Why I Put All My Eggs in Udemy’s Basket

I Love Udemy

Prepare yourself for a little bit of a Udemy love fest. Over the past several months I have become a pretty big fan of what they are doing. So much so that although there are a few drawbacks, that I will discuss in a minute, I have decided to offer my Sociable Video Training Course exclusively on the Udemy.com platform.

Even though I had been planning on writing this blog post for several days I have received a couple inquires as to why Udemy! Why not sell through Clickbank or JVZoo and take advantage of those affiliate communities? Why basically give Udemy your customers and build their business? Why give them 30% and sometimes more commission on your course?

All valid questions that were considered carefully. Before I get to the answering of those questions and sharing more of my reasoning let’s rewind a year- for a little back story.

A year ago I hadn’t even heard of Udemy and the online training trend had just begun to grow. While I was writing and shooting my course I was also building my own membership area to house all of the course content. There were several reasons for doing it myself – mostly so I could keep the most profit and also build my own customer base.

There really wasn’t a lot of good options for creating a membership area and eventually I settled on using WordPress and WishList Members. I put a ton of time into designing and setting up the membership area. The software was fairly easy to use but not very efficient for uploading over 50 videos, over 50 audio recordings and organizing it all into a user intuitive interface. It just wasn’t a platform geared towards online training.

I then signed up for a Clickbank account to use for payment processing and to hopefully tap into the large pool of Clickbank affiliates. Clickbank has been the dominant player in the internet marketing payment processor and affiliate program hybrid field for years. I always thought the Clickbank system was a little archaic looking and clunky- but it works.

Udemy Home page

I was all ready to launch with my own setup and then I ran into Udemy! “Hhhmmm this looks interesting and pretty perfect for what I’m doing but dang I don’t know about giving them 30%!” By this time Udemy and the online training ‘movement’ had really started to pick up some steam.

Because Udemy isn’t exclusive I thought it wouldn’t hurt to sell my course in two places- my site through Clickbank and on Udemy for those that found it through their marketplace or promotion.

If the backstory was boring you and you are half asleep now- Wake Up! Here’s where I get into the pros & cons of Udemy!

Turns out that not only did the Udemy sales page convert better for the organic traffic I sent (VS. SociableVideo.com and the ClickBank sales link) but MOST of my sales and cash flow would come from Udemy’s own promotion of my course or people finding it organically on the Udemy site.

Maybe if I had a large advertising budget to launch and promote my course then going the ‘loner’ route would be more beneficial in the long run. But things are a little tight and I’m relying mostly on word of mouth and ‘guerilla’ content marketing tactics (including my own video marketing advice) to promote. I also had poor luck recruiting those Clickbank affiliates. I definitely could have put in more effort in that department but it started to seem like a crowded arena and I wasn’t making progress.

I also hated that I could not easily create coupon codes with Clickbank to give discounts or run promotions based around a code. I think not having this feature and the slightly confusing aspect of selling the course in two places subconsciously paralyzed me a little in my marketing and affiliate recruitment efforts. Upon realizing this I started to consider selling only on Udemy.

Clickbank takes 7.5% plus $1 in fees for each sale. When you compare that to Udemy’s normal 30% that’s pretty appealing. But I started to realize I wasn’t just paying that out to Udemy for a transaction fee. I was also paying them to host my course content and have it be presented in a really user friendly interface that makes my course look very professional. They are also continually optimizing, upgrading and adding new features that keep users happy. Udemy also has a great app for mobile devices and although the videos in my own members area were mobile friendly – my course on the Udemy app was a vast improvement.

Sociable Video in Udemy iPad App

Sociable Video in Udemy’s iPad App

And guess what? The 30% is only for organic traffic to the Udemy sales page. If you send traffic to the page directly (you have to use a coupon code for tracking) then they only take 15%.

They also have a growing pool of affiliates that could promote my course and I can always recruit my own as well. For an affiliate sale, Udemy gets 15%, the affiliate gets 50% and you get 35%. Remember in this scenario I’m not doing most of the work so the 35% is basically free money. With that said I still want to make a little- so figuring out the proper starting price becomes very important. That’s a whole other blog post but I want to price it fairly but still make some profit after coupon codes, affiliates and Udemy all get a chunk.

The name of the game in the Udemy world seems to be volume. You can choose to opt-in to a few different types of ad programs and promotions in which they take a larger cut. This includes them doing paid promotion of your course or partnering with sites like Groupon. I would highly recommend instructors opt-in to these programs. Yes you may get some low dollar amounts popping up in your payment reports but at the end of a few days when you look at the total amount- it’s worth it. Besides, they are doing all the work and I’m cashing in.

The drawbacks to Udemy for me is that at the end of the day the users that buy your course are customers of Udemy and not necessarily customers of yours. However you can message them and post announcements in the course area. Using those methods, as well as mentions of my sites and social media properties throughout my course, I am eventually going to get most of my course users into my world somehow anyhow.

Sociable Video Curriculum in Udemy iPad app

Sociable Video Curriculum page in Udemy iPad app

The other drawback is I think Udemy might be doing too many highly discounted promotions and encouraging course owners to do so as well or even to give your course away for free. I think this can do a disservice to the Udemy community as a whole as it’s cheapens the overall value of the courses. I’ve read posts on coupon sites that say things like “I never pay for a course on Udemy- eventually you’ll see a free link for it.” The catch-22 of this is that it does help to show you have a good number of students and have some reviews to encourage paying customers. I just think instructors should be using this tactic with some restraint. I also understand that Udemy is just trying to grow its customer base to promote our courses to in the future. So in the end maybe this does benefit the whole Udemy community with future sales.

Another drawback is that at some point I may want to make Sociable Video or a new course a monthly membership program instead of a one time fee. Currently Udemy does not have the ability to accommodate that pricing structure. This could be a very lucrative area for Udemy to go into for premium, constantly updated courses.

I’ve also had very positive experiences with the people that work at Udemy (shout out to Kasia, Eliza and Danielle!). They’ve answered all my questions in a very timely manner and just seem like a really nice group of people. I was even asked to write an article for the Udemy blog (that you can read here) and they recently added my course to the Staff Picks list! It may not scientifically be true but it seems like the more energy and focus I put into promoting my course on Udemy – the more they market my course for me. And the more money we all make!

Everyone’s resources and goals are different. Leveraging Udemy for your online course management and marketing strategy may not work for everyone. But it’s working for me and I look forward to building a long relationship with Udemy and taking full advantage of it’s growing customer base!

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