Teaching was not something I was seriously considering. As a timid introverted child I stayed mostly in my room, playing video games. My friends and colleagues were outside, playing basketball or football and generally socializing. Time went by and I discovered that all the hours I had spent inside were actually my secret weapon: I had accumulated enough knowledge, that I could teach my skills to people.
Teacher salaries being quite low, I decided against becoming one full-time, so I went into Digital Marketing, learning all I could about Social Media and website traffic.
I was (and still am) constantly reading and gathering information and new skills. I never thought about getting back to my dream of teaching, until I started hearing about this new online learning platform called Udemy. So in less than a year, I have created 4 courses, accumulated hundreds of dollars and generally had a lot of fun doing it.
That being said, Udemy meant the beginning of personal brand as an online marketer and content creator. Here are the 7 ways Udemy has helped me create and grow my brand (and how it can help you too):
1. Get Onto Other Online Teaching Platforms
Even though Udemy seems like the biggest online course provider out there (and it could be), you have to understand that your audience might be somewhere else. I was interested in increasing my reach, so I started researching additional platforms, like Skillfeed, Skillshare and Fedora (more like a do-it-yourself platform, you can customize).
TIP: Do your research and find alternative avenues for your courses. They could be aimed at more technical people or geared towards Spanish speakers. Whatever it may be, it's essential you diversify and expand. Your brand deserves it.
2. Teach in Real-life
Having the skills and the experience from Udemy helped me find the true strength inside me. I was ready to teach my courses in real life. I'm not going to lie – it was a scary decision to make. But one that I'm still extremely happy I made. I emailed 3 organizations already providing such courses. One didn't reply, the second had a full team and the last one flat out said yes. One meeting later and I was in – getting my name out and making even more money in the process.
TIP: Get in touch with the people already teaching. Sites like General Assembly and Skillshare make it easy to find an organization and a location where you can jump from virtual to real life teaching. You can also try organizing your own courses, but may prove to be expensive and time-consuming at first. As your brand starts to get more traction, this option will prove easier and more profitable, in the long run.
3. Become a Speaker at Conferences
You have to start at the beginning: who organizes conferences? People. Where do people hangout? Online. How do you find out who those people are and where they hangout? Do a bit of online research. Getting invited to conferences wasn't something on my list of objectives. But having the power to say: “Yes, I am an expert in my field” thanks to Udemy, allowed me to dream bigger.
One of the people who hired me to teach courses in real-life was organizing a conference and I managed to score a seat as one of 5 speakers on stage. I didn't even need to ask, I was basically his first choice, thanks to our nurtured relationship.
TIP: The easiest way to become a speaker at conferences? Organize one yourself. It might seem like a difficult journey, but once you plan it and map out all the benefits, you'll find ways to make it work. If you also start networking and position yourself as a knowledgeable and positive person, you'll grow your brand and get invited to more conferences. And this time, you'll get paid for it.
4. Start a blog
The easiest and cheapest way to grow your brand is through a blog. You should start creating it with a marketer's mentality: “How can I scale this and grow the traffic?' Of the simple ways is to interview fellow instructors – they'll enjoy the attention and (hopefully) link back to the interview, while your traffic increases. You can do this with your favorite instructors or ones with a popular blog.
TIP: Start small, but send lots of invites for interviews. Get organized and produce lots of content – video, audio, text articles etc. Above all, don't forget to brand everything – your name in the podcast title, brand watermark on images, your name/brand as the author of the articles etc.
5. Socialize Online
When I first joined Udemy, I was spending 80% of my time creating courses and only 20% actually promoting them. I started to think about what I could gain by flipping those numbers or at least increasing the promotions. So I started with a simple idea: get all the instructors in my country (Romania) under one virtual roof. I created a Facebook Group and started messaging people. Over night I had 50 members and it's been growing ever since.
TIP: Think about the benefits of creating smaller communities. They'll all remember you as the one who brought them together, so you will already be seen as a leader and an authority with a vision. The proposal to join should underline the benefits of people becoming a group, sharing knowledge and learning about each other.
6. Write a Book
I've been very fortunate to have been able to practice what I preach. When talking about Facebook Ads in my Udemy courses, for example, I try to use as much of my experience to teach others about specific techniques or tricks. This has given me confidence in my abilities and also led me on a road to experimentation.
Writing is something that comes naturally toe me, so a book was a natural extension. I'm currently working on a few small practical guides and ebooks, all linking back to the blog and my personal website (coming soon).
TIP: Taking a course and creating a whole book out of it is another reason to try your hand at outsourcing. Have someone on Fiverr or oDesk transcribe the audio of the course. If you already have your original slides, find a freelancer to format your text to blend in with your images. Write an intro and and outro to the book and voila! You're on your way to expanding your brand once again.
7. Help others with the skills I've acquired
Having the courage to improve your skills and also believe in yourself is another major advantage of the Udemy platform. You're constantly getting feedback from fellow instructors and Udemy staff. Once you do have a set of skills you are confident in – start using those in facebook groups and offline. Offer your services for free, but make sure people remember your name/brand. Also mention you have a Udemy presence and that more information could be gained there.
TIP: When you're printing your business cards, when you're improving your website, make sure you add links to your Udemy courses. That way, if people want more – they can get it online. Also it's great, as you can't possibly scale the idea of helping others 1on1.
Looking back, I wish I knew all these things when I was just starting out. It would've helped me create a branding plan that would've paid off. So if you're just starting out, this should give you a basic idea of the exact steps you should take to grow your brand using Udemy.
Let me hear you in the comments section below – are you using Udemy for self-promotion or branding objectives? If not, what's holding you back?