What is Udemy?
Udemy is arguably the largest marketplace for digital courses.
Udemy claims to have 42,000+ courses (although during our data scrape we got 27,859 courses). For the purposes of this experiment we narrowed down the data to only the top 500 most subscribed courses across 14 different categories.
So this data is based on 7,000 of the top courses on Udemy.
If you would like to download all the data in a spreadsheet, download the entire data set here.
What we’re hoping to learn from the data:
It’s now 2017 and it’s helpful to take inventory of what’s popular in the world.
So we’re trying to correlate what information being sold is very popular, and what is not.
If you’re a greedy little monkey like I am, you will use this data to show you where the money is flowing (and grab some of it) ;-)
For example, we can quickly tell from the data that “Business” is by a HUGE margin the top selling category for Udemy, and that “Test Preparation” is the worst.
This means if I were going to sell a digital course online, I would much rather sell one in “business” if money were my primary motivator.
We are not doing revenue estimations because it’s bullshit:
Frankly, the numbers would be total bullshit if we were to estimate revenue of each course.
There are courses listed at $90 with 10,000+ students that haven’t earned a single dollar.
For example, this Photoshop Training Course sells for $20 and has 123,573 customers. This should be a simple calculation: $20 X 123,573 = $2,471,460 profit.
But there’s two main reasons you cannot do that:
1.) Udemy counts free users as “students.” They heavily encourage instructors to beef their numbers with free students.
2.) Udemy is nearly perpetually running “sales” on courses. On the Udemy email list they constantly send coupons to get a $200 course for only $10 or even free. So that $200 pricing is more a facade. Just look at a lot of the reviews on expensive courses and you’ll see many “This was worth it for the $10 price I paid” comments.
These two things skew the numbers so far beyond “plausible” that I cannot rightly include profit estimations.
Udemy’s blog and instructor group constantly encourages instructors to “give away free coupons to new users” so instructors can bolster their numbers (and more important for Udemy: Grow Udemy’s own subscriber base). Just look at these snippets from Udemy’s blog on how instructors can give away their courses for free:
The Good Parts about Udemy:
Here’s some of the good stuff you can do with Udemy:
Good Thing #1: It’s super easy for non-technies to use for non-techie people who want to create an online course without worry about hosting, payment procession etc.
Good Thing #2: You can use Udemy as a lead generation tool. Do you have a website that teaches Ruby on Rails? If you want some more exposure, you could consider creating a “light” version of your course to give out for free on Udemy.
An interesting side note is that Devry University has one of the top Free courses on Udemy. This means people find the course Udemy, subsribe to it for free, watch it, then maybe get interested in something else from Devry. It costs Devry $0 extra to market the course, and then can possibly get huge returns from it.
Good Thing #3: Udemy has a great backend course management system. As someone who sells a lot of digital products myself, I can tell you most courses systems suck balls. However Udemy really has done a pretty astounding job at course management. From their video uploader, to their quizzes, to the course structuring, all around I think they have the absolute best backend product.
Good Thing #4: Buying Udemy courses for technical skills is great. I’ve bought a few courses like design and development, and also a lot of free courses. I learned some helpful things through each course….although some are complete garbage, I often pickup at least ONE little skill I can carry forward.
Bad Parts of Udemy:
Bad Thing #1: As with any marketplace, 80% of the stuff sucks.
Bad Thing #2: If you’re an instructor, your prices are largely determined by Udemy. There’s a really wonky structure they have in place. You could have a $30 course, make 10 sales, and possibly only get $5 in payout if the students came from within the Udemy system. Only new-to-Udemy students you bring in yourself actually get a full payout (minus fees).
Bad Thing #3: You get limited customer access. You don’t get the customers email, although you can message people through the Udemy system.
Bad Thing #4: I’ve seen a lot of copying of courses. Udemy doesn’t have advanced video recognition on all uploads, so often times you’ll see a popular course duplicated with a different name.
Bad Thing #5: The vasssstttt majority of people who buy Udemy courses don’t do a damn thing with them. To be fair this is consistent with a lot of other online courses outside of Udemy.
Bad Thing #6: People on Udemy are often very price sensitive. Since the platform encourages very cheap courses, anything over the $100 range tends to get a lot of scrutiny and sky high expectations. It seems impossible to sell expensive courses in a land of $10 coupons.
Top 20 Performing Udemy Courses:
Here’s a listing of the top 20 courses on Udemy as ranked by the number of students enrolled. 13 of these are free courses, and 7 are paid courses.
Top Performing Categories:
Udemy has 14 main categories of courses. Below you can see the number of students enrolled in each category based on our downloaded data:
|Category Name||Number of courses||Average Course Price||Number of Students||Number of Reviews|
|IT & Software||2,483||$61.92||4,124,895||22,6241|
|Health & Fitness||1,937||$50.67||1,482,434||32,864|
As you can see the top performing category is “Business” followed by “Personal Development.”
From this graph you could summize that more people use Udemy for business skills rather than things like Test Preparation or Music instructions.
Top 20 Free Udemy Courses:
The top course on Udemy is a “Course About How To Make A Udemy Course”, but after that are courses on Photography, Guitar, then lots of technical skills.
Top 20 Paid Udemy Courses:
Be wary of trying to multiply the [Price] and [Students Enrolled] to get a profit, as the “Students Enrolled” number is always inflated with massive numbers of free students or deep discounts. Also just because a course brings in $50 per student, doesn’t mean the instructor gets paid that amount. The instructor can get 97% of the sale, down to 25% of the sale:
–Organic Udemy Sales: Instructor gets 50% of the sale after credit card processing (3%).
–Instructor Sales: If an instructor uses his or her coupons for a sale they get 97% of the sale.
–Paid Marketing by Udemy / Affiliate Sales: 50% for affiliate, 25% for Udemy, 25% for the instructor.
Some of the top instructors on Udemy can get paid between $10,000 and $55,000 per month, but that is representative of only about 0.5% of the instructors.
Common Course Pricing:
There’s no ideal pricing model formula for the Udemy marketplace, so we’ll just analyze what the most common prices are across every course in the main dataset (40,000+ entries):
As you can see, the $20 price is by far the most common on Udemy:
|Price Range||Number of Courses|
Findings From The Data:
I’ll just summarize this whole post into a bunch of bullet points for the lazy people in the crowd ;)
- Udemy is ‘good’ for non-techies trying to build their first course.
- Udemy is ‘good’ buying cheap courses.
- Udemy is ‘medium’ in terms of quality of courses.
- Udemy is ‘medium’ for generating extra leads for your website/course.
- Udemy is ‘bad’ for trying to build a longterm business.
- Udemy is ‘bad’ for high-priced items as the super-high-end courses are only about $200.
- Most courses on Udemy are priced at $20 (8,439 courses to be exact).
- The category with the most courses is Business.
- The most popular type of course overall seems to be technical skills (certifications, Photoshop, Amazon AWS etc).
- Basic and straightforward names like “Photoshop Photography Course” seem to work best on Udemy.
Hopefully this data scrape and analysis helps you better understand which courses you have the best chance of success with.
Hope you learned something!
Neville Medhora – KopywritingKourse
Download and keep all the data:
Download the entire data set (42,000 courses narrowed down to the Top 500 of each category):
–Excel format and Google Spreadsheet format available–
–Get sent a downloadable spreadsheet of all the Udemy data–
–Contains Top 500 courses from the 14 course categories (7,000 entries total)–