How I Made $1421.20 On Udemy This Week

I’m a huge fan of the online learning platform Udemy. However, this article was written because they massively decrease instructor commissions. It is possible to make money from Udemy (I still make over $1000 passively every month) but please factor in a 30-40% reduction of profit into the following.

apple blackboard udemy

My main Udemy strategy is to create both free and paid courses and then promote discounts for the paid courses to the students on the free ones. There’s a video of how to do this in my how to sell your video courses on Udemy article.

Last weekend I launched my Running A Web Design Business course on Udemy for $39. I already knew from my e-book of the same name, the title works well as many people would like to work from home designing and developing websites for clients.

Udemy course launch

So, armed with an excellent course, I set out to do the most effective launch I could. I had both good :) and bad :( luck with it, read on to find out why…

Promoting offers to your following on Udemy is exactly the same as presenting an offer via email marketing. So, I used a tried and tested email marketing formula: I created a 50% off sale price and offered it for only a short period of time.

You do the promotions by sending an “Announcement” which sends an email as long as students haven’t unsubscribed from Udemy mail.

1st announcement/email: Thursday

The first email is traditionally more “soft sell”. So, I started off a bit low key:

Hiya, Rob here, I hope you are well! I’m dropping you a line to tell you about my new course and my new offer to you.

It’s a bit chatty but it’s emphasising the fact that the course is new. Here below is how the announcement looks in the email people receive:

first udemy email

As you can see, you can add images to Udemy announcements which look good in the email. Remember, if you add a cut-out image like the one above, put it on the light blue (Hex: #eff5f7) that Udemy uses as the background color.

I go on to introduce the offer:

Get this course before Monday (midnight PDT) and I’ll give it to you for only $19! (That’s over 50% off the normal price).

2nd announcement/email: Sunday

This was honestly the last email I’d planned to send out. With just over 24 hours to go on the offer, I thought I’d point out that the offer was expiring at the end of the following day (Monday) and continue on with a slightly harder sell:

I just wanted to remind you that the inaugural offer on the Running A Web Design Business course is about to expire. This will be the last time I will offer this course at this price.

“Disaster” strikes!

I then notice that the 50% off coupon has expired 24 hours before I thought it was going to. Students are emailing me saying that they want the course at the reduced rate but can’t get it!

I’ve no choice but to send a third announcement…

3rd announcement/email: Monday

Another rule of email marketing: people love grovelling apologies:

I’m really sorry but I’ve goofed a little bit with the coupon code I sent you earlier. It seems the coupon expired on Sunday rather than Monday. So, and I’m really sorry to annoy you, but if anybody wants to get the course, Running A Web Design Business at $19 (50% off!) you can do with this new coupon. This offer expires in 2 days (midnight Wednesday PDT). I do apologise.

Another disaster strikes!

I find out the Monday is Labor Day in the US and I realise less people will open their emails on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday – all the more reason to extend the offer to Wednesday.

How did I get on?

Not bad. A total of 95 people purchased the course at $19. The announcements/emails were sent out to all the students on my paid for and free courses – roughly 7750 people – which means a conversion rate of 1.2%.

Have a look at how the announcements/emails affected sales:

sales timeline

Many thanks to Jennifer Bailey for help with the compilation of the above info.

As you can see, the “disaster” of the coupon expiring 24 hours early was actually a blessing in disguise. I got a further 22 sales from the third email.

A word of caution

Don’t abuse the Udemy announcements system. It’s extremely powerful and should be handled with care. If you bombard your students with offers it will result in damage to your brand, damage to the Udemy brand and, ultimately, students unsubscribing from announcements and going elsewhere.

Don’t send more than 5 announcements a month.

You can do it!

You can make money by becoming a Udemy instructor. Everyone is good at something. Anyone can teach online.

Give away good stuff for free and create value-packed premium courses – and then you’ll reap the rewards.

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. says

    Hi Rob,

    I have a course I’m producing and that I reckon it’ll be ready in a couple of weeks. It’s a little niche but I think it’ll be useful. It’s taking me to learn new skills (i.e. mainly recording and editing).

    Thanks for the tips! (I loved you previous Udemy post, as well).

    • says

      Hey, Francisco, glad you’re finding the posts on Udemy useful. Let me know if you need any help with Udemy. Video editing can be time-consuming but you get better at it with practice! :)

  2. says

    Hey Rob,

    I followed your link from the private FB group and happy i did :). Great post.

    I love it that you are analysing the stats.

    I made a little experiment with an ‘In Production’ course on Udemy recently too. Started on Sept 1st and got 25 signups after 24hrs or so. I basically made an offer to my list to grab the new course prior to its completion for a heavy discount. It was good to get signups but more importantly to me, it helped confirm it’s what people wanted.


  3. says

    Very nice! Thanks for sharing the details of your launch! Love your twist on the freemium model transitioning free students to paid students at a discount. Do you find it difficult to create all that content and decide what to make free and what to make paid?

    • says

      Thanks, Nick, I appreciate the comment and the tweet. It was really easy to create the free courses because they were a load of videos I’d already done on YouTube. I knitted them together with an introduction and a conclusion video, added course materials (the source files, PDFs, etc.), added a 5 second intro to add of the videos and, bingo, I had three courses.

      Then the three paid courses were the same sort of material but gone into greater detail, more professional, more up-to-date and, of course, original material (not on YouTube!) :)

  4. says

    Great post! I’ll be trying this out as my primary strategy when I join Udemy.

    I personally would make the “Don’t send more than 5 emails/month rule” to “Don’t send
    more than 5 PROMOTIONAL emails/moth.”

    If you use the system to notify you’ve got 3 hours of exclusive content you’ve just added to say ‘thank you,’ or you plan follow up emails that are jam packed with value (and nothing in it for you) surely you can add those in addition to the 5 promo emails?

    • says

      Thank you, Dennis. Yes, you make a good point about sending value announcements/emails. I don’t know how much is too much because it all depends, of course.

      But I remember reading something from Udemy that they didn’t like too much promotion on the announcements as the system is meant to inform students about the course they’re on, ideally. I would say no more than one a week on average. But I’m sure there’ll be many differing opinions on this.

      Best of luck with Udemy and let me know if you have any questions about it. :)

  5. says

    That’s pretty good amount of money for first timer.
    Since this is your first premium course, don’t forget to have yourself a checklist of what you should or shouldn’t do for the next premium course.

  6. says

    Rob that’s awesome.

    You know, I was just brainstorming for a course idea I had. I’m not quite there yet, but this is defo something I’m going to do in the future. I love teaching. Thanks for sharing your success!

    • says

      You could be really successful on Udemy, Mena. I’ve actually got a ridiculous idea of a Udemy MeetUp in London attracting online learners and teachers. :)

      • says

        Sounds good Rob.
        let me know when you are thinking and I’ll see if i’m free.
        Would also be like to skype with other instructors. Let me know if you are interested.

        • says

          It would be a weekday evening in a pub in Victoria, London SW1, if I do it, Pete. It would be monthly. But I’d need to know if there was definite interest.

  7. says

    Hi Rob,

    Have you ever tried getting your courses promoted through sites like commission junction or click bank? Would be interesting to see if professional affiliate marketers can make a difference to your bottom line and introduce new people to your list?

    • says

      Hi Ali, Udemy does have a pretty good affiliate scheme already run by the LinkShare network. There are affiliates who hangout in Facebook groups and you can give them your discount links which they try to sell on your behalf. I get a little bit from this every month. I also recommend other courses in my courses through affiliate links as well.

      As you know, I am creating a new membership site where I will host all my courses at and I’m wondering whether to set up an affiliate scheme for that. I used to run an affiliate scheme for one of my PDF a books and it left a rather sour taste in my mouth as people were spamming other sites to try and sell my book. This was through Clickbank who John here advises asked to avoid. Clickbank does have a rather bad “IM-y” reputation.

      So, thanks for the question, I’m still thinking about this…

    • says

      Hello, John, there speaks a voice of experience. Clickbank have a bad reputation (although not completely fair) for dodgy IM products. Many people will have nothing to do with them.