Category Archives for "Articles"

Getting Email Subscribers to Self Select

If you are interested in this thing that I just happen to be an expert in, please raise your hand.

I thought it would be interesting to document what I am doing to get ready for an upcoming new course launch.

I haven’t emailed my list in a while. This is a big regret of mine, and I intend to do it more often.

So today I wrote a long email to my list on some thoughts about the software architecture industry. Big trends that are happening that affect my students. At the end of the email, I asked them to vote if I should spend more time on architecture, more time on Azure, or continue to split my time on both.

I created three pages on my website that say “thank you for voting”, one for each option.

Clicking the vote link will tag the reader with one of the three tags inside my email system. I can track the vote count through the page visits, as well as tracking the people who prefer each.

Later, I will post this same content as a new article to my blog. And even on Linkedin.

There are no sales message or calls to action in this one. The purpose is to warm up a cold list and get some people in my pixels.


The Return of the Skillshare

Allow me to make a bold prediction.

Instructor average revenue per minute watched will double (or almost double) by the summer of 2017.

And this means that instructors can consider making courses for Skillshare or at least it’s worth uploading courses you already have again.

Let me explain my logic.

Currently, students pay $9 per month on average. Skillshare takes $6.30 and instructors get $2.70 to split between them.

Skillshare raised prices such that the average is closer to $13 per month. Under the current 70/30 split, Skillshare takes $9.10 and instructors get $3.90 (at 44% increase).

BUT if Skillshare reduces it’s cut to maintain the $6.30 and gives the bulk of the increase to instructors, they can return to 50/50 split. Skillshare gets $6.50 and instructors get $6.50. That’s a 140% increase in the instructor pool over the $2.70 they currently get.

Even if they only give instructors $5 of the $13, it’s still a double.

So reasonably, the instructor pool should double after this, raising the 5 cents per minute to close to 10 cents.

What Do I Think of Udemy?

Someone on Twitter asked me:

Hey, Scott! I see you teach at Udemy. Mind if I ask you, how do you like it? I’m considering teaching there as well and just looking for opinions on the Udemy experience. Thanks!

And here is my response:

So I’m extremely biased because I’ve done very well, and Udemy sells a lot of courses for me every month. But I understand as well that many people have a different experience. I think if you teach an in-demand topic that does not have a lot of competition, you will love it. Choose a topic not in demand, or choose a topic with 100’s of established competitors, and you might not enjoy it as much. 🙂

I think that’s a pretty fair answer.

You’ll find a lot of people who are not fans of Udemy, but usually, it comes down to what topic they are trying to teach.


Udemy Coupons: Should I Continue Posting in Facebook Groups?

To the common question:

“I have been posting coupons to FB coupon groups for months. I haven’t had a single sale from this. What am I doing wrong?”

I have this response:

In general, stop doing things that don’t work. This will free your time and energy so that you can do other things that can work.

Two things at play here.

1: you need to find where your ideal audience is and they’re not on FB coupon groups. If your ideal audience is “people wanting to learn piano”, you need to present your course to those people in that place.

2: you might be asking for too much trying to get the sale so quick. I recommend you look into content marketing, where you build up trust using a steady stream of free content before asking for the sale.

“Date, date, date, date, marry.” as Gary Vee might say.

Udemy SEO Tips for 2017

As a new or beginning instructor on Udemy, it’s a good idea to understand how Udemy decides which courses to promote, and how students decide which courses to buy. One mistake I see a lot of instructors make is that they launch a course, and then let it sit there for a few months wondering why it’s not selling.

Here are a few tips and ideas to get your rocket off the launch pad quickly.

Udemy SEO tip #1 for new instructors:

You must must must get at least one review quickly. There’s no point having a course on Udemy for months with 0 reviews. Your first objective when launching a new course should be to get one review. Your second objective is to get 5.

Udemy SEO tip #2 for new instructors:

Make sure your course title uses unique words that potential students use to search for courses (keywords). Naming your course without using common terms people search for will ensure that your course will never be found on the search results page. For instance, “10 tips for a good nights’ rest” would not be easily found when searching Udemy.

People search for either problems or solutions by name. “Photoshop” is a solution. “Procrastination” is a problem.

Your title should include the common phrasing of either a problem or solution.

Udemy SEO tip #3 for new and old instructors:

Once you’ve optimized your keywords (tip #2), the number of reviews (and average review score) is by far the biggest factor for search results ranking on Udemy. But that’s a hard problem for us. Reviews are out of our control. Beyond the obvious rule-breaking stuff, there’s no way an instructor can get more reviews.

Well, let your competitor think that. Because after reading this, you’ll be able to get more reviews on your course.

Four ideas for getting more reviews:

Idea #1. We all have way more students than we have reviews. I have 12,326 students on one of my courses, and 1,492 reviews. That’s an opportunity. How can I get the other 10,000 existing students to leave a review? I can ask them. I could send an educational announcement, originally worded, that says I value their opinion and if they have watched a bit of the course it would be nice for them to leave a review. Be careful to follow the Udemy rules around asking for reviews – you can’t ask for only nice reviews. But I sometimes say “leaving a review would help this course be found in Udemy search and I would be grateful if you would take a few minutes to do that”.

If you have lots of students and few reviews, ask.

Idea #1.1. Related to the above, do you have a video early in your course that tells students that Udemy will shortly be asking for their opinion and it would mean a lot to you if they would take their time to leave a few words? Or near the end asking them to remember to update their review before the course is over?

Idea #2. This is more indirect. Udemy already asks the students for review. So perhaps what you need is more of your existing students to watch your course? Out of my 12,326 students, probably quite a few haven’t even started the course. If I sent out an encouraging message to students reminding them why they bought the course and challenging them to get started with that, a few would be motivated to click play for the first time. And that will indirectly get more reviews.

Idea #2.1 Related to the above, you could hold a contest. What if you offered a $10 Amazon gift card to one random student who has completed more than half the course by a certain date? Requires a bit of work on your part to pick a random student, and will cost you $10, but that could also incentivize students to watch and get you more reviews indirectly as a result.

Would love to hear from you if you have other ideas for getting more reviews.


The Skillshare Experiment

I guess it was about two years ago when I first uploaded a course to Skillshare – May 2015. I took my bestselling Udemy course and uploaded it. Then promptly did nothing about it and left it alone for a year.

You might not be surprised to learn that I earned nothing on Skillshare in that year. A big fat goose egg. Zippo. I had some enrollments, but you need 25 enrollments to qualify for “premium instructor” status, and so I didn’t even get the $3-$4 per month I probably earned in that time. Oh well.

That same course had earned more than $20,000 on Udemy in that time. (I always found it odd that a course that was very successful on one platform went unnoticed in a place that was cheaper for students.)

So then in the middle of last year – June 2016 – after Udemy had done some pricing changes of its own, I decided to turn attention back to Skillshare to see what it was about. Many of my friends were very excited about it, so why not? Step 1, was get the 25 enrollments. So I gave out some free coupons and quickly got to the level where I could at least qualify for payments.

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016




Under the 2016 payment model, I could earn $1.35 for each paying student that signs up. On Udemy, I was making at least $10 for a student. So I quickly realized that I could not put my Udemy courses on Skillshare. I would not accept only $1.35 when I was easily getting $10 for that same student.

The other thing was Skillshare seemed to want courses of 10 to 20 minutes long. My Udemy courses were many times that. So, what to do?

But perhaps I could create special courses for Skillshare. I had a lot of ideas for lessons and courses that would not fit well on Udemy. So every once and a while I would take a couple of days to create some videos for Skillshare and uploaded it to the platform. I posted the free coupons to the usual groups and watched my income soar.

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016







I was not terribly impressed, but to be honest, I wasn’t using Skillshare to make money. I actually enjoyed using the platform.

In 2016, Skillshare represented a place where I could create things “for fun” and make a bit of money on the side. No pressure. Hundreds of hours not required. Have an idea, create, publish. A simple yet powerful model similar to blogging or Youtube.

In January 2017, they changed their payment model. Now it’s hard to tell whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, but they were now paying ~7.5 cents per minute instead of a ~$1.35 per enrollment. Most instructors felt that it would be a 20% income drop. I calculated that you’d have to make 40 minute long courses to break even in the new model.

My take? Skillshare wanted to offer their students, for $9 per month, unlimited access to “Udemy quality” courses.

This, of course, will never work out in instructors’ favor. If you’re going to create Udemy quality courses, you might as well put them on Udemy and get paid for them.

But, let’s see how January works out.

January 1

January 2

January 3

0 minutes watched, $0 earned

0 minutes watched, $0 earned

0 minutes watched, $0 earned



On January 4, I emailed Skillshare and asked them to unpublish my courses. Today, January 5, they did.

For me, the Skillshare experiment is over.

Status: failed.

It’s better for me to focus on platforms that either make me significant money or have the potential to make me significant money. OR free platforms like Youtube where I can provide value and gain exposure to a huge audience. Skillshare doesn’t have that potential yet. I see no scenario where Skillshare would drive a reasonable amount of income to me for the effort required to maintain it.

Maybe they’ll grow and in a year they’ll have a bigger base of students from which to get revenue and do a better job making good courses earn money consistently every month. I hope they do. Right now, I don’t see the point creating several courses per month, with dozens of hours of work invested, for the hourly rate that it would generate.

The company itself doesn’t even have an instructor forum so that they can interact with instructors. That’s crazy actually.



How to Double or Triple the Time Before Early Review on Udemy

The subject of early review has been a hot topic in the Facebook groups since Udemy introduced it in March of this year. The “no comment” 0.5 review has been a mosquito biting at the arm of innocent instructors since that time.

If you don’t like it, you can complain about it. Write a post in the Studio, and then comment whenever someone else writes a post about a bad review they received.

OR, you can find the secret some top selling instructors use to avoid these bad reviews.

So the secret, I guess, is to impress the student enough in the first 10 minutes that they can’t help to leave a 5-star review.

Easy right? 🙂 Not always.

Say you’re convinced that you cannot possibly impress the student enough within the first 10 minutes, and would love to delay the early review to the 20 minute mark or the 30 minute mark. How can you do that?

Udemy waits until 10 minutes of lectures have been watched to ask for the first review. If you have a typical course, it will go like this:

Lesson 1: 2m:30s
Lesson 2: 3m:20s
Lesson 3: 5m:10s
Request for review
Lesson 4…. etc

But what if you purposely planned your lessons like so?

Lesson 1: 2m:30s
Lesson 2: 6m:30s
Lesson 3: 9m:30s
Request for review
Lesson 4…..

So with that change, the request for review comes after 18 minutes and 30 seconds. How about this?

Lesson 1: 2m:30s
Lesson 2: 6m:30s
Lesson 3: 19m:30s
Request for review
Lesson 4…..

Now the request for review comes after 28 minutes and 30 seconds. You could delay the request from 10 minutes up to almost 30 minutes just by having a long lecture just before the 10 minute mark.

If you wish, you can cram a lot more teaching into the first couple of lessons and delay the review point. One more way to impress the student before they are asked for their opinion on your course.

Tips for Recording the Best Audio

I just got done recording a new course, and have been continuing to struggle to get the audio just right. Today I thought I would summarize my best tips for recording audio for your courses, in the hopes that it would help someone.

– One of the keys to good audio is having a quiet place to record. If your house is in a quiet part of town, that’s a good start. We all sometimes have to deal with construction or one time events. But if you live in an extremely noisy part of the city, you will find yourself being only able to record late at night.

– Another key is the type of room you are recording in. In order to avoid echo, it needs to have lots of soft surfaces like furniture and carpeting. Some people record sitting inside a clothes closet because the clothes absorbs all the sound. Others record with blankets hanging around them. Think about how sound bounces around, and you want more things that absorb sound and less things that reflect sound around you as you record.

– If you have both of the above, it almost doesn’t matter what microphone you have – expensive, cheap, condenser, dynamic. Microphones pick up sound, and so if there are no other sounds other than your voice, that’s the ideal state.

– If you make a mistake during recording – say something incorrect, or find yourself making an error – stop recording and start the lesson again. I have seen programming courses on Udemy where the instructors code wouldn’t compile and then spent 5 minutes searching around to find the error. As an instructor, I often re-record every lesson 2 or 3 times, and my delivery of the material gets better each time. It’s worth it to re-record when you catch yourself making a big mistake.

You can’t take echo out in editing. If your sound comes back with too much echo, you can play with the levels, add some soft music to the background to disguise it, but ultimately it’s not easy to remove.

– Clean your audio using a tool like Audacity. Do noise removal, boost the volume, and clean up the ums, ahs, long pauses, stutters and mistakes if you can. Students will appreciate a mistake-free lesson and not an instructor that says “uhhh, uhhh, uhhh” a lot. My recent course had 120+ lessons. Every one was cleaned manually in Audacity, and yes it’s a lot of work.

– In general, don’t have music playing constantly behind your talking. I use this for my promo video and my introduction lesson only to inject some energy, but 99% of the course does not have music playing throughout.

Does anyone have any other tips for audio? Post them below.

How Udemy Works – An Important Guide for New Instructors

I notice that people post comments to the Udemy Studio, usually after their course is live, that they do not wish for their course to sell for $40 or $20 and so they’ve opted out of Udemy promotion. They seem to be hoping for $195 sales all day long driven by Udemy.

So it’s my duty to break the bad news to you. That’s not how Udemy works.

If you post your course for $195 and do not let Udemy discount it, you will discover that Udemy is not a “full price sale” market. It just isn’t. If this is your plan, you will have to sell the course yourself almost entirely.

Students come to Udemy expecting a discount. In many cases, they expect a big discount.

So before starting to create a course, or while you’re giving thoughts to course creation and how you’re going to sell what you create, you should go into it with the mindset that you will sell 10,000 copies at $10 – $15 each. Then you will split this fairly evenly between you and Udemy.

$50K-$75K for you, and the same for Udemy.

If you have that mindset, you will not be disappointed to see all those $15 sales in your revenue report. You will be happy. Each sale is one more in the 10,000 you want to sell.

If your course has no chance of selling 10,000 copies because there are not that many people interested in your topic, you need to know that too and set your expectations accordingly.

The less people who would likely be interested in your course (“How to Make Homemade Toilet Paper”), then the best strategy might not be to sell on Udemy since you will need to demand a higher course price to justify the effort in creating the course. Yes, course price should be tied to topic potential popularity.

So my advice is to create a course that many tens of thousands of people will possibly want, and let Udemy sell it so that it will go for $10-$15 per student. And be happy.



You Should Add These To Your Udemy Bonus Lecture

Tonight, I opened 30 courses in my Udemy account at random:

  • Had no bonus lecture: 23 out of 30
  • Had a bonus lecture, but only free materials: 4 out of 7
  • Had a bonus lecture, but had no links to social media accounts: 4 out of 7
  • Had a bonus lecture, some or all invalid coupon codes: 3 out of 7
  • Had a bonus lecture, video only: 2 out of 7

Here are five tips to increase your income and reach through the Udemy bonus lecture.

TIP 1: Have a bonus lecture

66% of instructors end the course suddenly or end with goodbye. Only 1/3 of instructors even use a bonus lecture. There’s no excuse not to have one.

Create an article lecture type, and just type a few words in there inviting students to come join your tribe. Include a link to your website at least.


TIP 2: Include Social Media links

At this stage, we all have YouTube channels, Twitter handles, Instagrams, Facebook pages and groups, Snapchat, or some platform where people can “follow” us. Yes, you can include those in your instructor profile in the correct spot, and can include them in other places of your course, but if you have any type of business social presence outside of Udemy, include it.


TIP 3: Join my mailing list

Getting a mailing list is becoming the main way online entrepreneurs can retain some long term value in their business across all the channels. Why not ask your students outright to join your list? No lead magnet, no incentive. “Hey, thanks for taking my course. If you’d like to hear from me, about future course launches or free resources, click here and join my list.” Just ask.


TIP 4: Test your coupons

Even people who DO include coupons to other Udemy courses rarely return to check them. There was only 3 Udemy instructors out of 30 that had Udemy course coupons to offer in their bonus lectures, and TWO out of THREE had invalid (expired) coupons. What a waste. I clicked your link to check out your course, and I am presented with a full price offer.


Tip 5: Use the link resource type

A friend of mine uses a pretty slick video as his bonus lecture. He talks about all the ways to reach him – his web site, his Facebook group, how to get discounts to his Udemy courses. But it’s a video. Nothing is clickable.

People are lazy. Did you know that there is a LINK resource type? So add a link to your website as a resource to the bonus lecture. Then people can just click to go to see your bonus offers.




Thanks for reading this. Go check out the bonus lectures of all of your courses (create them if needed) and get students to learn about what else you have going on!