Why You Shouldn’t Use Udemy

February 9, 2019

Why You Shouldn't Use Udemy

Creating and selling your online courses through Udemy might seem like a great idea. It’s an established platform that millions of students across the world use.

However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that selling courses through Udemy might not be as lucrative as you thought. With this in mind, in this article, we’ll take a look at why Udemy isn’t the best option for creating and selling online courses. Specifically, we’ll step through some of the main reasons why you shouldn’t use Udemy.

Let’s put everything into context before we begin.

What Is Udemy?


Udemy is an online learning platform that allows course creators to create and sell online courses. At the time of this writing, the platform offers over 100,000 courses. With nearly 42,000 course instructors and 30 million students across the world, Udemy is one of the most popular online learning platforms.

It’s easy to see why many online course creators might deem it a viable source of passive income and an excellent opportunity to market your course.

Udemy gives you a platform to position yourself as an expert in your field. You can create courses on just about any topic from cat behavior to 3D modeling. The platform gives you the option to sell your online courses for a fee or give them away free of charge.

Here are some of the main benefits of hosting your online course on Udemy:

  • You get access to millions of students to market your courses to.
  • It offers better SEO rankings in Google search results.
  • Its course structure can be adapted to almost anything you want to teach.
  • It’s a tried and tested way of generating passive income.

But if you look at its downsides, the benefits might not appeal to you as much:

  • You don’t get access to your students’ email addresses.
  • Udemy positions you right next to your competitors.
  • It takes a percentage of the total sales you make.
  • Very little customization options are available to you.

Now that we have a good understanding of the Udemy platform – and the main pros and cons of selling courses through it – let’s step through some of the main reasons why you shouldn’t use Udemy to sell courses online.

Why You Shouldn’t Sell Courses on Udemy

Why You Shouldn't Sell Courses on Udemy

As an online course creator, if you’re looking to build a business around selling online courses, Udemy might not be the best option for you. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t sell courses on Udemy:

Reason #1: You’re Giving Up Ownership

Although there are course creators on Udemy who make good money from selling online courses, it’s important to understand that they owe their success to the hard work they put into creating and marketing their courses. However, that doesn’t mean you should spend an equal amount of time and effort into selling courses through Udemy when you could sell them through your own website.

When you sell your online courses through Udemy, you essentially give up ownership of the courses you create since the platform doesn’t belong to you. What this means is that you have very little control over critical business elements including branding, visitors, and sales.

On the other hand, if you choose to sell your courses through a self-hosted website, you get complete ownership over everything. You control your content, your student accounts, and the money you make by selling your courses.

Reason #2: You Don’t Get Complete Analytics

When you sell your courses through Udemy, you’re only able to see the Udemy name of the students who bought your course and how much they paid for it. However, you don’t get access to the student’s email address or even their full name. This prevents you from building email lists and reaching out to students with new offerings in the future.

In simple words, Udemy doesn’t give you a detailed analysis of course purchases made by your students. Most course selling platforms let you track how much money your course is generating from different demographics.

Reason #3: Udemy Branding

As a business owner, it’s easy to see how watermarking your course videos with your own logo helps establish your brand. When you upload course content to Udemy, the platform automatically adds their own branding to the bottom right corner of your course videos.

The main problem with this is that this is prime real estate for adding watermarks. So, even if you decide to add your own logo to it, the video will look cluttered and, potentially, distracting. What’s worse is that Udemy doesn’t let you opt out of this which further reveals how much ownership (or lack thereof) you have over your courses.

Reason #4: Makes It Difficult to Effectively Sell Your Course

As we mentioned above, over 30 million students across the world use Udemy. This gives online course creators an opportunity to present their courses to millions of people which certainly sounds appealing.

However, it’s important to understand that Udemy offers $10 sales throughout the year to promote courses at cheap prices. As a result, many of the students who use the online learning platform go for the $10 courses as opposed to the more expensive options. And while this is great for students, it makes it difficult for online course instructors to generate a decent income.

You do have the option to self-promote your online course by offering prospective students coupons. If someone uses your coupon to purchase your online course, you get to keep 97% of the revenue generated from the sale. But at the same time, Udemy will display ads for similar $10 courses on your course page without your permission.

Reason #5: Issues With Their Affiliate Program

Although affiliates usually earn a commission of around 30% on each sale, Udemy’s affiliate program is structured in a way that you only get 12.5% of the course price. The rest of the 87.5% goes to the affiliate member and Udemy.

To get a better understanding, let’s put the numbers in perspective. If you put a $175 price tag on your online course, the affiliate member gets $131 and Udemy will receive $21.87. As the course creator, you’ll get 12.5% of the sale i.e. $21.87.

To make matters worse, you can’t opt out of the affiliate program as it is included in the terms and conditions of using the platform. And since Udemy doesn’t inform you when you make a sale through affiliates, it’s virtually impossible to keep track of how many courses you’ve sold at 12.5% of the original price.

Udemy vs Self-Hosting

Udemy vs Self-Hosting

Udemy is a suitable option for online course creators who are just starting out and want to test the waters. It gives course creators access to a platform that over 30 million students across the world use.

However, if you’re thinking of setting up an online business around selling courses, your best bet would be to create and sell your courses through a self-hosted website.

The main reason why self-hosting online courses is the best option for most online course creators is that it gives you complete control over key business elements. You’ll have full access to analytics, your students’ email addresses, and sales. What this means is that you’ll be able to build an email list and reach out to students to let them know whenever you create a new course.

What’s more is that it gives you the flexibility to offer subscription or membership functionality which you can use to generate passive income. In addition to this, you’ll always have complete freedom to effectively promote your courses.


Although Udemy is a popular and established online learning platform, it doesn’t give online course creators complete control and ownership of their courses. This makes it difficult for business owners who are looking to generate passive income by selling online courses.

Let’s quickly recap the main reasons why you shouldn’t use Udemy to sell courses:

  • You give up ownership. By selling courses on Udemy, you’re essentially giving up ownership and control over your online courses, your students’ information, and the sales you make.
  • You don’t get complete analytics. Udemy doesn’t give you access to analytics. There’s no way of getting information about who bought your course, how much they paid for it, or student demographics.
  • Udemy brands your videos. Udemy brands your videos with its own logo on the bottom right corner of all your course videos.
  • Self-promoting courses is difficult. Udemy crowds your course page with $10 promotion offers for similar, relevant courses that makes it very difficult to effectively self-promote your online courses.
  • Affiliate program issues. Affiliate link owners and Udemy collectively take away 87.5% of the money you make off each sale. You’re left with only 12.5% of the revenue generated from affiliate sales.

As an online course creator, is it important for you to have complete ownership over your courses and student information? We’d love to hear from you so let us know by commenting below.

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