The Udemy Affiliate Program: How I Promote It

udemy logo (2)

In this post, I'll dive into the Udemy affiliate program.

I examine some of its top-performing keywords, how I make money promoting it, and different content marketing strategies you can use to cash in on online courses. 

What Is It?

Udemy is a popular e-learning platform that enables course creators to sell and profit from their video content. 

Buyers get access to a near infinite array of reasonably priced video course on topics ranging from WordPress SEO to baking.

Udemy is one of my top-performing affiliate programs. In a way, it's like the Amazon of digital courses.

As you can see, there's a ton of categories and subcategories you can promote:

udemy course categories

Operating through the Rakuten Linkshare affiliate network, you can easily create deep affiliate links to specific products using the link creator within Rakuten Linkshare, or by using the browser-based LinkShare LinkGenerator tool. 

Commission Structure

Udemy offers a baseline commission of 20% with a 7 day cookie. That means you'll get commissions on anything that's purchased within 7 days of an affiliate link click.

In addition, you can get free access to courses if you shoot them an email and you get approved (affiliates@udemy.com).

There are also Udemy sales events- they'll run promotional campaigns that, in my experience, will trigger a flood of affiliate commissions as cookied users scoop up Udemy deals.

As you can see in the screenshot below, there are big spikes in earnings on a monthly basis- I attribute these to Udemy promotions:

udemy affiliate sales trends

How Much Can You Earn?

Most courses are $10.99, which means on average every course sale will net an affiliate $2.20. If you wanted to make a $1,000 a month promoting Udemy, you'd need 454 course purchases a month.

As you can see in the screenshot below, from January to July 2018, I've sent 9,189 clicks to Udemy and have had 385 orders, which is roughly a 4% conversion rate.

This has amounted to $983 in commissions: 

udemy affiliate earnings

Udemy isn't my biggest affiliate partner by any stretch- but it's a nice, passive return on investment for the content I've created.

The majority of these earnings resulted from just 5 posts on one of my sites.

Overall, I have 10 Udemy posts- 5 of which are newer, so haven't begun ranking for their respective keyword terms yet.

How To Promote These Network Offers

  1. Pick a niche: here’s my step-by-step guide and all of my niche reports
  2. A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (it's what I use)
  3. A brandable domain name from GoDaddy
  4. A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
  5. Image & graphics from DepositPhotos (all legal and licensed)
  6. Content from iWriter (my review)
  7. An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr (my review)
  8. An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using

Keyword Research

Below, I extracted 1,000 of Udemy's top-performing organic keywords. 

Scan through the list to find low-competition/high-volume search terms you can rank for. 

As you can see, many of the keywords are related to computer programming- "learn c++", "learning java", "learn linux", etc. 

How To Make Money With Udemy

If you want to make money with Udemy, my general recommendation is to produce tutorial/product review content and then link to a Udemy course so that your readers can purchase a more comprehensive solution.

Tutorial content would mean diving into "Java" and helping users learn how to use it. Within the content you'd link to a related Udemy Java course. 

With product review content, you'd be reviewing popular Udemy courses. For example, there is a class called Complete Java Masterclass. The course name itself gets 250 searches a month, according to Ahrefs. 

Ranking for this term would be pretty easy, plus it is a high buyer intention search- someone searching for this is obviously right at the cusp of purchasing it and needs just a bit more information.

That's where you step in to provide that support and hopefully register an affiliate commission for doing so. 

YouTube

For example, here's a YouTube channel teaching Java Programming that affiliate-links to Udemy: 

By referencing some of their top-performing keywords, if you're in the IT niche, you could produce video content about "Database Design" or "Java" and then use Udemy affiliate links to monetize the content. 

As you can see, the YouTube creator above inserts the affiliate links into the description. He also uses Amazon affiliate links in his description. 

Just make sure you verify your YouTube channel with the Amazon Associates program if you're going to be pushing traffic from YouTube.

Website

If you have a website, these could be call-to-action prompts like "Learn More" or contextual links to more detailed guides on the topic.

Below, you can see that this CodeBurst site uses affiliate links as part of it's Udemy product affiliate review:

Straying outside the tech niche, if you're a cat lover, and have a cat behavior YouTube channel, there are a variety of feline products you can promote. There's even a whole category dedicated to sourdough bread baking.

The strategy, as always, is to produce content that gets traffic and then contextually promote an affiliate partner, in this case Udemy.

Be cognizant that certain Udemy products will convert better than others. If you promote the best sellers in a Category, you'll most likely have a better conversion rate than if you focus on less popular options. 

That sounds obvious- but some people might expect Udemy as a brand to convert at a set percentage, when really each of its products will convert at different rates. 

What I Like

Udemy is a big brand with a solid reputation offering a variety of specialized products you can promote.

That means, as a publisher, you can find niche offerings that other publishers aren't creating content about, create some content, and consequently push a flow of qualified, passive traffic to the offer.

Plus, Udemy makes a concerted offer to convert users. Unlike some affiliate partners that don't have the budget or general wherewithal, Udemy markets its products.

Indeed, that's the entire premise of the platform- the incentive for creators to sign up is that Udemy promotes their content to relevant users through paid and organic search and email marketing.

They've created the advertising infrastructure for their creators that also will benefit you, the Publisher.

It's important to appreciate the effort Udemy is making to convert users. You can find hundreds of affiliate programs inside of Rakuten Linkshare- few of them can make the same promotional push that a company like Udemy can.

What I Don't Like

There's not much to dislike here.

Sure, it'd be cool to make more than $2 per conversion on a single course, but that's because their courses are pretty cheap, which helps with conversion anyway. 

Probably the biggest drawback is the 7 day referral window- I'd prefer if it was longer. Maybe 30 or 60 days.

10 Udemy Affiliate Alternatives

Below I've listed out some Udemy affiliate alternatives if you want to investigate other affiliate options. 

  1. 360Training – 15% per sale
  2. Coursera – Up to 45% per sale
  3. CreativeLive – 10-20% per sale
  4. edX – 10% per sale
  5. The Linux Foundation – 20% per sale
  6. MasterClass – 25% per sale
  7. Pluralsight – Varies
  8. Shaw Academy – $1 - $10 
  9. Skillshare – $10 per sale
  10. Treehouse – Up to 50% per sale

Final Thoughts

The Udemy affiliate program is a solid option if you want to make money online.

For me, it's more of a supplementary income stream.

But, I imagine for some content creators, particularly those in the tech niche who can push a lot of traffic to Udemy's different coding and development courses, it might be very lucrative. 

Wherever niche you're in, it's likely Udemy has a relevant course you can promote.

Let me know your experiences with the Udemy affiliate program in the comments section.

Ryan Nelson
 

​Ryan Nelson is a NYC-based Industrial-Organizational Psychologist and a full-stack online marketer. He created NicheFacts.com to help people discover and build profitable, content-focused online businesses.

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