10 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Udemy Topic


Josh Kaufman’s book The Personal MBA has a brief section in which he sets out 10 points you need to consider when evaluating a market.  Udemy instructors are as much Entrepreneurs as someone opening a corner shop, so I thought it would be interesting to consider his criteria in the context of creating a Udmey course to see what insights this revealed.


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1. Urgency

How urgently do your students need this knowledge right now?  This is not a question that I will answer; that is down to you.  Whether your course is business or lifestyle, if you are providing real value then your students are likely to need your course and its content.  The important point here is to identify pain points and real problems.  If you can offer the convenience of a ready packaged solution, and the wisdom and knowledge to solve the problem, then students will purchase your course

Try to ask yourself “what is the problem I am solving?” I started drafting a social media boot camp course and have decided it is to vague and too broad a subject.  A course focusing on LinkedIn or Facebook could solve the problem of how to use these platforms, which might be a real issue for someone, but a general course on the world of social media, while possibly interesting, is not likely to touch a pain point and therefore unlikely to sell.

2. Market Size

How many students are taking courses similar to this?  You can address a large market but, equally, add great value addressing a niche market.  If you chose the latter make sure it is large enough to be worthwhile.  On the other hand you have the opportunity to dominate the niche, particularly while the Online Course market is relatively immature.

If you chose a large market, then you just have to make sure that your course is sufficiently differentiated from the competition to be the first choice of potential students.  Don’t forget that one of the hidden benefits of competition is that of the proof of the existence of a market for the topic in question.

3. Pricing Potential

What is the highest price students are prepared to pay for this course?  Pricing your course on Udemy is a complex subject.  How are your competitors pricing their courses?  What happens if you join in with Udmey’s discounts and promotions?

However you look at it, you have put a lot of work into your course and deserve to get a return on your investment.  You need to think how you are going to use the coupon tool as a weapon in your armoury to get new students. You may need to price your course high enough to enable you to do this and still have enough head room to make your desired return.

4.  Cost of Customer Acquisition

How easy is it to sell your course?  How much time and effort is required from you to sell to your potential students?  When it comes to selling your Udemy course you need to develop a very proactive approach.  You cannot simply rely on Udmey to sell your course for you.

The best way to do this? Sorry, there is no simple answer.  The best suggestion I can make is to try and see what works for you.  This will depend on your online presence, as well as your potential audience.  Udemy helps you with a great blog and you can also learn from other instructors through the Udmey Facebook groups.

5. Cost of Value and Delivery

Once written and submitted to Udemy, your cost of delivery is practically nothing, quite literally.  This is one of the great advantages of creating a course and benefiting from the scale of the platform.

6. Uniqueness of Offer

How unique is your offer compared to those already on Udemy?  You will need to identify your competitors and see how they have put their courses together.  Study content, structure, media types,style and length.  It is a good idea to take free courses to learn from other instructors.  How do they present their content?  What good ideas can you learn from them?  What would you do better?

7. Speed to Market

How quickly can you create a course? The first course you create will probably take a long time to put together, possibly several months.  Once you have done the process once, it will get a lot easier as you master it.  I have written about the process in a blog post which you can find here.

8. Up front investment

How much will you have to spend to make your course? Investment in hardware and software?  What about your investment in time?

9. Upsell Opportunities

Can you make further sales to your existing students?  Once you have an audience of students you can create new courses in similar areas and offer these to them.  One strategy is to first create a short free course and use this to attract new students and then up sell your main course to them

10. Evergreen Potential

Once created, will you need further investment of time or money to make a further sale?  Clearly this is not an issue with a course of the Udemy platform but you should make sure your course doesn’t get out of date for any reason.  If you have created a course about a software solution, updates to the software may require you to update your course or even create a new course, if a new version of the software is released.

What Should You Learn from this

Clearly the Udemy online platform delivers a number of clear advantages when it comes to accessing your market.  You should focus on those parts of this analysis which you can directly impact when considering your topic.  The more carefully you prepare before you start to create your course, the better positioned you will be to create a successful and profitable course.

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Copyright © John B D Colley


  1. […] Interview: My 10 Top Tips for Topic Selection – you can find the my original Blog post here, on which I based this podcast segment. […]

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