How To Choose Your Next Course in 3 Steps

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the best way to gain traction for your last course is by cross-promoting a new course.  In this post, overcome the very first challenge of creating your next course: choosing a topic.

Start With What You Know and Love

There are two base ingredients in this recipe for success: exhaustive knowledge of the subject and a passion for sharing what you know.  Nobody wants to learn from someone that isn’t an expert in the subject (nor would you want to stumble through a topic you are learning yourself), and if you’ve ever had a class from a boring teacher, you know the importance of passion.  Identifying what you know and love is phase one of choosing your next course, but being the renaissance person you are, this may still leave you with a dozen topics.  Next we must bake our idea in reality and see what has the best potential for audience appeal.

Quantify Potential Interest

If what you know and love is the study of astronaut shoe tread patterns, you may find that after all your hard work, your class never gets any…traction.  You can check your potential for an audience before recording and publishing your course by looking in several places where would-be students are inquiring about your topic, specifically: Quora, StackExchange, and Google Search Volume.

Quora and StackExchange are both widely popular social Q&A forums, meaning you can see how often people are asking questions about your topic. StackExchange is a collection of Q&A sites and tends to be more tech focused, but has a great visual interface to measure the popularity of a subject. Quora tends to be a broader forum with users asking questions on anything and everything.  Those questions are then grouped by topic (quora.com/topic) and you can see how many people “follow” each topic.  You should also immediately start following your topic as well and answering questions like the expert you are.  Check out our previous blog post on how to use Quora to gain influence, followers, and sales.

Lastly, using Google Search Volume will give you quantifiable information about exactly how many times people search for your topic.  Remember to be diverse and try different terms that someone might look for.  You can see how many people search for a specific term in your Google Ads account (its free to setup if you don’t have one yet.  Also let the results influence how you title and tag your course.  Keywords are the key to discoverability and SEO.

Transition From Topic To Course

You’ve settled on a topic you know and love, and you’ve seen it has a decent potential audience, but it’s still just a topic. “Baseball” is not a course.  You need to add context, and specifically a goal that will be achieved as a result of the course. A course like “How to Throw a Curveball in 6 Lessons” brings focus to a topic and provides potential students with a clear outcome.  If your topic is already popular, this becomes critical to your success.  A “Beginning WordPress” course will most likely not gain the traction you expect, but if you think along the edge of the subject, and focus on an interesting or valuable result that differentiates your course from the pack you’ll be successful.  “How To Start a Cooking Blog in 1 hr with WordPress” may seem more specific, but it’s really more targeted, which is essential to converting a browser to a buyer of your new course.

 

 

200 New Suggested Courses

We continue to have expert teachers from around the world join the Udemy faculty, but the question is often asked, what should my class be about?  Well, after extensive research, market testing, and user feedback, we have put together for your brainstorming pleasure  THE GREATEST LIST OF SUGGESTED UDEMY COURSES EVER ASSEMBLED  If you see a course you want to create, and think you can have it done within 45 days, e-mail instructors@udemy.com to receive guidance on how to plan, create, publish, & promote.

 

Data Sciences

  • Intro to Data Science
  • Data and Analytics for Startups
  • Data Visualization – intro
  • Analysis of Social Networks
  • Hadoop – intro
  • Data Products – intro
  • Cassandra – intro
  • Data Analytics for Management


Founder

  • Startup Product Pricing
  • How to get a startup job without being technical
  • How to get into a startup incubator
  • Creating Info Products
  • Hiring Developers
  • Agile Project Management
  • Crash Course in Legal for Startups: Term Sheets and Negotiations
  • Top Negotiation Strategies
  • Don’t Get Screwed:  Preserving Equity in Your Startup
  • Product Management for Non-PMs
  • Introduction to Startup IP
  • Crash Course in Legal for Startups: Managing the Board and Corporate Governance
  • Intro to Gamification
  • Guide to Charging Users For Your Product
  • Crash Course in Legal for Startups: Liquidity and Exits
  • Intro to Biz Dev
  • Intro to Product Management
  • Guide to Raising Angel Funding
  • How to Interview Engineers
  • How to Contribute to a Startup Without Coding
  • Biz Dev: How to Close the Deal Over Email Communication
  • Crowdfunding For Startups
  • Launching Your Startup on the Cheap
  • How to Build High Performance Teams
  • The Perfect Mix;  How to assemble the best startup team
  • Guide to Testing Your Product Idea on the Cheap
  • How to Partner with Big Companies as a Startup
  • How to Raise Your Seed Round
  • How to Jump from Law to a Tech Career
  • How to Get a Venture Capital Job
  • How to Create an Amazing Team Culture
  • How to Bootstrap Your Startup
  • How to Systematize Your Startup
  • Customer Service in Startups
  • How to Control What Displays When Someone Googles You
  • How to Recruit Interns
  • legal / IP
  • Customer Development – Advanced
  • Paid Marketing  – Intro
  • Navigating the start up community – Intro
  • Outsourcing  – Intro
  • Go to market/Launching – Advanced
  • Startup Product Pricing
  • How to get a startup job without being technical
  • How to get into a startup incubator
  • Business Development and Partnerships
  • Creating Info Products
  • Hiring Developers
  • Agile Project Management


Personal Finance

  • Paying Back Your College Loans
  • Retirement Planning 101
  • Buying a Car
  • Buying a House
  • Annual Tax Returns 101
  • Credit Cards, Your Credit Score, and Perks
  • Savings 101
  • Getting a Loan
  • Effective Budgeting
  • Advanced Stocks
  • Mutual Funds
  • Bonds
  • Real Estate
  • Investing for Education
  • Reducing Your Financial Stress
  • Deciding on Your Financial Goals
  • Automating Your Finances
  • Managing Family Finances
  • Communicating About Personal Finances with Loved Ones
  • Saving For Your Childrens’ Inheritance
  • Earning Extra Cash
  • Health Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Insurance on Your Assets


Frugal Living

  • Travel
  • Home Furnishing
  • Eating and Drinking
  • Entertainment
  • Health & Beauty
  • Finding Freebies and Giveaways
  • Planning Your Family Vacation


Career Development

  • Preparing For a Job Interview
  • Preparing For a Finance Career
  • Preparing For a Consulting Career
  • Strategies for Escaping Work
  • Being a Successful Boss
  • Project Management
  • Tapping Your Network For Knowledge
  • Developing a Competitive Advantage
  • Developing Risk Tolerance
  • Quitting Your Job


Relationships

  • Managing Your Network
  • Negotiations
  • Getting Past Your Breakup
  • Kindling Romantic Relationships
  • Dealing With Difficult People
  • Emotional Intelligence


Self Development

  • Becoming More Compassionate
  • Cultivating Your Creativity
  • Strengthening Your Courage
  • Pursuing Your Passions
  • Loving Yourself
  • Stopping Self-Sabotage
  • Overcoming Depression
  • Quieting the Mind
  • Impulse Control
  • Inculcating Respect
  • Organizing Your Life
  • Developing Effective Habits
  • Anxiety Management
  • Teachings From Martial Arts
  • Improving Your Memory
  • Building a Mind Mapping Toolkit
  • Becoming an Effective Problem Solver
  • Becoming an Effective Decision Maker
  • Guide to Positive Thinking
  • Raising Your Self-Esteem
  • Becoming a Successful Woman
  • Recovering From Your Mid-Life Crisis
  • Guide to Your Best Retirement
  • Guide to Success for People With Autism/Asperger’s
  • Effective Speed Reading
  • Effective Anger Management
  • Becoming More Virtuous


Growth Hacker

  • Building Developer Communities
  • Mobile Marketing – intro
  • Essentials of Web Writing for Startups
  • Writing Long-Form Sales Pages
  • Writing Magnetic Headlines
  • Writing Buttons and Call to Actions
  • Branding, Naming, and Trademarking
  • Storytelling for Startups
  • Building Your Brand’s Online Community
  • PR and Data Analytics
  • Guide to Getting Your First Million Users
  • Lean Startup Metrics
  • Intro to Cohort Analysis in Startup Marketing
  • How to Grow to 1 Million Organic Uniques in Under a Year
  • Grassroots Marketing
  • Positioning Your Company So Customers Buy From You First
  • How to Maximize Your Product’s Retention
  • How to Close Sales
  • How to Sell Ads on Your Website
  • How to Automate Your Business
  • How to Leverage Membership Sites
  • How to Get Your First 100k Email Subscribers
  • How to Create High-Conversion Landing Pages
  • SQL for Marketers – Intro
  • Statistics (include using tools like R) – intro
  • Display Ads – intro
  • Email Ads – intro
  • Go to market/Launching – Intro
  • Overview of Web Tech/Web Engineering
  • Video Marketing
  • Building Developer Communities
  • Mobile Marketing – intro
  • Essentials of Web Writing for Startups
  • Writing Long-Form Sales Pages
  • Writing Magnetic Headlines
  • Writing Buttons and Call to Actions


Mobile Development

  • Coding Best Practices
  • The Coding Community (navigating Github, open source projects, etc)
  • Android Programming – advanced
  • iOS Development – advanced
  • Objective-C Programming – intro
  • Parse / Mobile Application Back-end – intro
  • Unity / 3D Game Development
  • PhoneGap – intro
  • Location / Geo-spatial Development – intro
  • Usability / Mobile Application Patterns – intro


Web Design

  • HTML/HTML5 – Advanced
  • Microcopy for Designers – Intro
  • Mobile APP Design – Intro
  • Mobile web design – Intro
  • Design / UI Patterns – Intro
  • HTML/HTML5  – Intro
  • Interaction Design
  • Information Architecture – intro
  • intro to visual design – intro
  • Designing for Social – intro
  • Email Design
  • Usability
  • User Experience Research


Web Development

  • J2EE – Intro
  • Java – Advanced
  • JBOSS – Intro
  • Scala – Advanced
  • NoSQL – intro
  • GWT – Google Web Toolkit (JS complier) – Intro
  • Pyjamas  – Intro
  • Turbogears – Intro
  • Website Security – intro
  • UNIX / Servers
  • Programming Concepts & Best Practices
  • The Coding Community (navigating Github, open source projects, etc) – intro
  • Agile Development – intro
  • Web Application Scalability – intro
  • Overview of Web Tech/Web Engineering
  • Data Structures – intro
  • Website Performance – Intro
  • Passing IT Cert Exams
  • Continuous Deployment – intro
  • Backbone, Sprout – intro
  • Programming for Kids

 

 

Promote Your Online Course in 5 Quick Steps

Where would we be today if Plato taught philosophy to an empty classroom? What if Einstein wrote theories in his journal and never tried to publish them? Having an amazing course on Udemy simply isn’t enough if nobody enrolls and nobody wants to be first to a party, even if that party has some really good cake. Here are five simple tips to help you promote your online course to the world and give that snowball its first push.

Promotion: It’s a Family (and Friend) Affair:

What better way to be successful than to enlist the help of people who care about your success? Try to write at least 50 personal e-mails to friends and family. Ask them to subscribe to your course and provide an honest review (always better than hot air). Be sure to include heaps of thanks and personal praise, and a reminder of how they owe you from that one time (they’ll know what you mean). Include a coupon to let them join for free, or at least at a discount. If you have some movers and shakers in your network as well, you can use the coupon tool to create a special link for them to share with their network. Add some sales urgency by setting the coupon to be good for a limited time (good for 30 days), and limited quantity (for the first 100 people). You can make as many coupons as you like and track the sales individually, so make one for each of your friends and have them compete for the ‘who loves you the most’ award. With a bit of effort and a personal touch, you’ll end up with a solid base of students who will provide the social proof to reel in other potential students.

Post to the World:

You’re trying to get the word out, and if this were 1980, that may mean an ad in the paper or a commercial on late night TV. Today reaching the masses is much easier. Write an article or post about how awesome your course is on your blog or website, and if you don’t have much of an online presence, find someone that does. It will give folks a digital touchpoint that they can share with other potential students. Don’t forget to include the discount coupon so people feel looked after. For the more ambitious instructors out there, see if you can really activate the space. Make a lists of trade organizations, companies, associations, and popular blogs in your vertical. Think about who would be passionate about your content and which organization’s members would make passionate students. Then offer to write an article for them in exchange for including your course in their newsletter or on their website. If they are financially motivated, you can use our Affiliate program to help them get a cut of the action.

Socialize It:

Even if you don’t have a huge following, posting to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. is a great way to try to kick-start some viral marketing because it’s easy for people to share. Try something humble like: “If You Take My Course, You Will (Maybe) Be a Hero”. Be sure to include a discount coupon with the same urgency triggers as before (limited time/quantity). Be sure not to forget about LinkedIn either, especially if your course could apply to the professional world in some way. There thousands of groups and associations on LinkedIn for every area of expertise. If you’re a member, you can post your course to group discussion forums.

Capture Freeloading YouTubers:

Lots of people who haven’t yet heard of Udemy’s wonderful course experience are hunting for scraps on YouTube. Post a small part of your course, if you haven’t already, to your Youtube channel. Include a link in the video description back to your full course on Udemy and you can start to capture all those poor lost souls, frustratingly searching through crummy videos trying to find the wonderful knowledge that you’ve so neatly packaged in your course.

Spread the Word with every e-mail:

Now that you’ve got this amazing course you’re so proud of, why not replace that quote from Nick Nolte at the bottom of your e-mail signature with a discount coupon link. Now every time you send an e-mail, whether to your friends, colleagues, or Comcast Cable, you are advertising your course in a tasteful, but powerful way.

** For more tips, check out this FREE course on How to Promote Your Udemy Course. **

Instructor Tip: How to Price Your Online Course

As an online instructor with Udemy, you are a pioneer on the leading edge of education, but one of the challenges of being a pioneer is the best road has yet to be clearly marked.  Choosing the right price point is the most common question instructors ask, and the most challenging to answer because frankly, there isn’t just one “right” price.  But there are some guidelines that can help you find that perfect price point for your course an ensure you are maximizing your return. [Read more…]

Instructor Profile: How Chris Converse Did $80,000 In Sales Teaching On Udemy

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again.  The Udemy instructor community (yes, I’m talking to you) is freaking incredible.  Talented, knowledgeable, easy to work with, and all around amazing.  It’s in that spirit that we bring you another instructor profile.

Chris Converse is a freelancer, co-founder of Codify Design Studio, book author and online instructor, has worked with Lynda.com, written for Peachpit Press (a division of Pearson publishing), and started teaching on Udemy in September 2011, where he his Creating Responsive Web Design course has amassed over 1300 subscribers and earned more than $80,000 in sales.  He’s also recently partnered with Adobe to provide an excerpt of his course to their 2.1 million subscribers.

We caught up with Chris a few weeks ago to talk about his experience with Udemy, and see if he would share some of his secrets.

What advice do you have for fellow Udemy Instructors?

“I like the formula of showing people what you’re going to do. Show the final product. I didn’t get much interest in the course until I made some of it free. I made a few of the videos and some of the descriptions for the downloadable files free. I think people really liked that. I tweeted about it, and posted videos on YouTube and did everything I could to get people to come over to Udemy. I pointed everyone back to Udemy.”

“The other thing I’m going to do in my next courses is make my videos much shorter. I have a few videos that were over 20 minutes. People really want to jump through the course and get through stuff fast. So I think I will have shorter videos and then split the content up so people can jump ahead to the parts they don’t understand. I’m going to target anywhere from 5-7 minutes per video. It will give users a much better experience.”

You worked for Lynda, wrote books.  How was Udemy different?

“I will never write another book. I come from a freelance background designing websites and all that stuff. The training, well I sort of half-fell into it. For years I spoke at conferences or companies like Adobe or HOW design, and I’d go to conferences and just sort of speak. About 3 years ago I was approached by Peachpit press and I wrote a book.”

“The sales were terrible; I made 6%, and while they made $50-60,000 off of each book, I made nothing after a small advance. So I soured on book publishing. Then, I did a few courses on Lynda.com, and made a better percentage on those, and that gave me a taste for online teaching.  That’s when I started looking into Udemy.”

“It was the most profitable thing I’ve ever done.”

“The great thing about the Udemy platform is I could control everything that goes into my course, I could also create my own discount codes. I could put up whatever I wanted to give away for free, and I enticed some big partners such as Adobe and CreativePro.com to promote it.”

“The other part I didn’t plan on was the discussions. It’s changed my perspective on what follow-up courses I should make. It’s really hard to create content within a bubble like in publishing a book. On the Udemy course, people start asking questions from left-field. The discussions have informed how I’m thinking about my next courses.”

“And when I consider the time spent creating a course versus the lifetime revenue of that course, seriously, it’s the most profitable thing I’ve ever done.”

How does this compare with your job?

“My whole goal is to have more control over my work and my days. I think this sort of passive income approach is really interesting to me. I’d like to do a few more courses and if they continue on some sort of successful track. I can certainly see this matching the income I make off of my full-time job.”

What’s your next course?

“Create an interactive webpage with Twitter Bootstrap.  The folks at Twitter have released a framework for designing webpages that are responsive, interactive, and quick to develop. This framework is open source, built on jQuery, and also includes plug-ins for additional functionality. We’ll write a small amount of jQuery to get our “feet wet” with scripting, then customize the carousel plug-in to create a rich, interactive user experience. The course will include source Photoshop templates, a copy of the final project, and feature shorter videos — for easier reference and review.”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you do?

“I probably would have been a carpenter.  I just like to make things, whether its websites or houses.  Carptentry has that same feel to it.  We do our own house renovations as much as we can.”

Any other Hobbies?

“I do origami and calligraphy.  I used to do calligraphy for the Wharton school. I’d hand letter all the name tags for all the alumni who were visiting for fund-raising functions.  And for origami, I actually got into Unit Origami, where you fold individual pieces and then assemble them into a larger piece.  The most difficult piece was a triangle box.  And of course long walks on the beach and getting caught in the rain.”

*** Get started with Chris’s responsive web design tutorial. ***

Screencasting 101: How to Screencast Like A Pro

In the Online education marketplace, quality rises to the top.  You want to know how courses with massive enrollments happen? Well, people aren’t fools.

Nobody buys lemons anymore. To have thousands of students enrolled in your course, it has to be REALLY good – that means easy to listen to, easy to follow, and easy enough to watch for hours. And how do you do that for technical training? Quality screencasting is the currency of the realm for pretty much every technology training, so you’d better be sure you’re creating the best recordings possible.  Here are a few keys to follow.

Getting Quality Audio:

#1 with a bullet.  A bullet that kills more good courses than anything else.  If someone is spending their time and/or money to watch an extensive online course, they expect it to sound professional. That means if you are going to invest in ANYTHING, invest in good audio (see the post on Hacking Studio Quality Audio).

  • Get a quality USB mic. They don’t rely on your soundcard, and if they have cardioid setting like these, it will be directional and make you sound like a radio personality.
  • Record in a “small and soft” room.  You want stray sounds stays muted. Use blankets and pillows liberally if you don’t have a studio to record in.
  • Cushion your mic. This is why you see mics in fancy harnesses on poles.  For screencasts, the vibrations of your computer fan can mess with your audio quality.
  • Make sure you are using the right mic when recording, check that your computer is using an external mic and not the built-in one.
  • Check your levels.  position the mic as close as it can be without pickup up your breathing, and try a couple test recordings to get the volume and pickup just right (stay away from the reds.  That’s only good for rock concerts.

Write the Script and Set the Stage:

Nobody likes to watch as an instructor fumble through opening a window, or wonder aloud what example to use.  Likewise, squinting at a small window surrounded by all your desktop icons isn’t going to evoke much confidence in an enjoyable learning experience, so plan ahead with a few key steps:

  • Write out a Script.  This doesn’t have to be verbatum, as personality and spontaneity go a long way in creating an intimate learning experience. You should know what you want to cover, the order, the progression, the examples you’ll use, and the key points you want to emphasize.
  • Prepare your Samples. Have the examples you’ll use already built to highlight the specific exercise.  Provide those sample files to your students so they can follow along too.
  • Mark your goals for each screencast. You should clearly state at the beginning what you will be covering in your talk and make sure you wrap it up at the end by reiterating what learning should have taken place. you can also introduce the next segment to keep students engage especially if you are confident that the order of your videos will not change.
  • Clear your desktop (and maybe browser history):  Don’t get caught typing in a url and having a suggestion come up you didn’t intend…
  • Minimize your taskbar and hide your icons:  unless you are doing a training on using the operating system for a computer, don’t distract your audience or waste valuable screen space with other program icons.

Master the Tools of the Trade:

There are free tools that will let you capture your screen, but Screenflow (MAC only) and Camtasia (MAC and PC) are the industry standard.  Both provide a wide array of tools to help take a simple screenshare and turn it into a produced education video.  Use your tools and add some pizaaz and clarity to your screencasts.  Both tools allow you to:

  • Add annotations:  Use them for keyboard shortcuts and screentips.  Add arrows to point to changes or emphasize key elements.  It’s not that hard to do and goes a long way.
  • Zooming and Panning:  Rather than show the entire screen, most screencast tools let you add zoom and pan in post production to help draw the students attention to key elements, or enlarge an area of your screen where tiny buttons or code may reside.  Students don’t like to squint
  • Clean up the Cuts:  Go through and cut out the pauses, the “umms” the stumbles.  With practice, you can indicate a take while recording and make it easy to cut mistakes right out.
  • Add a Branded Intro clip:  The whole idea here is to not just sell this course, but build your brand as an expert, so copy in a nice intro image or mini clip to set the stage for each lecture.  A lot of our best courses produce a highly polished promo video for the beginning of the course as well, to introduce potential students to just how cool this course will be.

 

Instructor Tip: Hacking Studio-Quality Audio

You’ve heard it in videos before: audio that sounds like it was recorded on the back of a pickup truck going through a tunnel:  full of echos, crackling “S”’s, background noise, and hollow voices.  But the solution doesn’t require thousands of dollars in expensive equipment or buying time at a studio.  In fact, you can get professional quality audio with just a hundred bucks and some creativity.  Here’s how:

It all starts with the microphone, that magical device designed to capture sounds, and are often too successful.  The trick is to find a mic that has a Cardioid or hypercardioid pattern.  Cardioid patterns only pick up the sounds from right in front of the mic, rather than the entire room, so it doesn’t sound like you’re in an open area, even if you are.

There are several USB mics that plug right into your computer and have a cardioid pattern for under $100 and are fantastic for recording voices.  I use the Yeti Microphone, though the Blue Snowball gets plenty of love too.  There must be a lot of arctic podcasts…

It may start with a quality microphone, but it sure doesn’t end there. Just as important is the environment in which you record.  I say this from experience: you can spend thousands of dollars on a microphone and still get crappy audio.

The trick to your recording room is 2 elements: small and soft.  The smaller the room, the less likely you are to get the hollow, echo sound in your recordings.  Anyone that has yelled “Hello!” in a big canyon can attest to the echo of large, far away surfaces.  Soft simply means padding of some kind to cover hard surfaces and mute sound waves bouncing off walls and tables back into your mic.   Soft doesn’t mean you have to cover your house in foam.  Pillows work just as well.  One of our most successful instructors records in his closet.  Another records under a blanket.  Small and soft is all it takes.