ep3: Dennis Smith writing the daily life of a Udemy instructor and more

Dennis, a social media expert and marketing author took his skills on Udemy to create course and to market them. Learn how he has created automated systems that bring in monthly profit on autopilot


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Yohann (Y): Today I have an amazing guest. His name is Dennis Smith. Hi Dennis, how are you?

Dennis Smith (D): I’m good. How are you doing, Yohann?

Y: I’m doing great, it’s nice to have you on the show. Now, I don’t know if you guys have not heard about Dennis Smith. He’s everywhere helping everyone. He’s on Facebook; on the Udemy studio, all the time, answering questions and helping people out. So if you have never heard of him, you definitely are not hanging out at the right places.

So, Dennis, before we get started, can you tell us a little bit of your background, who you are and how you ended up starting doing all this online teaching stuff?

D: Sure, I can do that. It might take the entire show (laughter), but I can certainly do that. I basically I live in Idaho, and when I was younger I spent some time living in Seattle. I used to work in retail, retail management and I’d been around high tech stuff pretty much all my life, my mom used to work for Hewlett-Packard, even I have worked for Hewlett-Packard myself. And, I have always had an interest in technology and of course with my customer service background and interest of helping people, and when the down turn in 2000 happened, I ended up moving back to Idaho, and it seemed like most of the jobs; because I didn’t have a college degree, even though I had taken some college classes; were call center jobs. But still, you know, something where I was helping people and all that, and around that time is when Facebook had first started appearing, you know, and I had been on Facebook since like 1997, I believe so. Its been..

Y: Was it? ON Facebook!! You said on Facebook?

D: Been on. What year is it? 2007! Oh my God!


D: Facebook was in around in 1997!! So, anyway, I started on Facebook, and you know, some of my friends started joining, and I would help them out with questions that they had

Y: Then?

D: And I decided to write a book on social media, so I wrote a book on how to promote your business or cause using social media and started selling it. So that was my first time selling a digital product online. And so, I did that, and I did a couple of additions on that because we know that with digital products like that, and social media especially, it is always changing. So, I continued to write new revisions from that. But I wasn’t really making like a lot of money from that and I had in the meantime, I had lost my job, the economy started going bad, moved in with my parents, and so started thinking about ways that I could make an income and so, fast forward to 2014 on Udemy, I found Udemy in 2014, and say, hey!! If I can write a book, I guess I could do courses too and I actually had a course already created and came across Udemy through a friend of mine who is from Idaho, but she is a digital nomad, her and her husband travel and she had a twitter course, and that’s how I came across Udemy. So, started putting my courses up there, and here I am today.

Y: Ok, so, if I understand, um, did you have any experience with video and you know,  and recording yourself live, or no, because you know, it’s not easy to just start on Udemy and not having done that before and just you know, be able to put something there. So, tell me a little bit more about how you ended up creating those courses.

D: I actually had stuff on YouTube. Because I like to, I’ve had a smart phone for quite a while. Took a trip to Florida several years ago, and had my smart phone. It was like a Motorola droid and stuff like that. And so, you know, with Facebook I’ve always had an interest to sharing what I was doing. So I would upload those videos to Facebook. Matter of fact, last night on one of the groups that I belong to I shared one of my first videos, which was a spill way at a dam here in Idaho that was a few seconds long, and a lot of people have viewed that video on you tube. So, I also had started doing some ads and stuff so I was making some, a little bit of money from those videos. So, you know I started thinking things like, well, if I only have ‘x’ amount of videos, and I am making this much money, then hypothetically speaking, if I doubled the videos, then the income should double too.

So, I had already been doing some of that, shooting some ‘how to’ videos, to share out on Facebook, to show my friends how to do something, because it’s always interesting that on Facebook, you know one of my pet peeves was somebody in the Udemy studio to follow something, discussion, they type in the word “following” and I’m like, You don’t have to do that. You just go to the upper right hand corner of the discussion, click on the arrow and,you can get notifications. You can turn them on. So I would do the things like film a video on how to do something like that for my friends or people who were following me on YouTube. So, I already had some experience with recording videos and doing screen captures of things like that which you are definitely going to need when you are doing Udemy including like doing things like talking heads, which, I am not necessarily a huge fan, of the talking heads, because there’s always been that discussion of like, you know, talking heads; students like that kind of stuff and I’m like, if you’ve seen me once, you’ve seen me enough, you know?? (Laughter)

Y: Ya, right, exactly. It’s not bringing you value to see your face on the screen you know, it might take even the focus away from what you are trying to show. 

D: Exactly. Unless you are doing some kind of discussion or something like that, you don’t have to show step by step.

Y: Right, you are showing stuff online, like may be its slides or doing a screen cast of something that you are doing, right, like on your computer. So definitely, having your head doesn’t bring much value there.

D: Ya, ya. So that’s kind of like, you know I started doing that stuff and kind of transpired into what I am doing on Udemy now.

Y: Ya, but you know, you also have to think that at the end of the day, we are all just humans and we are genetically programmed to look for a face, you know. Like to look for these two eyes and mouth and, that is what our eyes are looking for and I guess we are more drawn or pay more attention to the screen because the screen has your face somewhere in the corner. I know, it is just the way it is, but you got to do what you go to do. Udemy said it themselves, ya, they have seen the difference in numbers and user engagement whenever you put just, usual, I guess we say blob head? Is that how we say it? 

D: Ya. You know, what is interesting too is that, this reminds me of a review that I got a couple of days ago, because I reviews in general are usually 4 and 5 star.

Y: Ok

D: And I got a 2 star review from somebody. And it was in a different language, so, I transcribed it with Google, and it basically was saying that the instructor doesn’t show their face in the video and I’m like, Seriously!! It’s like, I mean for me, it’s like, when you give a review, you are giving a review on the quality of the material on the presentation and not because you didn’t seen the instructor. I mean.

Y: Ya. You want to judge the content, not the person or something that’s, that has nothing to do with the course itself.

D: Ya, so I thought that, and I was just like, you know, because sometimes like, some instructors like, and I have before in the past, whenI had a one star review, just asked them, like you know, did you mean to do that, because there have been situations before in the past where somebody accidentally clicked on the wrong star. And, so, I just basically say hey, thanks for, you know, leaving a review. I noticed you left me a one star, um, you know, did you mean to do that? Or, like, is there something in the course that I can improve? You know, if you can take the time to give the feedback I certainly would appreciate it. 

But in this situation with that, I have to say sometimes you have to just move on and just, you, know, think about, like, just  use that, like as a recommendation because there is a course that I released that I totally forgot to do talking heads in the course. I was too rushed to get it done.

Y:Ya. Plus it’s not like everyone can have a talking head in the sense that, if you see on Udemy studio, some people are recording literally in their bathroom or in their garage right? And, it’s not something you might want to show on your, you know, on your videos. And the reason why people are doing this is that they are trying to find a spot in their houses that’s away from their family, their screaming kids or the cars outside.

D: Ya…

Y: So, you have to understand that. People are here to you know… Not everyone has a million dollar recording studio in their own house right? (Laughter).

D: Ya, that’s so funny because where I’m at right now, I’m in my bedroom which is near a road and it’s not that noisy right now. In the night, at night it’s pretty quiet, but I live with family. My parents live in Arizona during the winter months here. So it’s just me. So now is the time to think about doing some recording. But, you know, what’s interesting is that a town nearby, actually Boise which is the largest city in Idaho has a new building development that has like, a recording studio that anybody in this area can use. So I thought that was kind of cool…You know.

Y: Yes, that’s actually great. I wish Udemy would do something like this for at least you know, their,you know top 30% producers, because, it is a big deal. It does make a big difference.

D: Ya it does, yep

Y: And may be have somebody professionally helping you there. Now, I do also teach on Linda, and we don’t do anything at home. It’s all in-house there. Um, it’s, you know, it’s a different level of production, obviously. But, let’s talk about reviews. We did bring up something great about reviews. It’s that, just wanted to throw it out there. Someday one of my courses just got a one star review with no explanation. And you know how it is, the problem with Udemy; but it’s not just Udemy; it’s mostly how the whole system online, is that reviews are extremely important in a sense that if you have a 100 five star reviews, life is good. As soon as you have one or two one star review, it can totally break your product or your service or your business. I’m not kidding guys. People are actually looking for these 1 star reviews. And I’m like this myself. You know, I’m like too you know as long as everybody says everything is ok and good, 4-5 stars is ok. But people are looking for those 1 star reviews and I personally took it  personal when I had this 1 star review and  I went to look at what the person said there was nothing, no explanation. So I look for that guy, and guess what? There’s this problem with Udemy is that this guy asked for refund and you cannot even message the person and you cannot even see the progress in your course. So I didn’t know if the person actually even took any lectures in my course. .

So I didn’t even know, he was…maybe, if he actually, you know, watched my course, know what happened there. And I didn’t know anything that happened and this person leaves, but the one star review stays. That makes no sense. It has no values to me

D: Ya, I just move on with that kind of stuff, because with my book it’s the same thing on amazon you know, 

Y: Right, exactly.

D: Like I have 5 star reviews, I have may be a couple of 2 star reviews or whatever. But if somebody is like me, when I go and I but a product online, like Amazon, I look at the one stars or I kind of look at the middle and stuff like that, and if there’s may be few one stars but there are more 4 and 5 stars, then I know it’s more that individual that left the review has issues and it’s not like the product in general. So you kind of have to take some of those with a grain of salt. If there is more 4 and 5 star reviews then it’s usually the reviewer that has just may be a bad day or something like that.

Y: yes. On top of that, some students are asking so much out of your course

D: Hmm

Y: You know, like they get the course for may be like 10$ and if you make 2 dollars out of the course, out of that person, that’s, you know, that’s pretty much how it is. You know, people don’t understand this. They think that when they give you, they pay the course, but if your course is at $100, they think that you are getting a 100$. No that’s literally not true. When a student comes in the course, um, most of the time there is going to be a promotion running and it’s up to  you if you want to run promotion or not but if you  don’t run promotions, you know that  there’s not gonna be anyone coming in your course. You know. May be one person a course if you are lucky. So you have to be in the Udemy promotional system. And, you definitely want to be there. However, you have to understand that. When there is a sale, Udemy takes at least 50% and if it’s with an affiliate, you only get 30% out of it. So, sometimes, you may end up with your course that says 99$ that sells for 10$ and you make $1.25 out of this. Some, you know, some numbers you may see that some courses have five thousand people in it and you’ll be like. Oh! This instructor is making a killing on Udemy. But it’s actually not true. And many many times you sell out free coupons. So, I wanted to say that, I kind of forgot my train of thoughts now (laughter), but, what I mean by that is that the whole system you know, reviews are very important to be able to get more people in and people are expecting, some students are expecting too much from these courses. We cannot give so much values in a course you know. Like, you can’t expect us to put all our knowledge in one course you know? We have to break it down to multiple courses to have different streams of revenues. May be you can make a dollar or two out  per student for one course and may be another course and so on, right out of the students. How do you do that? Do you have like one big course and then a few small courses? How do you split your courses, coz, from my understanding you have seven courses as of hmm…Early 2016, right?

D: Ya. You know what, I don’t specifically just focus on Udemy. Because I have a lot of other things going on, like, with writing a book too, and we will probably talk about this later on in the conversation. I have several websites that I work with in the Udemy affiliate marketing. So I work with Udemy instructors. Plus offering gigs on Fiverr. So that’s one of the things that I always say when I talk to people about Udemy is that you can rely on just Udemy alone and there are other platforms that are out there. So I’ve got 7 courses. I don’t necessarily have a flagship course or anything like that. I just kind of teach what I enjoy, what I am passionate about. So over the years, you know, we were talking earlier about Facebook and social media. Well, then  I got into email marketing and WordPress which I have an extensive background in WordPress and developing websites and I don’t specifically have a course on developing WordPress websites because there is a lot of courses out there in Udemy . So I kind of try to find stud that not a lot of people are teaching and take it and teach it differently. So, you know, a lot of courses on WordPress. How to set it up. But what about marketing with WordPress. You know, using it to build your following by email marketing and putting your courses on there, or offering coaching services. So, it’s many different things that I do that revolve around Udemy.

D: Oh… I was like finishing my thought. I was like, it was like very quiet and we are losing connection again?

Y: No. we are still here.

D: I was just waiting for you.

Y: OK. Now what I’d like to ask you is that you brought up something very interesting and I want people to understand that Udemy is great and definitely 2016 will be even better if you have courses on Udemy. Definitely they are bringing so many people and it is going international, global. You know, they are bringing people from all over the world and they are really pushing that. But, like you said, don’t put all your eggs in the same basket type of thing right? And that’s what you are saying is like, Udemy will be one great stream of revenue. But this is the21st century. It’s not like you have a brick and mortar business where you have your mom and pop shop and that’s all you need to survive. Nowadays, if you want to be online, then you have to be everywhere the same time. I don’t like to sayI want to be everywhere because let’s be honest. It is very hard for one person to be everywhere, it’s almost impossible. Its, its, it will take a toll on you. You will suffer from it. One way or another, your family will suffer from it.Something will. Something has to give. But like. Like you said Dennis, you are also on different channels such as Fiverr and you have some affiliate programs. Can you tell us a little about your affiliate program, like how do you do affiliates with Udemy or other instructor courses? How do you set this up?

D: Well, I mean I’ve been on Udemy since July of 2014. so, one of the first things that I did  was , I noticed that in the Udemy studio , that instructors were asking like, my course is published, what do I do next. And we haven’t realize that a lot of the people coming into Udemy are people who are you, know, some of them are already teachers. That’s what they do for a living. And so, they have discovered Udemy and so they want to put a course out in their area of expertise.

Y: Right. That makes sense. Because, they are already teaching that. So why not put it on videos, and try to create revenue stream out of this right?

D: Ya, and they are not experts in marketing. So, one of the first things that I did was, started doing some research and found some of these places that allow instructors to post  coupons, because Udemy allows you to discount your course accordingly if that’s what you want to do. And so, I came up with a list of sites that were available for instructors to do that.Well, then I started  thinking because, well I have been doing some affiliate marketing  stuff before, but nothing  that really brought in substantial income. So, I started thinking about, well, if these people have coupon sites out there, then why not me? And so, I created www.onlinecoursecoupons.com over a year ago. And started, you know, because I build relationships with instructors, started having them submit their coupons for the  courses to the website, and signed  up for the affiliate program which is done through link share and started generating  income  by promoting  other Udemy courses. And there is a lot of instructors out there who do that. And then, you know, about a year later I started thinking, well, hey, I have a kindle book, and I see people out there doing Kindle promotions for a dollar. So I came up with the idea of onebuckcoursecoupons.com. Eh? onebuckcoupons.com?

Y: Ya

D: Anyway

Y: Make sure we have it right. onebuckcoupons.com?

D: Ya,  No sorry. onebuckcourses.com.

Y: Ya, that makes sense.

D: Ya, it’s so early here and I had one cup of coffee.

Y: I like the name, because it’s not, you know, it’s not like bound to just Udemy. It could be on like, any other platforms. I like that.

D: Ya, you really , you can’t really use Udemy anyway, we know that’s not something that somebody could technically do, but anyway, So, I started doing that and it’s grown to almost 600 courses that are  listing. Now, the biggest challenge for me, you know you were saying, you know as an individual there is only so much that you can do and you can use tools to manage your time or manage your social media and stuff like that. But as far as the website goes, you know, I can submit the coupons and stuff like that, but as far as keeping the site where the coupons aren’t expired, because we know that the coupons can expire.

Y:Absolutely yes.

D: That’s just one of the biggest challenges that I have is going back to get rid of those. But I can go to websites live Fiverr or whatever and hire somebody to do that for me which is, you know what I am going to be doing next. But there’s, I have a list of like things that I need to do and I just kind of you know, check them off as I go.

Y: Ok, yes definitely delegating task. You bring up a good point. I like to talk about delegating things. Now, I’m not thinking about having you hire somebody full time to help you out. But, like you said, Fiverr is a great way to delegate some task. Something that you can get for 5 or 10$ and it might take couple of hours of their time, and help you do something that. You wouldn’t need your skills to do that. Now have you ever thought about hiring a virtual assistant? Or, have you ever hired someone to help you in anyway?

D: NO, You know what, I haven’t at this point, and the thought of a virtual assistant always crosses my mind. But then, the problem with like a virtual assistant is that you either have to have cross a threshold where the income allows you to hire somebody to do that or if by doing that is going to be what is going to help you generate even more income. So I am still thinking about that. Like  how I want to do that because, you know, sometimes like, you know, like with Fiverr, or something like that, it is specifically sad  to pay somebody 5$ or may be a little bit more. But I am also guilty sometimes paying somebody that because I am a firm believer in livable wages, especially like, here in our country. You know, I don’t feel like that Americans make enough to survive and so myself as a business person, if I am going to hire somebody, I want to make  sure that I am compensating them fairly for their  time . So I’m just trying to figure out how I am going to do that.

Y:  Ya, I understand your point. Definitely so, you have to find like this balance where you feel comfortable and know that it’s not going to affect your business. You cannot obviously hire someone for 20, 30, 50$ an hour. Definitely you won’t make any money with your business. And that won’t help on the long term because if you cannot make a living yourself, then you are not going to be able to hire anyone. So you need to find this, you know, right balance in the middle where everyone is happy. Now, the reason why I am bringing this up is that   I talk to other instructors and majority of the people are in the same boat in the sense that everyone wished that they could have somebody to help them. But majority of time they are not in that position where they will want to hire somebody full time or may be part time. So, I thought, I’ve already , I do  have a virtual assistant myself part  time that I use for Udemy. And for all other things as well, you know, like email marketing and things like that. Now I did talk to other instructors and I said that I would share this virtual assistant. But, I still have yet to do it. However, the way I have it said is that, every time I do a task, I don’t just write it down. I actually create a video lecture out of it and I have it on my website you can already check if you have this tasks on www.iOSonlineCourses.com/delegate-tasks . You can take a look. there’s a few of them that I posted there, where sometimes you can get virtual assistants somewhere, and you can tell them “Ok, You  listen, go ahead and do this task and this url, do it for this specific course and do  it for the next five days or so. Something like that. Because, one thing with Fiverr or some other businesses, you know, some of the online places where you can, is where you can actually get virtual assistant. It’s that they might not know what you want exactly. You know, they might be used to doing Facebook marketing or twitter marketing or you know like, may be an email campaign or things like that. But what we will train to achieve is that especially with Udemy is something very specific, you know, like may be like going in a course, adding some discussion in a course, creating an educational announcement or promotional announcement for you. You know, so it’s not something that people, and if your virtual assistant already knows from scratch, it’s something that you’ve to teach them how to do. So that was one of my main problem, and I know that other instructors are in the same problems.  You know, they are like, do I have to go through the whole process of hiring someone and then teaching them everything that has to go around my business. And all these things. 

D: It’s also like trust too, because you know, it’s like, for my affiliate marketing stuff, I’ve been talking to another instructor who a friend of mine, and you know you were mentioning like, some videos and I thought, well, maybe I could create the video and show them the process of how I take a link and  turn it into a nice looking link and then plug it in here, say if it is that type of stuff. So that way it will be fairly easy for them to learn the task you know, that I want them to do. But then I also have to give them login information. Now with link share, I can give them a specific type of login 

Y: Exactly, yes. 

 They can be something like your employee where they have only a specific, they can only access a specific area of your affiliate dashboard.

D: Ya, my website. Same thing with WordPress. You know you can do that, but I just you know, I just don’t want to give too much access to some of that stuff until you really know that individual because it’s dealing,you know, sometimes it could affect financial stuff. And you don’t want that to happen. So you just have to I guess may be overly cautious. But just cautious.

Y: Yes. And definitely, especially if you are trying to, if you need to share your credentials on Udemy to be able to send promotional announcement or anything like that. You know, people have access to you know, all your financial data and you know, accounts and things like that and definitely trust is one of the main issues and you’re not the first one to bring this up. So, definitely, that is one of our pain points. And I wish  that Udemy would understand that and understand that now people have been teaching on Udemy for 2,3,4 years now and they are at a point where they cannot produce content  and do the, all the editing that goes around  pushing content. The marketing and business side of things. And that people need to delegate tasks. But we need a system to be able to do that. But you know, it’s a system that needs to be on Udemy itself, not, you know some kind of like back offices for Udemy instructors.

D: Ya, you have mentioned like doing announcements and stuff like that for you. You know,  if it’s something like that, somebody doesn’t necessarily need access to your Udemy account because  you can have them create the announcement as a Google doc. and then when they are done, you can just take that and copy and paste that. You know,

Y:Ya, definitely. I thought about that. But now, that means that you have to go there and do it yourself. So it’s not completely automated or hands off type of thing.

D: No, but it doesn’t take that long.

Y: Definitely. That’s right.  It will only take all of 2 or 3 minutes time to you know,  copy and paste it in the promotional  announcement. Definitely. That was just one example, I would have others. But definitely, as you said, trust is definitely an issue. Now, question. Since you know so many instructors, have you done anything like co-authoring, co-instructors type of thing where you would create your course with someone else?

D: You know what? I haven’t at this point because with something like that I would, again  it goes back to , not necessarily trust, but if I am going to do a course with another instructor I want them to be honest in level as I am with the  topics that we are teaching. Because I see a lot of instructors who will teach a course with anther instructor. And they have no clue about the topic that they are really teaching. They are basically just putting their name on there. And I personally have abig problem with that, that I don’t think say Udemy should allow instructors to co-instruct andjust put a name on a course. Because, I have seen that happen, where somebody, all they do is basically do an intro to the course and they are nowhere else to be found in the course. For me a true co-instruction course would be somebody like you and I like maybe I would teach the first two lectures, and then we go back to you teaching the next two and then back to me and we both equally kind of know the topic that we are teaching but may be your strengths are a little bit different in certain areas of that topic than my strength. I haven’t found something like that yet. That’s the only way that I personally would do a co-instruction course, if it were done that way.

Y: Ok I see. Ya definitely. And I know exactly what you are talking about. I’ve seen that and that reminds me of what I’ve seen once in a course. It was this person that was, just like what you said. At the beginning he was doing the teaching you know, little bit and then next thing you know, he is like he sent up to some podcast that he did with some other guy and you know, it is like, it’s not even new content, it’s like some content that was already there on the net just for this course and just fills up one or two hours of the content. And you know, when I saw that, I felt played. You know, I felt like, definitely I felt why did you do any course if it I is to bring some free content that’s like already online. That you already have on the websites. Things like that. That’s how I felt.

 D: Ya. Imagine how somebody who is not a Udemy instructor would feel. I just don’t think that that’s a good experience for Udemy students.

Y: Ya, definitely. So Instructors there, please, if you want people to be fair to you, be fair to them. You know, provide them really exclusive content. Something that, you know, think out of the box, especially online as you may. As you may knowI am also an instructor, part time instructor in a college here in Miami.

D: Oo!

Y: Yes. And I did that before Udemy itself. And what I wanted to say is that there’s something great about online teaching, especially on platforms like Udemy is that you can do things you cannot do or cannot teach in any academic institution. For example, I am teaching unity programming, which is all like making games using some kind of an engine. And I can do some really fun activities, like reproducing some scene from a movie or video or song. And do it with video games. Something that you would not be able to do on, you know at school. It needs to be more academic. It needs to be more to do with books. All these new things you can do. It could be a lot closer to the students. Something that you cannot do in a real college or university out there. So, I believe that many people are not using this in their favor. You know, they have to understand. Before even creating a course they have to understand, this is an online platform. It’s not an accredited college or university. They have to understand that. That what people are looking for. That’s what people are looking for. They are looking for college courses, they will go and take it in a college, you know. And here, it needs to have different flavor and different feeling to it. What do you think about that?

 D: Ya, I mean, those are two different, are different teaching environments. So I’ve tried like in front of, how many people? 30 people.

Y: Ok, full classroom, ok

D: Ya, So, and I have you know spoken in front of people and stuff like that. So I just think that you know, I just think the platforms are different so just teach accordingly.

Y: Now I am going to go into something completely different. It’s just that I’ve seen that you have free courses and paid courses and paid courses. Is there any reason behind that or is it because your free course you know is too small. Now enough content to make it free or is it a way to hook people in…   What is your reason behind your free vs. paid courses?

D: Well it used to be that you could hook people in with free courses with Udemy because you could, after so long you could take a free course and you could switch it to pay. But with a free course you cannot cross promote to those students in the free courses anymore. And if you do switch it to paid and then decide to switch it back to free. Udemy basically now warns instructors that they would use the ability to send out promotional announcements and I can see the reason why for that. But with one of those courses, it’s my Udemy course marketing. I just decided that to take one of my  full blown courses and take out some of the content and give a free  version to offer people the option to take a starter course, you know, for lack of better words. And be able to use that to learn some stuff about marketing their courses on Udemy. But I can’t send any messages to them and say  hey, if you like this course, by the way, I  have got this course here that’s got 50 ways  for you to market your course and its only ‘X’ amount of $ for you right now since you are a student of my free course. I can’t do that. But I could still market that course in different places, and if somebody happen to take that starter course and liked it they see that other course offered for let’s say 9$, then there is a chance that they would enroll in that course. Now you can use the bonus lecture, which if you are listening to this and are not familiar with it just put in Udemy bonus lecture into Google and it will bring up their policy on that. And the bonus lecture pretty much just allows you to put pretty much what you want including coupons to your other courses, or maybe even a link to your website so that you can build your mailing list, or you know, like I said. Say if you like the starter course, I have this course here that gives you 50 more ways. So you can do that in the bonus lecture.

Y: Ok, so are you doing that, from the free course to your paid course?

D:You know, it’s one of my things, I can’t remember off the top of my head because I put bonus lectures in there, and I’m pretty sure without one that I have. But I want  to go back and do it a little differently because over the last  few weeks I have learnt some stuff that other instructors have been doing and so I am  going to go back and redo those and clean them up a little bit. One of the things that some instructors do is take a screen shot. They go to Udemy.com and go to the course page in incognito mode, because you know, you are going to already be subscribed to your course. So, you are not going to see the landing page that a student might see.

Y: Ya, it will be different. As a teacher you are going to see a different landing page than as student definitely. Especially if you are a student that’s already registered to the course is gonna be different than if you are not registered. That’s right.

D:Ya. There are ways you can view that. You can go in and there’s like a toggle. You can view it like they would view it. But I  just go in incognito and then I use something like Tech Smith and Snagit and then you can do a screen shot showing the price discounted to 9$ and then use that  in your bonus lecture to put some visuals in that. Some of the instructors use that in their announcements that they are doing, the promotional announcements because it is a little more effective to use a little bit visuals rather than just all text. Sometimes people say that all text works, but I think you need to mix it with just a little bit of the right visuals.

Y: Ya I see what you mean, and definitely I want to try that out for a few, maybe one or two of my courses. That makes sense. We are visual people and there is nothing better than actually showing what people  have to you know, like, you know, hey its only 5$ instead of a 100$ by taking this coupon code. And definitely having it on the screen helps a lot than just saying it. Absolutely.

D:Ya..Ya ya ya sure.

Y: And that’s something you would put in a bonus lecture, definitely.

D: That’s correct ya.

Y: Yes, I still wonder. I had a course that was for free and I am planning on doing a course for free, you know like a smaller type of course. But I’m trying to figure out what is the value that I would get as an instructor by putting the course for free. You know, like besides that bonus lecture where I could just pitch my other courses.

D: Well, they are getting to know you too. You have to remember that there are a couple of things that people are getting to know who you are as an instructor so, a free course would give them the ability to sample what your teaching style is. You Know.

Y: Right, get more familiar with you.

D: how you present yourself. The other thing is that, I like I totally like forgot my other thought with that. O, your scores improve. Because you are adding students. Right now I have over 16000 students. So when somebody goes  to my course, my paid courses and they are looking at that , that’s pretty powerful if I put that in the landing page that over 16000 students are learning from me, and so that might get somebody to say, you know what,I will take this course.

Y: Ya absolutely, I see your point. If you see 16000 students and then on the other instructor you only see 10 students then yes. Then definitely it makes, it’s a no brainer. You are going to the one that has so many students, because you know, 10000 students can’t be wrong right?

D: Ya and it doesn’t matter if it’s, if they are taking, you know X% of that is taking the course for free. That person isn’t going to know that. All they are going to know is that 16000 total students are taking classes from me, or that  particular course they are looking at has 2000, 3000 or whatever. Because if they are going in and doing a search on Udemy.com, for WordPress marketing and they see my course vs. another course that has 5 reviews, and may be 150 students, vs. 23 and 2000 and the  price is close to the same, they are going to pick the one with more students and  more reviews. That’s just how it is.

Y: Ya, definitely, what you are saying is that,if especially in your area of virtual teaching, you know there is lots of competition here so, if somehow you have a course that is very similar to someone else’s courses, and you just happen to have more students or more social values than the other instructor, then people would tend to go get your course than the competitors course. 

D: Ya sure. Combined with the landing page and the video, if you have got all of those, you know, everything is firing in all cylinders, then you’ve got a better chance of somebody enrolling in your course and that’s just the same thing with anything. with like, Amazon,  when I go and I search Amazon, and I am looking at specific products, I am looking at several things to see what other people are saying , looking at pictures of the product, you know, and making my decision based on that.

Y: Ya definitely. Now I want to go into a different subject. Because I got you here mostly to talk about what you have been working on, what you are actually working on right now. So, you are an author, and let’s get more into it. So what have you been doing? What is the name of that book that you are working on, and what is it all about?

D: My book that I am working on right now?

Y: yes

D: So, I came up with  an idea because when you look at like what  people are doing in the studio, people are commenting about, you know, where they have had a milestone with Udemy  with income or with students. I took a couple of trips last year. I live in the pacific North West. So I went  to Crater Lake, I went to the Coast, I went to Seattle  to visit some friends, I explored places that  I have never been and that’s all because of the income that I’ve been earning on Udemy, which isn’t like an extremely large number at this point,  but it has potential  because I know people who are earning really good income on Udemy and  that’s something that I want to remind people is that  it’s different for everyone  because we are all teaching different types of courses.  My topics are totally different from some of the coding courses out of which somebody might be making a lot of money because that’s a very popular topic. But not a topic that I have a lot of knowledge in. So I decided to write a book called Udemy Life and I have  interviewed instructors,  some of the top instructors that are out there and some instructors that are still may be struggling, or not making as much income, but  still have a story to tell. So I’ve  been working on that the last several months and hopefully we will have that out by February as well as the video interviews for people to see that kind of stuff and see what it is like to teach on Udemy. The whole experience. Kind of what we are taking about right now. I mean, we are talking about my experience,  but I, as a writer, have gone  further and am going to put it out you know, and publish it.

Y: Excellent. I definitely see that we have the right audience. People here who are listening to the podcast would definitely love to hear more about other successful and semi successful, I am going to say entrepreneurs because we are business people. Its more than just being a Udemy instructor right? And that’s what I want the audience to understand that it’s not just putting a course out there as being an instructor or teacher. There is a whole business side that goes with that. And I am here to help people get tips and tricks and how to get there and you know, turn this passion into a business. So that they can keep doing what they love.

D: Sure, ya, absolutely. I mean that’s kind of you know, what I do too. In a different format on Blab. It is that, you know we want to share our experiences and  other instructors’ experiences  to let people know that, you know, I was thinking earlier when you were talking about some of the stuff that we have covered is that in the  studio a lot, you see people who are frustrated because their number are down or  whatever. And I just always like remind people it’s not Udemy’s responsibility to bring us business. We put our courses on Udemy.com, and they do their marketing or whatever. And we hope, you know, that it’s going to generate traffic for our courses, but it’s our responsibility as instructors to market our courses in different places such as blogs or course coupon websites and things like that. And you ask an instructor like, what are you doing to market your course and they can’t give you an answer and I am like ok, that’s why you are not doing a lot of business and I’ll admit, my numbers were really good last year, and they have dropped, but I am doing a lot of other’ stuff that’s picking up the slack, while I am not pushing my Udemy courses as much. But if that’s all  you have in your basket, because we talked about earlier, of having different eggs in your basket, if it’s just  Udemy and Udemy is down,  because it’s a slow month, which February might be a slow month, then you are going to suffer from that. So you are going to have to start thinking about where you can market your courses and man, if somebody is an instructor out there and they don’t have at least a blog, you have to seriously be reconsidering why you are on Udemy. Because if you are teaching courses, it should be a natural that you are blogging.

Y: Right, I see what you mean. In the sense that, courses how do you call that, is just one medium. You need to be on multiple medium. You have a message. Course, when you create a course, you just put in this message in the form of a course. But you can’t have this message anywhere else and you should. Dennis, you bring up a good point that you need to think to market yourself. Not just your course, but yourself, your message, your identity. You have to become an authority online. Show that you deserve to have people come to you or to your course and learn from it. I can assure you that if tomorrow Bill Gates decides to create a course, and he puts it on Udemy, I can assure you than Udemy will create special promotional announcement for that. So Udemy will do the marketing for it. But guess what, because it’s Bill Gates. He has name out there, you know.


Y: So, if you, somehow have a name out there, or you may just as so that you have a name out there, then Udemy will do all the work for you. But you have to get there.

D:Ya absolutely. Because you see other instructors out there like Rob Percival, and you know like you mentioned, Bill Gates, but there are people out there like Gary Vaynerchuck (the Chuck Norris of the online world!) and Guy Kawasaki. You know, some people might not know who they are, but if you are in internet marketing or it you are in those circles, you know who those individuals are, and I completely understand why Udemy would be promoting those individuals. Because, you know, when announced, there were instructors who got frustrated like, why are they like promoting them? And it’s like, because those are the guys that are going to generate big dollars for them. You are not, at this point. But, you know, sometime, if you are, I am sure Udemy would be happy to promote your courses. Until then you have got to be doing that work. Because I can tell you, it is a whole lot better on Udemy even when they are not really pushing things. Because if you just like, dennisjsmith.com, if I just put my courses up there, I would have to do a tonne of work to generate the same type of income that I have generated so far with Udemy.

Y: Absolutely. Yes.  You are saying that you are getting a lot of free traffic already on udemy. Lots of people looking at your course. And you are getting this for free, just because just because you happen to have put your course on Udemy. And if you put your course on your website, it’s just not going to happen. You are going to have to do even more work to get even the same amount of traffic coming to look at your, even more time and more money into it also, right, because you have to drive your traffic yourself now.

D:Ya, There is other platforms you know, out there, like teachable, or skillshare whatever, my buddy Matt staretdskillhands.com, which, you know for him to help instructors with their courses, you know, on a different website. And you can be on those other websites and hopefully traffic will come to you from that, but it’s the same thing. You still have to push that. It’s just another platform. And you know, just depends on how much traffic is coming to the  platform, or  how well you have optimized your  courses for Google to pick it up when  somebody does a search for WordPress marketing courses , hopefully, you are going to come up on page 1. If let’s  say you are on a platform like teachable, or even  Udemy, for somebody to click on it and you know, take your course.

Y: Ok definitely. Ok so, I don’t want to take more of your time, Dennis. But before you go, is there anything you would like to talk about that we may not have mentioned here?

D: I think we have covered a lot of stuff. I like to talk, but I like to be able to get information out there to people who are listening so.

Y:Ya, you definitely did bring a lot of value, that’s for sure. Even for myself. Like, I already put some bullet points of what I am going to be working on this coming week.

D: Ya


Y: I am definitely going to try the bonus section, you know, like, taking the screenshot of the course, and place a coupon there, and see how it performs.

D: Ya me too actually. I’m going to put that on my to do list, because I have got now a list  that is just for the week so that I can remember that these are key  things that I need to get done. But, I just wanted to say that, the easiest place to find me is dennisjsmith.com, but if you want to find me on Udemy, just type in Dennis Smith. I don’t think there is a lot of instructors with the same name. I just want to remind instructors out there that coupon websites like onlinecoursecoupons.com and onebuckcourses.com are free for you to list your courses and there are many other ones out there. But  you have got to utilize those sites out there and leave those coupons open, and don’t let them  expire, because I am seeing people using coupon codes that I put  out in places over a year ago, and  that’s income for me now. So, when you shut out those coupons, and  you expire them, and  somebody comes to you course and they find out that it is expired, I think that you are going to have them more frustrated than anything, and the chances are, they are not going to take your course. So, utilize those coupon websites, and don’t let those coupons expire because somebody is going to use them at some point.


Y:Ok, excellent. You know what, I am going to give it a shot. I haven’t done it myself. So, I’ll give it a shot. I’ll take a couple of my course, and put it on your website and see how things go. Alright.


D: That sounds great. And I thank you for letting me come on today and chat with you. Thanks Johann.


Y: You are very welcome. And I wish you good luck with the book. Please whenever you finish writing it and you put on the kindle store or any other store that you put it in, please let me know. And I would love to have you on the show little bit after and have a little chat. Alright?


D: That would be great. Thanks


Y: Alright, thanks for everything Dennis. You take care now.


D: Thank you.



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