(5 minute read)

Udemy instructors have love/hate relationships with Udemy affiliates. On one hand, a Udemy affiliate takes a percentage of your course sales. Instead of getting 100% of your earnings, you have to share it with someone else. On the other hand, Udemy affiliates bring in sales you would not otherwise have. They help widen your reach and exert marketing efforts on your behalf. The best part is without results, you do not have to pay them.

After creating Udemy courses, some instructors decide to take matters into their own hand and become a Udemy affiliate themselves. After all, if you are going to earn passive income, teaching online is just one way to do it.

Why not become a Udemy affiliate as well and increase your passive income?

We were recently reminded by a Udemy affiliate that Teachinguide’s app and the course data it provides is useful not just to Udemy instructors, but to Udemy affiliates as well.  So we put together a short list of tips for becoming a successful Udemy affiliate – both to help any Udemy instructors who are considering becoming a Udemy affiliate, as well as for those of you who are already Udemy affiliates.

Udemy Affiliate Basics

Homepage for Udemy Affiliate Program

What is Udemy affiliate program?

The Udemy affiliate program is an in-house marketing scheme that looks for individuals who can promote Udemy classes for a commission. Out of thousands of applicants, they screen and select the ones who can market courses to their audience. The chosen affiliates have access to exclusive content to find the best deals they can advertise.

In a nutshell, the advantage of being a Udemy Affiliate, particularly if you already have a website or following, is that you get a 20% commission on each course that is purchased by a Udemy student through your Udemy affiliate link within 7 days of clicking on that link.  Udemy provides you with promotional material such as Udemy banners as well as coupon codes that you can use with your audience to sell courses. Udemy Affiliate Marketing is definitely a very welcoming and helpful program.

The advantage of being a Udemy Affiliate is that the platform provides thousands and thousands of potential courses to sell and a multitude of niche topics to focus on promoting.  And it does a ton of promotion itself. Most of what you have to do is just getting the word out as the courses sell themselves.

If you are blogging about craft beer you can promote a Udemy course about that.  If you are a fashion influencer, you can promote Udemy courses about beauty and fashion. And so on. The sky’s the limit when it comes to the Udemy affiliate program.

How To Become A Udemy Affiliate?

You can become a Udemy Affiliate by creating your application. Head over to Udemy’s website under “Affiliate.” Click the “Join Now” button and get redirected to a Rakuten Marketing webform covering your company, personal, and website information, among other technical details. You can access Udemy’s courses and other exclusive content when you get accepted to their affiliate program. You can select from what’s available from the most popular to the hidden gems. You create affiliate links and use other creative tools to promote the class. Once you have those links running, you can advertise them and make commissions based on lessons purchased from your link.

  1. Apply
  2. Discover and Promote
  3. Monetize
  4. Make Money  

It takes Udemy 3-4 business days to review your application, and after that, it only takes those four main steps to become a Udemy affiliate.

How Much Do Udemy Affiliates Make?

There is no fixed answer to how much you can make as an affiliate. Why? Because payment comes from commissions. Udemy claims to have competitive rates, but it is best to set your expectation at 20% because it is the most common. The more you promote, that 20% can quickly add up. The minimum threshold you can earn is $50, but that can increase with the right business and marketing decisions.

If you want to earn upwards of $1,000 per month, it might be difficult and close to impossible because of its 7-day cookie/ referral window. Udemy’s setup does not make it easy to accumulate that much. You would need more than 400-course purchases in a month to come close to those numbers.

Udemy Affiliate Rates In 2020

Why is it so hard to earn $1,000 in commission rates? It is a matter of numbers. Udemy’s affiliate rates as of 2020, are 20% of the classes’ price with a 7-day cookie. It means your audience has seven days to purchase a course after they click the link. If the sale does not happen in seven days, you miss out on your commission.

A large following always helps reach your monthly goals, but it cannot guarantee a full-time income (though this can depend on your lifestyle.)

How To Be A Successful Udemy Affiliate?

There is definitely money to be made by being a Udemy affiliate.  So here is our list of 8 tips for becoming a successful Udemy affiliate.

1. Pick a natural niche that you love and that is profitable

Some Udemy affiliates set up websites where all they do is promote “top” courses through coupons on a regular basis. The courses may not even be from any particular category one week to the next.  While this might be a quick and dirty way to drive sales and get that easy commission money, it’s not a very “trustworthy” way to generate an audience following (more on trust later). Moreover, Udemy and its affiliate network Rakuten, don’t really like these kinds of websites as affiliates.

In the long run, it’s best to build an audience or following around a specific niche topic or topics that you are passionate and knowledgeable about.  It’s easier to differentiate yourself, add value to your readers’ lives, and ultimately get conversions for Udemy course purchases. Remember, you’ll be writing a lot about this niche, and possibly be taking courses in it, so you better like it! It would be mentally exhausting for a Udemy affiliate to market a course that they don’t feel passionate in.

That said, do your homework in terms of course sales in your chosen niche. It’s pretty easy to do this.  Udemy lists course categories and sub-categories on their website in order of popularity. As you know, it also promotes and tags the best-selling, highly rated and popular courses.

Obviously, you should not choose website development if you know nothing about it. Even if it is a highly popular course, a Udemy affiliate with no background knowledge on the topic would face extreme difficulty.  But if you are, say, a life coach, your skills will be best used on personal development courses.

Look at which courses are top-selling in a niche you like. Then check out course enrollments and reviews. Figure out if reviews are legitimate and if they are recent.  Is the course new? Are the enrollments mostly free or paid? You want to promote courses people are paying for of course!

Do research on the instructor to see if they are trustworthy. Then pick a few courses and take them, at least partially.  You don’t necessarily have to do a full-blown review of the courses you promote (more on that later), but you do have to at least make sure the courses you promote are authentic and valuable or you will lose readers and sales over time.

Finally, if you are a total beginner, just pick one course to promote. Learn along the way and then you can expand your portfolio of Udemy Affiliate courses.

2. Build a website, blog or social media following

Udemy will look at whether or not you have the potential to effectively promote its courses when you apply to be an affiliate.  A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5,000 visitors per month to your website. More is better. Online traffic is important. By increasing the visibility of your own website, you will be able to promote the Udemy courses to more people.

There is a lot of information out there about how to create a website, blog, etc.  The key is to create great content and do it frequently. Then use inbound marketing techniques and SEO tactics like backlinking and Google ads to generate traffic and build an audience. Obviously, this takes a lot of time and effort.

But it’s no different than building any other business. In the end, you will be in a position to monetize your website by earning affiliate revenue.

Don’t have a website yet? Wondering where to start? Why not start with this excellent Udemy course “Learn How to Build High Quality Affiliate Websites”. (Note: Teachinguide receives no affiliate income from links in its articles)

3. Optimize your website landing page for conversion

This is a key component of inbound marketing. Affiliate sales are ALL about conversion.  It’s critical for your success as a Udemy affiliate to have a landing page (like a homepage or blog page) that convinces readers to click on the link. There are numerous ways to increase conversions, but here are a few:

  • Put a compelling image or video that creates “stickiness” on the page.  It will engage your reader automatically and make them want to explore your website more and click on links.
  • Create a landing page for a specific targeted audience, such as from an email campaign or a pay per click ad.
  • Collect personal information in return for something like an ebook or guide or even a Udemy course coupon. You can use this, later on, to remarket to visitors.
  • Optimize your page for SEO. When a user finds you through a search, they are already interested in what you are offering and thus more likely to convert.

Want to know more about optimizing your landing page for conversions?  Try this HubSpot guide.

4. Promote courses as close to full price as possible, when possible

It’s no secret that most courses are selling on Udemy for as little as $10 and that this is increasingly the case throughout the year.  If you are only earning just 20% of that or $2 per sale, that’s OK, it’s better than $0, but it’s not stellar. In addition, remember you have just 7 days to convert a reader to a Udemy course sale.

In the long run, avid Udemy affiliates promote the idea that you should use your website or blog to build up a relationship with and engage your readers. Then, leverage that relationship to promote courses that are not highly discounted whenever possible (which admittedly is increasingly more difficult). If you just aim for say, $50 courses, that’s already 5 times the commission you would get on a typical $10 course.

Of course, you have to be paying attention to the rare moments when Udemy is not promoting/discounting courses. But it does happen. And it’s worth trying. If you manage to sell just one 40-hour Python course at the full price of $199 you would have to sell 20 $10 courses to earn the same commission.

How do you know if your readers will purchase a course for $50 or $199?  Ask yourself simply, “would I purchase this course for $X?”

5. Build and maintain trust with your audience

If you want your readers to trust that the course you recommend is worth paying more than $10 for, they must trust your recommendations.  There are many ways to establish trust with your followers. 

When you promote a Udemy course, it should be understood that you are staking out your name. This means that your followers will be more susceptible to avail said Udemy course. However, should they find that your recommendation is unsatisfactory, it will damage your reputation.

  • Put your personal information on the site.  Create a great “about me” section. Perhaps add a personal video on your homepage. Add many ways to contact you, i.e. through social media, so your readers know that you are legitimate and serious.
  • You can establish your authority on the topic by writing a lot about it, showcasing your knowledge or experience. You must demonstrate that you believe in what you are promoting.
  • You can take the Udemy course that you have recommended yourself, providing screenshots and examples to prove it.
  • You can interview the Udemy instructor whose course you are promoting. This may not always be possible but would be a huge boon to establishing trust and converting leads.
  • You should have awesome and useful content on your website.  Not just regurgitated opinion.

Here’s a nice example of a disclaimer provided by a Udemy affiliate that instills trust:

Please note: I’m a proud affiliate partner with Udemy and this post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a course using an affiliate link, I may receive a small commission for referring you. But please, only purchase a course if you feel like you need it and think that it will help you reach your goals with coding. Thanks for your support!

(from www.mikkegoes.com)

6. Take a personal approach rather than a “review” approach

Generally, there are two avenues to presenting yourself as an expert Udemy affiliate.  You can do so by taking a more personal approach, where it is you who are creating content, making personal recommendations and essentially putting yourself and your personality out there to your readers.  In this approach, affiliate marketing is weaved into all the other content you are producing in a natural way. It’s more of a “soft sell”.

When you talk about your personal experiences, it is natural for the reader to lower down their defenses. This allows for an easier way of convincing them to try out the product you want them to see. Personal storytelling also allows the audience to put themselves in the shoes of the narrator which is always a good marketing ploy.

The alternative is to establish an “expert” review website and do just that – reviews – of Udemy courses.  These are the “Top 10” websites you often find when you Google search a topic. Clearly, in this case, readers come to your site to find out which courses to take, so they are more likely prepared to purchase a course through your affiliate link. 

However, it will take more time and effort to maintain a trustworthy and legitimate review website with lots of reviews.  It will also feel more static to a reader who is interested in your topic because the content will not change very often. For this reason, Google does not favor review-based sites in its SERP.

7. Create an awesome course review and update it periodically

When promoting a Udemy course, ideally you will create a great blog post or video or some cool and engaging content about it that includes a great course review.  That course review will be the driver of your Udemy affiliate revenue, so make it count! The effectiveness of your review will rely on the medium.

You’ll probably write the review once and forget about it for a while. So make sure it is optimized for sales and search. Include the author’s name, course title, and any relevant keywords in the title of your review post.  You can show a screenshot or even brief video of what is inside the course, to establish credibility.  If possible, reach out to the instructor and arrange an interview via podcast or video. 

To keep the post fresh with Google and your readers, update your post with testimonials from readers who have taken the recommended course and given you positive feedback. You can gather these by establishing a Facebook page or group where people can contact you. This will allow you the optimal amount of commission per course.

8.  Monitor your reporting

Related image
Back end of Rakuten reporting

Udemy’s affiliate network, Rakuten offers good reporting with details that give you a few clues as to some next steps you can take to increase affiliate revenues.  For example, if you see that your affiliate link is leading to some additional course purchases, be sure to check out those courses. 

Perhaps you should be promoting those as well.  You might even find over time that there are new niches that you could focus on, possibly creating an entirely new blog or website around.

And if you are seeing that some readers are purchasing your recommended course at full price rather than at the discount price, try to figure out why that is and do more of it. Consider what you said or did, or what is in their profile or what other factors might contribute to their willingness to pay full price for a course. 

Was the purchase a direct result of an email campaign or blog? Could it be because you created a video interview of an instructor or yourself which was compelling? Whatever it was, do more of it.

Start Your Udemy Affiliate Career

There is no better teacher than experience, but you do not have to settle learning tools for these referral programs individually. You can make use of marketing techniques like creating content, using keywords, and searching for organic ways to reach your audience. The backbone of your affiliate career is your ability to pull in the right people. With keyword research tools like Teachinguide, you can select the right terms and phrases to make your way into the feeds of your potential following. When this is combined with your quality content, promoting Udemy courses is quick work.

You can be a part of the Udemy affiliates program in no time. When you are approved, it is a matter of matching the right high-quality classes with your engaged audience. You can opt to create your own Udemy courses and become an affiliate for it and maximize your income from hosting them. With these eight steps to becoming a successful Udemy affiliate, you should receive promising results.

In future posts, we’ll look at how Teachinguide can help Udemy affiliates gather important information such as keyword rankings to help choose and promote courses and niches. Stay tuned!

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    • Thank you for sharing your experience. We cannot explain why Udemy accepts certain affiliates and others not. Keep trying. Good luck and thanks for reading.

  1. Hey there,

    First: thanks for the mention!

    This is a really good write-up – lots of helpful nuggets here! If anything, choosing a very specific niche is so helpful when you’re trying to build a loyal following and really establish yourself as an expert in your area.

    Loving Udemy so far, both for (endless!) learning and making sure I share my favorite courses with my readers, too 🙂

    Thanks again for all the tips! Have a great start into 2020,

    – Mikke

  2. Hi ,
    I am trying since many days to find udemy affiliate marketers list . Can you promote our training courses on udemy .already 1000+ courses sold .I will share details via email . thanks


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