Non-Fiction Authors Are Using Udemy Online Courses to Create Passive Income & Promote Book Sales, Should You?

Udemy is an online learning platform that connects inquisitive learners with content experts. If your book shares a proven strategy, makes a complex concept simple to understand or guides readers through a step-by-step process, you may want to consider adding a Udemy course to your book marketing strategy.

With 90% of Udemy instructors making sales and earning about $7,000 a year per course-many of which are self-directed courses of pre-recorded videos and notes-it’s worth looking into.

Here are some stats on three authors who are using Udemy to stay relevant and reach more readers.

Author Turned Udemy Course Instructor #1
Author Name: Eric Ries
Author’s Recent Course Related  Book Title: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” (2011) Sale Price: $19.43 Book Ranking: 4.5 star review from 458 reviewers
Udemy Course Title: The Lean Startup”
Udemy Course Price: $150
Udemy Course Ranking: 4 stars by 19 reviewers
Note Worth Mentioning: As of the publication date for this blog, 1,530 people have enrolled in this $150 course. The course instructor keeps 100% of all sales from students the author brings in, and 50% of the sales generated by the Udemy website. That is $114,750 (at 50% commission)-$229,500 (at 100% commission) in revenue for Ries based on book content that he already wrote. Given the current Amazon sales price of his book, he would have to sell between 5,905-11,811 books to make that same amount of money. Actually, that is incorrect. His book is published through a traditional publishing company that will take a large percentage of the sales, and Amazon will take a percentage too. So he would have to sell even more. If he gets 20% royalty on his book sales (this is extremely generous and requires excellent negotiation skills to achieve) he would need to sell 573,750 books to earn the $114,750 he can earn through his Udemy course at the 50% commission rate.

I don’t know how long it has taken Ries to sell this many courses, but I do know that the effort receives an amazing rate of return on content that he has already written for public consumption.

Author Turned Udemy Course Instructor #2
Author Name: Richard Duncan
Author’s Recent Course Related Book Title:  The New Depression: The Breakdown of the Paper Money Economy” (2012) Sale Price: $21.65 Book Ranking: 4 Stars reviewed by 70 readers
Udemy Course Title: How the Economy Really Works” 
Udemy Course Price: $100
Udemy Course Ranking: 5 Stars by 80 reviewers
Note Worth Mentioning: As of the date of this post, 443 students have taken this Udemy course featuring 2+ hours of instruction. This means that the author has received an extra $22,150-$44,300 by remixing his book into an online course. This author has two other books and at least three other Udemy courses all priced at $100 or more. One of his courses has had over 600 students. Combined, his courses have reached well over 1,000 students. 

Author Turned Udemy Course Instructor #3
Author Name: Lili Balfour
Author’s Recent Course Related Book Title: “Master the Finance Game” Sale Price: $2.99 Kindle eBook Book Ranking: 4.5 star reviews from 7 people
Udemy Course Title: “Finance Boot Camp for Entrepreneurs”
Udemy Course Price: $97
Udemy Course Ranking: 5 Stars by 1 reviewer
Note Worth Mentioning: As of the date of this post, Lili has remixed her $2.99 self-published Kindle e-book with 66 pages into a $97 Udemy course that has sold to 925 students. This yields her between $44,862.50-$89,725 in sales. But here’s the catch. Unlike most of the other Udemy courses, she offers 17 lectures and interacts with students weekly to answer questions and provide guidance. This is an excellent model for coaches, consultants and other solopreneurs looking to turn students into clients of other services. It’s also a great arrangement for the students who did not want to invest in services they do not fully understand.

How to Get Started with Your Udemy Course 
Udemy offers a free course on “How to Create a Course” that has 3+ hours of content. So if you are interested in using Udemy, this is a great way to experience the Udemy learning platform while you get pointers from the pros on how to get started. The free course is not the only place to learn about how to design a course, Udemy instructors also receive access to live staff members who will help you develop a great course. Keep in mind that they do have a reputation to maintain, so they won’t let your great content suffer because you are a first-time online instructor. Udemy’s loyalty is to their learners to make sure that they consistently gain access to great content, and this loyalty works out in your favor!

This is not the only way to produce an online course, but for someone who has never taught an online course before, I highly recommend taking advantage of their training, support and promotion of your course before launching out into other ventures. I don’t always do things just because others are doing it, but if Jack Welch-author and former CEO of General Electrics who raised the company value 4,000% and respected business leadership teacher- thought it was a good idea to use to promote his message, then I think it will be a great idea for other content experts. (By the way, Welch’s class goes for $500/student…that’s a whole lot more than any single book sale could earn you! And if a student pays $500 for his course, do you think they will hesitate to pay the price for his book(s)?)

Question: If you could take a class from any expert in the world, who would you like to learn from? (I dare you to check if they are teaching a course on Udemy now.)

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at