Online courses are incredibly popular these days. It seems as though nearly every online entrepreneur has a video course offered on their website. For online teachers working towards location independence, these courses are basically a right of passage – a mile marker of legitimacy. But what is driving this trend, and should you jump on board?
To answer these questions, we spoke with Scott Rogers, Director of Content Strategy and Acquisition at popular video course platform Udemy. The basic concept is this: take what you’re an expert at, convey the knowledge in an actionable way that engages students through video content, and make money.
Sounds interesting, right? There’s just one problem: You’ve never created any video content at all, let alone a course aimed at teaching something to a wide audience.
Creating an online course can be a tough process to start. I look at it like this: there is that old saying, Getting started is half done. It really seems to apply here, because the process of identifying what you’re going to teach and then putting together an outline is half the battle.
Why should I use Udemy to create an online course?
“Building a course for the first time can be hard,” says Rogers. “But doing something hard can also be awesome and rewarding. Udemy also has tons of resources – and a supportive instructor community – to help you create a great online course. Check out all of these resources on the Udemy Teach Hub.”
This where Udemy is incredibly useful for instructors. They provide a great deal of guidance right at the beginning of the process, all the way through publication. This means that instructors don’t have to be expert video producers or course designers in order to put together a successful online course.
What does it take to create a course?
At least 60% of the content must be video-based, and courses must run at least 30 minutes. Udemy takes a cut of sales, the amount depending on whether the student signed up as a result of your marketing efforts or theirs. Check out basic information on marketing options at the link.
Udemy’s platform provides tools that are relatively simple to use. They walk instructors through the process of creating their course and maximizing its impact. They highlight and guide instructors through important teaching tactics including slides, images, verbal instruction, and demonstrations. For first-time course creators, following an established process helps to keep the course organized, structured, and flowing consistently from start to finish.
Instructors also have the benefit of their course being published on a reputable platform that is already engaging millions of students around the world. The public won’t necessarily trust you as an expert just because you posted a video on your personal website. Udemy offers the benefit of their reputation and popularity.
What should I teach?
Just about anything can be taught. We see lots of interest here in topics like Python, Java, and Excel,” says Rogers. “Students are interested in learning about career opportunities in industries such as Data Science, Game Development, and Information Technology. However, in addition to professional focused topics, we also see lots of interest in areas like Drawing, Guitar, and Mindfulness.”
To go back to that ‘getting started’ quote I referenced at the beginning – the first step is to identify your expertise. What do you know everything about? What do friends or coworkers call to ask for advice on? “Our advice for new instructors is to ‘teach what you know,’” Rogers says. “We also recommend that you focus on practical outcomes (e.g., what will a student be able to do by the end of your course?) and on the activities or exercises that will lead to those practical outcomes.”
If you aren’t sure, try browsing Udemy’s site to see what others with similar interests or backgrounds are teaching. “We see a few different trends happening right now with popular course topics,” says Rogers. “Lots of students continue to turn to Udemy to solve problems related to their professional development.”
What happens once the course is published?
When a course is ready to be published, Udemy’s platform hosts the course. This includes payment processing, landing pages and marketing. Their marketing efforts can be extensive, if the instructor chooses to take advantage. From YouTube and social media advertising to email outreach, blog posts, and more. Read more on their marketing efforts here.
Beyond that, instructors can use the course to further establish their brand. The course serves as a valuable credential on resumes and portfolios. It helps to establish the instructor as a proven expert in their field – and can generate a good amount of passive income in the process.
The bottom line
Udemy, like so many other options for teachers, is a platform that helps instructors spread their knowledge, increase their reach, and build their brand. For those new to online teaching, it is a great option for attracting students and sharing knowledge. Often, one video course leads to another video course. Or to students signing up for personal lessons. On top of all that, it’s free and ready to help you spread your wings. In the world of online teaching, that alone is a huge plus.