My interview today is with Rob Cubbon, author of How to Sell Video Courses Online, How I earn $1000+ a month while I sleep. Rob is the creator of several online courses, many of which are currently available on Udemy. For authors looking to create an additional income stream from their works, Rob’s advice could be dead on.
Udemy fascinates me. The concept that anyone can record a few videos, prepare an online curriculum, and teach on line. It seems so easy, and yet so hard to get started. What’s your take on Udemy? Is it where anyone who wants to teach online should be?
Rob: On the face of it, yes, you can record a few videos, prepare an online curriculum and teach online, however, you will almost certainly hit a block along the way. But, it's fun, and that's essentially what you do.
Udemy is the market leader in asynchronous career skill learning (recording videos that students view at their leisure, students can ask questions on the site, but this doesn't happen as much as you'd imagine). There are lots of similar sites, and it's a fluid niche. But you can put your courses on other sites if you wish, Udemy doesn't insist on exclusivity.
For now, Udemy has the traffic, but you still have to work to get sales initially. By this I mean create a free course on Udemy which you can market to or use your own following and email list to get you off the ground on Udemy.
Several years ago I took a few courses through Ed2Go. I enjoyed them and learned a few things, but at the same time, I thought all I’m really doing is reading an online book. The only difference was there was a teacher there to give feedback on my assignments. Is that all online learning is, or is there a little bit more that I wasn’t aware of or exposed to in those classes?
Rob: I think that depends on the instructor's style. I like to take the student on a journey where they can create something (like a WordPress site or a design in Photoshop). My videos show the process from beginning to end, and there's the ability to ask questions so it can be different to an online e-book and should be, in my opinion.
I’m not good at video. Don’t really know how to shoot it, or anything about editing it. What’s the least I need to know to be successful at this game?
Rob: I would advise anyone interested in Udemy to first start a YouTube channel. Video and audio quality is central to the success of the courses, and you'll get better the more you do.
Here's an article I wrote about video: http://robcubbon.com/tools-creating-video-courses/ there are some essentials – always buy a nice microphone and don't use a in-built one. ScreenFlow and Camtasia and great screencasting and video editing tools. If you're doing a video of yourself talking you really need to spend some time perfecting lighting and your videography skills.
YouTube is a great testing ground. You can find out what works and what doesn't and what's popular and what isn't there and use this invaluable information for your Udemy courses.
In addition, YouTube is a great platform for building your brand. People can hear your voice and get your personality more than they would do from reading one of your blog posts.
One of the things you talk about is screencasting (video recording the output on your computer screen and narrating what is going on). Can you be successful at online teaching if you don’t get this down?
Rob: Yes, definitely, but it's easier to do than the alternative. The alternative is talking to a camera which requires a lot of practice to do well. (This depends on the individual, of course, but I'm certainly not a natural).
The third way is to narrate over slides using screencasting software. This is the easiest way to do an online course, but I wouldn't overdo this as it is a bit boring for the students.
You do have to create passable videos that are engaging to create a successful course. But this isn't necessarily difficult. Take eBay, you can show how to set up a good product listing page (or whatever you call it) that would be interesting to eBayers (if that's what you call them) and it could be visually appealing as well.
Let’s say I don’t want to create a full-fledged class. I write a lot of books about selling online. What if I wanted to create a short email class as a giveaway for email signups? How would I get started?
Rob: A class for email signups should be completely different from a Udemy class. A classic Udemy class shouldn't be much longer than an hour and a half and have 5 minute long videos. A "boot camp" video class for email should be 4 or 5 videos each of 2 minutes or less. It's really important to keep the length of videos down as much as possible. Attention spans are short these days.
For this reason I would leverage YouTube experience on an email class as it needs to be punchy and valuable. Try to think of the most valuable things you've learned on eBay that have produced the most sales and show how to do them. It's amazing that what you think is really easy could totally transform a newbie's eBay experience. These are the little nuggets of gold.
Same scenario, only this time I want to create a course to teach people How to Sell on eBay. How do I get started? Do I take my book, and break it down into a short series of lessons, or… I wrote the book on eBay (7 of them), but writing a course still seems a little alien to me. Can you baby-step me through the basics?
Rob: Turning an e-book into a course is one of the easiest things because you already have the content and the structure. Here's what you do. Condense every chapter of your Kindle into a few slides in PowerPoint or whatever application you'd like to use. Use ScreenFlow or Camtasia to film the slides while you use your book to narrate over them. It's easy to "ad lib" whilst your reading your own text.
This is how I did Running A Web Design Business.
Try to break the process down into 8 or 10 stages and record a 5-minute video for each. Videos can be a mixture between slide narration and screencasting on the eBay site.
Later in your book when you talk about course creation, you say that you “need to put yourself in your student’s shoes…Early on in the course and in the course description you must specify: Who the course is for, what they will achieve from completing the course, what sort of level the course is, and what they will need to complete the course.” Could you give one or two specific examples of how you do this?
Rob: It's a good practice whether you're writing a blog post, a Kindle book or creating a course to specify what you're going to be saying and who it's for.
It doesn't always work, though. In the Udemy platform you have to specify the level of specialization and who the course is for. One of the few bad reviews I've got is on a Photoshop course for intermediates where someone complained "I'm a beginner and this is too easy for me!" So sometimes you can't win. However, I think it's a good idea to say things like, "this course will benefit web and graphic designers who want to start working for quality clients from home" or "this course will benefit eBay sellers who want to bring their business up to the next level".
With all of that said, I’m an author. I’ve written a great book, but I want to add an additional income stream. What’s the better choice, creating a class for Udemy, or a short online course that I host myself?
Rob: The good news is you can do both – and it's probably a good idea if you do. Personally, I always wanted to sell video courses from my own site, and I've been lazy about it since I've been doing OK on Udemy. It's probably a good idea to have your courses on as many platforms as possible.
Rob Cubbon, author of How to Sell Video Courses Online, How I earn $1000+ a month while I sleep. Rob is the creator of several online courses, many of which are currently available on Udemy. Follow this link to visit Rob’s Amazon Author page. Or you can check out Rob’s blog at RobCubbon.com.