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One Course Launched, Another Launching

500 Students and $100 Later-

See below for the TL;DR status update on my latest experiment of teaching on Udemy -

The bad news: I’ve only made $100 so far

The good news: I’ve got 500+ students

The better news: This class will stay online forever ($)

The best news: I made another course, get it for free


This is one of the best courses on Udemy on Public speaking. Highly recommended for everyone who wants to become a successful public speaker.” –A. Jan

“By far the best, most complete, and just down right funny course I have taken on Udemy. You are THE Man Nathan.” –L. Smith

Oh, you better believe feedback like this excites my ego. These are reviews from my students. My students. My own cramped little corner of the Internet to plant a flag and build a fiefdom.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to market online courses, and for a first pass I did okay: 500 students, $100 revenue, 10 written reviews, 1 feature on a website with 14 million users. Search “Public Speaking” on Udemy, and I’m holding the top spot.

"This is by far one of the most inventive courses we've seen on any topic." It's like they know my love language is words of affirmation.

I don't understand how my class with 10 ratings is beating the No. 2 class with 163 ratings. But hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Vanity stats aside, I’m still operating in the red. I’ve made $100, but it cost $320 to make my first course and I’ve spent about $80 on marketing. For every dollar I’ve made, there is still three missing from the bank account.

But hey. This is only month one.

Innovation Begets Innovation Begets Opportunity

I love hacking other people’s creativity. It saves mine a lot of effort. I tell them, “Hey, I just made an online course,” show them the video, and then they turn to me and say:

“Nathan, have you ever thought about teaching [insert topic here]?”

It’s around this time that I slide out my iPhone and begin taking notes.

Before my first course, I had three course ideas. Now, I have about 20 feasible ideas.  The more people I tell about my course, the more people offer me their own imagination to brainstorm ideas. It’s like recruiting a mobile think tank.

I also have better ideas of where I could go with this hobby. I’m syndicating my content to Skillshare (click to get the first part of my Public Speaking course free) to see if I can get a second stream of revenue off each course I make. I also started to get cold emails from people trying to sell me on their course content platforms – which makes it a lot easier to research other ways to make money six months from now.

Innovation begets innovations begets opportunity.

The Near Future

My friend and fellow agitator, Joel Kaplan (who recently got $5,000 from the Knight Foundation to do a city-wide project in Boulder) leveled me with a challenge: make a second course in seven days.

So I did just that. And I picked the least sexy topic in the world: email communication.

It’s not a great topic, but there’s a big audience for it. The heavy hitting public speaking classes have thousands of students. The leaders in email classes have tens of thousands. I can’t exactly teach how to “Build an Internet Empire Through Email”, but I can take a stab at carving a niche for business email newbies.

Since I produced the whole thing in a week, it’s a simple course.

  • "Email Communication Done Different". 35 minutes, 11 videos. 
  • Billy and Chad are back, naturally.
  • We go over example emails from Darth Vader, Frank Underwood, Joffrey Lannister, and Michael Scott. Naturally.

We can all relate to moments like this.

We’ll see how it goes. If it struggles, then I know I need to spend more time on a course than seven days. If it does better, then that’s good to know too.

And, this course only cost me $30 to produce because many of my assets purchased for the first course are reusable in all future courses. I love economies of scale.

If there’s one thing I learned in promoting the first course, it’s that you got to attract a lot of free students before people start paying. So in the spirit of generosity / smart marketing, here’s a free link to my email course. Costs you 0 dollars and 0 cents.

Some of you will think it’s useful. Some of you will think it’s funny. Some of you will think it’s weird.

But hey, those are the three ways most people react to me, so what's new?

Stay curious,


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