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Opening The Kimono: What I Learned From Getting 2K Udemy Students in 3 Weeks

how to get your course trending on udemy

On New Year’s Day, I hit “Publish” on my first Udemy course. Things have been moving fast since then! Today’s post is about online learning – and a bit about how these courses work, from the publishing and teaching perspective. I hope you enjoy reading this.

1. Planning and recording a Udemy course

This kind of thing has been on my mind for a long while, but I never got enough time to plan a course and get it done. Finally, the holiday break came along, and it all worked out in the end!
The whole process was much quicker than I thought. In fact, the planning stage was almost as long as the recording stage. I used Asana for my project planning, Google Drive to keep everything in one place – and Keynote / Audacity combination for the actual videos.
In the end, despite some frustrating technical hiccups (most miserable New Year’s Eve ever…), I emerged victorious. Two most important things I learned:
– Begin with the outcome. This, incidentally, is the most important factor of a good language lesson: what will my students be able to do better at the end of this lesson? All my presentation slides – all my sections, everything I’ve recorded – was started from the end, from the result, the outcome for the student.
– Next time, script everything. I improvised and explained every slide the best I could – but looking back at this, I know there are some things I could do better. My future courses will be 100% scripted – this gives me the added bonus of being able to use the writing in another way.

2. Publishing and promoting

This part was planned out in advance as well. My first course was always going to be a learning experience for me – and the most important lessons about how e-learning works came from the promoting / marketing area.
If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will be familiar with the e-mailing and blog article push I gave to this course. It was a great thing to share with you guys, and thanks for letting me make this for you! The fact is, this part worked really well. I got good feedback from my email list, and this helped me start my momentum.
I’ll spare you the details of all I did here – get in touch if you want more. Here’s just a handful of my experiences, boiled down to what they gave me. It’s super-personal, and reflects the way I roll. I’m only on the beginning of this process. Your mileage will vary, etc. Get in touch at any time to discuss how else we could do this:

– E-mailing gave me plenty of options. I got plenty of answers to my questions beforehand – I found out how much people were willing to pay, how long they expected the lectures to be, and what titles worked well for the lectures. It even helped me choose the best title and design for my course! Engaging the people who expressly agreed to be part of my “focus group” was the best experience I’ve had.
– LinkedIn is crap. Total and utter waste of time. I’ve been dubious of its worth for a while, with every e-card and random invitation I got from people I never met. But when I tried to reach out to people who could be interested in reviewing / sharing the course – I got zero. Nothing. Zilch. Maybe I’m doing it wrong – but I haven’t the time to learn another weird social network just to get minimal benefits.
– Facebook adverts are a brilliant way to spend a lot of money on useless page likes. You have been warned.
– 100% free coupons for a Udemy course bring you lots of students fast. 90% of those students will only sign on because it’s free, and would need plenty of encouragement to participate in the course. But the numbers are both important and impressive.
– I haven’t tried Adwords yet, but I’m predicting similar results to Facebook campaigns.
– Udemy is really helpful with promotions, discounts, and spreading the word in exchange for a share of the sales on your course. Some people resent having their course discounted for most of the time. I say this: my course is worth nothing if people don’t hear about it. So going with each and every Udemy promotion is worth it in the log run.

3. Moving on

There will be lots of work after the course got published – but that’s also something I’m ready for. It would be unreasonable to assume that once you got hundreds of students in, they’ll just take care of themselves! So here’s a few things I’m still planning to do:
– Announce extra features and bonus material on a regular basis. This promotes engagement, and keeps me in touch with my students.
– Live sessions! This was hampered a bit by the Udemy platform which removed their own live session tool – but a quick chat with a Google genius at this year’s BETT helped me realize what I can do with Hangouts.
– Q & A. Answering them feels good, the next thing I’ll try will be asking them on a regular basis. Again, not a great idea to assume that after your course, everyone will know everything. Be open to the questions!
– New courses! Yup, I’m working on something new this time. Watch this space.

4. What you can do today

If you haven’t yet, sign up for a Udemy course. There are plenty of free ones to get you started. It works on mobile devices as well!
Go through a course yourself before you even start publishing your own. This is crucial for all wannabe course authors: it gives you an idea of what’s involved, what’s possible and what students will tolerate.
Of course, you’re always free to join my course – Guerrilla Language Learning has been “trending” on Udemy for a while now, and I’m keen to keep it that way 😉 The link will give you free access (until Feb 1, 2014)


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