Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Response to quora question about Udemy

This is a response to a question on Quora: How much money did I make in my first year on Udemy?

This question depends so much on when I started, how many classes I had, and other factors that it isn’t worth answering with numbers. My topic is game design, a niche, so I’ve never made the vast sums some instructors have.  I will say that I make less now annually, despite having many more classes.

Udemy has turned online non-degree teaching into a low-brow, commodity market, and that’s not the kind of class I make. I conceive of a class as a sort of online book (or part of a book), a treasure-trove of information, not as an entertainment or a bagatel. I discourage the not uncommon notion of the Age of Instant Gratification that a 30 or 60 minute class can tell you “all you need to know” about a topic. That’s a ridiculous idea that fundamentally rests on the also-ridiculous notion that there’s a “secret formula” or set of secrets that you can quickly learn to become an expert at something.

By changing the pricing standards twice, and by constantly engaging in what I call kamikaze marketing that reduces all classes to $10 (unless the instructor opts out), Udemy has shoehorned virtually all classes into a $10 market. Instructors price classes where they want, but can only discount them 50% (instructors earn more per registration from their own coupons than from Udemy’s sales). So many make their classes $20 (and consequently short) and discount to $10 constantly. I am in process of doing this myself with a second account, but only ut of necessity. I had to use a second account because you cannot choose to have some of your classes in the kamikaze marketing sector, and others not.

Commodity marketing of courses can be an insult to the intelligence - a “$199 course” for $10? , really? - but that doesn’t seem to make any difference to the typical student.

I make more now from Skillshare, which is subscription based, and I think subscription based online non-degree teaching will ultimately prevail over the kamikaze. Time will tell.
"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest."Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle