Why I decided not to put my courses on Udemy
When I made my first course, a deep dive into advanced web design and Sass (which is currently closed as I try to fix it up), I looked into a ton of ways I could host my course.
And since that course and my Responsive Web Design Bootcamp were released, I get tons of people asking me to put my content on Udemy as well.
I understand why people would like me to do that, but unless their platform has a major shift, I never will use them. In this post, I'll explain why.
I realize for a lot of people this might go into too much detail, but hopefully, it can help anyone who is thinking about making their own course at one point in the future.
There were a lot of reasons that I didn't go with Udemy
I looked into self-hosting it by building it out of a WordPress theme. I looked at platforms such as Teachable, Teachery, Thinkific, Podia, and more (in the end I went with Podia, but that could be a discussion for another day! Also, that is an affiliate link 😊).
One of the first ones I looked into was Udemy. I'd purchased a few courses on Udemy in the past, so I already knew about it.
When you're looking at putting together a course, you do think about things a little differently than as a student though.
The main reasons I didn't go with them were:
- How much I would earn per sale
- Staying in touch with my students
Throughout the rest of this post, I'll be diving into each of those, and I'll wrap it up with why I was willing to make a few concessions of the above when I partnered with Scrimba to make a course with them.
Udemy is great for students because you know that you can get any course for $15-$20. Sure, they say they are $200, but everything is effectively permanently on sale.
As a student, that's fantastic. As a course creator, knowing my courses are probably going to be on sale for $20 (or less) takes away my desire to make a longer, more in-depth course.
But you get access to a larger audience and can make a lot more sales!
This is true. Udemy has a massive audience. One problem is that unless you purchase through a coupon that I provide you with (which will probably be a discount coupon, taking it down from the $20 it's already on sale for), the course creator gets between 25% - 50% of the sale.
If they use my coupon, I'd get 97% of the sale. That's great! But there is a catch. If the student clicked an ad to Udemy at any point in the last 7 days then I get 25%, even though they used my coupon.
I also talked to a few people who have courses on Udemy. A lot of the sales numbers you see are inflated because of people getting the courses for free.
This is a very popular technique where people give the course away to thousands of people to boost the enrolled student numbers and make it look popular and also to get reviews of the course early on.
So yes, it looks exciting like "oh wow, I can get 30,000 sales on a course like all these other people"! But when 28,000 of those were free, it takes some of the luster away.
But you get 97% of the sale if I use your coupon!
That's true, and it works for someone like me who's managed to build up an audience of my own.
But I basically get the same thing if I sell a course on my own platform as well.
If someone is buying the course from me, they'll buy it on my platform or Udemy. That appeal of the giant audience of theirs, who will only buy my course when Udemy puts it on a super sale and limits my income from those sales... it becomes a much smaller incentive than it could be.
I also know that some people put a smaller part of a larger course on Udemy, knowing that it will be discounted to oblivion and that they'll only get a part sale.
The idea is to give people a solid but short course and hopefully be able to upsell them at the end to go and see your other content. I like this in theory and even thought about doing it as well!
The problem is, reading comments on courses like that, a lot of people feel like they were ripped off. So while I'm sure some students do end up actually purchasing more content from that creator in other places, it also does enough to anger people and put them off that creator because they feel like they didn't know it wasn't a "full" course.
I'd rather avoid that, as I do think that, as an online entrepreneur, reputation matters, both of myself and of the platform. And actually, that leads to my next point.
One of the things that bothered me the most with putting a course on Udemy was my impression of the platform.
While I'd purchased courses there—and a few that I really liked—I see it as a discount course platform.
I go there when I want something cheap and I cross my fingers that the quality will be good. Tons of people purchase a lot of content on there and never even watch any of it because they've bought too many courses. Getting students to the end of a course can be hard enough, I'd at least want a good chance that they'd start it!
Anyone can make a course on Udemy
There is no barrier of entry on Udemy and while some courses are fantastic, others are... not very fantastic, to say the least.
So on top of having low prices, the fact that I'm associated with all the other courses on there (for better and worse) was something that I wasn't so keen on as well.
I'm not a branding expert and I don't go out of my way to brand myself in any specific way, but I do go a long way to try and associate myself with companies I really like, and only companies I really like.
I get asked to do sponsored videos for hosting companies on an almost weekly basis. If I haven't used the company (or, in some cases, I have used them and didn't like the experience), I'm not about to promote them.
By putting a course of Udemy, I feel, in one respect, that I'd be promoting that platform to my audience. That's something I'm not comfortable with doing.
Staying in touch with customers
When students enroll in a course on Udemy the course creator doesn't get access to their email addresses. Udemy does give you the ability to email your customers, which is nice, but it doesn't allow you to have external links.
I get that they don't want someone building up a huge customer base through their platform only to turn around and push a course somewhere else, but for me, this is a major deal-breaker.
One of the most important things someone can do to build up an online business is to be able to properly stay in touch with their customers, whether it's giving them freebie downloads, linking to YT videos or articles I write or linking to another course that I do, I need the ability to stay in touch!
But you made a course on Scrimba!
I did! And I'm really proud of that course and how it's worked out.
There were several reasons that I was willing to sacrifice a few of the above to create my course on Scrimba:
- Their platform is amazing for dev related tutorials and courses
- They specifically told me that they were curating their premium courses to keep the quality high
- The team running it are great people
The biggest thing for me is that they were a brand that I would be happy to be associated with. They are nice people running it and their focus on high-quality, web development tutorials made it a great fit.
I have a few plans for future courses:
- I'll be updating the course on Scrimba with new content in the future
- I'm reworking my currently closed course to make it bigger and better
- I'm working on a series of smaller courses
Other than the Scrimba course, everything will be on my platform.