June 13th, 2017 Business

Here is the hard truth: most people who create courses on sites like Udemy don’t make a single sale.

For those that do they may only make a couple sales and then Udemy takes their share of the revenue (somewhere around 30%).

That’s not to say that the course aren’t good. The content might actually be exceptional.

The reason for lack of sales is because their offerings are getting lost in the crowd. Literally there are thousands of courses available on Udemy – how is anyone going to find yours?

I will fully admit that there are people on Udemy, Skillshare, and other similar sites making a decent income. In some cases the platform chooses to promote the course using their own advertising dollars.

I met one person who sold over a million dollars worth of courses without spending a single penny on advertising thanks to Udemy promoting his course for him.

But how often does that happen? It’s like playing the lottery, and I don’t know about you but I’m not one to gamble with my time.

Shift Your Focus OFF of the Platform

If you want to have success in selling online courses then you  need to think beyond the platform you use to create & sell the course itself. The platform won’t build your business (and if you expect it to then you’re in for a lot of frustration).

Whether you use one of these course marketplace solutions or not your focus needs to be outward, not inward. Seeing as you can’t do much about your course placement within the marketplace it makes more sense for you to work on getting in front of your target customer off of the platform.

How do you do this? Good old-fashioned marketing.

The quickest way to get your course in front of your audience is to pay. I’d recommend starting with Facebook.

If you don’t have the funds to pay for advertising then that means you have to pay with your time. Start content marketing as soon as possible. Whether you create a podcast, write articles, produce a vlog (video blog), or something else – you need to be focusing on creating value of some kind in the form of content.

I know, there are a lot of people saying this but they say it because it works. Seriously, we started our entire software company from a blog. I have seen this method pay off.

My intent with this short article is to provide a wake-up call to those of you who are frustrated at lack of sales or underestimating the customer acquisition process.

Most of all, I want to point out that the technology you choose (LearnDash, Udemy, Skillshare, Moodle, etc.) is not going to automatically sell your courses. While technology can do a lot of things it can’t build your brand.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


4 responses

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To attract more crowd there should be courses relating to ERP platform, upcoming latest technologies (qlik sense, MSBI, etc.) which is not available on lynda too. There more courses on niche, new technologies the more sales/users.

Avatar Rohith

I left Udemy a few years back to open TheAutomationSchool.com (using LearnDash) when Udemy changed their pricing to dis-allow more expensive courses (they have since reversed this policy.) I needed to do this as I teach students how to use expensive equipment in my courses and therefore have high upfront costs to purchase said equipment.

And due to Udemy’s change in direction, they have become known as a marketplace for courses with list prices of $200 or $300, but are actually always on sale for between $10 and $15 dollars.

They also kept 50% (not 30%) of every course sale sold on their site if the purchaser didn’t use the instructor’s own affiliate link, which 99% of students don’t. They also keep another 25% if you’d like them to market your course:


While it takes more and effort to run your own LearnDash based website, here’s the benefits as I see them:

1) You own the platform, which gives you many more options.

With Udemy you can only ever sell your courses in their marketplace along with thousands of other courses.

When you own the platform you have more options like:
– Selling your courses on DVD, as well as selling “swag” (shirts, cups, etc)
– Selling courses to end users directly with “Group Enrollment”
– Accepting PO#’s and checks
– Creating bundles, custom bundles, and upgrade paths
– Reusing lessons in multiple courses
– Etc

2) Your marketing efforts only drive people to your courses

While using your affiliate links with Udemy sounds good, there’s always another tempting course that your leads may end up buying.

And many customers don’t buy using affiliate links due to concerns that using them may increase the price.

While this is something I tried, in the end I didn’t feel it made sense to use my popular tech blog to drive traffic to someone else’s training site and courses, and ever since I’ve been making a living selling my courses direct using LearnDash.


Shawn Tierney

Great points Shawn, and congrats on your growing success! we are pumped to have you part of the LearnDash community! 🙂

Thank you Justin, keep of the great work!

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