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Stop Waiting for Someone to Pick You

Success is not a lottery. Most times, success is not the result of luck.

I see people who create things online, and are passively waiting for success to happen. They blog, they create YouTube videos, they create books and courses. Rinse and repeat. More blogs, more videos, more books, more courses. Round and round and round.

And they are patiently waiting for someone to pick them. Waiting for someone with influence to say “Hey everyone! Look at this cool thing”. Or waiting for a big corporation to notice their brilliance and choose to make them popular. Waiting to get lucky.

Sometimes it works like that, I guess. Sometimes a record company notices that singer who’s quietly making good songs on YouTube and offers them a record deal. Sometimes Oprah notices a little-known book and it becomes a million-seller overnight. Sometimes Apple notices that obscure health app and features it as new and noteworthy. And sometimes TechCrunch features startup companies that nobody has heard of and investors rush to invest. Sometimes.

But do you know what happens more often? The gifted singer emails a link to their song to 100 people with connections in the music business. They ask their friends to email anyone they know who works in the music business. They call radio stations and beg them to play their song. They travel to L.A. and will play for free in any bar or restaurant that will let them. They work their butt off to get noticed. And if they’re good, someone notices them.

The talented writer sends physical copies of their books to 100 editors and 100 agents – plus Oprah. The course seller contacts the owners of marketplaces and gets featured on the home page of that marketplace. Any information product seller contacts influencers in their market and gets featured in popular blogs and magazines.

Do you want a feature in Rolling Stone? What have you directly done to let any writer or editor at Rolling Stone know that you exist?

If you want to be noticed, you have to put your hand up. You have to stand apart from the crowd not hide among them. You have to hustle. You have to do uncomfortable things like emailing and calling and sending things in the mail to people you don’t know. I’m willing to bet that success is more likely to happen to someone who has something good plus spends time trying to get people to look at it, than people who have something good and tell no one, hoping to be discovered randomly.


25 Ways to Increase the Possibility of Sales for Udemy Instructors

I made a bold claim in Udemy Instructor Club that there were at least 25 things you can do today to move you closer to getting sales or increasing your sales. People asked for the list.

So as a challenge to myself, and a benefit to others, here are 25 things (some easy, some hard, some fast, some long-term) that you can do to increase the chance of getting sales.

There are no shortcuts here. There is no “1 thing” that will magically take you from $0 to $1000. There isn’t. Stop believing in magic. It takes work.

You need to do 1 thing from this list every time you look at your course sales and they are not what you want them to be.

Basic SEO

These things come from my SEO course, but here’s the highlights. Take a look at what people see when they do a Udemy course for your topic. I’m talking about the search results page. Look at the top courses in your topic, and look at your course side by side. Chances are their course LOOKS better than your course. Why?

  1. Look closely at the title of your course. What can you do to improve it? Join some copywriting groups, ask around, and make one small improvement to your course title. You can always change it back right? But your first title idea is not the best title idea. It can be better!
  2. Look closely at your course image. Does it scream “this is the course! buy me! buy me!” Most Udemy courses have bland images that hardly have anything to do with the course contents. Put some thought and work into what would be a better image. Go to a stock photo site. Find a great one. Buy it. Crop it. Go to fiverr and get an image made. Add your own photo to it. Do something to make that image just a bit better and make the student stop scrolling and look at your course.
  3. Watch your promo video. Watch it again and again and again. Is it amazing? Would you say your promo video is the best it can be? Can it be better? How would you make it better? Make a better promo video. It’s the first thing a lot of people see. It has to be better than it is. Mention the Q&A forum. Mention the money back guarantee. In fact, watch a lot of promo videos from others, and make notes on what they do that you can copy for yours.
  4. How are your reviews? 4.9 stars? No? Only 3.9 stars? Why? Don’t tell me competitors are sabotaging you. Don’t tell me freebie seekers are bad students. Why do people feel that your course is not better than they expected? Read your reviews. Read the good ones. Why do they like you? Read the bad ones. Why don’t they like you? Don’t dismiss these people as crazy! Maybe some of them are, but not all of them. Many are good people trying to leave a comment to help you improve or help other students find right course.
What's this?

What’s this?


A megaphone, a rocket ship, an hour glass, a light-bulb?  

Is this course image doing anything to sell the course? No. It’s not meaningful, and doesn’t stir any emotion in the viewer. Sorry. Bad image.



Improve the Product

Making a good course that hundreds and thousands of people want to buy is not easy. It’s not a 5-hour afternoon of work to whip out a course. You need to invest time and energy in it. And it’s not perfect even then. If you’re course is not selling, chances are high that your product can be better than it is. That doesn’t mean longer, it could mean shorter. But it can be better.

  1. There’s something new in your industry. Or a topic that you should have covered but didn’t have time to get to. Now’s the time. Create a new video and add it to the course. Create a really useful 5-minute new video covering some other topic. And notify existing students by educational announcement to get them to come see. And add this fact to your course landing page. Prospective students want to see that a course is always updated.
  2. Pretend you are a student, and watch your own course. When was the last time you sat down and watched your own course? Most people say never. Take a day, and start from lecture 1. Watch your whole course. Pay attention. Take notes as you go. In lesson 1, there’s a spelling mistake on screen. In lesson 2, you say something that is actually no longer correct. In lesson 3, you are boring as heck talking for 10 minutes about something that is not really important.  Be your own critic. And go back and fix those problems you see. Become a perfectionist, and update videos. Fix issues. Make it better. It should improve your ratings.
  3. Get someone else to watch your course. Hire someone on Upwork to watch one hour of your course and give you detailed feedback. Tell them to be honest with you. (And tell them NOT to leave a review when Udemy asks because that’s a major policy violation.) That should cost $20-$50. That will be an amazing investment. Reading someone else’s private comments will help you improve. A friend might also do this, but it’s hard to ask for a couple of hours of someone’s time for no compensation and you need someone to take this seriously.
  4. Add more value. What can you do to make this a better experience for students? Add quizzes. Add a PDF download that summarizes the section. Add links to external documentation on the topic if they want to learn more. Add assignments – make the students do some homework and turn it in for review. Turn your course into something really great!
  5. Redo the course. If you’ve watched the course, and fixing one video here and one video there won’t do. Fix it all. If you can make a better course now that you have more experience making courses (and perhaps more experience in the topic), then make a plan to re-film the entire thing. Consider deleting the existing lectures and uploading it for existing students to get for free! Not many people are going to do this. BUT if students had v1 of the course, and you create v2 and give it to them for free, what’s not to love about that!
  6. Survey your students. Send out a Google Forms survey to your students and ask them for one or two things to improve the course?
  7. Create a new course. You can also help people by creating more relevant products that they will like. So improve your existing course, and then create the next in the series. Always create courses that have some relationship to your existing ones. Makes it easier to sell and builds your authority in the area too.
  8. Answer students Q&A. A lot of instructors don’t answer questions. So if you’re struggling to get sales, ensuring that you serve your existing students will ensure that they give you higher ratings, increasing your Udemy SEO, and hopefully leading to more sales. Do things your competitors don’t do, and most of your competitors don’t answer students.
  9. Add surprise bonuses. Who doesn’t love a surprise? The student bought the course to learn X. But you can throw in something of a little more value for them for free! Something they don’t expect. A PDF copy of a complete book on the topic. A free 20-minute call with you to discuss their situation. Post their artwork to your website as a “student gallery”. Give, give, give.
  10. Add more preview videos. Give prospective students MORE info on which to make a buying decision than the other guys do. If you’re sticking to the 10-minute minimum on your 10-hours course, maybe the student is still not sure they like your style. Give them a bit more on which to make a decision. Make your free preview videos 20-minutes instead of 10. If you’re not getting many sales, it can’t hurt you to give more away to entice people to come in.

Improve Your Brand

So you’re teaching a course on improving relationships. What gives you authority to teach such a course? Why are you such a relationship expert? One thing you can do, that will benefit you beyond selling more courses, is to improve your image and reputation as an authority on the subject. Don’t ignore this. Many people will just want to sell more courses and think this has nothing to do with it. If I don’t trust you to teach me something, I won’t buy from you. As simple as that.

  1. Start a blog. Write a blog post on your existing blog. Write a medium post. You build your authority by getting your name out there in connection with the industry. So write a blog post relevant to your industry. Make it a good one. Not something with 10 words and a link to something someone else wrote. But a real blog post with hundreds or thousands of original words. Like this. You become an authority by being an authority.
  2. Time to become a bit more professional. Make your Udemy bio picture more professional. No more goofy picture of you swimming. Make it a picture that looks professional to the audience you hope to teach. Work on your bio text too. Make it seem like you ARE the right person to teach this subject. You’re not just some dude who discovered teaching last week and thought he’d throw a basic course on WordPress Installation up (don’t be that dude). You are a professional in this field, and you’re willing to show people just getting started the way to get to where you are.
  3. Improve all your web sites. This is a larger branding exercise. Again, as above, there should be a consistency look / feel / language across all your web properties. I don’t know that students will be Googling your name before buying, but certainly if people find your own website before finding you on Udemy, what will they think? Do you even have links to your courses on there? Does it look like a professional’s web site? Spend a little time and money making yourself look like an authority.
  4. Blog on other people’s websites. Contact people/companies who have blogs that accept guest bloggers, that have audiences that might overlap. Huffington Post comes to mind. But there are big blogs in every industry, and you can write for them. They might not pay you, but this is about building your authority as an expert. They might even let you link back to your own stuff.
  5. Write an ebook and put it on the Kindle store. Become an authority by expanding the number and types of platforms on which you appear.
  6. Write a real paper book. Real books are great. Having one in your hand is a good feeling. Hard work to create, but again, authority. More chances for people to be aware of your name in connection with this topic.


Improve You

  1. Become a better teacher. Enough with the same old crappy powerpoint slides. It’s time to raise your game. Take a course on video creation, and get better at this. Get the software you need. Free or cheap at first, but be willing to pay if it will get you to a new level. Get the skills to pay the bills. Learn video editing. Learn audio editing. Get soundproofing. Find a better room in your house to record. Become better at this. It’s hard. But try. When you become better at this, your competition falls behind.
  2. Become a better marketer. There are a ton of marketing courses out there. Lots of free ones too. Udemy has some. Coursera has some. Start learning the basics. Learn about funnels. Learn about branding. Learn about Google SEO. Slowly at first. But month by month, get better at it. This is part of your job as a teacher. You need to learn to sell. This will improve your life forever if you get good at this.
  3. Get better in your topic area. I don’t believe that there’s anyone who’s mastered anything to the point where they can stop learning. At least I haven’t met anyone. If you teach photography, you can learn some new things about photography that will help you teach your students. If you teach Photoshop, you can get better at that. Almost anything you can do, you can get better at. And that will make you a better teacher, more authoritative, and ultimately put you above the competition.

Market Your Course

I put this at the end because many people will skip all of the above and go straight to this. Don’t do that. Why?

Because you can’t sell a piece of crap, at scale.

Maybe you can do it once. But you can’t do it 10,000 times.

I’ll be perfectly honest here. Many people have courses that will just never sell to tens of thousands of students. It’s not the best course on Udemy on the topic. The instructor is not an authority. The student has NO REASON to buy this course compared to the others available. And thus, trying to sell it will be trying to push a rock up a flat wall. It’s very hard to do that for too long.

So please, improve your course first. And improve your authority. And then after that, pushing that rock is like pushing a smooth stone across an ice skating rink… it’s much easier.

But if you are improving the quality of your course and improving your authority as a teacher, you can add some marketing elements to increase your chances of success.

  1. Add your course to Pinterest. Pinterest is a site that accepts photos and links. Seems a no-brainer to put a course image and a link to the course there. Not many courses are there.
  2. Add your promo and preview videos to YouTube. These videos are free to view on Udemy anyways, so why not put them on YouTube, Facebook or any other video site with coupon links back to your courses.
  3. Create specific sales videos for those platforms. The Udemy promo video might be good for selling a Udemy course on Udemy. But consider creating a specific video who’s goal is to get the viewer to click a buy now link at the end. Think of it like a webinar or an evergreen webinar. You create a 10-20 minute helpful video on your topic, and at the end link to your Udemy course. Add these to YouTube and Facebook.
  4. Udemy bonus lectures. Are you using bonus lectures? Only 1/3 of Udemy courses even have them. Create bonus lectures and ensure you’re linking to your other courses. Update the bonus lectures of old courses from time to time. You’d be surprised that so many bonus lectures are out of date now. Most coupons are invalid. No excuse for that. Keep the bonus lecture fresh.
  5. Add links to Udemy in your Twitter bio. In your YouTube bio. In your Quora bio. Everywhere. Don’t just have these islands of social media out there. Link them all to one thing. Don’t link everything to everything! Link everything to one thing. Make that your website or make that Udemy.
  6. Do you have an email list? Email them. I fell into this trap of having a list of 800+ people, and I never email them. Make sure you keep in contact with people. Like this educational announcement which I will send to my students with this blog post. Keep in semi-regular contact with people. And then when you market to them, they won’t mind so much.
  7. Create more lead magnets. Do you know about the cold > warm > hot strategy? Different marketers call it different things. It can be lead magnet > trip wire > core offer. It could be sidewalk > slow lane > fast lane. Whatever it is (learn about funnels and lead strategies), it can’t hurt to create little pieces of content that you can offer to give away. So create a checklist. Create a 5-page ebook. Create an epic list like this. Create something that is valuable, that is aimed to draw people into you.
  8. Run ads. Might not be the smartest thing to pay money to send people to Udemy, but if you want to build an email list, or you want to get social proof on your blog post, or you want to build your brand or authority, spending $10 or $20 every once and a while can be worth it.
  9. Create a generic Facebook group on your topic area. Instead of building your Facebook group around you, build a Facebook group around a topic. Do you teach English? Build the “learn English” Facebook group. Don’t be too spammy or self-promotional. But be helpful. Make a group that thousands of people will naturally join, help them, and then when you have a new course on the topic, let them know.
  10. Work with others. It’s hard to succeed on your own sometimes. So why not link up with people who can help each other? My friend Ravinder Deol just posted a photo to Instagram about a new Bitcoin course he is working on with two other instructors. Three is better than one. He’s serving his students better (and the other two instructors are serving their students too). Everyone wins, a true win-win.


I guess that’s 33 ways to increase the possibility of sales for Udemy and other online instructors. More than you expected!

Have a great day! Scott


PayPal vs Payoneer for Udemy Instuctors

And just like magic, Udemy has switched on a new method of Payment for Udemy instructors: Payoneer. Now we have the option between PayPal and Payoneer. Which is better?

Well, if PayPal is not available in your country, well there is no question. Having another payment option will be rejoiced by many.

This might depend on where you live, so I’ll do the calculation based on where I live (Canada). If you have more information that is local to you, feel free to leave a comment.

Receiving Money

So to receive money into my PayPal account, PayPal charges me nothing. If someone sends me US$1,000, I have US$1,000 sitting there in my account. Payoneer also claims to have no fees to receive money.

Spending Money

PayPal is accepted at many only e-commerce merchants, and I often have a chance to spend my PayPal funds there. I pay my web host from PayPal for no fees. I have not noticed merchants that accept Payoneer. So one can conclude that Payoneer if you wish to spend some of your money online without bringing it into your bank account.

Withdrawing Money

A big problem for me is the cost of foreign currency exchange.  PayPal charges 2.5% for currency exchange, so on that US$1,000 withdrawal to my bank account, PayPal is keeping $25 for itself. That’s quite expensive. I could use that $25 for something useful.

Apparently, Payoneer charges 2% for bank transfers and 3.5% to put the money on a MasterCard. Then the MasterCard would charge currency conversion on top of that! exchange rate: $1,000 USD = $1,292.06 CAD (mid-market rate, *actual)

My bank exchange rate: $1,000 USD = $1,251.70 CAD (*actual)

PayPal exchange rate: $1,000 USD = $1,255.87 CAD (*actual)

Payoneer exchange rate: $1,000 USD = $1,272.06 CAD (*estimated)

So on the surface, it might be a little advantageous to use Payoneer over PayPal. But you have to weigh that against the risks of using a smaller payment provider.

It also seems that Payoneer is asking for a lot of tax information from instructors and will be withholding the US government’s 30% deduction. So that might be a downside for some.

I won’t be switching just yet. But I’ll keep an eye open for other instructor’s experiences.


There are only two ways to succeed on Udemy

You won’t see this clearly laid out or written anywhere in the official Facebook groups, in the teach hub, or anywhere else but here. Yet it’s likely that you already know this. You may refuse to believe it, or you may wish that there was a third (shorter) way to the top. But as they say, “the elevator to success is broken, you must take the stairs”.

There are only two ways to succeed on Udemy.

The shortest way is to launch like a rocket. You publish your course (it may be your first course or may be your latest), and it clearly fills a need in the market. People have been desperately wanting to learn this, and you’ve discovered hidden gold. You launch a course, and right away you see success. Dozens of sales per day. Reviews pouring in.

There are only a couple of ways this can happen. One, there is a hidden need and when your course arrives, demand that existed suddenly has supply to meet it. This is when you’ve got a one of a kind course, on a topic that hasn’t been covered in this way. Or two, you have an existing fan base, an existing list, some channel you can market your course too. And so your course launches like a rocket – either organically or through your strong base of existing students or followers.

You can’t just sit back and rest now. All rockets burn through their fuel eventually. Competition arrives, or your fan base is tapped out. It might take months, but you do have to think about your next act. How to capitalize on this again. And again. Always thinking two steps ahead. This is what happened to me. I launched like a rocket and kept feeding it with more fuel.

Important to say, you can’t turn a bicycle into a rocket after the fact. If your course launched two months ago, and it’s not a rocket, you can’t make it a rocket. If you don’t have a list, and haven’t tapped into an untapped demand in the market, you’ll have to succeed the other way.

The other way to succeed takes more time and is more work. But there is nothing wrong with work. You cannot be afraid of work or looking to avoid it at all costs.

The other way to succeed is make progress every day. So you launch a course, and it only sells a few per day. It’s not like a rocket at all. You’re making 1-5 sales per day, and you’re wondering what happened. It’s at this point you can choose to quit or continue.

If you continue, look to improve the course. You improve the copy on the landing page, improve the promo video. Get a better course image. Add more videos to it. Re-record the bits that you don’t like. You start working on another course, looking to learn from this one and try to find where the demand is. You do more research. You talk to people who could be ideal students about their problems. You read your competitor’s reviews (particularly the bad ones). Find a way to be more unique that you missed last time.

Eventually you launch a second course. Rinse and repeat. Slow and steady wins the race. If you keep improving yourself, improving your courses, listening to students, and becoming better at teaching, you will eventually succeed. That’s not instant. That’s not overnight. But that’s what happens when you get a little bit better every day.

If you make 2 sales per day, that’s 60 per month. You’d want to see some growth and so let’s assume 100 in month 2. And 150 in month 3. You keep improving, making more courses, finding your groove. Hustling (the good kind, not the sleazy kind). You could get yourself to 1,000 sales per month in year 2. And a base of 3,000 to 6,000 students.

I’m not trying to sell you a pipe dream here. Not trying to sell you hope or trick you out of your money. But you only have those two choices. Whether you find some success or find a little, you have to keep doing the work every single day to build that into something great.


10 Books I Read and Loved

Several years ago, I read a book by James Altucher called Choose Yourself! This book was very impactful on me, and cause be to start a daily habit for years that improved how I think and perhaps led me to where I am with online courses today.

That habit was a short daily ritual of writing down 10 ideas per day. I have a Google Doc that I have been using since that time that I open up and write 10 ideas that come into my head. I find this helps spur action in me. Instead of these ideas just being in my head, I get them out on paper. Which lets new ideas take their place. And so I have hundreds or thousands of ideas written down at this point. It’s super interesting to go back and read what I was thinking a couple of years ago.

So today’s idea is “10 books that I read and loved”. I can’t call them the 10 best books, but I really think these books changed the way I think a little and so if you’re interested in these topics, it’s worth checking out.

1. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

That’s not a business book, per se. But I don’t mind saying that several years ago I had allowed my credit card balances to run up, and was never too concerned with it. But reading this book (and listening to his podcast) changed my mind on that. I became very concerned with the credit card debt, and worked hard to pay it all off. Today, I am debt free. This book will help you get out of debt if you have a problem with that. You still have to work very hard, but this is the plan to follow.

2. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

Do you think Phil Mickelson was just naturally born good at golf? That he came out of his mother’s womb and could swing a club? No. In this book, the author makes the assertion that anyone who becomes a master at anything (sports, music, anything that requires talent) is actually someone who just spent a lot of time practicing. Tiger Woods played more golf before he was 13 than most people do before they are 18. He had a 5 year head start practicing than all of his peers. And it’s not just playing rounds of golf that count, but deliberate boring repetitive practice. Hitting 100 balls out of the sand trap, and then 100 more out of the rough. Day after day after day.

3. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

This book tells the story of a person who loves to bake, and decides to sell cupcakes. They end up spending all day and all night baking, and then baking is not fun any more. They grow their business, and spend all of their time managing employees and no time baking. It’s a good story of how loving to do something doesn’t mean opening a business doing that. That’s the e-myth.

4. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

This book is a classic and really kicked off the “virtual assistant” craze into high-gear. While the 4-hour workweek really is a myth (there’s no such business that only takes 4 hours a week to run), the idea of outsourcing the low value tasks to concentrate on the high-value ones remains today.

5. Blue Ocean Strategy

The blue ocean strategy is what I follow when it comes to course creation. The red ocean is the one where the sharks are. For some reason, many people choose to go into the most competitive market spaces and try to compete with the big sharks, and come out the other side destroyed. I choose the blue ocean, which has a lot less competition. One of the best ways to be unique in this marketplace is to truly be unique. Be the only course on the topic anywhere online. A lot of people think that’s hard to do. It’s easier than competing with sharks.

6. Choose Yourself! by James Altucher

This is the book that got me to create lists, like this. Life changing habit if you can stick to it.

7. How to Fail at Almost Everything by Scott Adams

I am not a fan of his politics, but he wrote a good book. Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, and this book contains a lot of “aha!” moments for me. He talks about studying different fields besides business, such as psychology and human behavior. I spent years taking courses on all different topics (for my CourseMania blog), so I believe opening your mind to all these different teachers and not being hyper-focused on “making money” topics is great advice.

8. The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins

I just read this book last month, but it stuck with me. Mel makes a great point about how you need to do things that are important as soon as you think about them. 5-4-3-2-1 and go. You can’t say “I should email Richard Branson someday”. That will never get done. If the thought comes into your mind and you think it’s important, open the email program and write the email and click send. Do things like that immediately. There’s no perfect time, except right now.

9. The Phoenix Project

A friend of mine turned me on to this book, and it really opened my mind to an agile way of working. You can only do 2 or 3 things at a time. There’s no point to having 7 or 10 items on your to do list. Cut things down to 2 or 3 and that is actually a more efficient way of working. It’s a good book and told in a good way.

10. Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

This book opened my eyes to the various human traits that marketers rely on to drive action. If you can master influence, you can get people to act in the way you want them to. If you understand influence, you can recognize when others are trying to influence you. Groundbreaking research.

So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Like I said, not necessarily the top 10 books of all time (and I left off several fiction books that I love such as Snow Crash and Ender’s Game). But these books all opened my mind to things I hadn’t known before.

(This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.)

The No Lose Idea

Have you ever had an idea that you felt was a “sure thing”? Something that strikes you that is so clear, that it seems like there is no way that it won’t be successful?

Today I had one of those ideas. I wish I could say that it happens every day, but it doesn’t. But today, of all days, it seems like a clear vision that there was a product that I could create, that would be easy to sell, and where the competition would be caught off guard.

Not saying that the competition won’t catch up, and they surely will. But now, today, there is a demand in the market for “this thing” and a chance to be the first to market with it.

I really want to drop what I’m doing and go for it. But I can’t. I have a successful business that provides products to a market that is in need of them. I can’t stop working on that to work on this.

So I think I will try another way to do it. I think I will try to enlist some help. Maybe I can do both.

Will keep you posted.


Let’s Write a Swimming Pool

“Let’s write a swimming pool.”

Some time ago, I heard the story that, in the early days of their success, The Beatles used to get motivated to write songs by the money they made. John Lennon turned to Paul McCartney and said “Let’s write a swimming pool!” and 3 hours later, the song Help! was written.

I can’t do a course in 3 hours, sadly, since it took me 3 months for the one that launched today.

But I always remember this Lennon quote. “Let’s write a swimming pool.” Need motivation to make your next course? There’s nothing wrong with thinking about the financial aspect to get you off the couch and into creating.

When to Give Up

Here’s a short list of businesses I have tried in my life, before I found course creation as a successful one:

  • I tried blogging every day for a year on
  • I tried selling novelty (Star Wars) USB sticks on eBay
  • I started a blog for affiliate marketing of products, and wrote dozens of posts too
  • I worked on upwork
  • I created a fiverr gig
  • I tried monetizing my YouTube channel
  • I tried creating a goal setting website where people can define their goals and steps needed to achieve them

It’s fun to wonder if I had stuck with any of the above for years, where I would be today.

CourseMania was a serious attempt to build an audience. I loved taking online courses (through sites like Coursera and Khan Academy) and so I thought I could share my adventures on my blog. Recommend courses and platforms, and be a good place for people to refer to when looking for a good course to take on a topic.

To that end, I decided to get serious about blogging. And I got really serious. I posted a new blog post every day, and at one point had 6 weeks worth of future blog posts scheduled in WordPress – about 30 posts ready and scheduled to go live.

At it’s peak, that site brought me $100 per month in Google Adwords income. I really tried hard to put out content regularly, but after about 10 months I did the math and realized the site would never grow to the level I needed it to be. I needed to 10X the income for it to be a good side project, and 100X the income for it to be a consideration for quitting my job and doing it full time. 100X income was just too big to imagine after 10 months of effort. And I could not imagine what more I could do to grow 100X anyways. I could not post 100 times per day or watch 100 times the number of courses I was watching.

That’s when I decided to make video courses and not to review them.

So where are you with your online business? Are you making $50 to $100 per month, and wondering how to grow it to something decent? Perhaps you should do an honest assessment like I did, and think “what are the chances of growing that to 10X results? And what are the chances to grow that to 100X the results?”

I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation between effort and results. But if you’re making $50 to $100 per month at something, you should ideally not be spending that much time to maintain that. If you find yourself making $1 per hour or even less, you might be better off ditching it and finding a new place to dig a well. There’s just not enough feedback from the market that what you are doing is in demand.


Ten Marketing Ideas for Your Udemy Course

You might notice a pattern below. See if you can spot it.

  1. Start a YouTube channel on your topic, and put out useful free videos relating to your topic. Grow your subscribers, grow your views. And link to your Udemy course in the description of each video.
  2. Start a blog, and put out useful free blog posts relating to your topic. Grow your email subscribers, grow your page views. And link to your Udemy course from your website.
  3. Start an email list, and send a regular newsletter relating to your topic. Grow your subscribers. And link to your Udemy course in the footer of each email, or send occasional emails promoting your course.
  4. Start a Twitter account on your topic, and link to useful articles written by yourself and others relating to your topic. Grow your subscribers, grow your favorites, grow your retweets. And send out occasional links to your Udemy course.
  5. Start a LinkedIn account, and post useful posts relating to your topic. Grow your post subscribers, grow your views. And link to your Udemy course in the footer of each post.
  6. Start a Facebook Group on your topic, and post useful links and content relating to your topic. Grow your group members, grow your comments and shares. Post a link to your Udemy course occasionally.
  7. Search Quora for your topic, and answer questions people have. Grow your followers. And link to your Udemy course in your Quora bio or mention it only if it’s directly relevant to the answer.
  8. Search Reddit for your topic, and answer questions people have. Grow your upvotes. And link to your Udemy course in your Reddit bio or mention it only if it’s directly relevant to the answer.
  9. Search other people’s Facebook groups for your topic, and answer questions people have. Become a recognized authority on your topic. Allow people to find your website or make it easy for them to find what you offer. Very rarely drop your course link.
  10. Podcast.
  11. Live Video is huge right now. Can you start a Live Video show on Facebook or YouTube and have regular weekly content for your audience?
  12. Focus on making your current students happy. Turn your current students into super-fans. Continually give way more to your students than they paid for. New videos, improve the course. Over-deliver, and let them become your biggest fans and they’ll market you for you.

Where do your customers hang out? Are they on Twitter, Facebook? Are they searching on Google? Are they on Reddit, Stack Overflow, Ycombinator News, Quora? LinkedIn? Go find them. And be an authority to them. Easy.


The farmer and the well: a course creators analogy

A farmer sees that many of his neighbors have dug wells on their properties and are getting water from them. This water is nourishing their families, their livestock, and watering their fields. His neighbors are prospering with their wells, so he resolves to dig a well too.

He digs a well on his property, spends a couple of months on the project, but there is no water there.

He asks Facebook what he should do, and gets a number of opinions back:
a) just wait, keep doing what you’re doing, the water will come
b) make another well, right beside the last one
c) move to a new spot on your property, and dig another well
d) buy a property in another state far from where you live and dig a well there
e) you need to do marketing to get water to come to your well
f) pray for rain
g) keep digging, and make it a “masterwell”
h) start a youtube channel

Everyone has a different opinion. So what’s the right answer?

If it was me, before looking out, I’d look in. I’d first ask if I was doing it right. I’d look at my well, and see if it looks like the neighbors wells. I’d ask my neighbors to look at my well. If my neighbors all agree that my well looks well-built, the you can eliminate “I don’t know how to build a well” as a reason. I build good wells.

That leaves “there is no water beneath this spot in the ground” as the answer.

Ultimately, you need to find a quick and easier way of discovering where the water is before you go through the process of digging more wells. For course creators, that probably means creating a YouTube channel, and creating lots of different videos until you find ones that get lots of views.

That’s just me. Pump out more free, quick, easy, content until something you do gets some traction, and go deeper on that and see if the traction follows you. Then when you’ve confirmed that people are dying to learn “X” from you, create a product on X.

Unless you are sure of success, or success doesn’t matter to you and you just enjoy digging wells, find where the water is first. Only then embark on a one-to-two month well-digging project.

Not a perfect analogy of course, because unlike water, students make decisions to which teacher they choose of the many available. But for the purposes of my point, the analogy is fine.

Where’s the water?

If what you’re doing doesn’t seem to be working, figure out how to find where the water is before spending months creating another product in the same spot.