2017 is Still A Great Year to Start Teaching Online Courses

You should be creating online courses in 2017. Period.

The online course market is still in growth phase. That alone is enough of a reason to get started with your own online courses. Even though the marketplaces appear to be more competitive than ever, here are a few of the best reasons to create your own online courses today.

All of these reasons come from my personal experience teaching over 300,000 of students since 2012.

1. Business Continues to Grow Here at VSO

Every January, I look back at the past year and gauge how the business has grown since 2012. Black Friday sales in November, and New Years sales in January have been a good indication of growth. Every year since I started teaching online courses, Black Friday sales have doubled from the previous year.

It’s hard to imagine this growth continuing forever…

But, because it keeps happening, it’s a goal that I set for my business – work hard all year long, improve courses, make more courses, expand my audience to try to double my previous Black Friday & January sales.

I’m not the only one that has seen this kind of growth. Most of the instructors I know also have seen yearly growth – as long as they keep creating new courses and trying to expand their own audience & brand.

Even people who started teaching online in 2015 or 2016 have seen dramatic increases in growth since starting.

2. People Thought the Boom was Over in 2015… and 2016

This brings me to my next point. The gold rush of creating and selling online courses was 2013 and 2014, right?

That’s what everyone thought!

2015 seemed like the year everything would peak.

But then new instructors started in 2015 and had massive success. I’ve interviewed a few of them on my podcast.

So it seemed crazy that 2016 would continue to grow. And while 2016 did have some bumps along the way, especially on Udemy, everything seemed to work out for the best by the end of the year. I know many new instructors who started in 2016, and are having much more initial success than I did.

Remember, I made $62 in my first month of teaching online courses. There are hundreds of instructors who have done better than me in their first month, many who started in 2016.

While people can keep guessing that the boom is over, and that the time to start teaching online courses is in the past, there is no indication to me that that’s true. With so much potential growth in the future, it is still an amazing time to get started. In fact, if you haven’t started yet, there is no better time to start than right this moment. If you do, years down the road you’ll thank yourself for not waiting.

Speaking of growth…

3. Huge Growth in International Markets

Currently, only 1/3 of my students are from the United States. Tens of thousands of my students are from other countries. The image below shows the total number of students on Udemy alone, including the top 5 countries (United States, Australia, India, Egypt, and the United Kingdom), and the number of countries (211) my students come from. It makes sense that the most popular countries are english-speaking ones. But that still leaves about 1/2 of my students from countries where english isn’t their first or official language.

So why does this matter?

The world has around 7.5 billion people. The United States has about 319 million people. With 32% of my students coming from the US, that means that ~ .02 percent of the US population has taken a Udemy course of mine. With 68% of my students coming from non-US countries, that means .002 percent of the world has taken a Udemy course of mine.

First off, that’s pretty crazy. .002 Percent of the world actually sounds pretty legit. But that means that 99.998% of the world hasn’t taken a course of mine. It also means that 99.98% of the US population hasn’t taken a course of mine. That’s a lot of people who might potentially be interested in my courses. 

And with internet access rapidly expanding to places that never had internet (or high speed internet), there’s bound to be some interest in that 99.9%.

Another thought…

Udemy passed claims to have 15 millions students now.

15 million is just .2% of the world’s population. There are ~7,485,000 people who have never enrolled in a Udemy course. Udemy has a ton of money from investors to help them expand globally. So as instructors, we don’t have to do the work of reaching these other countries. Udemy will do it for us. We just have to make sure that our courses can be accessed and learned by english & non-english speakers. Closed captioning and translating our courses are an important part of making our courses internationally viable.

Above you can see the Alexa ranking of Udemy (as of February 2017). As their ranking increases, their student numbers increase. And this increases sales across the platform. So as long as Udemy continues to increase in their ranking, than we should all be scrambling to get onto Udemy with our courses.

At the end of 2016, Udemy announced that international expansion was one of their main focuses for 2017.

I’ve also heard whispers that Skillshare is pushing towards international growth this year.

4. Topics that Haven’t Been Taught

The numbers seem to be pointing in the right direction. But haven’t all the courses been taught already?


Yes, there is more competition in the marketplaces than before. If you’re trying to become the best selling web development course on Udemy, than good luck with that. There is a huge amount of competition there.

But at the same time, there’s always been competition with any topic. Our main competition has always been free content – YouTube, blog articles, books, etc. And I’ve always had competition with the topics I teach. I didn’t become a best selling instructor because I found topics that had no competition. It was because I taught courses in my own way, and students seemed to like it.

And that’s what I always tell new instructors worried about competition…

You are unique. You will create courses in your own way (so don’t try to copy other people’s styles). And if you truly care about sharing your knowledge with others, than students will see that, appreciate it, and enroll in your courses.

Also, there are many ways to teach a course. Even if there are a hundred other yoga courses out there, you might have a different way of teaching yoga that people will love.

Also #2, new topics keep popping up to teach about. Drone videography wasn’t a thing just a few years ago. Now Laurence Seberini is dominating that niche on Udemy. He’s inspired me to try to teach my own drone videography course with my buddies Will and Sam. Even though he’s dominating the niche, I still think there is a place for our own course.

My buddy Caleb just texted me today about a virtual reality video production course. This industry is currently booming – and is brand new. And there is a space for a course on the topic.

So there actually are and will be plenty of topics that have never been taught. They’re yours for the teaching!

5. Topics that Need Updated Courses

Lots of course topics can and should be updated every so often. In particular, software-based courses will constantly need to be updated with new releases. I went through and did a completely new Adobe Premeire Pro course because my previous course was based off the CS6 version of the application, and Adobe had come out with multiple updates of their new CC version.

I’m just launching a brand new course that helps others teach their own online courses – Online Course Masters – because my last course launched in 2013 was in dire need of some updates (partly because I looked like a baby back then).

What this means is that no matter what your topic is, even if there are other courses on that topic, you can have success with a brand new updated course.

6. It’s Easier than Ever

Every year it becomes easier and easier to create and sell online courses. Udemy and Skillshare are just two of the many marketplaces that basically host, organize, and sell your courses for free.

Teachable is a self-hosting option that allow you to create your own course website. It’s so easy to create your own course site, that practically a baby could do it. And I know that’s true because there are lots of babies who are better at using iPhones than me…

In terms of equipment needed to get started, you basically need something to record audio (a microphone like the Blue Snowball is a great way to start for around $50). You can create a slide-based course with free tools like Google Presentations. You need to record your presentations, and this can be done with free tools like OBS or Quicktime Player.

See… it’s not that difficult to get started! The hardest part is just giving yourself the time to actually start. 

7. There is Room for More Marketplaces

While Udemy has become the dominating leader in the online course industry, every teacher I know seems to be waiting for one of the major online players (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) to really make a push in online education. Whether this means partnering with or buying out Udemy, or creating their own platform, we don’t know.

Online education isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So it seems to make sense for these companies to get into the market.

When and if they do, as instructors we want to be ready. We want to have courses already recorded and being successful on other platforms so that we can put them on any new platforms that pop up.

That’s one of the beautiful things about being a content creator in the online course space, most of these platform leave the rights to the content to us the instructors. Meaning… we can put our courses on multiple platforms.

To be honest, I hope that Udemy continues to expand and dominate the industry. I owe many blessings of my life to Udemy, and I am committed to them as my primary online course platform. If Udemy continues to succeed, then as long as I keep making great courses and making my current courses the best they can be, then I believe I’ll have success.

And hopefully these 7 reasons are enough to inspire you to start teaching your own online courses.

If you start today, and you put your heart into it, and give yourself time to grow, and follow the many tips I give you on this site and with my podcast, I’ll be that in time you’ll be thinking back to this time and thanking yourself to starting.

What do you think?

Have you started teaching online yet. If not, why not?

And if not, will you in 2017?