The Entrepreneurial Journey Begins with a Single Student
I was teaching an SEO training class at the Hult International Business School in San Francisco when I first heard of Udemy. In my classes, and when students have questions, I always tell them to ask via Twitter, rather than just raising their hands. During my first lecture, one of the students in the class asked if I had ever considered creating a Udemy class. I looked it up and decided, almost immediately, to change my direction for the company. Over 250 students later I couldn’t be happier.
Making the Offline to Online Transition
Transitioning my class from the offline to the online world has brought on new challenges, and I’ve been tackling them in a dramatically different style than I was previously. The process of converting my class into an online course was fairly straightforward, but rather than worrying about class handouts, paper quality, and where to go to lunch, my concerns in creating this class were more closely aligned with sound quality levels, what type of HD camera to use, and whether or not a particular segment needs to be cut short.
Here was the setup we used:
CAMERA: Canon Xa10
MIC: Sennheiser EW122 PG3
Software: Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 & Adobe Soundbooth CS5
Once we had all of the raw footage from a few of my in-person lectures, we simply had to collect screen shots of the content and apply them, with transitions, to the footage. Editing is definitely an art, and I had some fantastic help in pulling it all together from my intern, Bruno Wong, but it isn’t something you should be intimidated by. I highly recommend cutting your footage into logical, topical slices. This seems to be much more valuable to the user, so that they can come back and access specific classes or subjects at any time. Overall, the process of converting my class from the offline world to the digital world was seamless. It’s an upfront cost for sure, but once you’re done, it’s almost entirely hands-off.
Partnering with Hult was essential in this transition. They allowed me to use the class space to film my course and offered plenty of feedback on how to make my training better. By lecturing and providing an SEO class for their students, the natural transition to get attendees to enroll in the online class was easy. The students, all Masters in Digital Marketing candidates, having already been exposed to much of the content, wear eager to enroll in the class. It provided a very natural continuation for what they had already seen.
Promoting Your Course
Outside of the technical considerations, creating a comprehensive, scalable, marketable class has been incredibly valuable to me, and has dramatically changed the scope of my business. The trick for me was to promote directly to the students who already knew me. I sent them this e-mail:Hey Hult students, Thanks to everyone that came to one (or both) of my search engine optimization training classes. We’ve used some of the footage in our new online class, so I really appreciate everyone that participated in making it happen. We have about 5 hours of footage hosted on Udemy, and are in the process of adding the finishing touches. I wanted to reach out and give all Hult students a discount code to check out the class. We’ll be sure to collect feedback and make changes based on what you think. The code expires in one week, so make sure you sign up soon! Here is the link: ***link redacted*** and feel free to send it to any friends that might be interested as well. Once you sign up, you have lifetime access to the class, so I highly recommend signing up, even if you’re not sure you want to take the whole thing. Thanks!
In just a few days I saw:
- Over 125 sign-ups
- Hundreds of likes and re-tweets on Facebook and Twitter from the students
- A massive increase in links and traffic to my website
- Dozens of students joining my Meetup group
- And an offer for two MBA candidate interns to work with me for their 3-credit summer internship.
Now, rather than focusing on offline training, I can focus on marketing, which I love. My “product” is no longer a glorified version of weekend tutoring. It’s a digital embodiment of what I love to teach, without the taxing, all-day training that comes along with that. Even though my value-add to the consumer is effectively the same, the time I’ve freed up for myself and my ability to market has expanded significantly.
The Udemy platform has been an essential piece of taking my course online. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it, and I’m ecstatic about where this will take my business going forward.
Tommy Griffith has been doing search engine optimization for the last 4 years. He was the co-founder of an online medical tourism agency based in Taiwan and worked at a boutique digital marketing agency in Singapore. He is currently the SEO Manager for Emerging Markets at PayPal. Last year he started ClickMinded, a San Francisco-based SEO training company, and has been holding live SEO training classes for startups in silicon valley on the weekends.
What are you waiting for? Take the first step and sign-up by jotting down an idea for a course you want to create.