How I went from $0 in earnings on Udemy in 2014 to over $600,000 and a final suspension in 2016, to today, where I’ve consistently coached Udemy instructors the whole time and I’m building my own platform that others have told me has a chance to be a competitor with Udemy and Skillshare.
How did we get here today? And can I keep the story under 10 minutes? Let’s find out.
How did I originally join Udemy in 2014?
I have found a post on the warrior forum where someone asked where my online course was. I had a system to get a lot of Facebook Likes for cheap using Facebook Ads and somebody wanted to take my full course.
I said I don’t have one. What do you even mean, online courses? They gave me a link to Udemy and I saw the Facebook Ads courses were very good there. I tried to put my free webinar from YouTube straight on to Udemy. -They rejected the course.
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I went through and made a quick free course and accepted that then I updated my original Facebook Ads course.
I took 12 hours in one day, filmed the entire course after buying a better microphone and getting some screen capture software which is Camtasia. I filmed the whole course, uploaded it to Udemy, they approved it.
Initially that course made almost nothing in sales. I tried to sell it, I was so frustrated that after only two people buying it in the first several months of 2014.
I just gave it away. I said this is dumb, nobody’s taking the course anyway might as well just give it away so I put out a bunch of free coupons to it all over the place and those free coupons helped get some initial reviews, get some initial students, get some watch time and those free students and the continuing improvements I made to the course helped get me to a month where Udemy promoted my course for me and I made a thousand dollars in instructor earnings on July 2014.
I was so excited that this actually has some real potential even to be passive income that I can get courses up and I’ll just keep making money.
At the same time the key thing in my personal life, I was 90 days sober after drinking my business and my health nearly to the end.
I was starting to think about other people and having the courage to do what I loved. I started getting my life in a position to help other people and start dropping things I didn’t like doing and wasn’t doing very well in my business.
I started to focus more on Udemy and thousands of dollars kept coming in every month for the sales, I got more and more excited until, in October, the sales actually went down as I made some changes that weren’t very good.
Then in November for Black Friday, after I made some positive changes and kept giving the course away and getting more students.
Then, $6,000 in sales almost all on my Facebook Ads course at which point I said this is incredible. I’m going all-in on this. I’m dropping everything else, I’m doing in my business I’m just going to do Udemy.
My Longing to maximize Earnings on Udemy
I saw that if I would just do two videos a day on Udemy, seven days a week and I could easily do it full-time. That’s what I started doing.
I produced over the next two years 2,400+ videos that I uploaded to Udemy on over 70 courses. These sales actually went down from Black Friday in December into around a couple thousand and which point I found a course from an instructor saying how he was making a thousand a day on Udemy. I took his courses, I looked through them and said ‘if this instructor can make $1,000 a day, I can do $2,000 a day.’
I have subjects I can teach better than he’s teaching, I can do much more than he’s doing and that’s what I did. I started hiring freelancers, I borrowed $50,000 of personal loans so that I’d have money in the bank.
I’d stop trying to make money in the short term and I’d focus completely on the long term and on Udemy and that’s what I did. I literally used the money I borrowed to pay freelancers to make in-demand courses.
I got frustrated saying, I can’t make a course on ethical hacking but this guy on Upwork for $10 an hour can make it. Let’s go, I’ll hire him, he’ll make the course, I’ll put it up and sell it and then I put previews up on YouTube and sold it. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next year on paid ads to promote my courses.
My Final suspension from Udemy
Several of my courses triggered off and got into bestseller positions. I had bestseller spots in several different categories.
Over the next year, I will become a top ten instructor on Udemy with up to $90,000 in one month of earnings for me over $2,000,000 in sales on my Udemy courses in total and hundreds of thousands of students by June 2016.
At which point Udemy sent me an email absolutely out of the blue saying that my account had received a final suspension, all of my courses were taking down. And that was it.
They even uninvited me from Udemy live and refunded my plane ticket.
I was blown away and I reviewed, I did a video at the time which it mostly was a sales pitch for new things I was doing.
I’ve looked back over the three years since then and I can see the one area I created a lot of trouble in, was with my relationships with co-instructors. I was so busy competing and trying to win. I didn’t think about my co-instructors or the community that much I only thought about myself my sales and the students.
I didn’t think much about other instructors and a lot of other instructors got aggravated complained to Udemy about me.
The one thing I did is, I made an incentivized review system that was obnoxious.
The top instructors on Udemy in early 2014 all the ones I saw had incentivized review systems which Udemy since then has taken a very hard stance against.
I even got permission from Udemy with the exact incentivized review system I talked to them in a Skype call the girl said you can do that, that’s okay as long as you don’t pay people for a certain result you can do that.
Then just a month later, they took all my incentivized reviews off, plus a bunch of legitimate reviews. I complained very vocally, I called out other instructors who had ten times as many incentivized reviews, none of them were removed.
I caused a bunch of trouble in one post I made, and then it seems like they didn’t like me after that even though my courses were still making a ton of sales from the whole system I’d set up and the whole system they already had in place especially Google organic search.
The Google organic search sales are one of the best parts about being on Udemy and I had a ton of top places in Google organic search.
Wanting to make things right.
The most ridiculous thing I did I spent about three to five thousand dollars sending edible arrangements at the end of 2015 to almost every single Udemy staff member: two of them sent me thank-you messages.
For those like $50 each edible arrangements, I just sent them relentlessly to the headquarters. I read some books about saying how I could have a good relationship with them.
That way, they did have a call with me and basically said that if I screwed anything up -this was in September 2015- they were going to get rid of me, even the smallest little mistake. They were going to get rid of me because basically, they didn’t like what I’ve done before which from what I can see, was speaking out and calling other instructors out for problems on Udemy.
That’s what I can see they really didn’t like and then they followed through that.
Highlight of things I have done since the Udemy Ban.
- I have launched my own course platform.
- I have earned lots of money on other course platforms.
- I’ve been coaching instructors on Udemy the entire time to maximize their earnings.
Summarily, I’m very grateful for the chance to do that. I have helped several instructors get to $10,000+ a month, on Udemy to duplicate the results I’ve got – and to be able to teach full-time online.
Words of Advice
- Put your courses on Udemy, don’t promote them at all, always promote your own platform, get your own Thinkifik (that is what I use)
- Put your courses on your own Thinkifik, promote your own platform.
- Give Udemy your course, take the money and don’t do anything else with Udemy
- Forget competing and focus on giving value.
- Help the people that want to take your courses, you can sell courses for much higher than $10 on your own platform.
- You can sell coaching and services – do it all on your own platform.
If I had to do it over again I would not promote my courses on Udemy, I would just give free coupons away, put courses up, and send everyone to my own platform.
I would have made double if not ten plus times as much in a long term doing it that way.
I promised myself this video would be under 10 minutes.
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This is Jerry Banfield Udemy Ban Story.