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Ask HN: Is it too late to make a side income by creating Udemy courses/similar?
19 points by iDemonix 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments
I'm almost 30, and since I was 15 I've on/off wrote blog posts and written tutorials (some on my personal site, some paid articles + paid series a long time ago). One of the few things I enjoy doing at work (DevOps engineer) is teaching/training other people. I run a few small online side projects for beer money, but I'm not that interested in most of them, whereas making money from creating courses would be a dream for me.

For the last few years I've been using Python to build internal REST APIs and so on, and I'm also fairly well versed in PHP/Laravel. I'm not actually a SW Developer by trade, but feel I know more than enough to write/record courses for something like Udemy.

My issue is searching Udemy for any phrase such as 'Python rest', 'Python flask', 'Python web scraping' yields thousands upon thousands of results. Is it too late to start creating content for subjects like these? I'm not really a software developer, and I have more passion for monitoring (Prometheus, Grafana, Graphite, Icinga2, Statsd...) but these kind of topics don't seem worth approaching as anyone with an interest is likely already technical enough to get by, whereas learning to code has a much larger audience.

Interested to hear if I'm just being pessimistic, or whether others think the ship may have already sailed on a majority of topics.






The best time to have started was 3 years ago. The second best time to start is right now.

I would say to follow your passion. If it would be fun and easy for you to put together some sort of monitoring course I say go for it! I wouldn't worry about people being able to buy it on their own. I know that I could figure out how to snap together these monitoring tools, but if I can pay $8.99 for someone to do all of that research and spoonfeed me the info that is totally worth it.

In terms of expected payout, I wouldn't expect a windfall. I definitely think it would be valuable as a portfolio item, especially if you think you would enjoy a career in teaching/training. If you have a reader base from your blog/tutorials you might be able to leverage that.


Thanks for the input. That was kind of my thinking, I'm not expecting to start making courses and leave my job in 12 months time, this is more something to keep me occupied, give me a reason to keep learning new skills, and a definitely portfolio/cv padder.

I've been sat doing some research on Udemy for a couple of hours and it really seems things like Python are heavily covered, and even though I'm not aiming to do this purely to make money, it would be disheartening to put effort in to a course that's buried amongst 10,000 others. Maybe niche subjects like monitoring, where most won't bother due to low viewer counts, are where it's at nowadays.


Make sure you post it to HN when you are done! I'm definitely interested in checking it out.

Thanks for the extra motivation!

Absolutely not too late, especially if you're creating in niche topics like monitoring. Niches are a great place to work because you can build expertise and a following. patio11 sold bingo card software to schoolteachers for years and it was foundational to his success.

I recommend the book "Authority" by Nathan Barry as a step-by-step guide to getting started creating information products online.


I remember seeing the bingo card software, sometimes it's nice to have a subtle reminder that if you just start you've already beaten 90% of everyone else that's had the idea.

I'll check that book out, thanks.


I can suggest an experiment here. I just quickly searched "python rest" like you said and top 2 results are flask vs django. So yes, I agree with you, it's a crowded space.

However... both courses are several hours long. Personally I'm sufficiently proficient in python and would never spend 10h+ to watch these lectures, in 10h I have an api up and running. So maybe there's opportunity for a 1-2h quick course, designed for people who want a refresh or a gasp in a specific technology but they don't have to learn everything from 0.

Advantage on your side, you can create it faster, test faster if you like it and decide whether to invest further. Best of luck.


Whenever I think of Udemy I always just think of learning a subject from scratch, I hadn't really thought about making a programming course in the way you'd described, good food for thought - thanks.

FWIW I have Udemy at work and from time to time, typically in the weekend, I follow a random course. Generally 2-4h max, typically 1.5-2x speed. Last one was on screenwriting, though I'll certainly never make a movie. :)

"I have more passion for monitoring (Prometheus, Grafana, Graphite, Icinga2, Statsd...) "

I would say create courses on devops and these topics. The overall number of audience may be lower for these but it is a growing field and there is hardly any good tutorials out there. You can even charge a premium if you create good content.

You are right that web dev. courses are dime a dozen these days even though you can always create content that you like and see how people take it. But the issue is that sites like udemy or even youtube already has tons of content for those. Lot of bad ones but plenty of good ones as well.


I suppose it would be easier to write about DevOps subjects, it's not that I don't enjoy programming, I just enjoy the 'ops-y' tasks more (who doesn't love a graph). Thanks.

I work for a company that offers hosted Prometheus + Graphite + Grafana services. We're always looking for more good content.

If you'd be interested in chatting about potentially doing some paid tutorial creation for us, shoot me an email: casey@metricfire.com


Shift your position from one of "Will people buy this information?" to "Which information do I sell first?". Choose simple. Figure out the logistics. Then tackle the popular topics.

Selling information is the same as any other product. You need to iterate and test. It seems harder because information is not tangible. It does nothing, unless you seek it. Focus on the seekers. Seek them out.


With your side projects - do they revolve around web apps or code? I’m interested to know as a non dev what area you chose.

They're small SaaS apps that need more work, or small projects for clients (like a JS driven animated scoreboard that a client puts up at corporate events - they take games to corporate parties)

Drop me a line: ste.grider at gmail



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