Building buzz with Juan Gabriel Gomila SalasSeptember 18, 2018
Being a successful Udemy instructor is about more than just recording great lectures. It’s also about building authority for your course by promoting it on social media. While this can seem a little daunting, it’s something anyone can do, explains Udemy instructor Juan Gabriel Gomila Salas. Juan Gabriel has over 10,000 reviews for his 42 courses along with a loyal social media following. Of course, he didn’t start out like that — he built up his following slowly, beginning with people he knew.
We spoke with Juan Gabriel, when he was in San Francisco for Udemy Live, about how he got started, how YouTube works for him, and how showing his personality has helped him build success.
This interview has been edited for brevity. Listen to the full interview.
Udemy: How do you build excitement for your Udemy courses?
Juan Gabriel: I started with the mailing system (Announcements) at Udemy, which is really good because you have two opportunities per month to promote different courses. You can segment, for instance, one month to do a video game campaign, the next one to do an app development. And you can try to make different strategies.
In fact, yesterday I published my latest course about iOS development just by launching an email: “Hey, this is my new course. You have an early access, because it is not yet completed.”
People really care about it, more than 150 students in just the first hour. So, it’s really good in that sense. It’s a really powerful tool. In addition, I also use Facebook. I started a little community on Facebook where people go to talk about their problems in development and to meet the instructor, for instance.
Now I have complemented it with a Discord channel. That’s a community where people can now chat online in real time. So, if they have any questions about the course, about the IT solution, they can go and don’t have to wait for me to answer on the Q&A section on Udemy. They can start learning for themselves, which is a really powerful tool for learning. They know things, and they can share things between them.
Udemy: How did you build your community on Facebook?
Juan Gabriel: It happened by accident. I was just trying different techniques. I started this one. I also started with a YouTube channel, which is performing really good. It has already 3.5k students. They are not students on YouTube, but just to try it. Just to give it a try.
It was really interesting, because on YouTube you can share directly some small piece of content of your courses. And you can keep publishing two or three videos per week. So people start watching the free content and then finally convert to payers at Udemy.
In the case of Facebook, it’s more like publishing different kind of content not only related to the course themselves, but, for instance, new publications, new content, new software, new releases. Everything that may interest different people, so they have value added to the instructor of the course they have already purchased on Udemy.
Udemy: So, then course promotion is just part of what you’re doing?
Juan Gabriel: Yes. For instance, I have travelled to San Francisco. I tried to publish a lot of pictures, even make small videos. For instance, yesterday we went to Twin Peaks and I recorded a small piece of 30 seconds about the fog, about the weather of San Francisco. And the students like this kind of thing because they see the person behind the knowledge they know on Udemy.
Udemy: That’s really great. So, your personality helps you to sell your courses, because they know you better.
Juan Gabriel: Yeah. I think that people don’t stick with themes, they stick with people behind these themes. They can take my course. They can take whoever’s course. They don’t have to learn from me. But it’s the person behind the course who they finally stick with, and they finally keep purchasing course after course.
Udemy: Have you done any participation in other communities? Have you gone onto Facebook and participated in a community on there in order to promote your course?
Juan Gabriel: Yeah. In fact, my latest course about machine learning I tried to look for communities on Python, communities on R Studio, which are focused on data science, on machine learning.
First, I started with getting in touch with the different people inside the community. It’s not about, “Hey, this is my new course.” No. You first introduce yourself. I am a mathematician. I teach at the university. Here are some free videos on my YouTube channel.
After getting into them once per month, or perhaps once each two months, you keep posting some coupons to get the different kind of people on these communities. They tend to be huge communities, about 20k to 50k people inside them. So, they are always a good way to establish different ways to expand your knowledge. Your base of knowledge.
Udemy: You’re like a friend, in a sense. You’re like an expert.
Juan Gabriel: Yeah, it’s what I said before. People stick with the instructor. Probably every one of us has stuck with each professor at the university at college that you remember that gave you the clue about how to go next.
This is what I try to do. I give some free tips. I give some free videos. I give some information. Just so people then say, this instructor, why I am not purchasing the course at Udemy?
Udemy: It sounds like the course coupons are particularly valuable to you as well.
Juan Gabriel: Yeah. In fact, I tend to go to the cheapest price. Go to ten bucks, 11, perhaps 12. I have tried to go until 20 bucks, but people don’t get it with 20 bucks. So, you keep at 11, 12.
Yesterday, for instance, launching the new iOS 12 course, I went to the 12 price. And I started with making the course private, so that people who are already my students know the password. And they feel more like a VIP.
Wow, it’s only for me. I am going to get this right now, to be the first to be on Juan Gabriel’s new course. It went really well.
Udemy: So, let’s say somebody wants to promote their course on Facebook, maybe build a group, and they have no following whatsoever. Maybe just like their dog and their grandmother. What should they do first?
Juan Gabriel: I think that I started with my family and friends at the company. I was in a video game company back in Spain. And I went to everybody like, hey, this is a new community I am starting. Even I gave them free coupons for Udemy, so they started becoming my first students.
Then I think that combining two different social networks is really useful. For instance, publishing a video on YouTube. Starting, for instance, once a week and promoting it on your Facebook community, so they can be combined, these two things. This is the easiest way to start a new thing.
Udemy: How much time would you say you spend on social media for your courses, say per week?
Juan Gabriel: Right now, I don’t spend really much. I tend to spend two or three hours per week, perhaps. It’s not too much. But now that I am launching new courses–Every time that I launch a new course, I always prepare two or three posts, the different coupons, the reminder about the 24hr less offer. This kind of stuff, I prepare it little much than the regular thing.
Udemy: Is there anything you think instructors should not do when they’re planning their social media strategy to promote their courses?
Juan Gabriel: Yeah. I have tried different times to grow with Facebook ads. It has worked for me on two or three courses. Really specific courses about machine learning. For instance, that was a really hot topic during this year.
But it’s not the way to do it, because it’s like, Udemy has the marketing, has the money in that case, has the platform. And I have what I know how to do, that is creating content and sharing my expertise.
Udemy: What’s the first thing you would suggest to someone who’s just starting out?
Juan Gabriel: The first thing I would do is start with a YouTube channel. YouTube is really powerful. Even if you optimize the description of the video. You can go farther to just publish a course on Udemy.
If one potential customer comes to Udemy, the first thing he sees is the price. You have to purchase. You can have some free videos, but it’s not a direct sale. You have to know the author probably, know the instructor, or see enough reviews in order to trust.
YouTube is free. You can go to YouTube. You can see one video. You can see another. So probably the first thing I would do is to create a YouTube channel with 10%-20% of the course for free that people can see. People can rate.
It is also some kind of feedback to the instructor. Because if you start to see some thumbs up, you see that you are going the right way. If you start seeing some thumbs down, you say, well, this is probably not the best thing to publish on Udemy.