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Less than 24 hours on Udemy as an instructor and I’m close to leaving (nickjanetakis.com)
293 points by baobaba on Nov 27, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 37 comments



Wow!

To some people, that article is going to seem like nit-picking, and insofar as it affects most people, it may be.

But my feeling on reading this article is gratitude. Thanks for writing it.

It's good for Udemy. If their business practices end up costing some content creators 87.5% of list price, then it's because the evil and/or lazy forces in the company have gained ground, and this kind of sunshine may weaken them.

It's good for content creators.

It's good for consumers. As a potential customer of courses like yours, I was discouraged at seeing their incentivization of cheaper, spammier courses. Why? Because even if education is turned into a product, it's is still a "buy-it-for-life" product where quality matters, and quality is the only metric I (and probably many of Udemy's shoppers!) really care about. Anything that could result in less noise/spam in their signal is appreciated.

It'll be interesting to see how Udemy responds.


As someone who has been doing screencasts with voice, I can tell you the mic is really important. If you use a headset, even a good one, you can generally hear the spit swishing around in your mouth. It's awful.

A buddy runs a pro recording studio and recommended Aphex Microphone X. I haven't looked back. Aphex makes amazing pro microphone preamps that are pricey. They launched something called Microphone X which has a compressor and a "big bottom" feature that were previously only in their high end pro gear. It's quite affordable - about $200 compared to an EV RE20 broadcaster mic for $600. It's a USB mic, so you don't need a preamp or digi interface. You just plug it into your computer and you're all set. I use it with a boom stand and pop filter. I love them so much I use them for everything including skype calls.

What this does is negate the changes in volume as you get closer or further from the mic (compressor). Add some nice radio bass to your voice with the big bottom effect. And generally give you a pro quality mic with a USB interface.

Here are all three:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B73OJT2?psc=1&redirect=t...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DY1F2CS?psc=1&redirect=t...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008AOH1O6?psc=1&redirect=t...

Sure, purists will argue the EV20 is worth every penny. But pre's like the aphex have gotten so good that they've made the gains from a high-end source mic worth a lot less, if anything.


Thanks for that. I really hate the sound of my own voice when I hear a recording back. The only microphone I did not have that with was an AKG that was priced way out of the ballpark and it needed an equally expensive pre-amp to go with it. Nice to see a reasonably affordable ($200 is still quite a bit of money) alternative.


Thanks. I'm curious to know whether you've compared this with the much cheaper Audio-Technica ATR-2100-USB that Marco Arment mentions here: http://www.marco.org/podcasting-microphones#rank


A boom or scissor-arm stand with suspension mount ($30), a pop filter ($10), and USB condenser-type microphone at the bottom of the range of your chosen manufacturer ($30-$100) will get you 80% of the way there. The cheapest $5-$20 microphones are cheap plastic USB crap with 5 cent dynamic transducers, but it's really a huge step up to something like the chunky, metal Samson C01UCW studio microphone, for only a little more money.

The whole setup cost me $76.



The author raised $12,451 USD from 13 backers for a Flask course?

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nickjj/build-a-saas-app...

Maybe I'm in the wrong line of work.


The great majority of that came from 2 backers, who also received these services:

  - I will do a case study on your app and it will be featured on the project's website. 
  - 1 hour remote consulting session to help you get unstuck with the project. 
  - E-mail support within reason. 
  - Both screencast series. 
  - A PDF cheatsheet of all of the tasks and deploy commands you can run. 
  - A Flask sticker that you can place anywhere!
So essentially they paid a few grand for a Flask course, decent support package (1 hour live support, unlimited email support), some videos and swag.


wait, wait, wait on your third point - a whole hour for each of all two backers you mention?


I think I detect sarcasm? That seems like a fairly reasonable rate.


This wasn't something that happens every day.

The Flask screencasts were my first attempt at a Kickstarter. My goal may have been ambitious but I looked at other programming books/material and tried to price it around what those projects got funded for.

Long story short, my campaign tanked for nearly the full month and 36 hours before it ended an Australian businessman nearly solo backed the project and we've been in contact since working on various things.

I don't want to mention his name unless he gives me permission, but I wanted to post this now to clear up how this took place.


It says 2 backers pledged $3,000 or more for:

  - Case study on your app and it will be featured on the project's website
  - 1 hour remote consulting session to help you get unstuck with the project
  - E-mail support within reason
I agree, that is quite impressive! Looks like the author discussed how this managed to come together though, so I probably wouldn't be too excited to follow in his footsteps.


IT education is a huge market. Unfortunately it also attracts a lot of fakers and cheapos -- in this case, the Udemy owners.


Its amazing how many phone calls you get in a week for IT education even at a small business / community college. These course aren't cheap either.


> Unfortunately it also attracts a lot of fakers and cheapos -- in this case, the Udemy owners.

Or, from my experience, most Udemy courses.


The author might be better off going with the flow and treating Udemy-imposed discounts as a loss-leader for consulting gigs.

Udemy is creating a race to the bottom for their course creators, to the benefit of the students, who will always be able to find quality courses for $10. The winning course creators will be the top 2%, plus those in the top 10% who are able to convert the courses into other forms of income.

However, this is not much different than almost every other form of content creation and centralized distribution these days, where there are winners who are good enough that they can make a break and create their own distribution channels, another tier who can make a living by hustling in multiple modes, and the hopeful replacement-level masses who keep the broad distribution channels afloat with a deep catalog.


You can also split your course into multiple parts -- part 1 can always have the $10 price, then the next part(s) could have the higher price point. This also gives the student a cheap way to sample your course to see if it is worth purchasing the higher price ones later on.


While that obviously works out to a surprising amount from each individual, if the author really spent two months putting the course together, well ... it wouldn't be particularly well-paid client work for a contractor in the Bay Area.


Yeah, I was definitely mostly surprised by the amount per individual


13 people who didn't realize they could get a similar course for $10 on udemy... ;)


Udemy's getting absolutely slammed today on HN. I wonder if they're paying attention.


Very informative writup about a platform I had only heard of before.

Some comments on book publishers:

> A book publisher will happily give you better margins >

No. If, an author makes 5% royalties on their book sales they're really lucky! Mainstream publishers must make a cut, so they'll only fork out a tiny percentage of the profits, which is a tiny percentage of the wholesale price, which is 45% of the list price (standard wholesale discount).

So 12% royalties, is really like 4-5% of profits, and if the book is sold with extra discount, we're dropping into the 2-3% range.

> than that AND print you high quality hard cover books > while bending the world to sell it for you in the process. >

More no. They'll put the book in a few catalogues, and maybe make a flyer or two. No world bending stuff.


takeaway: break you lessons up into $5 (to you) chunks and the let them go on sale for $10.


Udemy is a TERRIBLE platform. I'm surprised that so many instructors consent to putting their stuff on there. It's so much better to just have your content on your own hosted solution or Teachable (previously Fedora). Looks like there's a lot of room to innovate in this space.


I don't know if it's an open course hosting platform, but there's http://02geek.com/


[flagged]


You appear to believe the author is making a global appeal and has deliberately put this on the HN front page. Please remember that this is the author's personal blog, the readers there probably know who this is, and some of them shared the link which made it here. Take the content for what it's worth, spare the author the patronising lecture.


Actually, the author posted the link on HN in another HN thread.


[flagged]


You're way off base. The author is free to do as he pleases and it's none of your business to tell him to retract his article. Anonymous cowards aplenty on the internet, anonymous cowards dictating what can and can not be discussed and what should be retracted is a bit much don't you think?

I got a pretty positive first impression of the author, he's capable, he outlined his griefs, did so after actually spending considerable time to use the product, is balanced because he sees both the good and the bad.

If I were in Udemy's shoes I'd love to receive feedback like this and I'd do what I could to address his very reasonable points.

Oh, and this is not why Europe has a 'right to be forgotten'.

Everything you've written actually applies to your own comments here, but since your anonymous you don't care about that either way but I though that was kind of funny.

In short: OP's reputation is doing just fine.


Giving suggestions isn't dictating. That's what comments are for.

He spent considerable amount of time which, in my opinion, would be better spent creating something superior.

To reiterate, I empathize with his grievances. Outlining them doesn't serve to bolster the legitimacy of his brand or sell videos.

If the intention is to get the pitchforks and sick them on Udemy, I also think I'm correct in pouring cold water on that too.

I truly see things differently, I don't want an end game where mobbing and shaming - I want to key people coding and making things.

He says he creates tutorials on SAAS platforms, yet he himself gives a critique to udemy on their site's performance and practices? To people's perceptions, that may send a conflicting message.

Let's see this another way, author launches his own video website using his SAAS Flask skills and talents.


> He spent considerable amount of time which, in my opinion, would be better spent creating something superior.

You decide what you want to do with your life, the author gets to decide what to do with theirs. It's not your call to make.

> To reiterate, I empathize with his grievances. Outlining them doesn't serve to bolster the legitimacy of his brand or sell videos.

To you.

> If the intention is to get the pitchforks and sick them on Udemy, I also think I'm correct in pouring cold water on that too.

I didn't see any pitchforks. Just a very detailed end-user report detailing a bunch of issues with an online service, provided free of charge.

> I truly see things differently, I don't want an end game where mobbing and shaming - I want to key people coding and making things.

Good, so go code stuff and make stuff. You're not doing either here you're telling someone to stop making stuff (writing is making stuff).

> He says he creates tutorials on SAAS platforms, yet he himself gives a critique to udemy on their site's performance and practices?

Who better than someone that has the experience?

> To people's perceptions, that may send a conflicting message.

HN is a pretty smart bunch I don't think we need you to interpret the message for us, we're quite capable of thinking for ourselves here.

> Let's see this another way, author launches his own video website using his SAAS Flask skills and talents.

He just might, time will tell. But at least he gave Udemy the benefit of his experience for which they are no doubt grateful.


> Good, so go code stuff and make stuff. You're not doing either here you're telling someone to stop making stuff (writing is making stuff).

The author of the blog post, who wrote a tutorial on how to create SAAS platforms, then complained about the SAAS service he used.

I find that contradictory. I gave an opinion. I don't understand why that makes me the subject.

> HN is a pretty smart bunch I don't think we need you to interpret the message for us, we're quite capable of thinking for ourselves here.

"We?"

> He just might, time will tell. But at least he gave Udemy the benefit of his experience for which they are no doubt grateful.

An instructor's goal to teach his students and be able to pay his bills.


> I find that contradictory. I gave an opinion. I don't understand why that makes me the subject.

It's a presumptuous paternalistic position, not just an opinion. That's what makes you the subject. You in one fell swoop and with zero credibility claim to be the arbiter of what can be discussed here, what should be taken off the homepage, what the author should do about his brand image and so on. I fail to see any of your advice backed up by either reason or fact.

> "We?"

If you read back to your first comment you'll see that you used 'we' in just the same way. I just used yours for inspiration, it's funny to see you offended now.

For reference:

> "So how about we take this off the front page"

"We?"

How about we don't.

> An instructor's goal to teach his students and be able to pay his bills.

He's doing just fine in that respect, but who are you to tell him what his goals should be? I'm sure there are people on udemy who make courses just for the fun of it.

Also, you're ... a verb there.


ha, excellent rebuttal! I enjoyed reading the article, and I think it was a good contribution to the front page, as does everyone who upvoted it.

As an added hilarity... For added context I compared anon6_'s account info to yours... "-15 karma and created 9 days ago". . . what kind of person feels comfortable enough to dictate what should and should not be on the front page after literally just joining the community? AND being offended at your use of "we", when you have infinitely more validity to use it. I literally laughed out loud when I saw those stats.

To quote another gem from the front page:

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt."


[deleted]


Blog author here.

The beginning of the article praises Udemy's student experience.

Trust me, I'm not a competitor to them. If I were, I would have just hosted my course on my own platform without even thinking about Udemy.


You're doing just fine. I'd suggest you polish your own platform use it to showcase what it can do and charge a fee if others want to use it as a service. Competition is good for everybody, both the users, the course makers and eventually for the companies because it keeps them sharp.


great article, lots of good insights!


For what it's worth, I thought the article was well written and useful.




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