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  • Alicia Paz

What It's Like Teaching on Udemy

Funnily enough, the number one question I get asked isn't about my course content. Instead I get numerous questions about teaching on Udemy. So, I figured I would explain this to you all! Feel free to comment with additional questions.

First, teaching online is far from passive income. I spend many hours updating social media, promoting my courses, marketing, and networking to gain more students. I actually often spend more hours doing that part than recording, editing and uploading.

It takes a lot of time. My first course took 150 hours of filming and easily another 100 hours of editing, social media, sending e-mails, website building. I even had a business partner, tech help and a graphic designer helping me! I currently work within "seasons:" the filming/editing season and the maintenance season. I try to film in bulk, so will sit for hours sometimes very late at night doing so. Maintenance is usually much shorter spans of time doing mostly social media work and engaging current students while working on gaining new ones.

Filming/Editing Season (per month) = 57 - 65 hours

  • 3-4 days of shooting = 24 - 32 hours

  • Editing videos = 3 hours

  • Social Media = 1 hour a day

Maintenance Season (per month) = 38 - 68 hours

  • Social Media = 1 - 2 hours a day

  • Student engagement = 1 hour a week

  • Misc. (new equipment research, reading books on a topic) = 1 hour a week

I am not a trained teacher. I did not start by being a professor or teaching in a school setting. Many of those on Udemy have, but most have not. What I have done is lead groups in outpatient counseling centers and in a prison setting.

Udemy is unlikely to make you rich. Yes, there are instructors who make a million or more a year, and they are hard-working, wonderful people whom I know and are exceptional at what they do. It's rare to get rich this way and, as a whole, most of us are doing it for other reasons; the love of teaching, resume building, practice, a reason to further our education, etc. Income can fluctuate. For a period of time I was able to not work full-time and was teaching online working 30 hours a week. So I know it can happen, but it's a lot of hard work and currently I enjoy the stability working for an agency creates for my family. As of now, I am not sure I would make that leap again for multiple reasons. Income is based on how the referral is made, so if a student searches Udemy for course the instructor makes 50% of that sale, if they use an affiliate link they make 25% and if they use a link I provide (like this one) it's 97%.

Technology and quality are your best friends. I find I still struggle here, but I keep things polished yet low-tech with the following set up. Those who use $10k in equipment also likely make 20 times that a year. I use my iPhone 8 to record (I am starting with a DSLR shortly), iMovie (I'm starting with Final Cut proX), a $9.99 app on my phone, a clean background of items from Amazon, lapel mic, pro light kit and tripod. Besides laptop and cellphone, the rest of the setup, including website and domain (minus new DSLR), cost me $600. If I include everything, $6500. If you already have a newer phone, some nice lighting and space, you could film a quality course for $200 easy. If you plan on using a 1998 Nokia flip phone, film in traffic and use the built in mic, Udemy won't approve your course.

Reviews are vital and people can be mean. If you want to be on the first page, have a top seller tag, or have people choose your course you need good reviews. Udemy has a secret algorithm where not every review makes the cut. Let me start with saying I appreciate anyone who takes the time to review my work (honestly). Some reviews are stars only, some are text with useful feedback, and some can just be cruel. Luckily I have not received many of these, but others have, including digs at appearance, mocking accents, and gems such as "this guy is dumb." Luckily, some of these are removed by Udemy, but it takes some thick skin to put yourself out there and we are all just humans trying our best.

I love what I do. I do continue to work full-time as Udemy is a lot of work and I love paid time off, insurance, and clocking out at 5pm. When I taught full-time I would send e-mails at 2am and I felt like I was constantly trying to keep up. If it was a slow month, I had to hustle to find enough students to turn a profit. It's far from passive income, it takes a lot of work, some money and some thick skin at times. Nevertheless, Udemy has allowed me to stay home and work in my PJs with my newborn, work while on an airplane, and now allows me to make extra income while I work full-time, parent two kids and maintain some social life.

I am off to film in my new basement studio, so if you have any questions please leave them below.

I am always happy to help anyone who wants to see my set up, shadow the work I do locally, preview my courses, see the technology or chat business about choosing a course to teach social media help, Linkedin, etc or get some info on the backend I am always happy to talk shop!