What have we learned by looking at the course sales data and from my own experience with having a successful course? These are three key areas that are essentials for understanding and making great course sales.
Number one: Udemy organic sales should be first priority. Udemy course sales are the first priority because the majority of the actual sales come in through Udemy organic sales. For some instructors, the results may vary. From what I have seen, the Udemy organic sales are the single best opportunity for instructor revenue. That means Udemy organic sales have to be first priority if you want to make the most money and most sales. What do you actually need to make Udemy organic sales the first priority?
You need a hot general topic. That means a topic a lot of people want to learn about. If your topic is too niche, you’re not likely to find anyone that wants to learn about it or not likely to find enough people to make organic sales.
Let me help you out even more, there’s an infographic that Udemy just came out with. Here’s what makes a hot topic: high demand, low supply. A lot of people searching for it and very few instructors trying to teach it. Something like Facebook by now is not a hot topic anymore because there are tons of courses in it even though the demand for it is high, it’s not a hot topic. This infographic shows by Udemy what the current hot topics are as of December 2014. The majority of them are in this list like design, business, marketing, development and IT software so there’s a lot of very specific topics.
That way you can choose a topic if you already know about it and say “okay I need to make a topic on one of these courses.” For example, for me, I’m going to do a pay-per-click course because I know about that and seeing now it’s a hot topic, I probably should make that. My Facebook ads course is targeted to Facebook ads, but I can make another course including general advertising platforms and then I can make a hot topic. That’s the key: to pick up a hot topic that a lot of people are searching for and the course competition is low. The flames on the infographic are the super hot topics all of these on here are hot topics as of December 2014.
Next thousands of free students usually and I say free because it’s easy to get thousands of free students. If you try and just do it with paid students, it’s a lot harder to get thousands of paid students. You’re likely going to sacrifice months of potential higher organic sales just trying to get paid students. That’s why I say thousands of free students. Then 10 – 20 5-star ratings on the course. That’s a lot easier to get if you’re doing it on FREE students. It’s very hard to get 1,000 paid students and then it’s very hard to get 10 – 20 reviews out of those paid students because the review percentage is very low on a course, maybe I’ll do a lecture about this, but most courses have a review percentage of less than one percent. That means you need, even at 1%, you need 1000 – 2000 students. It’s going to be a lot easier to get those for free.
You can see on my course that I’ve done exactly that. The best-selling course I have, most students have taken It for free, but eventually when the free coupons are out, all students will have to pay to get into it. the thing is I’ve got now a course that’s in a position to be number one. I want this course to be number one in its category and then I can have a complete opportunity to just get paid students in it, but for now I continue to get as many students as possible, get as many reviews as possible and you can see I’m grateful on this course I’ve listened to student feedback and initially had some lower reviews over a year ago and now I’ve worked really hard to the point of having reviews like this.
It’s actually good to have some reviews lower than 5 stars, preferably 4 or 3 because honestly no one’s going to make a course that makes everyone happy. If you look at all the best selling products in the world, they all have people who can’t stand them. That is exactly what you want your course to look like with as many good review as possible and then 30 – 50+ minutes of student engagement. I would say at least 50+ minutes viewed per student. You want Udemy to know that your course is a place where people are spending a lot of time. Here’s another look at that in my Facebook ads course.
As the sales have went up, then minutes of content in it have went up to. Last month, people spent 54,000 minutes in my Facebook Ads course and to Udemy, that’s a huge sign that it’s a good course because Udemy wants people spending time on their website. If you make a course that people are spending time in, then Udemy will try and sell that course and then there’s lots of discussions in that course, too. That tells Udemy students have a genuine interest in it. Discussions are one of those kind of small indicators of an excellent course. I know some of the other instructors doing really well have a lot of discussions. If you notice, this is what happened when I didn’t give any free coupons, it was hard to get any minutes in it. Then I started getting free coupons out like crazy and look the minutes watched went up, but also the paid students went up and they put all the minutes into it, too.
These points are critical for getting those organic sales. The one course that’s done really well for me on all of these points has got 10,000 organic sales in the last three months. That’s how well all of these things work together. That’s point two.
One exceptional course is much better than a few average courses. If you want to see that point really well, I will show you my Udemy course revenue from this month so far.
Here’s how that breaks down. Look at the pie chart on this course. You can see this one course the Facebook ads course in the first eight days of January has made 2,000 dollars. All the rest of the courses combined have barely went over $3,000 which out of the $2,000 this one course has earned, that means they barely went over a thousand. If you look at the pie chart, it’s like Packman. This Facebook ads course is eating all the other courses.
These are all great opportunities. These are all great things happening because these are all newer courses and Udemy will slowly level your course up if it’s making sales so this course is consistently making more sales so it’s holding its own in here even as these other courses grow.
The clear point in here is one awesome course. Say you didn’t have this course at all, if all I had was these courses I’d have about 1,000 in earnings this one course does double all the rest. It’s worth creating more than one course, but if you’re going to start with a course, wouldn’t you rather start with this course?
Start with what you know best. Facebook Ads is what I’m known for best online that was the first course I made. I stared with what I knew best. If possible, match it with one of these hot topics. If you know machine learning or cloud computing or R advanced or mat lab start with one of those. Choose a course that people really want and that you’re an expert in and then you base your work on student feedback.
My Facebook course was really crappy to start out. It was around an hour long and had low quality content not surprisingly several of the students didn’t like it, although several still did. So I then worked harder and harder on that course. The other instructors that are making more than I am have said the same thing. They started out with an okay course that people liked and they continued to consistently put more effort into making that course better and then the course sales just went up and up.
If you look at this, I put a significant amount of continued instructional effort into this course every month because it’s my number one seller. I work really hard to keep this course at the top of its game. I just yesterday re-did the title and description a little bit and added several more lectures in this week to this course. This course is my heavy hitter, it’s making more money all the other courses combines and that means it gets my first attention.
All of my new courses are getting about half of my attention or more, but the thing is this course is not one I just want to leave out there and look at it like passive income. This is my heavy-hitting course, I want to keep making it better so that it can continue to grow. When you get student feedback on your course saying this course is really good and listen to what students say, then you can put hat in it and make it even better.
What makes a great course for Udemy sell is a laundry list of things like this. When people look at a course like this and they see all of these lectures in it. Look at the amount of content in it, you can see it’s really up to date, too.
Student’s know this is likely to have a lot of good material in it. That’s what you want. I’ve tried something new in this lecture, too. My old lectures that the interface is outdated. People asked me not to delete those and just replace them so I’m putting them in the bonus material: retired lectures so I can just keep them in the course, but they’re at the very end after questions, after the course summary. They’re only for people who really just want to use every minute in the course.
Then, 10+ hours of high quality content. You almost never want to create a 10+ hour course to start with, but if people like the first three or four hours of your course like I’m doing now in this course. You guys have consistently given me great feedback that you like this course so I’m doing more lectures in it after it’s been out and after it’s published on the market place. You base your work on student feedback and you give your course away free generously to begin in order to start that positive reinforcement loop of all of these things up here. All of that starts with giving your course away free to begin.
Let’s wrap this up with a third point, most of your sales are likely to be 10 – 20 dollars. So given that, you want a course price that’s higher. You want something around 399, 299, 499, 199. You want a high base price so that the very small amount of people who will pay full price will generate a lot of revenue per person. That way you can look again at this course. This course is priced at 399, but it’s discounted to $10 so the human psyche says wow, this is a great deal regardless of whatever the truth is, it’s buyer psychology.
There’s an experiment where a retail store tried to do honest, flat low prices in a niche of makeup and the sale worked terrible. That strategy worked terribly because people went in the store, saw there were no sales and walked out. They didn’t even realize the prices were at or below where the sale price has always been.
The store had to go back to a sales price. People like the high price discounted. They feel like they’re getting a good deal and it’s programmed into most of our minds. I know my wife loves to get a deal on stuff and she doesn’t care that much even if she conscientiously knows it’s obviously marked up high and then given at a discount which is obviously full price and it hurts to miss out on deals. I literally missed out on a thousand dollar off sale on my host gator hosting a month after I bought the course.
Some of you that paid for this course and then see that people took it for free may be upset and say why did I have to pay and some people took it for free? I paid a thousand extra dollars on my host gator hosting, sometimes you miss a sale, but then thing is, if you use this knowledge to your advantage, if you use the fact that most people like to buy on sales, and most of your sales are likely to be $10 and $20 sales, then you can use this fact to get your courses sold and if you know that most instructors starting out their course will give away free coupons in Udemy studio, then you can get a ton of courses for free for yourself.
If you used this knowledge to your advantage instead of being upset with any places where I could really be upset that I just missed a thousand dollar off host gator sale, but what good would that do me? It wouldn’t do me any good, it learned me the lesson I should try and patiently look and research and buy things and not just jump on things immediately all the time. That works really well with Udemy and you know that Buyers are doing the same thing. They’re waiting on those 10 or 20 dollar sales and that’s when they’re likely to buy your course. When your Udemy organic position is good, when those ten dollar sales come along, then you can expect to make a lot of money.
Finally, take whatever course sales you can get. If you get an affiliate sale that’s only three dollars. I’ve had sales I think the lowest I made was a dollar off a course sale that’s better than nothing. That’s a lot better than nothing. when you have months like I’ve had when I made several thousand and then I go down and have a lower month, I’m still grateful that I’m getting something because Udemy is a miracle in the opportunity that all you have to do is film some HD video courses you can make thousands of dollars. The potential is there to make thousands of dollars in sales.
If you want to get a book published, it’s not nearly that easy. If you want to get a successful podcast, it’s not nearly that easy. Udemy right now is really easy so you want to take whatever sales you can get, that means even take whatever free students you can get in your course to start with and then when you’ve got social proof and you’ve got a course that’s established as a best seller, then you can get a little more strict with who you let in the course and the pricing on it and still then you can make a good deal of money and then you can continue to make an exceptional course that people really like. That course took me over a year. Over a year to get that course in position and most of the instructors on here that are selling their courses successfully are saying the same thing. It took them a year or two to get them into a good successful position. The competition is going up rapidly so what you’ve learned in this course I hope is helpful for you to get and keep up with the competition and then give you the best shot to make a course that’s really successful and that will clearly give your value to as many students as possible while getting you paid the most out of it.
I appreciate you going through this lengthy lecture with me, and hope it’s been useful.
You can find the PDF checklist here: How to Increase Your Udemy Earnings.