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Affiliates Demystified

We’ve seen some questions arise around how affiliate course sales work on Udemy. We want to provide as much transparency as possible into how the system functions, and clarify some of the most common confusions and misconceptions. This article will lay out the various scenarios that can occur when you’ve opted into our Marketing Boost program. Get ready to be demystified!

Who Are Udemy Affiliates and What Do They Do?

The Udemy Affiliate Program is run by Rakuten LinkShare – a network of thousands of affiliates and advertisers. The primary purpose of this network is to get your courses in front of a larger audience, one that may not have come to Udemy via other efforts.  In other words, affiliates drive new students to the site. It takes our affiliate partners time and work to select and integrate courses onto their websites, emails, newsletters, and social media promotions. We work off of a commission structure with affiliates that is competitive with industry and standards.  This allows us to attract high quality affiliates to grow the student base available for your courses!

That all seems pretty straightforward, right? Now let’s clear up a few areas where instructors can get confused.

Revenue Sharing with Affiliates

If you see that a sale in your revenue report says “Affiliate” under the “Channel” column, you will receive 25% of the purchase price for that sale, per Udemy’s instructor revenue sharing agreement. You can click into the purchase price (in the far right column) for a detailed breakdown of the sale.  Udemy’s affiliate team creates special coupon codes on opted-in courses that are available for our affiliate network to promote.

A Sale Made With My Instructor Coupon Code Says Affiliate – Why?

When you see a sale in your revenue report that includes both your own instructor coupon code and an affiliate designation, there are two possible scenarios that took place.


  1. The affiliate picked up your coupon code and promoted it via their own site, email, newsletter, social media channel, etc. Just like any online advertiser, when you create and share a coupon code, it can quickly get picked up by search engines like Google or Bing, or any other affiliate site, including those within Udemy’s affiliate network. It’s important to remember that although this sale is showing your instructor coupon code, the affiliate drove a new student to your course that wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. In other words, the affiliate is bringing a new student who wouldn’t have otherwise have found your course
  2. The student clicked on an affiliate link in the last 7 days. When a student clicks an affiliate link that takes them to Udemy, their Udemy account is tagged with a “tracking link”. For the next 7 days, any purchases they make on Udemy will be attributed to the affiliate and the affiliate will earn standard commission, even if there’s an instructor coupon attached to a particular sale.

Remember to always use coupon code best practices when generating coupons for your own course: things like setting coupon code redemption limits and an expiration date. Finally, it’s entirely up to you to decide whether to opt in to Udemy’s Marketing Boost program. To check your current settings, or to opt in or out, go here.

A Few Things to Note

Affiliate Window: The standard “cookie window” for an affiliate is 30-90 days. In comparison, Udemy offers only a 7 day window, during which time (as noted above) the affiliate will earn commission on any sales.

Vast Network: Our network spans over 6,000 affiliate partners. That’s 6,000 sites with the potential to drive new traffic to your Udemy course!

Vetting Process: When deciding whether to accept an affiliate into our network, we look at how many unique visitors land on the affiliate site every month. We only approve affiliates that have the potential to become large traffic generators and we don’t accept sites with the potential to harm Udemy’s brand (ie. spammy, inappropriate, etc.)

Always Improving: We’re working on recruiting more large, high quality content sites (think gawker.com). A focus going forward will also be to grow our network internationally and bring in new students from around the globe. Finally, we’re also moving toward a system that encourages affiliates to highlight newer courses across various categories to help diversity the traffic to Udemy, encompassing a larger number of courses and instructors.