Are you thinking about making a Udemy online course, but not sure if you should spend your time on it? Well if you are here for a short answer I say go for it! Worst thing that could happen you will learn something new and improve your writing, speaking and video editing skills.
I know that there are multiple articles similar to this one, on internet, but in here I will share my Udemy experience, with actual numbers and things I learned a hard way. So long story sort a bit more than a year ago, after reading all those articles about passive income, I made up my mind to make an online course and put it on Udemy. Not only to earn money, but to challenge myself too.
Well I choose Udemy platform, because:
- Its most popular among non business users.
- You don’t need to manage marketing of your course, well you still pay for it as Udemy deducts marketing costs from your course price.
- You don’t need to buy any plugins.
- It’s simple to upload and manage your course.
Of course you can setup your own online course website with various plugin like LearnDash and claim the full price of your courses, but then you need to create and manage marketing campaigns, pay for plugins and setup the actual page. So Udemy is definitely a better/easier option for beginners. Without getting into too much details on why Udemy and what are alternatives lets talk about the actual courses I made.
I instantly knew that the field of my courses will be software engineering. As thats the filed I’m working in and its most popular one in online courses space. But about the topic?
Picking a topic was one of the main challenges I faced. Yes, I googled “How to choose the right topic for online course?” 🙂 . Also I tried various techniques as searching for specific keywords people are looking for on internet, looked at other popular courses on Udemy and Youtube. But finally I decided to make an online course about technology I want to learn myself, thats how: “Golang – Getting Started” online course was born. Well not really… Because while creating “Golang – Getting Started” I realised that I need a better microphone, better software to edit videos/audios and better understanding about Golang in overall, as the idea of the course was to create it as I learn about Golang myself and that didn’t worked out as planned.
So I decided to start over and create a course: “Microservices with Spring Cloud – Getting Started” – technology stack I am comfortable with, also had a better microphone and software too. I chose this topic, because I noticed that blog posts related to Spring Cloud are the most popular one on my blog, unlike ones about Golang… To complete the course “Microservices with Spring Cloud – Getting Started” which is 1h 44min long, took me around 3 months, working on it in an evenings and on a weekends. Initially I didn’t thought it will take that long, but the process was really time consuming as I was building code examples first, then writing a script, then recording a video, recording audio by looking at the video and finally putting it all together.
Out of all these tasks recording audio I disliked the most because you need a complete silence to record it and this not easy while living in an apartment building. Also it needs to be recorded in one go and after recording is done you need to remove all the “aaammm”, “ssshhh”, “wrummm” from the audio, make sound levels consistent and so on… For sure if you are really good communicator you can record audio while recording a video in one go, but I found that it was quite hard to stick to the script, code and talk continuously at the same time. Long story short first online course I actually published was “Microservices with Spring Cloud – Getting Started” and after it was done I felt a bit sad that I just dropped “Golang – Getting Started” idea. So I decided to add an extra project to that course, recreate the worst videos from “Golang – Getting Started” and to publish it as well anyway.
Were my courses successful?
Money wise – not really.
“Microservices with Spring Cloud – Getting Started” – over 12 months made a total of 71 sales for $19.99, leaving me with $240 after Udemy taxes (yea they tax a lot wasn’t expecting so much initially).
“Golang – Getting Started” – over 6 months made a total of 4 sales for $19.99, leaving me with $12 after Udemy taxes.
Experience wise – 100%
While making these two courses I improved my speaking, writing and presenting skills, which helps me a lot at my daily job. Also I always liked to make videos and code so I didn’t needed to force myself too much to make the courses. Finally when in a job interview recruiter is going to ask me what you do on your free time I can replay with “I create online courses about software engineering” 🙂
What I would make differently next time?
First of all I would need to make a next course longer, much longer if target platform is Udemy as longer courses almost always gets more traction than the short ones. But having in mind it took me around 3 months to make a 2h course, 8h one would take a year and to build a course for a year would need some serious dedication… Maybe a possible work around to make a release cycle shorter could be to hire someone to edit audio and video or to help out with a script. Other option I would really consider for a next course would be to sell courses on a website I own, but that involves a lot of work related to marketing and actual website setup as mentioned before.
For the conclusion I’m going to repeat myself, if you are not sure if you should make an online course, but you like to edit videos and have an idea about what you can teach others – go for it! Worst thing that could happen you will learn something new and improve your writing, speaking and video editing skills. But if you think online course is a shortcut to generate some extra income its not the best option for a software engineer. You can earn way more from freelancing in my experience.
Thanks for reading.