Creating a Udemy Course: It’s More Than Just a Powerful Backlink

Sergio Aicardi

Mar 30, 201611 min read
Creating a Udemy Course

When trying to rank your site organically for competitive keywords, sometimes you need to jump through many hoops to earn backlinks that your competitors don’t have. In the grand scheme of things, if you’re willing to jump through those hoops and your competitors aren’t, then you’re bound to get better results.

As a veteran SEO and PPC expert in Miami, I’m faced with a heavily saturated market where individuals will do anything to get a good backlink. Aside from the tireless competition trying to always out-perform me by getting links, I also have to be very competitive with pricing, quality of services rendered and more.

Every year I make it a goal to do something new for my company to grow even more than it did the year before. In 2015 I made it a goal to build a comprehensive learning course on Udemy. The course was intended to teach individuals how to setup and manage an AdWords account professionally and has turned out so well that my business partner Jason Hawkins is in the process of building a second one for local SEO strategies.

The idea of building a Udemy learning course was intended to provide several solutions:

  • To earn a powerful “Do-Follow” backlink from
  • To provide a low-cost DIY option for clients that can’t afford our services.
  • To get more referrals through the “buzz” created by the learning course.
  • To better brand ourselves as Google AdWords Experts in Miami (and nationally).
  • To earn passive income from the commission structure Udemy offers.
  • To strengthen relationships with affiliates by giving them the opportunity to monetize from learning course sign ups.

In this blog post I’ll touch on the points listed above so that you can understand how it all worked out.

One of the first things I noticed when looking into Udemy for the first time was the fact that instructor profiles had links to their respective websites that were Do-Follow. As an SEO nerd, I started to rely on my handy dandy Ahrefs account to learn more about the quality of a link from Udemy. I was pleased to find out that the quality of a link from Udemy was rated very well. Udemy is obviously not a link farm and it has a Domain Rating of 70, an Ahrefs Rank of 2,646 and on top of that is Do-Follow which in my opinion makes it worth working for the link. Check out the screen shot below of the link stats.

Udemy StatsUdemy Stats

Some Clients Just Don’t Want to Outsource Google AdWords Management Services

Before we had a learning course, we noticed many prospects and existing clients simply didn’t want to outsource their AdWords management because they felt they had it under control. Some business owners prefer to not spend an additional 10% - 20% on the management fee; others just had an executive assistant managing it for them. The common denominator for those individuals was that they had no idea they were not getting a good ROAS because they weren’t PPC experts; they were experts at running their business.

AdWords Course PromoAdWords Course Promo

When I created my first AdWords learning course, I reached out to everyone who voted not to allow us to manage their AdWords account and gave them the learning course link with a discount coupon via an email blast. I explained to them that if they take this course, they will undoubtedly get better performance from their campaign. Sure enough, many of them signed up, then half way through the first section of the course they realized that we weren’t kidding about the potential to get better results.

Many of the individuals even called us to say they couldn’t that they were making so many costly mistakes until now and kindly asked us to start managing their AdWords account immediately. Nearly every client also had a renewed sense of confidence in working with us because of the advanced techniques covered in the learning course which led to a stronger relationship with the client overall.

Now I know many of you might be wondering, but not a single existing PPC client took the course so that they could manage it on their own afterwards. The clients that are with you should already be getting great results. if the PPC management services you provide are working well for your clients, they won’t deviate from using your services.

Don’t assume that offering a learning course for marketing will cause you to lose all of your marketing clients; it did the opposite for me and my business.

Referral Traffic and Conversions From Udemy Courses

In this business I believe that relationships are everything, and this is one way I’ve been able to build relationships with clients and prospects. I’ve included this learning course as a topic in my email marketing campaigns, social media campaigns and more to maximize its exposure. Something that I didn’t expect from marketing the learning course was a ton of word-of-mouth prospects that heard about my learning course.

Marketing a Udemy CourseMarketing a Udemy Course

I received many inquiries from individuals reading my blogs, social media posts, email newsletters or that just heard about the Udemy course from a friend interested in getting started with marketing. I’ve also been able to acquire many new clients that simply heard about the learning course from a friend or current client referral. I’ve even gone as far as giving the learning course away for free at times. In one case, the individual that I gave the course to for free was so grateful that he provided me with over three referrals in that same month.

Udemy Courses Are Great For Branding

While there is no real proof that having a higher Klout score or having a bigger following on social media is directly correlated to better rankings, I strongly believe that having a solid brand presence and industry Klout leads to better rankings. I could really care less about my actual Klout Score and number of Twitter followers but at the end of the day I know that if those numbers are impressive, good things will follow on the SEO side. When you create a Udemy learning course, you build brand presence (or your own personal presence if you are your brand) in a way that labels you as a professional.

Udemy doesn’t allow any newbie to publish a course on their website; they really do a good job at thoroughly evaluating the course after you submit it to decide whether or not it’s a good fit for their learning course website.

Udemy Profile ExampleUdemy Profile Example

As you can see above, you can build a professional profile and earn reviews from your students over time that you can display proudly on your website and social media posts – and you can even get your learning course to show up in the SERPs with rich ratings tied to it as shown in the screen shot below.

Udemy Course in SERPsUdemy Course in SERPs

Earning Easy Income From Your Course Over Time

The most obvious benefit from building a Udemy learning course is the fact that you can earn great money from your commission payouts. Udemy has a great system setup that allows you to make 95% of your course fee if you self-promote the course using coupon codes. The maximum price you can assign to your course is $350. They have a really easy-to-use GUI that allows you to manage your revenue, coupon code usage, traffic stats and even lets you sync up with Google Analytics.

Udemy DashboardUdemy Dashboard

Affiliate Marketing via Udemy Courses

Affiliate marketing has always been a big way for businesses to earn visibility and get the word out there about new products, launches, content, and more; however affiliate marketing on a smaller scale for freelance writers, bloggers, or startups isn’t always quite as easy. Putting a plan into action takes time and dedication, and it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. After our first course was launched, we developed a way for our existing and prospective affiliates to earn more via promoting the Udemy course.

Approximately 20% of the revenue we made on our Udemy course came from our affiliates. With a coupon code structure we were able to see who made us the most money while Udemy offers them the most money, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

5 Steps to Getting Started with Affiliate Marketing Via Udemy

Your first step is of course going to be creating a Udemy course, which you can learn more about here if you’re unfamiliar. Once you have that course ready to go, that’s where affiliate marketing comes into play. Below outlines the five steps it took us to find success:

Step #1: Reach out to all of your contacts/ affiliates before the course goes live and offer promotional ideas.

Before your course goes live, reach out to potential affiliates so that you can answer any questions and get everything setup. This way when your course goes live you can hit the ground running. A good potential affiliate is someone who has a strong social media following or large subscriber list for email marketing. Like any type of marketing your affiliates should have the right type of following or subscribers so that your content is appealing to the audience you’re going to market too.

You not only want to explain how the program works, but tips to be successful. For example, let affiliates know that they can make some extra cash doing this if they find the right people with a large following on any social channels or anyone who can email market it to their subscribers willing to push it.

You can always offer them a flat fee per sign up and make money while they work. In the end, it’s no secret that passive income is the best type of income, so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting people on board. 

Step #2: Have your affiliates sign up for the Udemy Affiliate program for extra benefits.

This isn’t totally necessary for you as the Udemy course instructor per se, but it will help your affiliates and show them that you care. If they sign up as an affiliate through Udemy, they have their own affiliate program where your affiliates can earn commissions on top of whatever you, the Udemy course instructor, were going to offer.

Udemy Affiliate SignupUdemy Affiliate Signup

Step #3: Manage and track affiliates by using coupons.

There is great tracking to manage affiliates by using coupons. To get started, simply create a coupon code and tracking link for it, then check your revenue reports to see which coupons have been used as shown the previous screen shot. Below is a screen shot of the create a coupon page in the course dashboard that you can access once you become an instructor.

Udemy Coupon CodeUdemy Coupon Code

The second part to this step is to make sure your affiliates know what to expect. Keep it completely transparent and show your sign ups to your partner whenever you get them (weekly, monthly, etc.). Continue to send screenshots of your progress so that everyone can watch sales grow and get motivated. Its worthy to note again that using coupons means you earn 95% so its way better to get sign ups through your own coupon codes rather than having affiliates just send people to the URL with your learning course or the Udemy home page.

Step #4: Extra: Why it’s best to earn students from your own marketing.

If you get a student to sign up from your own marketing (rather than Udemy visitors searching for courses), they take less revenue from you as an instructor. This means the affiliate gets half of whatever you, the instructor, sells it for, minus the minimum amount that Udemy takes.

Udemy EarningsUdemy Earnings

Step #5: Cash out to your affiliates.

It’s a good idea to give affiliates a timeline so that you stay focused and you get the biggest push right as your course launches. When it comes to Udemy, a good rule of thumb is to market with affiliates for about one month. Once that month is over, you can cash out your affiliates by paying them checking your revenue reports within the Udemy back end.

I also highly recommend checking out the Udemy Instructor Revenue Share page that talks in more detail about revenue share for instructor promotion vs. Udemy organic. It also offers some great scenarios for how revenue may work based on different situations and the details change from time to time, so it’s incredibly helpful.

Our Affiliate Numbers and Udemy Course Findings

So after spending a significant amount of time reaching out to potential affiliates, laying out the benefits, and setting up tracking, we saw some great results. Below is a screenshot that shows the numbers and how much we earned in all three major categories: Organic, affiliate, and our own promotions:

Udemy Affiliate EarningsUdemy Affiliate Earnings

As you can see, affiliate marketing is one of the referral sources from this snapshot, and based on the coupon codes we can see exactly who helped drive that revenue.

Why Udemy is a Great Place to Start with Affiliate Marketing

While other affiliate programs can be more daunting, Udemy is a great option because for many of our affiliates it was so easy it’s seen as passive income. One of our affiliates is popular Search Engine Journal writer Amanda DiSilvestro, who gave us feedback on this first go-around. When we asked her thoughts, she said,

As a writer, adding in a link to the course was easy because it made sense. It was a great course and it was relevant to my readers in many instances, and I’m always looking for resources to help make my points and point people in the right direction. For me this was like passive income, so it was a no-brainer to help.

— Amanda DiSilvestro

Again, always keep in mind that in order for your affiliate marketing to be successful for your course, you have to actually have a quality and well-written course. This as you might imagine is the toughest part.

What to Take From This Post About Udemy Courses

Our course took us several months to create and perfect and contains several hours of video, hours of reading material and more. I recommend visiting my Google AdWords Training Course to learn more about how to create a successful Udemy course before you do anything else.

You can take a free preview to see the 60 different lectures including videos and many pages of content for each section. Don’t assume this will only take a few days or weeks if you’re already running an agency or working on a large account. Similar in nature to earning yourself a spot as a guest blogger on a power website, getting your learning course approved is tough. You will need to draw out your blue print first, identify each section and the lectures within it so that your students can follow a smooth path that results in them having the best learning experience possible. If you submit a course that isn’t structured well, be prepared to get a lot of required changes in the feedback report before it becomes approved by the moderation team.

Check out the feedback I got from my first time submitting my course in the screen shot below.

Udemy Course FeedbackUdemy Course Feedback

The screen shot above is just scratching the surface, I received about 40 messages before my course was finally able to be approved. The course needs to be mainly comprised of video so there were many edits and retakes that took place, my video producer had his work cut out for him through the process of getting the course published.

All in all, like anything in life worth fighting for, it’s not going to be easy but I think it was well worth the fight. I encourage those that have read this far to try it out. Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the section below and thank you for reading!

Author Photo
Sergio Aicardi is the owner of The Miami SEO Company and lives in sunny South Florida. He offers consulting to many marketing companies in Miami and business owners alike. His responsibilities include developing business relationships and optimizing internal processes to ensure the business is constantly growing, while constantly enhancing the quality of services rendered.