’s my take on how to make money teaching online.

YouTube

Anyone wanting to sell video courses on Udemy or Skillfeed should start out on YouTube. It’s a great place to learn your craft and discover what people like.

I’ve no idea why I started doing video tutorials on my YouTube channel. I saw other people doing them and I thought it looked cool. The game changer was when I bought Screenflow which is a screencasting and video editing tool. Finally I could shoot half decent HD video.

The above video shows you how to create a Udemy lecture by talking over slides in Screenflow. If you’re not of the Mac persuasion you could try Camtasia.

I also bought a Blue Snowflake USB microphone for around $40. It provides great quality audio for the price. The quality improved still further when I put it on a large hardback book upon my desk which brought it closer to my mouth and eliminated the background noise of my computer whirring away.

Make money on Udemy by creating free courses

Whatever you do, don’t spend ages creating a premium course and put it on Udemy expecting something to happen straightaway. The best way to make money on Udemy is to create an audience on the platform first. And the best way to get followers on Udemy is to create free courses which will attract students.

This goes back to my previous point on YouTube. The minimum requirement for a course on Udemy is 30 minutes video so it’s easy to pick a few of your 5-minute YouTube videos and bundle them together as a free course by adding introductory and concluding videos.

Unfortunately due to a Udemy change on July 1st 2014 you can no longer offer discounts of your premium courses to the students in your free courses. However, it’s still a good idea to create free courses. You will still grow your audience on the platform that well and you can change them to paid courses at a later date and promote to them that way.

The above video shows course editing, coupon setting and announcement sending through Udemy, unfortunately the Udemy UI has changed a bit since I made the video but it’s more-or-less the same.

What else worked for me?

  • YouTube – I put about 20-25% of my premium courses and promo videos on YouTube with a discounted link under the video
  • Social media – I have got the odd sale from Facebook and Twitter
  • Affiliates – this used to work better before Udemy imposed restrictions on putting affiliate links in announcements but many instructors with relevant courses will be interested in cross-promotion
  • Kindle – put discounts to courses in Kindle books. I have sold a few this way
  • Bundles – Udemy allow you to bundle paid courses together, here is a WordPress web design bundle of mine
  • And, of course, my email list – I have been promoting the courses to my list by offering a finite number (last time, 50) of free courses and then others at a discount. This always goes really well however I probably won’t do this again now that I’ve decided to sell the courses at learn.robcubbon.com – my new membership site

What hasn’t worked for me?

  • Offering freebies to Reddit, etc – this is encouraged by Udemy but I don’t think it benefits the instructor. You can offer free coupons on sites such as Reddit to artificially swell the numbers on your paid course. Redditors often see this as spammy and the people you bring to the course rarely value it.
  • Fiverr gigs. Many people put up Fiverr gigs and upsell their Udemy course through them. I’ve made one gig but it isn’t selling. :(

3 things you may not know about Udemy and Skillfeed

  • The best length for a video is just 5 minutes
  • The best length for a paid course is just 1 hour
  • The course material does not have to be exclusive to the platforms

What makes a successful Udemy course?

The subject matter has to be something you’re passionate about and something that people want to learn.

The courses that do well are the courses that provide a definite outcome. Courses that teach students a saleable skill or something they can earn money with are particularly popular.

The above video is the promo video for Make Money Running A Web Design Business –  my most successful course on Udemy.

What makes a successful Skillfeed course?

Skillfeed was created by Shutterstock and so courses on career skills such as web design and video making are popular there. “Soft skills” such as management and personal development will probably do better on Udemy which has courses on just about anything.

Skillfeed’s payment model is completely different. Instead of having a one-off payment per course as on Udemy, on Skillfeed you can watch any course you like whilst paying a monthly subscription, currently $19/month (first 7 days free). Instructors get paid according to the amount of time their content is viewed.

However, Skillfeed is a younger platform than Udemy and is still finding its way. The statistics they provide on your courses’ views are scant and to be improved, we hope.

The platform has so far proved to be a nice little passive income earner as, once your courses are uploaded, there is zero work to be done – there doesn’t seem to be the student-instructor interaction that there is on Udemy.

Going forward

In the future I’m looking forward to creating new courses, developing my own membership site at learn.robcubbon.com and experimenting with other platforms. Watch this space.

You can do it

I know that some readers of this blog have moved into Udemy and I’m delighted to see some of you making a success of it already. Woohoo!

Udemy may be the market leader at the moment but the online learning space is highly competitive and volatile. However, as long as we continue to push out high quality video tutorials, we’ll hopefully be able to sell our expertise online through a variety of channels.

Find out more about creating video courses that sell here.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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Comments

  1. says

    I was inspired by your blog and focused on passive income for last 2 months. I manage to hit $200 last month. Hope it’ll increase gradually.

    Thanks for inspiring us and slowing dragging us away from those wrecked cabins at so called corporates :)

  2. Marina says

    Why didn’t you use the platform UseFedora.com to offer your courses? You can set up your courses just as you did in Udemy and even export them from Udemy to your own platform via usefedora.com

    You could even host your courses on your custom domain, include what ever links you want, integrate it with autoresponder, host your videos, process payments, offer affiliate payment and management etc.

    Depending on the plan, they keep 10% from the sale at most. The only downside is that they don’t have upsells.

    Could you give any feedback on UseFedora if you was considering it but decided against it? Thanks

      • Marina says

        I am just looking to host my Udemy courses on my own domain and basically it comes to 2 options: UseFedora or the setup you used for your courses with putting all pieces together like payment processor, affiliate program, video hosting with Vimeo and course hosting WP plug-in yourself and pay for them separately. I am just genuinely wondering which one is better and why did you choose the last option for your business. You feedback will be highly appreciated.

        • says

          Hi Marina, good question. I’m sorry I was suspicious that you were something to do with UseFedora – I really apologise for that. I do get a lot of spam here but I can see you’re genuine. Sorry!

          So, the reason I went with Sensei/Membermouse/Vimeo/etc. as opposed to selling the courses via Fedora or Thinkific was control. I want to be able to design the look and feel of my courses on my membership site at learn.robcubbon.com myself. It’s been really difficult, time consuming and expensive. So far it hasn’t been worth it but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

          Thank you for your question, Marina. Speak soon.

  3. says

    I have created my own school using wordpress, a theme, an excellent plugin called wp-courseware, store and link my videos on amazon S3, I use paid-memberships-pro, and a plugin called media maestro for playing the videos i=on my WP pages, and now everything is super secure and it works, However, I have to manage all the tech problems that arise when students have problems (mine or their fault), and I have to troubleshoot when a plugin or WP has an update and suddenly something doesn’t work. It’s expensive and very time consuming- even without counting the thousands of hours building the courses. My question to you Rob, is how can I sell a 3 month long course on Udemy? I build semester long, college-level, real (as in, this is what students would take during a semester for college credits) courses that result in students being fluent speakers of the language. It’s a three to fourth month process and it would be really hard to break it into many stand-alone pieces/courses (unless I call every hour “part 1″, “part 2″, etc.). Do you know anything about Udemy and people putting really long courses on there? Any suggestions on how it could work? Thanks :)

    • says

      Hello Eva. First of all I’m jealous of you for choosing WP Courseware because I’m regretting my decision for using Sensei. And I’m jealous of you for using Amazon S3 as it’s cheaper than my choice Vimeo.

      That aside, I really would suggest you split your courses up into beginner, intermediate (and split that up into pre-, mid- and upper-) and advanced. You’ll make more money and shorter courses sell better on Udemy – I mean, courses of 2-4 hours video. Go back to all your videos and see if you can re-edit them to be snappier 5 minute long as well. (These are just suggestions).

      Yes, you can put long courses on there, I just wouldn’t advise it. Talk to the people at Udemy – just email them. Ask a question on this Facebook group. There’s also loads of documentation on Udemy advising on the best course anatomy and structure. And let us know how you get on!

      • Megna says

        Hi,

        I am also developing a website for selling online video tutorials. I am have question regarding hosting vedios. I have two choice vimeo and Amazon S3. How can you say that amazon S3 is cheaper than vimeo. I thought it’s other way, as vimeo Pro is $199 per year which means roughly $17 per month. Can we get amazon S3 at the same price considering 300 members and 300GB bandwidth/month.

        Thanks,
        Megna

        • says

          Hi Megna, that was my experience when I was using Amazon S3 – with Amazon S3 you pay for what you use and as my videos weren’t watched much that was very little. It you have a very busy site with lots of videos then you will have a different experience.

    • Marina says

      Hi Eva,

      One of reasons why I didn’t go with Udemy is that they dramatically changed their terms of service: you cannot link within one of your courses to another (for example, to promote a paid course within a free one), you cannot link to your website or blog within your bio or sales page and they regularly put courses on sale for up to 70-90% off. Plus they can change their terms of service to what ever they want any time.

      You can get some free courses and put couple other paid courses on your Wish List on Udemi and then watch what happens for a month. They start to send you emails with course promotions and you will see how it works.

      • says

        What’s wrong with any of the above, Marina? I know I sound trite but I’m not trying to be.

        I know Udemy isn’t for everyone. I would suggest the people who wouldn’t benefit from it already have a huge audience and are making ‘000s from their courses already. Otherwise, Udemy can only make you money and build your brand.

        Yes, Udemy can change their terms of service at anytime, just like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Only they’re big companies so it’s OK if they do it. :)

        You definitely can link one of your courses to another – all my courses are linked. I have a special video where I offer discounts to my other courses in both my free and paid courses.

        You can add links anywhere in your course to a squeeze page – it’s more effective there than on your profile page which no one looks at and has your home page and social links as well.

        You can opt out of 70-90% off sales if you want to but you’d be a fool to, in my opinion.

        This is all my opinion. I think people need to get their head around online pricing as different to the pricing of physical goods. I wrote about it here: Udemy’s Discounts & Commissions Work – Why Fight Them?

        I get it that people thing they are “devaluing their work” so don’t sell there! Don’t sell on Audible or Amazon Kindle to because they do the same thing – heck, they give stuff away!

  4. says

    Hi Rob, wow $5000 on these platforms is awesome. how do you create a Udemy bundle? Good article. I’m already got courses on udemy and skillfeed. Combined they make another revenue stream. Have you found any other platforms to sell courses on other than these 2?

    I’ve used quick time to use screen recordings with yeti blue usb mic. Udemy complains about the audio quality and that I don’t zoom in on the screen recordings making it mobile unfriendly. Does screen flow handle this?

    • says

      Hi Greg. Thank you! You need to contact Udemy directly to do a bundle. Tell them the courses and the price and they set up a sales page.

      I’m starting to see some income from Skillshare.

      Yes, I think ScreenFlow will create better video.

  5. says

    Nice work Rob! Very inspiring.

    I do think Udemy is a good start – I’m focusing on a short free course there first and will then build on it.

  6. Philip says

    Hi Rob, very interesting. I’m very interested in passive income. I have two questions. 1. Do you have any advice for determining what types of courses are actually popular enough to generate appreciable income? (I need to figure out if the things I know have enough potential to be worth the time to put into creating the content). 2. I’m confused by one thing. You said try to keep videos to 5 minutes and courses to 1 hour. Isn’t the entire 1- hour course a video? What do you mean by keeping video to 5 minutes?

  7. says

    Hi Rob.

    Thanks for sharing your practical experience with Udemy/Skillfeed. I’ve been in the planning to begin online courses on Udemy. However, for one my idea regarding PHP development area, I’m not yet decided whether I should sell on Udemy or start my own membership site? (www.phpbomb.com).

    Since you are much more experienced in selling courses with trials & errors. Would you please suggest or give me your opinion regarding selling on Udemy VS my own self-hosted site?

    I will appreciate your response.

    Cheers,
    – Zeeshan

    • says

      Hello Zeeshan,

      In answer to your question regarding selling on Udemy vs. on your own self-hosted site – do both! I do. You’ll find Udemy easier, maybe start with that.

      Hope this helps?

      Rob

  8. Tyler says

    How much of this “5000+ a month” is from Udemy and how much is are u making from Skillfeed?

    Thank you Rob for this awesome post!
    Tyler

    • says

      Yes, you just have to email Udemy and ask them to do it for you. Tell them the courses you want, the title of the bundle and the price and they’ll set up a page for you. I think you email instructorsupport at Udemy. Hope this helps, Greg.

  9. Claire says

    Hi Rob. It was good to read your experience about online courses. I am planning to create a course on programming. But I see there are already too many courses there on programming. Should that be discouraging for me?

    Why would people go for a new course rather than the already existing ones- with better rating?

    Also I would like to know what was your income in first few months when you first put up your courses on udemy?

    Thanks

    • says

      Hello Claire, I can’t tell you categorically if you succeed or fail. Programming is such a huge category that you would expect competition. Usually this shouldn’t discourage you because it means that there is demand out there and, if you create a good course and manage to get buyers, it will be picked up by the Udemy algorithm.

      You may find this article useful: How To Make Money On Udemy.

      All my Udemy earnings have been detailed in the income reports in this site. I’ve been earning on Udemy for two years. The first few months brought in around $300-$900 a month as far as I remember.

  10. says

    I checked with Udemy support. Unfortunately they no longer support bundles. I think it’s a great idea a la Nathan Barry to offer different packages. I’ve since put together a bundle on gumroad. I really like how they support dropbox uploads. You can protect your course files, it saves storage space, and it’s a fast upload. http://chicvoyageproductions.com/bundle-create-videos-create-a-business-without-a-brick-mortar-shop/

    For Claire you might want to check the reviews from the existing course you’re thinking off. Perhaps you could improve on it or even consider publishing it on another platform called Skillfeed. My earnings on skillfeed exceed Udemy last month.

    • says

      Hi Greg, thanks for letting us know about bundles on Udemy. I didn’t know that.

      Claire might also check SkillShare. My earnings from them have been increasing upto SkillFeed levels recently.

      • Claire says

        Thanks Rob and Greg.

        I’ll be uploading my course in next 10 days. I have already been working on it for past 2 weeks. Also I would like to know that what is the best way to get first few customers? Is that the hardest bit?

      • says

        I would be interested on a post from you on SKillshare. I know Nathan Barry uses it as well. I gave one of my courses a try and I think there is more hoops to jump over before you can even sell your course.

        Claire I usually get some feedback from the facebook group and make the course free in exchange for some reviews. When I get several hundred students I’ll start charging and send out some social media posts. Most of my posts come from the organic search on the platform. I haven’t had much success on my own promotion.

        Maybe Rob can provide his take

        • says

          I’m very encouraged by SkillShare, Greg. Yes there are more hoops to jump through (and mainly because their site doesn’t work that well) but my monthly income is increasing steadily there – you only start getting paid after the first 100 subscribers to a course. There seems to be more engagement with students there when compared to SkillFeed which could be a good and bad thing. I’ll add SkillShare to my income reports this quarter.

  11. Claire says

    Hi rob

    I wanted to ask you a couple of questions. What software do you think is most suitable to record video? Cam studio did not work for me. It’s showing some errors.

    My second question is that I’m on my way to publish an ebook on amazon. What is the procedure? Does it include tax ID validation? I’m resident in the uk.

    Thanks

  12. says

    hmmm! Great article! I make more money with skillfeed than I do Udemy. I actually might try that kindle technique. Pretty genius. Thanks for the tips!

    • says

      Hello Aaron, Kindle publishing is good for your brand anyway. It can’t hurt! Udemy can be frustrating. It can be difficult to be visible on their site as there’s lots of courses on there but once you get something from them, the rewards can be great! :) Thank you for your comment.

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