The Risk With Udemy And Similar Sites

person-thinkingWhen someone comes to the conclusion that they want to sell an online course, their next step is to research various ways that they can make it happen.

In the end, it usually comes down to one of two choices:

  1. Make your own website to create & sell the courses
  2. Use a hosted solution

The reason people gravitate towards #2 is because in their mind it means they can get to market quicker.

To some extent this may be true.

But at what cost?

I’ve written about this in the past, specifically in reference to hosting and selling your courses on Udemy.

The bottom line is this: if you don’t own the platform then you are outsourcing critical business components. You take on quite a bit of risk.

I understand opinions on this may be mixed (and I respect the counter-arguments), but I can tell you that as a business owner I really couldn’t imagine another platform taking ownership over my customers, my forums, and regulating my course content.

You Aren’t In Control… They Are

When you’re on a hosted “markplace” platform like Udemy then you are subject to their policies, and they can change these policies at any point in time.

In fact, this just happened at Udemy.  They recently sent a message out to their clients indicating that they’ll be altering what courses they allow on their platform. In this case, any course related to weaponry isn’t allowed.

Anyone who purchased such a course are to be refunded by Udemy.

Whether you want to give a refund or not isn’t your choice – Udemy is giving the refund.

I’m not here to make a case for or against courses related to weapons. That’s really not the point.

Instead, this example clearly highlights how little control you have over your business.

If you want to sell a few courses here or there for fun, then I would probably recommend using a hosted platform like Udemy.

If you’re interested in something that can scale – and you don’t want your business at the mercy of corporate policy then you’re better off using a self-hosted solution.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

2 Comments
  1. Trevor

    Great comments from an established authority – the author of a usable and useful LMS.

    Personally, I had done about 60 percent of what was required to release a course on Udemy and then I stopped developing. Several concerns made me think twice, and, in the end, I’m opting to develop my courses in a WordPress/LearnDash environment. I’ve purchased LearnDash and will be teaching myself how to use it, and expect to be releasing my courses in May/June/July.

    Thanks for a great option for us eager and ambitious teachers!

  2. This is good info to know. One day I stumbled upon a conversation with a bunch of authors who have had their courses completely stolen and sold at Udemy – one of them has her course on Lynda.com! I did not know that was such a widespread issue and that there essentially seem to be no checks in place for course publishing on that platform so it is pretty easy. That plus this info indicates there may be much more risk than is worth it for the convenience of the marketing eyeballs.

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