You probably don’t know me that well. With only 5,000 students and 6 courses, I’m only a small fish in a big pond compared to some of the other instructors out there. However, despite how much you claim to value every instructor on your platform, we have had no say in the interesting string of changes you’ve chosen to force upon us this past year.
I have been able to grit my teeth and adapt when changes started occurring, understanding this was your platform and that our interests were aligned. Unfortunately however, the recent string of changes has led me to believe that Udemy’s new motto is “if it’s not broken, then break it!”
The truth is, you’ve been implementing features that nobody has asked for, and ignoring areas instructors actually care about. A perfect example of this is your new review system, which prompts users to leave reviews after as little as 5 minutes of watching. You claim students will have their minds made up within 10 minutes, but this does not mean it is appropriate to ask for a review of the entire course so early on.
This decision has led to not only annoyance by students who don’t understand why they’re expected to have an opinion of the entire course after the first two videos, but by instructors who are now receiving low quality reviews – either because the student hasn’t been able to actually get into the course yet, or they simply want to stop being prompted.
This decision did not go over well in your Udemy Studio Facebook group, and to this day I have not seen a single instructor support this decision. Let’s all agree that more reviews are a good thing, but this was a terrible way to go about getting them.
Other terrible decisions included banning courses on topics you do not agree with, removing the ability to have PDF lectures, and making it harder for instructors to send students to their own websites.
Here’s the thing that’s causing me to unpublish 5 of my 6 courses from your platform at the end of the month.
The free market has proven to be the most efficient way of doing business in the history of the world. If products aren’t selling, instructors will either build value in their products, or they will lower their prices to better match the value the course provides. This self-correcting aspect works for both parties and generally leads to both satisfaction for students and instructors.
However, you’ve decided you wanted to kill that, and force instructors to price their courses between $20 and $50.
I am not mad at you, because I understand that this is your platform. However, I think that this was an incredibly stupid decision and the wrong way to go about fixing your pricing inconsistencies.
Let’s be real here – you’ve done this to yourselves. Your staff members have admitted this over and over again in Udemy Studio. Your goal is to have more consistent pricing, but the only reason this is an issue is because you’ve been handing out coupons left and right for years, and now students do not buy until they have one. You have trained students on your platform to behave this way, preventing organic sales from happening when the student actually wants to buy the course, and coaxing them to wait for a coupon instead.
This was evident by the numerous instructors begging in the studio for new coupons to be released so they could ‘make sales again.’
Was it weird to see a $300 course discounted to $10 with a coupon? Yes. But forcing pricing restrictions on instructors was not the way to go about fixing this.
This Doesn’t Work For Many Instructors
You claim that 90% of sales on your platform are under $50. Given the model you’ve chosen to use over the past few years, this makes sense. However, that still means that 10% of sales are over the $50 maximum price point you’ve now set.
Where do you think these higher priced sales are coming from?
I don’t have the data, but I’m willing to bet they’re coming from people like me – marketers that actually have a following and know how to sell the value of our courses. Marketers that do not need to lower price because we know how to actually demonstrate the value of our courses.
Bloggers, marketers, entrepreneurs with a following that they’ve spent months or even years developing credibility with, a following that is willing to pay far above what another instructor may be offering for their course, because they know, like, and trust us so much.
You have forced this segment of your instructor base off your platform, because the extremely low payout for our work is ridiculous. I love the volume of new students you send to our courses, but I have made more selling through my website at the higher price points than I have on your platform.
I will miss it dearly, and I fear for those instructors who have become dependent on it. Because clearly, things can and will change overnight that will impact people’s businesses.
In the mean time, I will continue selling my courses for higher price points and will focus on recruiting affiliates to match the volume and traffic Udemy previously provided me. Who knows, maybe this is a blessing in disguise?
Giving Up Control
Entrepreneurs – every time you become dependent on another platform for one aspect of your business, you are giving up a lot of your own power. This is clearly a very dangerous road to walk.
This is why I have always been so against relying on Google to send you traffic, or depending on a platform like Adsense to make you money. These are not your platforms, and these companies are not your friends. You can not control them. In one night, the company could completely change things, or even ban you from the platform completely.
If you’re dependent, you’re in real trouble.
Would I still recommend Udemy as a place to publish your courses? If you want to price under $50, sure. If you don’t mind not having access to your student’s data, sure. But if you want control, you’re far better publishing on your own website, or at least using a platform like Thinkific or Teachable.
I highly recommend reading the article I published just days before Udemy’s pricing changes called “Udemy vs. Self Hosting – What’s Best For Your Online Course?” Despite Udemy’s new pricing regulations, most of the info there is still relevant and applicable.
Finally, you’ll want to be sure to hop onto my email list. I don’t do sales often, but I will be having a launch sale when I finish moving all of my courses over to my site. So if there was ever a time to pick them up, it’d be then.
Whether you’ve been publishing courses for years or you’ve never even considered the idea, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Was it right for Udemy to force pricing restrictions on instructors?
Will this help or hurt Udemy in the long run?
And finally, did it even make sense to publish there in the first place?
Instructors are having mixed feelings regarding these changes and some are actually quite positive, so I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.
– James McAllister