In a popular blog a few months back, we profiled five high earning Udemy Instructors who gave their advice about how to be a successful Udemy instructor. Those featured Udemy instructors earn A LOT of money teaching the best online courses and this has been promoted as an argument for becoming a Udemy instructor in all manner of media and blogs. Earning lots of money by taking three months out of your life to create a kick-butt Udemy course is no doubt an appealing concept to many.
Just go on Quora and punch in “How Much Money Do Udemy Instructors Make” and you will see no less than a dozen similar questions with links to answers from Udemy instructors and all manner of opinions on the topic.
Because we’ve been digging around in our data lately, we decided to try and use it to estimate how much a Udemy instructor could make. Our estimation exercise results follow in this article.
One Key Factor – Udemy’s Instructor Revenue Share
First, it is important to understand that for many reasons you will never know for sure what you will earn as a Udemy instructor.
One driving factor for your potential earnings is Udemy’s revenue sharing options and for which parts an instructor choose to opt in. Here is a link to this policy in case you are interested, but to summarize:
- Udemy organic commission: If you do not opt-in to Udemy’s marketing and promotional schemes, you are reliant on Udemy organic traffic to drive sales and will receive 50% of sales.
- Udemy Deals: If you opt into their Udemy deals program, Udemy can offer up to 75% off your course or offer it as low as $10 and you receive typically 50% of the sale.
- Udemy affiliates: If you sell a course through Udemy’s affiliates program, you receive typically (but not always) 25% of the sale.
- Coupons: If a student purchases your course with a Coupon that you have sent out, you get 97% of the sale.
Thus, much of your Udemy earnings potential has to do with how you choose for your course to be promoted on Udemy. As with any business it is a volume vs. price scenario.
Other Factors Driving Udemy Instructor Income
We’ve touched on many of these factors in previous articles and in our e-book (insert link), but to re-iterate, the following factors influence your earnings as a Udemy instructor:
- Your promotion effort (including coupons)
- Keyword rankings
- Demand for your chosen topic
- Course design and quality (ratings)
To name a few.
Our Udemy Instructor Earnings Estimates
So we’ve gone and done some research in the Teachinguide database and made some assumptions to try and get an idea of what the highest-earning Udemy instructors might be making. As we mentioned, there are a lot of variables influencing earnings. For simplification, we assumed in our “high income” estimation scenario:
- 80% of enrollments were paid (20% free)
- 90% of enrollments were sold at $10 (10% at full price, typically around $200 for top courses)
- 75% of enrollments came through Udemy organic sales, 25% through affiliates.
For the sake of stark comparison, in our “low income” scenario, we assumed all paid courses were sold at $10 and all through affiliates (and thus the instructor earns 25% of sales).
Results of our experiment
The top 10 Udemy instructors by earnings from courses (many of these instructors have additional courses on Udemy, so not a complete earnings picture) were as follows (as of October 2022)
Wowza. Even in a “low earning” scenario the highest earning Udemy instructors aren’t doing half bad! We found one expert on Quora who indicated “the top Java instructor makes 44k a month”. So, if this is true, then the “low earning” scenario is likely more realistic for a “top” instructor
Looks interesting? here are some more stats for you…
AWS Certification Category :-
showing top courses and demonstrating that it is likely quick difficulty to unseat the top rated courses.
Design Category and 3D & Animation Subcategories :-
showing only courses we estimate to earn $250-500/month; sorted by "Engagement," a critical measure of course success.
Filter from our Keyword database (including over 82,000 Keywords); filtered by Medium Search Volume, but Strong Growth (the highest growth category). Demonstrating many opportunities to create courses.
This example of the above chart shows further drilldown on Communications oriented courses, where the earnings are not what they could be
Reality Check – Typical Udemy Instructor Earnings
That same source cited above indicated that “median revenue for C# instructors is $265 per month, and functional programming instructors make an average of $166 per month and the best makes about 1K”.
Clearly, even at a price of $10, the highest earning Udemy instructors are earning significantly due to the sheer number of enrollments. In our database, the breakdown of enrollments (and thus earning potential) out of approximately 73,324 paid (excluded free) Udemy courses (English language only) looked as follows:
The Bottom Line on Udemy Instructor Earnings Potential
John Purcell, who has earned over $1 million on Udemy put it best when replying to the infamous Quora question “How much does a Udemy Instructor make?”. His first response was “Some none, very many a bit, many quite a lot, and some are positively getting rich.” We concur.
That said, if you are still discouraged by your odds, perhaps you should take John’s further advice:
“If you’re thinking of making a course, my advice is, do it. That’s because Udemy changed my life. Admittedly though, that’s a bit like someone in a great marriage telling people to get married. Udemy greatly facilitates selling courses, but you’re still ultimately getting into business if you make a course, and there are no guarantees in business, no more than getting married guarantees happiness.
If it goes well enough and you’re not easily deterred if things don’t immediately go your way, you can make an excellent living via Udemy. Udemy doesn’t have a magic ability to sell courses that no-one wants, but they are extremely good at selling reasonably well-made courses on things that people want courses on.”
Teachinguide is here to help you change that so that you can earn more money, as well as build a larger student base and following. Teachinguide provides you with actionable tools and insights that will let you:
- Understand market demand and opportunities for content;
- Identify how you can meet that need based on your interests and abilities; and,
- Create and adjust your content, as well as sales and marketing, strategies to optimize your results and earnings.
Don’t feel powerless to change your online performance. You’re not!
With Teachinguide, you have a suite of 3 major toolsets that empower you to do better and make more:
- The first toolset provides you with Recommendations, Optimizations, & Guidance
- With our predictive analytics you have access to insights and advice as to how to adjust and optimize your content and your sales strategies
- Learn about the content and sales health of your courses, and how specifically to add or change titles, modules and keywords to improve your discoverability and sales
- Learn how to design and deliver courses more effectively to increase your student engagement, generate more high quality reviews and rank high
- The next toolset gives you standardized and ad hoc Monitoring, Reporting & Dashboards
- With these tools, you are able to look at the market and your competitors
- You can track topics, subjects and trends of interest related to what you are already teaching, or simply considering.
- Helping you to understand where the gaps and niches are, and what benchmarks of success look like keeps you aware of the detailed performance of other courses and how you can build better and more compelling content, and generate more students
- And, finally, tools for content, sales and trend Search & Visualizations
- Where is the market going? What are student interests? Where are organizations looking for training?
- This toolset provides you the ability to look both strategically and tactically at the market with insights about that is happening, what has happened, and where it appears to be going.
- Again, this helps you determine what’s what, and where you can shine.
Inputs into the Teachinguide datasets include comprehensive data from over 100,000 instructors, and 150,000 courses, covering student behaviors and demands; content structure, trends and earnings; instructor profiles and course details; and, market trends.
How do you access Teachinguide? Through your browser and a free Chrome extension which incorporates even more ways to surf online education websites.
Don’t be a fish out of water without clear guidance and information about where you are, what the rest of the school (of fish) are going, and how you can stand out, build more reviews and student engagement, and earn more recurring income.
Teachinguide is a powerful solution. And it is the only truly comprehensive online educator’s tool for success.
- A free trial.
- A low-cost subscription.
- And a proven high value return on your investment.