In a popular blog a few months back, we profiled five high earning Udemy Instructors who gave their advice about how to be a successful Udemy instructor.  Those featured Udemy instructors earn A LOT of money teaching the best online courses and this has been promoted as an argument for becoming a Udemy instructor in all manner of media and blogs.  Earning lots of money by taking three months out of your life to create a kick-butt Udemy course is no doubt an appealing concept to many.

Just go on Quora and punch in “How Much Money Do Udemy Instructors Make” and you will see no less than a dozen similar questions with links to answers from Udemy instructors and all manner of opinions on the topic.

Because we’ve been digging around in our data lately, we decided to try and use it to estimate how much a Udemy instructor could make. Our estimation exercise results follow in this article.

One Key Factor – Udemy’s Instructor Revenue Share

First, it is important to understand that for many reasons you will never know for sure what you will earn as a Udemy instructor.

One driving factor for your potential earnings is Udemy’s revenue sharing options and for which parts an instructor choose to opt in.  Here is a link to this policy in case you are interested, but to summarize:

  • Udemy organic commission: If you do not opt-in to Udemy’s marketing and promotional schemes, you are reliant on Udemy organic traffic to drive sales and will receive 50% of sales.
  • Udemy Deals: If you opt into their Udemy deals program, Udemy can offer up to 75% off your course or offer it as low as $10 and you receive typically 50% of the sale.
  • Udemy affiliates: If you sell a course through Udemy’s affiliates program, you receive typically (but not always) 25% of the sale.
  • Coupons: If a student purchases your course with a Coupon that you have sent out, you get 97% of the sale.

Thus, much of your Udemy earnings potential has to do with how you choose for your course to be promoted on Udemy. As with any business it is a volume vs. price scenario.

Other Factors Driving Udemy Instructor Income

We’ve touched on many of these factors in previous articles and in our e-book (insert link), but to re-iterate, the following factors influence your earnings as a Udemy instructor:

  • Price
  • Your promotion effort (including coupons)
  • Keyword rankings
  • Competition
  • Demand for your chosen topic
  • Course design and quality (ratings)

To name a few.

Our Udemy Instructor Earnings Estimates

So we’ve gone and done some research in the Teachinguide database and made some assumptions to try and get an idea of what the highest earning Udemy instructors might be making. As we mentioned, there are a lot of variables influencing earnings.  For simplification we assumed in our “high income” estimation scenario:

  • 80% of enrollments were paid (20% free)
  • 90% of enrollments were sold at $10 (10% at full price, typically around $200 for top courses)
  • 75% of enrollments came through Udemy organic sales, 25% through affiliates.

For the sake of stark comparison, in our “low income” scenario, we assumed all paid courses were sold at $10 and all through affiliates (and thus the instructor earns 25% of sales).

Results of our experiment

The top 10 Udemy instructors by earnings for just ONE course (many of these instructors have additional courses on Udemy, so not a complete earnings picture) were as follows (as of January 15, 2019)

CourseUdemy
Instructor
Enroll-
ments
High
income
estimate
Low
income
estimate
Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from zero to hero in Python 3Jose Portilla 470,750

$4.7m

$942,000
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate 2018Ryan
Kroonen-
burg

371,678

$3.5m

$744,000
The Web Developer BootcampColt Steele

371,455

$3.7m

$743,000
Machine Learning A-Z™: Hands-On Python & R In Data ScienceKirill
Eremenko

356,226

$3.6m

$713,000
Java Programming Masterclass for Software DevelopersTim
Buchalka

284,024

$2.8m

$568,000
Complete C# Unity Developer 2D: Learn to Code Making GamesBen
Tristem

278,031

$2.7m

$556,000
The Complete Ethical Hacking Course: Beginner to Advanced!Ermin
Kreponic

253,234

$2.5m

$506,000
The Ultimate Drawing Course – Beginner to AdvancedJaysen
Batchelor

252,913

$2.1m

$506,000
Angular 7 (formerly Angular 2) – The Complete GuideMaximilian
Schwarz-
müller

224,299

$2.2m

$449,000
The Complete Digital Marketing Course – 12 Courses in 1Rob Percival

220,370

$2.2m

$441,000

Wowza.  Even in a “low earning” scenario the highest earning Udemy instructors aren’t doing half bad!  We found one expert on Quora who indicated “the top Java instructor makes 44k a month”.  So, if this is true, then the “low earning” scenario is likely more realistic for a “top” instructor.

Reality Check – Typical Udemy Instructor Earnings

That same source cited above indicated that “median revenue for C# instructors is $265 per month, and functional programming instructors make an average of $166 per month and the best makes about 1K”.

Clearly, even at a price of $10, the highest earning Udemy instructors are earning significantly due to the sheer number of enrollments.  In our database, the breakdown of enrollments (and thus earning potential) out of approximately 53,000 paid (excluded free) Udemy courses (English language only) looked as follows:

Enrollment
range

Number of Courses

% of total
Udemy courses

Earnings at $10 per enrollment, organic

< 100

16, 754

32%

0-$500

101-1,000

14,805

28%

$505 – $5,000

1,001 – 5,000

13,352

25%

$5,005 – $25,000

5001 – 10,000

4,516

8.5%

$25,002 – $50,000

10,001 – 50,000

3,601

6.8%

$50,005 – $250,000

50,001 – 99,999

67

.13%

$250,005 – $499,995

100,000 +

42

.079%

$500,000 +

So it’s clearly time for a reality check. The key takeaway here is that your chances of getting enough enrollments to “get rich” or to start using a money counter to keep track of the dollars you earn on Udemy are veerrrry slim. The chances of you getting enough enrollments needed to raise a family and put kids through college are somewhat slim as well.  On the flip side, your chances of earning a very decent side income are pretty darn good.  And your chances of funding your Starbucks habit for six months also very good 😉

The Bottom Line on Udemy Instructor Earnings Potential

John Purcell, who has earned over $1 million on Udemy put it best  when replying to the infamous Quora question “How much does a Udemy Instructor make?”.  His first response was “Some none, very many a bit, many quite a lot, and some are positively getting rich.” We concur.

That said, if you are still discouraged by your odds, perhaps you should take John’s further advice:

“If you’re thinking of making a course, my advice is, do it. That’s because Udemy changed my life. Admittedly though, that’s a bit like someone in a great marriage telling people to get married. Udemy greatly facilitates selling courses, but you’re still ultimately getting into business if you make a course, and there are no guarantees in business, no more than getting married guarantees happiness.

If it goes well enough and you’re not easily deterred if things don’t immediately go your way, you can make an excellent living via Udemy. Udemy doesn’t have a magic ability to sell courses that no-one wants, but they are extremely good at selling reasonably well-made courses on things that people want courses on.”

New Teachinguide Sales Estimator

To help you try to gauge your chances of earning good money as Udemy instructor, Teachinguide has created a “Sales Estimator” to help you check average monthly sales for specific Udemy courses, instructors or even specific keywords. Check it out here!

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