Here’s How They Did It… No. 1 – How instructors earn $200, $500, $1,000/month through self-promotion


We asked key instructors how they consistently drive $200, $500, $1,000+ per month to their Udemy courses through their own promotions.

See how instructors are using Udemy as their storefront and enrolling new students into their courses.

Below is Part 1 of this series. Keep scrolling down to read all three instructor stories—one earning $200/month, one earning $500/month, and one earning $1,000+/month. Every story has a “Here’s How You Can Do It, Too…” section where we summarize action steps you can take today. We’ll continue publishing new parts to this series as we hear from more instructors sharing their methods!

Instructor driving an average of $200/month

JohnLynn_UdemyinstructorJOHN LYNN 

Who is buying your Udemy course(s) through your instructor coupon codes?

GeniusDV’s YouTube channel is close to 10,000 subscribers.  Each time a new video is posted, subscribers to the channel are notified.  The YouTube channel also shares the post on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Each video uses a 5 second annotation to encourage viewers to comment or share the video with others.

Currently, I have 271 videos on my YouTube Channel, and students purchase courses using coupon codes promoted through my YouTube videos. The YouTube videos use annotations to link to a splash page on the webpage.  See an example of a video that uses Annotations.

Technically, the same videos on YouTube are the same videos that are wrapped into each Udemy course. The selling point for getting those viewers to enroll in the Udemy course is:

  • Students receive projects and media that only come with the Udemy Course
  • Students have the ability to interact with their instructor
  • The videos on Udemy contain an organized method for learning the material
  • There are quizzes after each section
  • The Udemy videos do not contain annotation overlays (watermarks have been removed)

What autoresponders or systems do you have in place? How are you driving your traffic and converting it into your course?

GeniusDV also has a mailing list divided into 8 categories for each software product that we teach.  Each of these mailing lists contains roughly 3,500 subscribers.  The mailing list is automated by using a mailing service that uses an RSS feeds to determine when to send out new mailings.  Each time a new video is posted, roughly 3,500 individuals will receive an email with the new video tutorial.

My company GeniusDV conducts nationwide onsite video editing training for popular video editing products such as Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere. We promote the Udemy courses to our customers when we conduct our on-site and classroom training services.


Here’s How You Can Do It, Too… 

STEP 1 –  Upload several video lectures from your Udemy course to YouTube. Your Udemy lectures = great marketing collateral. Choose several videos from your Udemy course and publish them on your YouTube Channel. Optimize the video titles to reflect the questions or keyword phrases people are searching for on Google/YouTube. Ask yourself: What problem am I solving in this video? What one thing am I teaching in this video? Use these questions as guides when deciding on video titles and descriptions.

STEP 2 –  Add an annotation to your videos that links to your Udemy course. That way, anyone watching can purchase your course. Also include a direct instructor coupon link in the description box.

STEP 3 –  Send an automatic email to your list every time you publish a new video on YouTube. Use a mailing service that uses an RSS feed to send an email whenever you post a new video to YouTube. Remember that your Udemy video lectures = perfect marketing collateral, so the more people who see your videos, as long as they’re optimized for conversions, the higher your chances of driving student enrollments.


Instructor driving an average of $500/month

RebeccaDekker_UdemyinstructorREBECCA DEKKER 

Who is buying your Udemy course(s) through your instructor coupon codes?

My name is Rebecca Dekker, and I am a PhD-prepared nurse researcher. Inspired by my two very different birth experiences, I registered the domain name Evidence Based Birth and started blogging in April 2012. The purpose of my blog was to get the research evidence on childbirth out of medical journals and into the hands of mothers and families, in a language that they could understand.

During these first two years of blogging, I have developed a deep connection with my audience. This relationship has been strengthened with the use of social media. As of May 2014, Evidence Based Birth has 12,400 followers on Facebook and more than 1,000 followers on Twitter. My audience is mostly made up of college-educated women who are pregnant or are planning on giving birth within the next year. A significant portion of my audience is also made up of birth professionals, such as doulas (labor support persons), childbirth educators, nurses, midwives, and physicians. [Pro Tip: Rebecca has a clear idea who her audience consists of. Do you know who’s in your audience? The more you know about your audience, the more effectively you can promote to them.]

My Email List Grows By Around 350 Subscribers Per Month

As I neared the launch of my first course in the fall of 2013, I started an email list using a free service with Mailchimp. Based on some advice I received from other bloggers, I offered an incentive for readers to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. The first incentive I offered was access to a password-protected blog article called “American Obstetrics in the 1950’s.” With that offer, I reached 1,500 email newsletter subscribers within several months. Once I reached the maximum number of free email subscribers for MailChimp, I did some research and switched to Aweber for a paid email subscription service.  Today I have more than 4,000 subscribers to my newsletter, with about 10-15 new subscribers joining each day. [Pro Tip: Are you actively adding more subscribers to your list? The more you expand your audience, the more opportunities you have to invite people to your courses.]

How exactly are you getting students to enroll into your Udemy courses consistently, month over month?

About 50% of the traffic to the Evidence Based Birth blog comes from search engines such as Google, 25% comes from social media networks (primarily Facebook), and the other 25% are direct site visits.

Many Evidence Based Birth articles are at the top of the Google rankings for various childbirth keywords. I have never paid for any fancy or tricky search engine optimization. Evidence Based Birth’s success in the search engine rankings is solely due to its readers, who love to share and link to Evidence Based Birth articles on their own blogs and social media outlets. The more links out there to a blog post, the better a website’s search engine rankings.

When people visit Evidence Based Birth, one of the first things they notice on both the home page and the sidebar is a form that they can use to subscribe to the Evidence Based Birth newsletter. Based on referrals from other bloggers, I purchased OptIn Skin to create great-looking opt-in forms for the newsletter. I also have a landing page and ads on my site specifically for the two Udemy classes I have available right now. I made sure that any links to my Udemy courses include my instructor coupon code, so that Udemy can identify the student as being from Evidence Based Birth.

Importance of Automated Emails for your Newsletter

One of the things that I love about Aweber is that they have a great email auto-response system. If you subscribe to the Evidence Based Birth newsletter, you will automatically receive 3 daily emails that contain written lessons about evidence-based care. At the end of the third email, I let you know that if you would like to learn more, you can take several courses from Evidence Based Birth on Udemy. I also give you a special coupon to thank you for being a new newsletter subscriber.

Benefits of Bulk Purchases

After I launched my first course, some of my readers approached me about a bulk discount. So I was thrilled when Udemy created the bulk purchase option. If a group of childbirth educators emails me asking if they can get a group discount, I email back with special instructions. I require one person (the “leader” of the group) to make the purchase. The leader collects the money from their friends by sending them PayPal invoices. Once the leader has the money, they send me an email letting me know they are ready to make the purchase on Udemy. I create a special coupon code for their group, send the leader instructions on how to use the bulk purchase feature on Udemy, and the leader makes the discounted bulk purchase!

Non-Profit Partnerships Proved to Be Profitable 

More recently, I have begun developing partnerships with other companies and non-profits. For example, I offered to give 50% of the proceeds of my courses to a non-profit for every sale that was completed using their special coupon code. We tried this for the first time in April 2014, and it was a win-win situation! The non-profit promoted the class on their email listserve, their readers learned about a great opportunity to earn continuing education hours, and together we quickly raised funds for the nonprofit. I hope to develop more partnerships like this in the future.


Here’s How You Can Do It, Too… 

STEP 1 –  Offer an incentive/reward/bonus for your website visitors when they join your email list. You can offer visitors an ebook or discount to your Udemy course.

STEP 2 –  Set up a series of autoresponders or automated emails that each subscriber receives. The autoresponders should contain an invitation to join your Udemy course at full price or at a discount.


Instructor driving an average of $3,000+/month

DanWahlin_UdemyinstructorDAN WAHLIN

Who is buying your Udemy course(s) through your instructor coupon codes?

I blog a fair amount about various technologies and get a lot of hits on the blog each day/month which helps let people know about the course and coupon codes. I don’t have any 3rd party advertising on my blog and only include content I’m personally involved with such as video courses, training courses, etc. I focus on providing high quality content that people want to regularly check out and learn from. [Pro Tip: If you have a website/blog, do NOT display Google ads or other low CPM or CPC-based ads on your site because you’re driving your visitors away from your site every time they click the ads. You want to keep them circulating throughout your site and your products for as long as possible.] 

  • I also have a YouTube channel [with over 9,500 subscribers] where I put up free videos on different topics including portions of my classes. Some of my YouTube videos include links to my blog where they can then get a coupon code. As with my blog, I focus on putting out high quality content and avoid focusing on advertising as much as possible.
  • In addition to my blog and YouTube channel I run a new newsletter called the Web Weekly (available through my blog) that has close to 3,000 subscribers now. The newsletter helps people keep up to date with new technologies through links I gather and the video I do for each issue. I haven’t used it much to let people know about the AngularJS JumpStart course but will be including it more in the future.
  • I tweet a lot about various tech topics and engage with people a lot through Twitter, Google+ and other social media avenues. I believe strongly that if you have the goal of trying to help people out that the rest takes care of itself as far as getting contracts, training classes, video courses, etc. If your goal is all about making money I think you’re doing it wrong.
  • I speak a lot around the world and recently gave talks in Norway, Orlando, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and at a conference in Florida. I always try to give out some free copies of the course at each talk to get the word out about it.
  • The bottom line is I try hard to provide content that people want to learn about, I stay involved in the community and help people out as much as I can, and I let people know about the course through some of my different channels.

How exactly are you getting students to enroll into your Udemy courses consistently, month over month?

  • I try hard to avoid “in your face” advertising and instead focus on providing valuable blog posts, videos, and other content (talks, newsletters, online seminars, etc.) that people want. You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” and I think that general concept applies well here. A big advertising push may bring a rush of new students but I think that consistently providing value through other means helps spread the word more in an organic type of way.
  • I worked hard to make sure the course was super high quality – at least as far as I’m concerned. The reviews have been good and a lot of people have been telling others about the course and how much they’ve learned. That has helped bring in some new students that wouldn’t have heard about the course otherwise.
  • All of the other channels I mentioned (blog, YouTube channel, newsletter, etc.) combine to help get the word out about the course.


Here’s How You Can Do It, Too… 

STEP 1 –  Maximize your website/blog as a marketing channel by only advertising your own products (e.g. your Udemy courses). When you advertise other sites, you risk driving potential sales away from your site.

STEP 2 –  Add direct links to your Udemy courses in your most watched and most recently watched YouTube videos.

STEP 3 –  Offer a weekly newsletter for your email subscribers so you’re consistently providing them value and bringing them back to your website to see the products you have to offer. 


This is just Part One of an ongoing series. Stay tuned!