How One Course Got Me 1000+ Sign Ups with 1 Hour of Marketing

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Get traffic and subscribers from Udemy

If you want to run an online business, you’ll quickly learn that if you want to make any progress, you have to focus on the things that get you the best results. This may seem obvious, but every day there seems to be new entrepreneurs focusing on every minute detail of things that don’t matter, and neglecting to focus on the things that bring them results. At the heart of a good growth hacker and marketer is the desire to test business and marketing tactics in an effort to identify which things work best, and which ones don’t.

Doing this allows you to focus all of your energy on the things that bring results, and stop worrying about unimportant tasks and techniques. This post shows how many good things can come to you, if you are constantly testing and looking for better ways to make your business grow.

Let’s get started!

In case you didn’t already know, Udemy is huge. It has millions of members that are all interested in taking courses to advance their knowledge in fields of their interest. If you create a course that is useful to your niche audience and publish it on Udemy, you are tapping into their community to get exposure for your brand. This screenshot is straight from their about page:

Udemy has lots of customers that you can market to

I accidentally stumbled upon a “marketing hack” using Udemy that has brought great results! I thought I was doing a different hack, but it turns out that that one wasn’t going to work anyway. Originally, my primary objective was to recruit promo partners to give my paid Udemy course away to their readers for free. But I quickly learned that larger brands don’t want to point their reader’s attention to you, unless they are getting something substantial in return. My “free course” offer was not good enough.

But that’s why if you’re always testing and learning, you never lose.

Just as long as you're always testing and learning new things in your business, you never lose Click To Tweet

The importance here, is that I was able publish a course on Udemy, and get a decent amount of exposure to it. This in turn has allowed me to begin building an audience around my subject matter, and if you execute the same strategy you can grow your audience as well. Remember that no matter what niche you are in, you can create a course that your customers would be interested in taking. Which means that there are opportunities for your business to grow by doing this. I had a few motives behind creating my Udemy course, including:

Goals:

  • Using it as an incentive to give away to special promo partners
  • Expanding my audience/brand
  • Finally creating a course that walks you through all of the small details of starting online getting started (super underserved market)
  • Revenue (very low priority with this one)

Time (6 Hours Total):

  • 4-5 Hours to Create the Course
  • 1-2 Hours spent on Marketing

I’d estimate that it took me 4-5 hours to actually create the course. I’d say probably 30% of that time was me fiddling around with my mic, and stopping a re-recording sections because it was my first course and I still feel like I sound like a dork on the recordings. (Hey, I’m learning alright?)

Assumptions Tested:

  • Would larger bloggers be interested in giving my paid course away to their readers?No money spent
  • Would customers be interested in my little old course and what I have to teach?

Money Spent: $0

Nothing like putting in a little bit of time!

What I did:

If you haven’t taken the course already, it’s called “Simple, Customer Development – Get Your First 100 Customers.” Compiling some experience from past businesses that I’ve worked on, I recorded myself walking through the painstaking process of talking to my first customers, putting my ideas out there, getting feedback and tweaking my business based off of it. I wanted course takers to see EVERY single step of it, since customer development is so scary for… well everyone. But it’s still very important and should not be skipped. So I showed where I found my first potential customers, the messages I sent them, the actual feedback that I got, and how I moved forward from there.

How I did it:

Determined my USP

There are a ton of huge names out there that teach about customer development, so how could I compete with them at this stage? Eric Ries and Steve Blank are both people who both have a tad bit more experience, success and brand awareness than I do. And I was tasked with going into the marketplace and creating a product that would have to compete with theirs on Udemy. But then isn’t that the beauty of being a small growth hacker? Finding a way to compete with the big guys that have many more resources than you do. So I designed my course to have some distinct differentiators from theirs. Namely:

  • Mine would be short and to the point. It was originally named “Simple, Quick Customer Development.”
  • It would be cheaper
  • It would air on the extremely practical side. It would contain very little theory, just showing you how to get it done.

So this appeals to all of you cash strapped, impatient people who want to get to the point in building their business. This side of the market is on the total opposite side than most of the other courses. There was my “in” to the market. So I made a solid curriculum that would follow through on all of those points

Creating And Publishing The Course

I was able to create this course using free software, which is great because it kept the cost at zero.

Tools Used:

To create the actual course, all it took was for me to create slides within Evernote, record my screen and present following my outline. If you took the course, you will see that it is pretty simple to do yet very effective at teaching and getting the point across.

Quick Tip: The key here was to make sure that I didn’t focus on making everything perfect. Sure, I had to keep everything to a certain quality level, but had I chosen to be a perfectionist at this point, it could have easily taken me double or triple the amount of time.

growth tip done is better than perfect

Getting Published On Udemy

This was not too hard, it took me probably a total of 30-45 minutes of getting everything together to go through the approval process. My course would have been approved on the first review it got, except a couple of “first time Udemy instructor” mistakes caused a couple of bumps in the road. Once I got those sorted out though, I was good to go.

Marketing

Now comes the fun part. Believe it or not, my target was to only get 50 users and 1 or 2 reviews. Remember, my top priority for this course was to get featured by other blogger’s newsletters because I’d be giving their readers a $37 course for free. So I wanted to build some credibility within the course first by filling it with a few students and reviews. I never expected to get this many students in the course so quickly.

Warrior Forum (Niche Forum)

This is a perfect example of a niche forum where lots of potential subscribers of mine hang out. I’ve been a member of warrior forum for a years now, considering I started out as just an independent internet marketer. I’m a member of their private forum, the war room, where other marketers constantly give their products away for free. If you are not in my niche, there are plenty of forums and niche communities where you could implement something similar. This is the first place that I posted my link. In total, it got me 70 sign ups over about 2 months, and about 30 within the first week.

Personal Emails to Contacts (and nagging)

Get some Udemy Reviews

This is something that I overlooked when I was a new marketer. In fact, most new marketers overlook it.

But even bloggers who already have a nice sized following following cite STILL doing it. Scott Britton, of Life Long Learner, wrote a post about marketing his Udemy course a while back, and getting the first push of reviews was one of the first steps that he took.

In my case, it meant emailing my personal contacts to get the first reviews for my course. Obviously if a course has 5 stars it will make more people want to take it.

So what are you supposed to do?

All I did was email my personal contacts access to the course. I told them that I hope that they like it, and if they do I would really appreciate it if they left me a review. Some of the people that I emailed that I’m closer to I had to nag until they went and took my course. They enjoyed it, and said that they learned a lot, so they left a review. That simple. I’m pretty sure that down the road this is what helped me generate sales as well.

Reddit

Now, for my most successful channel. I wrote a whole post about how I get traffic from Reddit on StartupBros, but I’ll summarize how I did it for my Udemy course here.

The key is to make sure that you know your community, that you’re adding value to it, and that you are strictly addressing and following the rules.

So keeping that in mind, I posted a text post in the entrepreneur subreddit, that explained my intentions with the course, and it’s USP’s. It went a little bit “Viral” from there. A few people decided to take the coupon code and post it on other sites across the web. From there it started taking off and getting posted on even more sites. It was starting to get a decent amount of exposure. Then I realized that I set my coupon limit too low, and coupons started to run out. (Yikes!)

Support Criminals (accidental hack)

Remember that it was a low priority to make money off of this course, and a high priority to get more exposure. So in my eyes, the more people that took it for free, the better. So I rushed over and quickly dug through my google analytics dashboard and looked at where lots of my traffic had been coming from. The top sites were some forums where some of the more sneaky Reddit users had “stolen” my coupon code that was supposed to be exclusive for Reddit users and posted it elsewhere.

Naturally I sent those people an angry email and told them to stop stealing my coupon codes just to increase their reputation.

NOT!

What I really did was I immediately went and made another coupon code that had a much higher limit, made a profile on the forums that they were posted on, and sent a private message to the people that had posted it my original coupon code. I just included the new coupon code, and told them that they could repost the new one with a much higher limit. They did, and the sign ups continued rolling in. This was a totally new growth hack for me. I will definitely test it more in the future.

Results

I now have some earned media

In case you didn’t know, Udemy allows you to make course announcements to students that have taken your course. You are allowed to link to educational content outside of Udemy, so it makes for a great blog promotion tool, especially since you can acquire students much easier on Udemy. Each course announcement gets sent directly to the student’s email address, so it is a good way to hit the inbox of people that aren’t currently on your own mailing list. From the one course announcement that I’ve made so far I’ve gotten a 2.3% CTR. Not half bad considering I didn’t have to fight tooth and nail to get their email addresses.

The $86 came from 2 months of Udemy organic and discounted promotions that Udemy runs. So this income is totally passive.

Would I do it again?

The short answer is yes.

Part of being a good growth hacker, and overall marketer, focusing on your top acquisition channels, and ditching underperformers.

To be a great marketer, focus on your top acquisition channels, and ditch underperformers Click To Tweet

You might think “2.3% CTR’s, with 1000 people! Isn’t that only 23 clicks? That’s not that good”

But in reality, as a brand new site building from the ground up, you have to take quality traffic wherever you can get it. Those 23 clicks are highly targeted. It’s people that took my beginners online entrepreneurship course, know who I am and are interested in what I have to say. The traffic source is repeatable as well; I can post new content as announcements in my Udemy course as much as 4 times a month.

I would take these 23 visitors over 200 visitors from advertisements. Besides all of that, the beauty of this method is that the course is continuing to grow passively, without me even having to look at it. At the time I’m writing this, it’s currently over 1200 students. The second time I test this out (by making more super awesome courses) I will have more of a process in place, and I will most likely be able to get better results, in less time.

How You Can Apply This

Wait, but you’re not in my niche, you don’t have the resources that I do, and you can’t do this!

Not true!

Here’s all you need to do!

  • Stop being scared (don’t make excuses either)
  • Download Screencast-o-matic
  • Determine your USP for your course
  • Create a relevant curriculum for something that you would have loved to learn when you were just starting out in your subject matter
  • Record yourself teaching lessons according to your curriculum, with a Slideshow (Evernote, PowerPoint, Google Slides etc.)
  • Make a Udemy account and upload your course
  • Create a Reddit account, and post it to relevant subreddits
  • Post your course to relevant forums in your niche
  • Find people giving out free Udemy course, and send free links to your course so they can distribute it for you

Conclusion

Courses are multi faceted tools that can be extremely beneficial to your business. They serve as marketing tools, customer relationship builders and revenue streams. No matter what your business is, there is a course that you can create that can help you grow. Whether you have a blog, app, ecommerce site, or physical product, there are always things that your customers want to learn! If you can help them learn it, you can build your business and brand.

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10 Comments

  • This is really awesome Travis,
    I’ve seen a lot of people making a killing from Udemy courses and i use to think thats its kind of a rocket science to achieve such results but man, you just simplified everything here.

    This is really what I will consider going into much later.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • Travis Levell

      Theodore,

      Glad I could help put things into perspective for you! It really isn’t all that hard and its a great move to build your audience and start cementing yourself as an authority.

      It could also work as a great lead gen tool because you might make a course on how to generate more awareness for your online brand, and obviously heavily mention guestcrew throughout your course, or even show how to use it.

      Could have a lot of potential!

      -Travis

  • Brilliant article Travis!
    Picked up a couple of really useful insights I might use when I’m done with my basic set up.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Travis Levell

      Hey Bhavya,

      Thanks for the comment. Glad to know my content is helping.

      I’d be happy to offer any advice or help that I can along the way! Looking forward to hearing from you again.

      Thanks!

  • I don’t plan to create a video course any time soon, but this article has a lot of transferable tips, as I am planning to (re)launch my blog soon. Thank you for sharing!

    • Travis Levell

      Very true!

      There’s many marketing and business tips in here that you can definitely use! Would love to know how your blog relaunch goes, and be sure to let me know if I can help out.

      Thanks for your comment Alicia.

  • Hi Travis,

    This is an extremely comprehensive overview of this whole process. Thanks so. Unchanged for the time and effort. This is something I have considered but really stuck in what c.ourse I can offer. Also, I read a few reviews from people on Udemy who have a problem with the way Udemy constantly reduces the course fees as well as the change is fee structure.

    • Travis Levell

      Hey Paulene,

      All good concerns! I think the best thing you can do with a course topic is to not spend too much time deciding on one, and use tools like buzzsumo to see what is popular in your niche right now. Even if it ends up not being a super popular course, you can always make another one. It’s better to get something out there and test it!

      Also, as you can see I don’t really use Udemy to focus on revenue right now. They do constantly offer discounts, but that just gets more people into your circle that you can continue to market to in the future.

  • Morgan

    Very inspiring!
    I am not even done setting up my website, but very excited about the possibilities here, lots of simple and actionable content … and haven’t even watched the video yet! Thanks for helping us get started!

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