If you’re passionate about teaching or coaching, and you’re looking to earn money online by sharing your knowledge — Udemy might just be the place for you to get started. I’ve been a Udemy instructor for more than 1,5 years now and in that time I’ve been able to quit my job and work from wherever I want in the world. Currently, I have more than 10 courses that produce consistent passive income every month.
However, it surely wasn’t always like this. I know that when you’re just starting in the world of earning money online, it can be quite overwhelming. In the beginning, it can be such a challenge to earn even your first $1000 online. I’ve been there myself.. It would take me more than a year to earn my first dollar online, until I joined Udemy. Because soon after publishing my first course on Udemy, I started to earn money.
This is what I want for you too. I want you to succeed with earning money online, so you can live life on your terms — not someone else’s. So you can experience the freedom, the fulfilment and the adventure. It’s amazing.
Therefore, I’ve decided to write this article. Step-by-step, I’ll share my process of how I earned my first $1000 on Udemy — and how you can do too.
Step 1: Pick A Topic
Your very first step in the process should be to pick a topic for your course. So, look at topics that you’re passionate and highly knowledgeable about. It’s important to pick a topic you truly enjoy, because this will make the course creation process a whole lot faster and easier. For me, as I had my background as an investor, passive investing in the stock market was the topic of my first Udemy course.
I’d highly recommend you use Udemy’s ‘Marketplace Insights’ tool (which can be accessed from your Udemy Instructors Dashboard) Here, you fill in your topic and you can see how much demand and competition there is for your course. This is extremely important! If there’s no to little demand for your topic, I’d highly recommend changing your topic. I’ve produced 1–2 courses that were low-demand topics, and they hardly sell.
In my experience, it’s much more profitable to produce a course in a popular category (despite high levels of competition). As long as you produce a high-quality course and nail the marketing, you’ll do well, regardless of the level of competition.
Go for very specific topics. For example, if you’re a digital marketing expert, instead of making an ‘entire digital marketing’ course, you could make courses for specific topics like SEO, Facebook Ads, YouTube Marketing, Copywriting etc.
In fact, you could create a whole series of 3–10 courses based on your area of expertise, instead of making just 1 giant course covering everything. This way, you don’t have to spend months producing your course, your target customers know exactly what to expect and they are less intimidated to finish the course.
Step 2: Analyse Your Target Market
Before you create your course you have to analyse your target market. You really have to understand who they are, what problems they encounter and what they want from your course. You have to take their point of view, because that way you’ll be able to produce the highest quality course.
Don’t just assume that what you think your target market wants is what they actually want. Go out and get the facts. Survey your target market or look online (on forums, Facebook groups, blogs etc.) and listen to what they say about their problems and challenges.
Make sure that you’re able to answer the questions underneath based on real world feedback from your target market. This way, you know you’re really solving the problems of your target market — and that’s the key to high-quality information products such as your Udemy course.
Remember, your course is not about you. It’s about solving the problems of your target market. Do that well, and you’ll be rewarded.
- What problems do they have?
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What is the #1 thing they want to improve in life?
- What #1 problem needs to be solved?
- What objections, doubts or resistance might they have?
Step 3: Create Your Course Outline
Now, based on your own experience and the analysis of your target market, start to create your course outline. This is an essential step that helps you get more clarity about your work-flow and about your progress. Way too many people skip this step and try to create a course without a solid plan. That’s a recipe for failure as you’ll lose overview and you’ll definitely forget to include a few important lessons.
Structure your course using different sections that cover very specific topics. You must make your course as ‘snackable’ as possible, this will help your customer flow through the course with more ease.
In this phase, I usually start with writing down my own ideas and knowledge about the topic. Then, I’d go out and do more research to see what other books, courses or blogposts are saying about the topic. This way, you produce the most complete course possible, without forgetting to include certain important lessons.
As an example, I’ll share the outline one of my latest course: Stop Procrastinating
Step 4: Record Your Course
Now that you’ve got your course outline ready, you can start with recording the entire course! This is one of the most important steps, as a high-quality course (with a lot of positive reviews) needs high-quality videos.
I’m not telling you to go all Hollywood style with your course, but good video and audio quality really helps with getting good reviews. You should definitely avoid having low audio or video quality, as this will not help you with getting good reviews.
Also, work on an engaging delivery. You don’t want your customer to be bored and fall asleep during your course. This won’t help you get good reviews, which means that you won’t sell a lot of courses.
Now, there are 2 primary ways to record your course:
1. You presenting in front of a camera
2. Using slides and a voice-over (so without your face on camera)
For courses with technical topics (for example finance or coding), I would recommend using slides and doing a voice-over, as the visual support from slides can help a lot with knowledge retention and understanding the material better. I use this recording style for my finance and investing courses.
For courses that are less technical, I’d recommend presenting in front of the camera as this will build a better relationship between you and your student (the student will have the feeling that he/she knows you a lot better). I use this recording style for my self-development courses.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In the beginning, it can be quite intimidating to present in front of the camera or to record your own voice. Maybe your voice trembles, you make many mistakes or you feel awkward and you don’t know what to do with your body language. That’s all okay. This is simply part of the process.
I’ve cringed so much at the videos I made in the beginning.. It was really embarrassing to watch. However, over time I got better by pure repetition and consistency. Nowadays, I actually enjoy presenting in front of the camera and this shows in the quality of my courses.
This will be the case for you too, as long as you practice consistently. Over time, you’ll get a lot more familiar and comfortable in front of the camera, which helps with a more engaging delivery. Stay consistent, keep on practising and seek improvement with every video you make. Before you know it, it’ll be second nature.
In the beginning, it can be a bit of puzzle to know how to record your course. What equipment and software do you need? How do you make sure it’s all recorded in the highest possible quality? What should my set-up look like? Etc.
To help you make life a little easier, I’ll share my course creation set-up. Keep in mind, I’m not really a technical person. I like easy-to-use hardware and software that immediately does what it’s supposed to do, and of the highest quality possible. I make sure that all of the programs and equipment I use in my recording process fulfil these standards.
The Microphone I’m Using: Rode Lavalier Mic
You can plug this mic in your phone (or other recording devices) and use your voice recording app in order to record the audio. Using a high-quality microphone like this one will boost the audio quality of your course massively. Students will definitely notice the difference and this’ll help with the rating that they’ll give your course.
Pro tip: Put your phone on airplane mode when you’re recording. This way, the recording can’t be interrupted by phone-calls for example (which happened to me before)
The Camera I’m Using: Canon G7 X
This camera is used by many YouTubers and course creators because it’s relatively cheap but still records high-quality videos. I’ve been using this camera for a while now and I’m really happy with the quality of my videos. I will stick with this camera for a while!
Also, I use this tripod to keep my camera stable and find the perfect recording angle. This makes the recording process so much easier.
The Light Set-Up I’m Using: Falcon Eyes SO-28TD
Having good lighting can give your video quality such a big boost. If you have enough light in your recording space (from the front!), you don’t have to use a light set-up.
The Screen Recording (and Editing) Software I’m Using: Camtasia
Camtasia is awesome. Not only is Camtasia great for recording your screen, it’s also an easy-to-use editing software that you can use to edit your entire course. I’ve been using Camtasia for years now and it’s one of the best software investments I’ve made. Because of Camtasia, my recording and editing process is VERY easy.
Step 5: Edit Your Course
Now that you’ve recorded everything, it’s time to edit your course. Either you can do the editing yourself using Camtasia (really, Camtasia is awesome) or you outsource the video editing on Fiverr for example.
Step 6: Write The Course Sales Page
The course is not going to sell itself (yet). You have to write an appealing sales page for it. This is extremely important! When your sales page sucks, no one is going to buy your course. Therefore, it’s critical that you dive into the skill of copywriting (or you hire a copywriter on Fiverr to do it for you).
Copywriting is the skill of being able to write persuasively so that you can get a reader to follow your call-to-action. Whether that means buying your course or joining your email list, it doesn’t matter. If you’re able to persuade with your words, you’re able to earn a LOT of money on the internet. In fact, I dare to say that copywriting is the #1 skill that has enabled me to earn a full-time living online.
Make sure that the sales page of your Udemy course addresses all the pain-points that your target market experiences. Really show that you understand your target market (that’s why step 2 is so important).
Furthermore, your sales page must be extremely benefit driven. This means that you show all the benefits that your potential customer is going to experience after following this course. You’ll show how great his/her life will be after finishing the course. How their #1 problem will be solved, how they will transform XYZ in their life and what that will mean for their health/finances/relationships/happiness/career etc.
Also, use stories and case studies in your sales page. People respond very well to stories and case studies as they can relate to that.
Pro Tip: Look at other bestselling courses (no matter the topic) and see how they’ve structured their sales pages in order to learn from it.
Read 1–2 books about copywriting and just follow all the tips they give you. I’d highly recommend The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins — as those 2 books have taught me almost anything I needed in order to write persuasively and use that skill to earn money online.
Step 7: Course Launch
Now that your course is completely finished, it’s time to hit the ‘submit for review’ button and launch your Udemy course. Congratulations on your progress so far, but it doesn’t end here! Unfortunately, after this step, most Udemy instructors fail. They expect that all of a sudden their course will start to sell. Unfortunately for them, this is far from the truth.
The truth is, on Udemy you’re going to need reviews in order to get to the point where sales are flowing in on autopilot. The more reviews your course has (and the higher the rating), the more sales you’ll get. It’s as simple as that. A high number of reviews serves as social proof for potential customers. Social proof is one of the most important elements when it comes to selling products online.
Step 8: Get Reviews
Like I mentioned, a lot of positive reviews are the key to success on Udemy. When your course has 0 reviews, no one will buy it. So, therefore, we need to get those initial reviews. But how?
Well, the strategy that I used is to offer my course for free (with special coupons you can make) on highly targeted Facebook groups where my target market hangs out. This is how my first Udemy course, The Passive Investing Blueprint, really took off. I was able to get about 100 free students who were already interested in investing. They left about 5–10 reviews which was enough to boost my Udemy course and give it more social proof, which led to more sales!
Also, you can ask your friends and family to buy your course with a special coupon (or you give them a free coupon) and leave an honest review on your course. This way, you could already get a few reviews on your course, which are crucial to the success of your course on Udemy.
Now, after getting your initial reviews, you might already get some first organic sales — how awesome is that! You should make sure these new students also leave reviews, to increase the social proof (simply ask them or incentive them by giving them a free bonus when they leave a review). The more reviews you’ll get, the more sales you’ll make — all completely on autopilot.
This is exactly how my first course took off, and how I was able to earn my first $1000 within 2,5 months on the platform. I managed to get some initial reviews which served as social proof. Shortly after, organic sales started to come in. In turn, these new students also left new reviews which contributed to even more social proof. The pattern is now set and the course basically runs itself. Nowadays, the course completely runs on autopilot as it has more than 160 reviews and sales are flowing in every single day.
Step 9: Do Your Own Marketing
It can be very useful to also do your own marketing, especially in the beginning. This way, you can earn more money, grow your audience and get more reviews at a faster rate (which means, more organic sales!).
Preferably you already have an existing audience that you can market your course to. Maybe you already have a following on YouTube, Instagram or on your blog. Or maybe you already have an e-mail list to market too. In that case, start promoting your course a few weeks before the launch, to build the hype among your followers.
However, most people don’t have a following yet. So, how would you market your course then?
- Start a YouTube channel and record videos about your course topic. Link to your course with a special discount coupon.
- Share your course in Facebook groups where your target market hangs out.
- Start a podcast (using Anchor for example) to talk about your course topic and promote your course there.
- Start a blog and link to your course.
- Give away a free bonus (such as a bonus video, mini course, cheat-sheet, checklist or ebook) about your topic in return for an email address. Market your course in your free bonus and by sending emails to your list.
Now Do It
Alright, so I’ve written this entire article for you to start earning your first $1000 online with Udemy. Now go out and do it. Only by taking massive action you’ll be able to create a life you can live on your own terms. Only then will you be able to refresh your Udemy Dashboard every 10 minutes and see new passive income flowing in.
I wish you all the best on your Udemy journey! Please let me know if you’ve gotten any value out of this article — and how much money you’ve earned with your first course!
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab
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