In our 2019 online instructor survey responses one of the biggest challenges cited by online teachers was the promotion of their online courses to increase sales. Many are left scratching their heads on How To Market An Online Course. In this article, we present 6 very straightforward things Udemy instructors should be doing to promote their online course on Udemy. No fancy click funnel strategies here, just a reminder of some basic but necessary steps to take set the foundation for growing your course sales.  These tips will focus specifically on the Udemy platform, but they can also be applied to marketing other online courses. Here we will teach you how to market your online course.

Importance Of Knowing How To Market Your Online Course

As much as we’d like to believe that our work will speak for itself, marketing is a significant driver of sales. We see evidence of this every day, with companies continually churning out ads and marketing campaigns to maintain relevance. If large companies put this much emphasis on real and digital world marketing gimmicks, despite their established history–how much more an independent online teacher?

Online classes might have been new 20 years ago, but now they are commonly used for personal and professional improvement. It would be best if you stood out from the digital crowd to make course sales since the internet has massive turnover rates. You have to deal with new content, current competitors, and old content that resurfaces now and then. If you try to attract too much attention the wrong way, you fall in with scam, poor quality courses. If you do not attract enough attention, you fade into the background.

When you are making these courses alone, it is easy to overlook these details but eventually understand that it is not sustainable. Fear not! It is never too late to start. It is essential to create a proper marketing strategy for online courses so you can spend less time on sales and more time creating new courses. It is a vital step in becoming a self-sustaining gig.

What Makes A Good Online Course?

Quality Content

Quality content in online platforms are courses that have the right balance between anecdotal examples, multiple angles, and information. A teaching moment is one where you break preconceived notions or present new takes. Having interesting angles in your lessons can also feature in your online course marketing strategy.

Another thing to take note is that you do not get to control who takes your class. Be careful with how you label them to attract the right kind of students for the course. Remember that industry professionals also take these classes, and you can create quality content for their market.

Steady Pacing

No one likes a monotonous lecture, online or offline. Set the pace for your lesson and break down dense sections into manageable parts. Another way you set the right pace, is to mix up your style or include visual elements to keep your class engaged.

Unlike an in-person class, you cannot read the mood and adjust accordingly. The proper pace is all the more critical with pre-recorded content. A one hour lecture delivered in person versus one watched online is very different.

Different Teaching Strategies

Not all of your students are the same. Make use of different teaching strategies in lessons to include everyone. It may be not easy to find the right balance, but having a good mix of audio-visual aids should be able to cover the majority. You can include activities or homework to address tactile learners.

Real-Life Examples

No matter the course, using examples is a great way to create a context that your students can understand. Having one per section can help you clarify the real-world application. You can include opposing or diverse examples to show the range of a topic. It’s a simple way for them to see what you see, and a template for them to look for it on their own.

Space For Self-Learning

Despite the bad rap of homework, it is an essential self-learning activity. It may be tricky to achieve with online classes, but you can always open exercises and activities that they can do on their own. It helps them stay active in the learning process and absorb the material better.

Abundant References

References supplement the self-learning aspect. Your students may not read them, but having them there means if they want to, they can. There will always be someone who wants to learn more. Providing public domain reading can help better their study and create more questions than you can expand in another class.

It is also a great way to set yourself apart from scam/poorly done courses. These courses tend to be redundant, filled with personal opinions, and very little evidence. Use your references to counter this stereotype. It can further foster the trust between you and your students.

Interactive Components

The availability of interactive components depends on your platform, but having an active forum or comment section can do. Similar to the self-learning portion, it helps your students stay engaged. These components can also help you gauge points for improvement. Where do you see a decrease in activity? Why is it so? By answering your diagnostic questions, you can improve your next course.

Proper Use Of Online Learning Platform

There is a learning curve when using online learning platforms, do a proper tutorial or test run to make sure you know how it works. Your course is your space. You have to manage and mediate it. Students are new to navigating the platform as well. It would be best if you could lead them through the course with no problem.

Online learning platforms also have extra features that can help facilitate the learning process. If you underutilize, it would be a waste. Not to mention a disservice for those who want to make full use of the platform.

Clarity Throughout The Material

A common problem students have with online classes is clarity. Static-filled audio, hard-to-read text, and choppy editing can make an exciting course a nightmare to finish. You do not have to get the best equipment to achieve clarity. All you need to do is a little bit of quality control. Don’t rush the process and try to stay consistent while creating your material.

Sense Of Community

Despite being a digital platform, a little bit of human touch, or community goes a long way. You can always link your students to your website or social media to get a better sense of you and your community. It might not do much for the lessons, but it can encourage them to continue as participants in your other online courses.

When you create an excellent online course, you can confidently market it with no problems. Those who initially struggle with creating a marketing strategy for online classes are mostly those who do not feel like the course is worth of attention. But remember you are a one-person show. You cannot spend time doubting the material you create.

When we try to answer, “how to market online classes?” The first, unspoken step is to create a product worthy of attention. A trustworthy product can go farther with minimal effort. You can also depend on word-of-mouth to help give your online course the traction it needs.

What Udemy Wants You to Do to Market Your Online Course

Image result for Udemy instructor statistics
Pay attention to the statistics Udemy tracks.

What you need to do to market your online course on Udemy becomes more obvious when you consider the statistics that Udemy is measuring and reporting to its instructors in their monthly emails. For every instructor, Udemy is measuring monthly and annually things such as: new students, countries, new (or 5 star) reviews, reviews responded to, announcements sent, minutes consumed, a number of questions answered in discussions and new resources created. Udemy is using these statistics to benchmark instructors against each other to determine who is really committed to the Udemy platform. From this data, you can devise strategies on how to market online courses.

Udemy’s goal is to sell paid courses, plain and simple.  So if Udemy is tracking metrics like this, then they are obviously important. So pay attention to what you do about these.  How you perform on these metrics will affect Udemy’s algorithm about how much it promotes you and your courses. This is the first goal when thinking about how to market your online course – get Udemy to market your course. The steps you take to do this will be the first steps you take to your overall marketing plan for your courses.

Market Your Online Course with 6 Basic Steps

1. Set Goals

Setting goals for your online course sales will help you find the motivation to take the necessary steps to market your online course properly over a continued period of time. Setting goals for your online course business can be daunting.  You might wonder, am I good enough to actually make any money selling online courses? How do I get started?  

Well, you must start somewhere, so start with setting achievable goals, one at a time.  Set a simple monthly revenue target for your online course.  Start as low as $50/month or as high as $1000. Set an enrollment goal. Just be realistic so that you don’t get frustrated and demotivated from taking the time and steps necessary to market your online course in a way that achieves your goals. Learning how to market online courses can take a while. Be patient with your goals.

Setting a revenue goal will encourage you to follow up with students, remain focused on marketing your course, work hard and engage with students.   Ultimately you want to reach these goals so that you keep creating online courses to create a snowball effect, continually building and selling excellent courses.

2. Solve a Problem with Your Online Course

It sounds simple enough, but ask yourself, why people will pay to take your course?  They need something. They have a problem and need answers. They want to know more to address some issue they are having.  For example, someone is looking to learn skills that will allow them to launch their own business and leave their current job.  Or they are a terrible cook and want to learn to cook better for their other half. 

Choose a problem or problems to solve. Students are searching for a solution. Then put the problem in your course title. If the problem you are solving is in the title of your course, then when someone is searching for answers, they will find your course in Udemy’s search results.

So, don’t just title your course with its subject matter, i.e. “Vegan cooking”, identify the pain or problem your course solves – like this course which appears in the top Udemy search results “Vegan Cooking – Get Healthy, Burn Fat, Save the Planet”. Choose a short phrase to solve a problem and make sure to include your chosen problem to solve in your subtitle and course description as well.  They must all match. This is one of the more efficient ways on how to market an online course.

Then be sure to identify in plain English (or another language) the key benefits of taking your course (like “Save the Planet”). Address the pain points and explain the benefits of taking the course.  Think – pain, solution, benefits.  Make sure all of these are aptly represented on your course landing page.

Doing this will make it easier for your course to be found in search results and will speak to prospective students, giving them a reason to buy your course. And if helps if your problem can be broken down into several courses.   

3. Identify The Right Keywords and Topic

Keywords are essential for getting organic search results (and hence, sales) on Udemy – or Google.  Udemy search works a lot like Google, so it’s fairly easy to put yourself in the shoes of the person doing the search.  Once you know the problem you are solving, you should choose the best keywords to match it to include in both your title/subtitle and for your choice of Topic.  Choosing your Topic carefully is essential because they have related keywords and are thus critical to course search results. 

On your course landing page, include your chosen keywords in your title, subtitle, course goals (first part of landing page) and course description.  Also include them in your section titles, lecture titles, lecture descriptions and in your personal bio.

How do you choose your Topic? Start by looking at Udemy Insights.  Decide what Topic you are interested in and see what Udemy tells you is a close fit. Then pick the best fit.  Also look at student demand and the number of courses offered in your chosen Topic. Look at the median monthly revenue. Then look at top search keywords for your chosen Topic and note these. Ensure that you include these keywords in all areas of your course.

Also, look at other topics of interest. Look at the full list Udemy suggests. Are any of these other Topics a better fit for your course? Do they have less competition? Note the keywords associated with close Topics as well and include them in your course description, etc.

The Teachinguide App can help you choose keywords

Note: The Teachinguide app can really help with keyword selection and topic choice.  Teachinguide is one of the best support you can get on how to market an online course. The Keyword Analytics feature allows you to filter keywords for both Google and Udemy and provides information on keyword relevance to topics, trends in keywords, traffic and much more. The Topic Finder provides information on competitors and competing courses, a number of students enrolled in courses for your chosen Topic and much more.

4. Focus on Getting Your First 5 Star Reviews


A critical basic element on how to market your online course is through reviews.  Specifically, you will need five 5-star reviews to get a Hot and New badge.  Why does this matter so much to marketing your online course successfully?  Because your course will stay in that category and be promoted more by Udemy for 2-3 months for all to see.  Remember that monthly course revenue goal you set? This is a great way to get started and achieve that.

What do you do to market your online course in a way that gets five 5-star reviews quickly?  Frankly, it’s not rocket science, it just takes focus.  Make a spreadsheet of everyone you know. Reach out to friends and family. Use your email contact list, Facebook, colleagues, Facebook groups and other forums.   You don’t need to throw out a bunch of free coupons. Strangers who use free coupons are highly unlikely to leave a 5-star review or any review at all.

Also, consider pre-launching your course by reaching out to people.  Ask yourself, to whom will your course be of interest? This is the time to use your free coupons to market your course. Make it personal when you reach out to people. Don’t say “I’ll give you my course for free in return for a review.” Rather find people with the problem you are solving, i.e. in a Facebook group, and offer a “complimentary” course.  Then ask them to leave an honest rating and review. Keep track of who you have reached out to, who left a review, what coupon code is, and generally whatever you need to keep the relationship going with someone who has left you a good review. 

Tip:  When you email people asking for reviews, include a direct link to your course review page.  This is not a widely published URL.  But when you encourage reviews in a correct way and provide a direct link, it’s much easier for someone to leave a review.  Here is how you create the review link: Course url/learn/v4/content/reviews/1/

This takes the reader to the first page of your course reviews.

5. Optimize Automated Messages

Remember that you can send an automated message to every student when they enroll and also when they complete a course. Make sure to add this strategy on how to market your online course.  To automate direct messages go into the Communications section of your course dashboard and click on automated messages. Create a welcome message to go out to students when they enroll, and a congratulations message to go out when they complete the course. 

These messages are an opportunity to engage with students and target some of those metrics that Udemy is tracking. Thank them for taking the course.  Offer your help and encouragement and encourage them to contact you with questions.  Prompt them to leave a review and give you feedback.  Encourage them to complete the course by reminding them of the benefits. You might even suggest they tell a friend if they like the course.

6. Follow Up Messaging and Engaging Students

Resist the temptation to make every announcement or communication with students promotional, or to just create your automated messages and call it a day.  Think of marketing your online course through relationship building. Then do what it takes to build those relationships. You want to follow up with those who purchase your course and keep them interested in you. Encourage questions, check-in with progress, provide encouragement and get feedback.  Use the opportunity to appropriately ask for a review and a rating and thank them for taking the time to view and rate your course. This is what any salaried teacher would do, right?

Your approach can be pretty simple and organized.  In your student list on Udemy you can direct message students. You can make your messages to them personally. Wait to message them until a few weeks after they have enrolled (and have received your awesome welcome message). Monitor who you contact and when in a spreadsheet.   You might aim to sit down and do this once or twice a month in batches of students, depending on how many courses and students you have. 

The last way to engage students is through educational announcements.  You can make 4 of these per month, but you don’t have to use them all, maybe just one or two. Again, it depends on how many courses you have. Ideally, you could send out an update once a month with a new or changed lecture. There will always be something new popping up that can change your online course. This gives you an excuse to announce it. You could also announce a blog post, a Youtube video, Facebook group, or anything similar that may be of interest to your student body.  When making these announcements, always mildly prompt for a rating and review.

So that’s it for 6 easy steps to put on your to-do list to market your online course. Sure each of these takes some thought and time, but these small steps will make a big difference on how to market an online course. Before you dole out hundreds of free coupons or engage in massive email marketing, make sure you have these tactics in place.


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