Udemy Is a Total Disaster for Course Creators: Here Is Why

By Nate McCallister / a couple of months ago
Udemy Scam

I owe a debt of gratitude to Udemy. I've purchased dozens of courses from them over the years and some of them have taught me the skills that currently pay my bills. That being said, creators need to be careful about ever publishing a course on Udemy. ​​​​

Here is why...

The Problem with Udemy for Creators

Let me show you something really quick.

Here's a screenshot of the most recent courses I've purchased on Udemy...let me know if you notice a trend.

Udemy Courses I've Bought

Did you catch it? 

I've never paid more than $19 for a single course!!!!

This is because Udemy runs nonstop promotions that reduce the price of courses sold by as much as 95%.

Every time I've wanted to buy a course, there's either a deal automatically applied or I just type in "Udemy Discount Code" into Google and find a dozen of them. 

Udemy Scam

Ahh, and they live and die by that fake scarcity.

Here’s what the VP of Content at Udemy, Grégory Boutté, said about Udemy's current pricing model:

“...the reality is that 90% of sales occur with a coupon code, and at a price less than $50.”

90%!!!

Yes, they do offer the ability to disable discounts, but that is basically a death sentence to your sales. 

They also cap your course price at $199. That is pretty freaking restrictive. 

As a creator, your hard work and expertise is being degraded to the price of a large pizza. 

Udemy treats you like a music executive would treat a young Motown singer in the 50s.

"Gee, you're gonna pay me $100 for ALL of my songs!?! Where do I sign Mr. Berry Gordy?"

Udemy doesn't care if you're getting paid what you're worth. They care about maximizing total sales across the site. The integrity of your course is merely collateral damage.

They are the Walmart of information products.

But hey, it's their sandbox right? We don't have to play in it. I recommend you don't in most cases.

Should You Ever Post a Course to udemy?

I'm not entirely ruling out the idea of posting courses to Udemy.

I know people who have leveraged their Udemy courses in positive ways, it just wasn't to make a lot of money on course sales. 

Here are some of the reasons you might still post to Udemy even though they kind of suck.

  • You're ok with making extremely small profits on each course. Udemy takes a 50% commission on organic sales to your course. Courses sold within mobile devices lose an additional 30% in fees to Apple or Android. Your share is tiny. Even on the estimated 10% that sell at full price.
  • You have a product or service that is somehow being sold in the course. This is tricky to pull off without violating the Udemy instructor terms of service. You aren't allowed to directly promote products or services but there are coy ways around this. I've bought a lot of products that I learned about only from Udemy courses.
  • You want to build your reputation as a thought leader in the space. If you do this, I highly recommend that you keep your course very short. Don't give away all of your knowledge for $19! Create an amazing hour of content and leave the students begging for more. They'll Google you if you're good and you'll make sales elsewhere.
  • You want to grow your following on other platforms. Udemy does allow for you to include links to your website, social media profiles or contact information as small watermarks on your videos. It's not amazing, but it's something.
  • You have a large organic reach and can sell your course at a reasonable price after providing a coupon. You receive 97% of the revenue for your own sales that use an instructor coupon. If you have a course that you were going to sell at $199 or less anyway., Udemy isn't a terrible option here (assuming you turn off 

Udemy is ok for those things but you likely won't make nearly as much money on your courses as you likely would if you sold them at a reasonable price on your own platform. 

Udemy Pros and Cons

I recommend that you read through the Udemy terms of services before you even consider publishing a course.

Alternatives to Posting on Udemy

Other marketplaces similar to Udemy that let you sell your courses, like Lynda, really aren't that much better than Udemy.

The option that is almost always better than Udemy for courses: posting on your own site!

  • You can charge whatever your want
  • You have zero limitations on what you can or can't include
  • You can add upsells/downsells
  • You can run your own paid traffic campaigns
  • You have no direct competitors selling similar courses on the same page

I use Clickfunnels and Thinkific for my own courses (click here to see my workflow for creating and publishing my courses).

Don't have an audience? No problem! Get affiliates to promote your course (click here to read about how to use affiliates to promote your course) and offer them big commissions (50% is standard).

About the author

Nate McCallister

Nate is the founder and main contributor of EntreResource.com. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur who spends his time building businesses and raising his two kids Sawyer and Brooks with his beautiful wife Emily. His main interests include copywriting, economics and piano.

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