The Udemy Mastery System: 7 Steps to Consistent Passive Income…Without Marketing or Paid Advertising
Here’s a quick summary so that you can decide if this blog post is worth investing your time to read:
Who am I to teach a course?
Step #1 Find Your Profitable Course Idea
Step #2 Outline Your Course
Step #3 Create Your Course Content
Step #4 Edit & Polish Your Content
Step #5 Create a Landing Page That Converts
Step #6 Launch Your Course
Step #7 Growth and Maintenance
Do you want the step-by-step instructions for implementing this system to create consistent passive income from Udemy?
This is for 3 types of experts:
1. Absolute beginners: You’ve never created a course in your life, but, you have expertise you’d like to share with the world and be paid well for doing it. This is for you.
2. Existing Udemy instructors: If you’re not earning a strong, full-time, passive income from your Udemy course sales – without doing the marketing yourself or advertising, then this is also for you.
3. Selling courses on your own site: If you’re currently selling your courses on your own site, but are not making a consistent income doing it (let alone passive income) and would like to learn how to leverage Udemy to increase your income and further grow your existing business, then this is for you.
Is that you?
Perfect..you’re in the right place my friend 🙂
“Who am I to teach a course?”
For most people getting started teaching online, self-doubt is to be expected.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that ‘teaching’ is only for people with advanced degrees.
The reality is that you are qualified to teach as long as you can help someone get the results that you are promising.
Obviously, there are some topics you stay away from if you don’t have the appropriate credentials, like helping people who have severe mental illnesses, medicine, law etc.
Don’t let your self-doubt stop you.
When I first got started I thought “who am I to teach a course?”, “nobody is going to like my course” and “nobody is going to buy my course”.
I’m glad I didn’t listen to that limiting voice in my head, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to help thousands of people and get to do what I love for a living.
You’re probably already aware of the massive opportunity that has been, is and will be happening in the e-learning market.
The e-learning market size was valued at over 165 billion in 2015 (Global Market Insights) and is expected to reach $275.10 billion by 2020.
..but why Udemy?
Well, let’s first start with:
Consistent passive income
One of the biggest challenges of starting an online (or any business for that matter) is consistent cash flow.
Because the fact is, making consistent (let alone passive) income from your course is hard when you market it yourself.
If you do it right, you’ll have a successful launch of your course where you’ll generate an influx of cash…
..but then what?
No more money is coming in from your course.
And your options at that point are to set up sophisticated sales funnels and figure out how to do to paid advertising.
…both of which are pretty complicated and difficult to get right.
Most people lose money doing this.
…or content marketing and JV partnerships.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do these things, I do, but it wouldn’t have been right for me in the beginning because I needed to generate consistent income…
..and it’s taken me almost a year to become profitable with funnels and paid ads.
The consistent, passive income I earn from Udemy has given me the ability to work for myself full-time and create other businesses outside of Udemy.
For more on why you should sell courses on Udemy, check out this blog post.
The Udemy Mastery System
The Udemy Mastery System is what I’m going to walk you through now.
..Step by step.
It’s the 7-step system that I use to generate consistent, full-time, passive income from Udemy.
From November 2016 through November 2017 I earned $73,492.13 in passive income from my Udemy course sales:
Now, I realize that isn’t a lot of money.
In fact, there are some Udemy instructors that earn a lot more than that.
…however, it’s worth putting a few things into perspective:
- My courses are NOT in the most popular categories
- I don’t do any content marketing or pay for advertising to make sales
- I’m not a Udemy “golden child”, meaning I don’t get preferential treatment
- I work on my Udemy business less than 1-2 hours per week on average
- I had no prior experience in the e-learning space
- I had no special connections, no email list, no social media presence
I’ve also leveraged Udemy to sell an additional $100k+ worth of programs on my own site.
To me, Udemy is a side business. It’s a consistent income stream that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance to upkeep.
The money comes in consistently, monthly over month.
I’m very grateful for the opportunities that Udemy has opened up for me.
It allowed me to quit a job I hated, have nearly complete time freedom, travel the world and fulfill my dream of working for myself and getting to help other people.
Here we go:
Do you wanna know what’s cool about this system?
It is entirely duplicatable…and it doesn’t take much of a time commitment to build.
You build it once, earn income over and over..
..and anytime you want to earn more money you know exactly what you need to do.
You’re able to become faster and faster at producing high-quality programs that truly help people.
So now let’s dive into the details and I’ll show you how you can build your own Udemy Mastery System.
Step #1 Find Your Profitable Course Idea
The first thing you need to do is find your profitable course idea.
It needs to be something that you have expertise in, is in-demand AND something you’re actually interested in.
This last part is key.
Here’s my basic process:
- Brainstorm possible ideas
- Confirm market demand
- Check level of competition on Udemy
- Research the questions, pains, needs, concerns, and language used by your target students
For brainstorming, it’s pretty straightforward, I simply list out some ideas that I may want to create a course on, based on my expertise and experience.
…you can start by making a list of:
- What you’re good at
- Things that come easily to you
- Your skills and experience
And you can ask yourself:
- What am I passionate about?
- What do people ask my advice on?
- What do I get paid to do?
- What do I enjoy learning about?
This is should give you a nice list to start from.
Often times, the things we are really good at are obvious to others, but we are blind to.
So, make sure to ask your friends and family what they see as being your strengths and add these to your brainstorming list.
Some things come so easy to us that we don’t recognize them as skills or particularly valuable..
…but there are other people that would pay you to learn what you know.
Once you have your list, prioritize the list based on what you would most like to teach and circle the top 3.
Then, look at those top 3 and just notice if there is one that stands out or feels more right to you..
..circle that one.
Make your decision quickly and don’t overthink it.
Next, you want to confirm there is actual market demand for your idea.
I think the quote by Aristotle really sums this first step up nicely, he said:
“Where your interests and the needs of the public intersect, therein lies your vocation.”
It’s not enough that you’re an expert on a topic and that you’re interested in teaching it.
…not if you want to make money.
You have to confirm that there is actual demand for your idea.
What most Udemy instructors do, is they simply decide on a course topic and start putting together a course.
…then they wonder why they aren’t “making more sales”.
You want to spend the time on the front end doing this research before you put together a single video.
This is one of the biggest differences between successful and unsuccessful Udemy instructors.
DO YOUR RESEARCH UPFRONT.
…trust me on this.
This process of confirming market demand is a bit too involved to include in this blog post (we’re already at 1,700 words on we still have a long way to go :-).
BUT…I’ve put together a free mini-course that shows you exactly how to do that.
You can get that here.
Next, you want to check the level of competition on Udemy.
Now, contrary to popular belief:
Competition is a good thing.
If there are no competitors in a niche, it’s likely because there’s not a lot happening there.
So, when I’m evaluating the competition on Udemy, I’m also confirming that there is a demand AND seeing how difficult it would be to rank well in that category.
The place I start is actually right on Udemy, they’ve provided a great tool called Insights.
This tool is an excellent starting point, it’s going to give you ideas about:
- Student demand
- Top searched keywords
- Your top competitors
- How much competition you have
Personally, I don’t make my final decision based on just this tool but it does give you a great starting point for ensuring there is demand for your course idea.
Again, in the free mini-course, I mentioned above, I go into all this in greater detail.
Next, you want to research the questions, pains, needs, concerns, and language used by your target students.
Why is this so important?
Because it’s going to help you:
- Structure your course
- Create your course content
- Create your promo video and course description (more on this later)
…and most importantly, it’s going to get you inside the head of your potential students.
What they care about…
What they are challenged with…
…their thought process…
…and the specific language they use to describe it all…
This is going to underpin everything you do later.
Step #2 Outline Your Course
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to start outlining your course.
The first thing I do is come up with a working title and subtitle.
The title and subtitle are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
..your title and subtitle can make or break your course.
Ever heard of this book?
…and most other people hadn’t at the time either.
Then, the publisher changed the title, subtitle, and cover of the book to this:
Suddenly it became a #1 New York Times Bestseller and sold 2.5 million copies.
Same exact book.
Same content…same everything.
New title, subtitle, and cover =
I’m not saying you have to have a sensationalist title like that, but, here’s the main difference between those two titles:
One makes a specific promise and the other is vague and almost meaningless.
And the way you come up with course title and subtitle is to first:
Determine the end result your students are after.
Your research from step one is going to help you find this out.
Now, why is this critical to the success of your Udemy course?
…because your students want RESULTS.
The vast majority of your students will buy your course because they are hoping for a transformation as the result of taking your course.
They don’t care about your course..per se.
They care about the end result that your courses promises.
Once you’ve determined the core promise/end result, you create your outline by:
Giving your student a roadmap to get there, in as few of steps as possible..
You need to realize that your students view your course as a hurdle between where they are now and where they want to get to.
They aren’t looking forward to sitting through hours of your videos…sorry 😉
They want that end result.
So, you’re job as a teacher is to help get them to that end result as quickly as possible.
Once you have your outline, you can start filling in the details for what’s to be included in the specific lectures, etc.
Step #3 Create Your Course Content
Now that you have the outline completed, it’s time to start actually creating content for your course.
Udemy courses are primarily comprised of video content.
So, this means, getting on camera and teaching…
20% of your course needs to be talking head (you in front of the camera).
The other common style is recording screencast videos (voice-over slides or recording what’s happening on your computer screen).
Now, many people are a little afraid of getting on camera.
They don’t like how they look…they don’t like how they sound.
I was definitely apprehensive at first.
I didn’t feel entirely comfortable..and it showed in my earlier courses.
The bottom line is you need to get over this fear to be successful on Udemy or in any online teaching business.
You’re going to have to put yourself out there…which means possible rejection.
One of the most rewarding parts of this business is the personal development that’s been a nice side benefit.
You push past your own fear and do it anyway…
…but it’s not nearly as difficult as you think to get past this.
I recommend you do a few practice runs before you create the videos for your course.
..you’ll quickly find that the fear is leaving you as you become more and more comfortable on camera.
Many people go from shy and anxious to really enjoying being on camera..in a matter of hours.
…although this wasn’t the case for me.
The thing you need to realize is that your students care more about your content then they do about how you look on camera.
Give them quality content and they will tend to overlook many imperfections.
If you don’t believe me, go look at some of my earlier courses:
…some are pretty terrible in production quality…and yet still became bestsellers.
To start recording your videos, you need some basic equipment.
…the good news is:
It doesn’t have to be expensive.
The basic setup you’ll need:
- Microphone + pop filter
The first thing to understand is that your audio quality is more important than your video quality.
It doesn’t mean you can have terrible looking videos, but, if you’re going to spend a little more upfront, I would spend more on a microphone than a camera.
Here’s a great low-cost webcam option to get started:
…and no I’m not an Amazon affiliate.
This is the camera I started off with and it does a great job.
The minimum quality to pass Udemy’s review process is 720p. This camera records in up to 1080p so it’s more than sufficient.
In terms of microphone, you’re going to want to have a condenser mic or USB mic.
I would suggest starting with a USB mic, because condenser mics require “phantom power”
…oohhhh phantom power…
Getting phantom power means spending more money.
You’re best off starting with a USB mic that you can plug right into your computer and you’re ready to go.
Here’s a good low cost USB mic option:
You’re also going to want to get a pop filter for your mic.
Pop filters look like this:
You can find those on Amazon for $10-$20 as well.
These cheap little things will dramatically improve your sound quality.
Now, the next thing to keep in mind when creating your videos is to make them:
Specifically, keep your average video length under 10 minutes.
Because Udemy’s research has found that students prefer videos that get straight to the point and provide actionable content without a lot of fluff.
Again, like I said before: your students are after RESULTS.
They’re going to tend to disengage if you’re videos ramble or have too much filler.
This will hurt your student engagement, review score, etc.
…which will ultimately hurt your sales.
Step #4 Edit & Polish Your Content
After you’ve created your videos, it’s time to edit your videos and put the finishing touches on your content.
So, you’re going to need some video editing software.
…but don’t freak out.
The fact is there are some low-cost solutions that are really great for beginners.
- Adobe Premiere
…if you’re an absolute beginner, I would suggest filmora to get started with.
Because it’s super easy to use, low cost and you can create some great effects really easily.
A lifetime license will run you about $60.
Filmora is my go-to for creating talking head videos.
For screencasting videos I use Camtasia.
Camtasia is a bit more expensive, so if you’re just starting out and would like to keep your costs low, I would suggest:
I personally don’t use it, but I know people that do and they’re very happy with it.
It will run you about $18/year whereas Camtasia will run you about $200.
All these programs have pretty robust feature sets.
…and it can seem a bit intimidating when you’re getting started (especially adobe premiere).
So, let me save you a lot of time and headaches by telling you that you do not need to get super fancy with the editing and special effects.
Here are some things worth paying attention to:
- Add a title slide or lower third at the beginning of your videos
- Use transition effects sparingly, only use when necessary (when it “hides” a rough cut)
- Use noise reduction to clean up the audio
The other main tip I want to give you is this:
Do more “takes” and spend less time editing
It’s harder to clean things up in editing (post-production) than it is to simply re-record the lecture.
Editing is time-consuming…and tedious.
Generally, I will record a video 2-3 times to get it right.
By the second or third take, I nail it.
This results in a more engaging video for the students and less editing time for me.
Step #5 Create a Landing Page That Converts
At the end of the day, building the Udemy Mastery System and creating full-time passive income from Udemy comes down to 4 elements:
People need to find your course, buy your course, consume your course content and take action on what they learn.
…if they don’t find it. Nothing.
…if they find it and don’t buy it..almost.
…if they buy it but don’t consume it…better.
…if they consume and take action on it: Legend!
Udemy is a going to get you exposure (if you do it right).
The other 3 parts are up to you.
…and the more you execute your side of the deal effectively, the more exposure you will get through Udemy.
More than anything, one of the things I notice that many Udemy instructors fail to fully realize is that:
Udemy is a business.
They have investors.
…they need to remain profitable and grow.
So, one of the key things they look for is:
…In other words, what percentage of people that visit your course landing page actually buy your course…in other words “convert”.
Obviously, they are going to send the most traffic to the courses that convert the best.
So, this means you really need to hone in your landing page.
Which means realizing that it’s a SALES PAGE!
..make no mistake about it and as such, it needs to be optimized for conversion.
So, let’s look at the 4 most important elements to optimize on your landing page:
- Title & Subtitle
- Promo Video
- Student Goals
- Course Description
Your title & subtitle
Title & Subtitle…we already talked about this in step #2.
It’s very important for conversion because it’s one of the first things that your potential student sees when they arrive on your landing page.
…and in the world of the internet. Things move fast.
People arrive at your landing page, and they decide within seconds if they’re going to spend more time there or click away.
So, your title and subtitle need to inspire them to read more and/or watch your promo video.
Your promo video
According to Udemy’s research, a potential student (potential customer) who sees an effective promo video is as much as 10x more likely to enroll in your course.
What’s fascinating to me is how most instructors treat their promo video (and the rest of their landing page) as an afterthought.
They put together their entire course and then sort of haphazardly throw together their course landing page at the end.
…I suppose it makes sense because most instructors don’t have business acumen.
They’re teachers. Not business people or marketers.
The good news is that your promo video only needs to be about 90-120 seconds long.
Interestingly enough, that 90-120 seconds will often make a bigger difference on your results than the hours of content in your course.
So, what do you put in your promo video?
What you need to include in your promo video are the:
…that resonates with your target students.
..and where do you find this out?
You guessed it:
In the market research, you conducted in step #1.
Your student goals
Your student/course goals are the milestones that your student passes along the way from the beginning of their journey, to the desired end result that your course promises to help them make.
..and these goals correspond with the sections of your course.
The unspoken question on your student’s mind is:
“What will I be able to DO after I enroll in this course?”
..again, this goes back to the point I’ve been harping on throughout this post:
Your students want RESULTS.
Most don’t want to learn about a topic just out of general interest.
They’re taking your course to learn a new skill, achieve a result, move away from something undesirable and to better their lives in some way.
So, you need to describe your course goals in terms of action.
Bad example: “You will learn the fundamentals of wordpress”.
Good example: “Create a wordpress blog in 24 hours”.
One talks about learning something.
The other talks about the end results of the learning. The practical application of what’s learned.
..if you keep everything about your course focused on practical application, you’ll be headed in the right direction.
Your course description
What most instructors do here is give a general description of their course.
It makes sense.
..at least logically.
..BUT..that’s not going to make you many sales.
Again, your landing page is a sales page and as such needs to have a course description that helps convert looky lous into paying students.
The way you do this is by addressing the core concerns of your audience.
…and you do this using the language of your target audience.
…and not to sound like a broken record but you find this out while doing your research.
(you also learn more and more about these things as you enroll students in your course)
The time you invest in really optimizing these elements of your Udemy course landing page will pay you back 10 fold.
Naturally, you’re going to get better at polishing these elements over time.
That’s why updating my course landing pages is something I do 2-3 times per year.
…and you should too.
Step #6 Launch Your Course
Now, after you’ve done the above steps, you submit your course for review by Udemy.
They’ll generally get back to you within 2-4 business days and let you know that you’re course is approved and live in the marketplace or that it needs some changes before they approve it.
So, what do you do once your course is live in the marketplace?
..wait for the money to roll in?
The first thing you want to do is launch it to your existing audience if you have one.
Create a coupon and give your email and YouTube subscribers..your existing customers and your social media following a BIG DISCOUNT.
But what if you don’t have an audience? What do you do then?
…well, that was exactly the same boat I was in when I first started.
Whether you have or don’t have an existing audience, you want to:
Build social proof.
Specifically, what I mean by this is to give out some free coupons for your new course.
A lot of instructors balk at this…
After all the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating their course..they want to be paid.
..and understandably so.
But, interestingly enough, by giving out some free coupons when your course goes live, it will make you more money.
..and here’s why:
Without getting into a lengthy discussion, your course needs students.
You don’t want a potential student showing up at your landing page and seeing that you have only a handful of students.
They need to see that OTHER PEOPLE have already enrolled in your course.
This increases the odds that they will enroll in your course.
Put it this way, if they are looking at two courses that seem to be rather similar, and one has 2,500 students and the other one only has 24, which do you think they are more likely to enroll in?
So, when my course goes live, I generally give out about 1,000 free coupons to build social proof.
I do this in facebook groups.
You can find these groups by typing in things like “udemy discount coupons” or “udemy discounts” into facebook and you’ll find tons of them.
The key thing you want to remember is not to give out too many free coupons for your course.
It’s kind of a double edge sword.
You want that initial 1,000 students for social proof..but your worst reviews tend to come from people who enroll from your free coupons.
Bad reviews are definitely something you want to avoid like the plague…
…because it hurts your search rankings.
So, don’t go crazy on giving out free coupons or it will bite you in the _______.
Step #7 Growth and Maintenance
So, what kinds of things do you need to do as maintenance and to grow your income?
The first is Promotional Announcements.
Every month Udemy allows you to send out two promotional emails to your existing students.
In these emails, you can promote new courses you create and your existing courses to your student base.
I would strongly advise that you use these 2 emails, every single month.
..because, when you make sales through these emails, you keep 97% of the revenue. (Udemy keeps 3% for merchant processing and admin)
..but more importantly, when Udemy sees this influx of paid students in your courses each month, it will help to drive you higher in the search rankings (Udemy SEO).
The next is: Educational Announcements.
Udemy allows you to send up to 4 educational announcements to your students each month.
The purpose of these emails is to provide value to your students and increase student engagement in your course.
It’s a good idea to use these every month..although I generally don’t use all four.
You can send these messages out to draw your student’s attention to certain parts of your course.
You can provide additional, relevant content that adds more value.
The two main reasons you want to use these are:
#1 It keeps you top of mind
When your students regularly see these announcements in their inbox from you, it keeps you top of mind.
This means that when you send out a promotional email, they are more likely to open, read and buy from you.
..because you’re familiar.
..because you add value and care about their success.
#2 Udemy SEO
One of the factors that go into where your course ranks when people are searching for it is student engagement.
How much time do your students spend watching your videos?
How engaged they are in the Q&A area, etc.
By sending out these educational announcements and re-engaging them in your course, it’s going to help your search rankings which means more exposure and more sales.
Now, if ever there was a time to invest additional effort in Udemy it would be the months leading up to the end and beginning of the year.
The two biggest sales months of the year are in November (black friday sales event) and January.
During these all-important months, you have an opportunity to literally 3-5x (or more) your average monthly revenue.
The ROI for your time investment in polishing your courses up and creating new courses in preparation for these months is enormous.
In conclusion, Udemy is one of the best income opportunities on the internet right now. Hands down.
..especially for beginners.
The Udemy opportunity has one of the fastest times to revenue out there.
You can become profitable and begin seeing sales in your very first 30 days on the platform.
The biggest hurdle that most people may have with this is the time commitment.
..in other words, they believe they don’t have the time to create courses.
I started doing this part-time while working a full-time job.
In the 2.5 years I’ve been doing this, I average about 10-14 hours per week.
This year I’ve averaged about 2 hours per week on my Udemy business and I’m earning more now than ever before.
The beautiful part about this is that you’re building real assets once that earn you money over and over again, so, over time you will need to work less and less.
Since this is a legitimate business you’re building, you will be expected to put in the effort to see results.
There’s something strangely energizing about creating courses.
Personally, I love it.
..it doesn’t feel like work to me.
“What if nobody buys my course?”
…it’s a common concern. And a valid one.
When I was first getting started, that’s exactly how I felt.
The Udemy Mastery System works. Period.
When you apply what you learn, it’s highly unlikely that your courses won’t sell.
When I got started I had zero experience.
One of the best things about Udemy is that it’s a great place to “earn while you learn”, meaning, it’s perfect for beginners who don’t have digital marketing experience.
When you apply what you learn in The Udemy Mastery System, Udemy does the marketing and selling for you, so you can focus on creating content that helps your students.
Your Next Steps
Well, I hope you learned a lot in this massive post (over 5,100 words).
You now have a proven system for getting real results on Udemy.
So, are you ready to get started?
…ready to find YOUR Bestselling Udemy course idea?
Then click here to enroll for free in my mini-course that will show you the exact process I’ve used to create 9 Udemy bestsellers (out of 22 total courses).