Do you enjoy taking online classes?
Have you ever taken any classes on Udemy?
Or have you taught a class on Udemy?
Each of us has knowledge to share ~ whether it’s teaching a programming course or crocheting. And a platform like Udemy makes it easy to turn your passion into an online course that lets you teach others.
I hadn’t heard of Udemy until last year when I enrolled there in an online technical course. I was so impressed with my instructor and the course delivery, I decided to look into Udemy a little closer from an instructor’s perspective. And that’s when I learned about the Udemy platform.
Udemy is a MOOC Platform
Udemy, along with ITunesU and Coursera, was recently named a top MOOC platform. The beauty of such a platform is that students can enroll and learn at their own pace according to their schedule. It’s a great venue for technical training and students will find that many courses are offered for free. Additionally, Udemy runs deep discounts on many of their best-selling classes throughout the year.
For instructors, Udemy offers a high-quality publishing platform, a Facebook Udemy Studio Group, and technical support without any upfront fees. Requirements are stringent, and each instructor is expected to submit a test video prior to course creation to ensure high-quality audio and video. This is a very difficult process for newbies, which I learned upon the submission of my very first test video. More about that later! 🙂
Webinars or Hangouts or Workshops or MOOC?
Choosing the Proper Training Venue
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably know that one of my passions is teaching. I love to help people solve technical challenges, which was the reason I started this blog in the first place.
Over the years I’ve experimented with the best ways to deliver technical training including blog posts, Google+ hangouts, webinars, local workshops, and YouTube videos. I’ve even created and taught courses at local colleges.
But no matter what the venue was, the hardest part was getting students to show up.
So one solution is to offer online training that lets the students take courses at their convenience. Courses are available 24/7 365 days of the year. Could it be any more flexible?
OK, so now I was sold on the MOOC model.
Getting Started with the Udemy Twitter Course
Last year at the request of a few colleagues I created a short course on Twitter tips, tricks, and best practices. And I held a few Google+ hangouts to test the training and get feedback. And to decide if a hangout was the best venue for my training. (Speaking of which, using PowerPoint on a Google hangout can be a bit of a challenge the first time you do it!)
And then I set a goal to convert my Twitter training into an hour-long video training course. I signed up with Udemy and got to work building the course. Initially, I wanted to create the entire course without investing a single penny. Sounded like a great plan, right?
However, Udemy has strict guidelines for their courses. Everybody learns differently. Because of that Udemy recommends a balance “of at least 60% video lecture content and a mix of different content types for differentiated instruction.” I realized my PowerPoint presentation was flat and boring.
So I signed up for a 30-day trial of Prezi and rebuilt my presentation to make it more breezy and less stuffy.
Next, I realized my free download of CamStudio was too cumbersome to use. I had no way to edit my screencast and create the final high-def output format that Udemy requires. So I signed up for a trial version of Camtasia Studio. Surely I would get the course done before both of my trial licenses expired, right?
Submitting the Udemy Twitter Course Test Video
Before getting started with my course, Udemy required that I submit a short 2 minute test video to assess video and audio quality. This is a good thing because you don’t want to go down the wrong path and produce an inferior course. But I also think this was the hardest part for me. My Microsoft Headset just didn’t make the cut for audio quality. Upon review of my first test video, Udemy recommended putting my audio through a free program such as Audacity to clean it up.
But I felt overwhelmed at the thought of editing audio as I didn’t even know where to begin. So I invested in a moderately priced Blue Yeti microphone that greatly improved the audio and would (hopefully) save me time in the long run. The second test video was approved, and I was ready to start building the course.
I worked diligently on my course in the evenings and on weekends. But I fell short of completing the video production within my self-imposed 30-day time frame and ended up having to purchase both the Prezi and Camtasia Studio licenses because their trials had expired. 🙁
Learning Along the Way
Have you ever tried to create an hour-long video? Well, it was a surprise to me that it took untold hours of polishing, editing, cutting, and re-recording my content to get it to the point of acceptance by the Udemy review team. Fortunately, the course was approved upon the first submission.
The learning curve was steep because not only was I trying to create a course, I was teaching myself how to produce a video while learning how to use Prezi and Camtasia Studio. And some days I just learned everything the hard way.
Like the first time I spent an hour recording a lecture and then realizing I forgot to turn on the microphone.
Or finding out that the Blue Yeti microphone is so sensitive, it can pick up the sound of your furnace humming in the background or an airplane overhead. Sometimes it can even pick up the hum of your PC’s hard drive.
Or the phone would ring in the middle of a recording.
I finally learned to make sure my environment was free of all background noise when recording.
And I learned that no, I really can’t “wing it.” I had to write a script for each and every lecture so that my delivery was coherent and clear.
And it’s best to try to produce segments in one sitting. I found that my voice would fluctuate greatly from one day to the next. Some days my voice was energetic, other days I sounded tired or too soft-spoken. And sometimes by the end of the day, I would be downright hoarse!
Later I found out that the pros record audio and video separately and then put them together in the final phase of video production. It really does take the pressure off and saves time in the long run.
Support Along the Way
Udemy support is terrific. As soon as I signed up, they invited me into the Udemy Studio Facebook group of other veteran instructors as well as newbies like me. It’s a great place to ask questions and share struggles with others on the same journey. Plus the instructor liaison responded to each of my emails and checked in with me from time to time to make sure I was making progress and to keep me accountable.
The Udemy Review Process
Yes, they really do review each and every course that people want to publish on their platform. The standards are high and so this endeavor is not for the faint-hearted although at times even the best of instructors share moments of frustration.
Since I wanted to charge for the course, I had to sign up to become a premium instructor.
Finally all the pieces were in place. All of my lectures were produced and uploaded to the Udemy platform. I was ready to publish my Udemy Twitter course!
And then ~without any warning ~ Twitter rolled out a new layout. Really.
I contacted the instructor liaison at Udemy because I didn’t know whether I should hold off on publishing the course. Or should I recreate the course due to the Twitter layout change?
Udemy encouraged me to publish the course as is, then get to work on updating it to add value to the enrolled students. So I spent a few more weeks reworking the course and then sent an announcement to my students about the updates. At least they knew I was keeping on top of changing technology!
If I Build It, Will They Come?
Promoting the Udemy Twitter course has been a new challenge. I’ve never been a great marketer and truth be told, I don’t like to sell at all. But if I didn’t promote my course, who would? Well, Udemy did some advertising and a few affiliates picked up my course. So there has been some passive income from those sources. The Udemy Instructor Revenue share model is a bit complex, but the bottom line is, Udemy is paid by driving traffic to its instructors.
And if you think about it, you have all of their tools and experience to put to work for you. So I can’t complain at all about the tiered revenue share on paid courses. After all, they are driving students to my course through either paid advertising or Udemy organic search.
Additionally, an instructor can create unlimited discount coupons for courses through the Udemy platform. It’s a great way for an instructor to test price points and drive sales, which results in a 97% revenue share for the instructor.
I’ve advertised on Facebook, YouTube, and even Google AdWords. I have discount coupons on my website and in my newsletters. I am still experimenting with all of this to see what works and what doesn’t.
Rinse and Repeat on Other Platforms
I never realized there were so many up and coming MOOC-type platforms out there. Shortly after publishing this class, I was contacted by other similar platforms asking if I would be interested in putting my Twitter training out on their platform.
Since my training is not exclusive to Udemy and I own the rights to the course, I am free to do whatever I want with it.
I provided them with the course content videos, and they “sliced and diced” the content to make it fit their micro-course format. Soon my course was published!
However, as other companies contacted me, I simply did not have the time or inclination to pursue partnering with them.
What I Would Do Differently the Next Time
Hindsight is always 20-20 and publishing this course is no different. That being said, there are a few things that I would do differently should I publish another course on Udemy (or any other platform, for that matter!)
1. I’d spend more time upfront researching the need for my class. I’d conduct surveys on my social platforms, and call and email my clients and prospects to ensure my course was solving a need.
2. I’d make sure the market wasn’t already saturated with the same type of course, which, in fact, it was.
3. I’d look for ways to bring a fresher perspective and more value to my class. In other words, what in-depth content or strategies could I provide that my competitors had missed or omitted?
4. I’d make sure I had a substantial group of prospective students going into it.
In retrospect, I didn’t realize what I was getting into when I first ventured into creating my Udemy Twitter course. But I set a goal and it felt great to accomplish it!
I like Udemy better than running workshops where people don’t show up.
I like it better than holding Google+ hangouts where there is usually a technology glitch for people who aren’t familiar with the platform.
It’s the next best thing to having a webinar, which can be recorded and viewed at a later date.
You can learn more how my course is structured or take a look for yourself at what the published course looks like.
Or~ and yes, this is a shameless plug ~ I’d love if you’d take the course and leave me a review. I’m still learning and welcome all feedback!
Would I do it again?
You bet! It depends. I would definitely do a better job of researching the need for a class.
How about you? Are you thinking of creating your own Udemy course? If you already have, what has been your experience? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!