Why I stopped selling my online courses on Udemy

Udemy is a great company. They provide a valuable service to both online learners and course creators all over the world.

My intention is NOT to bash Udemy in this post.

However, I recently made the decision to stop selling my courses in their marketplace and I want to explain my thought process behind that decision.

Let me first say that Udemy actually helped me get started with online courses. I was very nervous about creating my first course. I wasn’t sure if there was any interest in the topic I wanted to teach, so I created a short course and listed it for free on Udemy in 2013.

Within a few weeks I had enrolled thousands of students, which was exciting!

Online Courses - Anytime, Anywhere | Udemy 2019-01-29 11-08-09.jpg

Udemy has a very active, engaged student community, so I was able to get feedback on my course very quickly. This feedback allowed me to validate that there was demand for my course topic and it also helped me refine and improve my course content before I launched the paid version.

In retrospect, this exercise was incredibly helpful because it gave me the confidence to continue moving forward as an online course creator.

Once I revised my course, my plan was to promote the paid version to the students that had enrolled in the free version on Udemy.

Unfortunately, Udemy only lets you send promotional messages to students who are enrolled in a paid course. Since my course was free, I wasn’t allowed to promote to my existing students.

Don’t Build a Business on a Platform You Don’t Control

As it turns out, Udemy has a lot of rules governing how and when you can communicate with your students, and even how much you can sell your course for.

While I know that some people have been successful on the platform despite all of the rules, this was a deal breaker for me.

When you sell your course on Udemy, your students aren't really yours.

They’re Udemy’s customers.

Udemy collects contact information from your students but they don’t share it with you. You don’t own that data. They do.

If you sell anything online, whether it’s books, courses, products, or services, you know that your email list is your biggest asset.

In my business, it’s important for me to collect information about the people who engage with my content because I don’t just sell courses. I also offer services. I write books. I have relationships with other businesses that allow me to promote products that are helpful to my audience.

But if I can’t contact the people who enroll in my courses or engage with my content, my ability to grow my business becomes very limited.

At this point I decided to start using Teachable to sell my courses from my own website. Teachable is independent online course hosting platform. It’s not an online course marketplace like Udemy.

Teachable will NOT promote your courses for you. But they do give you access to all of your students’ information.

You own your data.

If you are going to use an independent course hosting platform you will need to do your own marketing to enroll students in your courses.

I know that this turns a lot of people off. There are a lot of creators who would rather upload their content to a marketplace and let someone else deal with the marketing and advertising.

But let’s look at what that really costs you.

Udemy Promotions May Cost You More Than You Think

Udemy will ONLY promote your courses if you enroll in their marketing program.

When you enroll, Udemy can (and usually will) offer your course at a deep discount. It’s common to see courses that are normally priced for $199 (which is the highest price Udemy allows) for as little at $9.99.

Just take a look at their homepage…

Online Courses - Anytime, Anywhere | Udemy | Udemy 2019-01-29 11-13-56.jpg

If someone finds your course on Udemy, your revenue share is 50%. If your course is already discounted to $9.99, your cut is less than $5 per sale on a $199 course.

If someone finds your course after clicking on one of Udemy’s paid ads, your revenue share drops to 25%, leaving you with a $2.49 profit on a $9.99 sale.

I know there are people who will say, "I'm okay with that. Those are sales I wouldn't have made otherwise."

But, this can hurt you in ways that you may not have considered.

Here’s what happened to me.

I had my course listed on my own site AND on Udemy for $199.

I was enrolled in the Udemy marketing program and my course was almost always “on sale” for either $9.99 or $12.99.

I also offer a 30-day refund policy to anyone who purchases my course on my site. I could have chosen not to do this, but student satisfaction is my number one priority.

What would you do if you bought a course for $199 and a few days later found it on sale for $9.99?

Most people would return it or ask for a refund for the difference.

That’s EXACTLY what happened to me.

Students that bought my course at the full price of $199 from my website felt cheated once they saw that they could get the same course on Udemy for under $10 - and understandably so.

This misstep cost me thousands of dollars, not to mention countless hours that I had to spend responding to refund requests and trying to negotiate with upset students.

Once I stopped selling my courses on Udemy, my refund rates dropped to less than 1%.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Post your opinion in the comments below.


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