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. ***