How I Made $20,000 in my Sleep

About a year ago, I set out on a journey that has forever changed my life. The title of this article might be a little bit misleading but I had to get your attention so that I could share my story with you. My hope is that anyone in a similar situation will be inspired by this and take action now.

This story actually started about 2 years ago in November. I have always been someone who enjoys learning from a variety of sources. I enjoy reading books and articles on the web, listening to podcasts, going to conferences and even watching videos online.

I loved watching videos online even if I knew the subject because I felt like I would always pick up one little tip or trick that would always make it all worth it. I can remember using www.lynda.com in the past but the idea of an online course was still very new to me. While you can find individual videos on YouTube for free it is very hard to stitch all of these videos together to teach you an entire subject.

In November of 2014 Udemy was running a Black Friday promotion where courses were only $10 each. I ended up watching the promo videos, reading reviews and purchased 5 courses that day. I think over the next year I bought a few more courses and probably went through half of them. I would compare this to purchasing books in the sense that I get really excited to read a new one but sometimes they sit on the shelf for awhile.

When October 2015 rolled around Udemy started running a promotion for all new instructors. Anyone who wanted to be a first time instructor could get involved. If you followed their guidelines and created a new course they would select a few winners and promote you to all of the Facebook & Twitter followers. I can’t quite remember the numbers but I do remember that it was a lot. So I started to think about and asked myself “Why not me?”. I was a blogger, YouTuber and conference speaker. I really enjoy helping others and I always believed that my background made me a great instructor. I was never the smartest guy in the room and I know what problems beginners were facing.

Just coming back inspired from the Spring One Conference I decided I was going to create my first course on Spring Boot. I spent the next 45 days or so working my tail off. I didn’t know a whole lot about course creation or video production but I was willing to learn. All of the videos for my first course were shot in my home office on my iPhone. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do but it ended up turning out ok. I also knew that the promo video was going to be important so I spent some time on that as well. At the end of the day though students want to learn Spring Boot and they are purchasing this course for the content.

I didn’t end up being selected by Udemy to be in their promotions but I was included in the Black Friday sale and that was the most important thing. With 2,300 students at the time of this writing and 528 ratings I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out. So many students leave positive reviews on a regular basis and it just makes me so happy to be helping others.

https://www.udemy.com/spring-boot-intro/

When that course was complete I already started working on my next course. One of the first things I did was upgrade my camera to a Canon 70D. This camera shot amazing video but one of the main features was a flip out screen so I could actually see what I was recording. With some experience on my hands I felt like it was less about the production this time around and now I could focus on the content. I choose to teach a course on the Groovy Programming Language. I have been using this language for years and it was just something I was really passionate about. I ended up launching this course towards the end of May 2016 and at the current time of this article it has almost 420 students and 75 reviews. This course has gotten nothing but positive feedback and I really don’t feel like I would change anything about it at this time.

https://www.udemy.com/apache-groovy/

So here we are on October 4th which is 1 year from when I decided to commit to this and about 10 1/2 months from the time my first course launched. As you can see from the image below I have made about $20,000 over that time period. There are instructors making a lot more than this but I wanted to post these very real numbers to prove a point to you. If you have a passion for helping others this can be you. It is not going to be easy and there will be times where you might want to give up but I promise you it is all worth it. I have a full time job that I love doing and all of this can be done on nights and weekends.

Udemy Milestone 20K

 

The reason for the title is where the passive income lifestyle comes into play. I won’t lie there is a lot of up front work but the idea of waking up and seeing that you made money overnight is very cool. I also took a couple vacations this year and making money while you’re lying on the beach is equally as rewarding.

You will have some work to do keeping the course updated and answering student questions but to be honest if you do the work up front there won’t be a ton of work post launch. The time to take action is right now though. With the big Black Friday sale around the corner you will want to be a part of that.

I am currently working on course #3 with my friend John Thompson and we are really excited about this one. I am also branching out and already have course outlines completed for my next 2 courses which are going to be a little bit of a pivot for me, but an exciting one. I would love to hear your comments and questions so please leave them below or contact me.

This is just the start of my story and I have so much more to tell you about my experience. I have learned so much on my journey and I can’t wait to share it with you. If you’re interested in learning more about teaching online or anything else I am up to please sign up for my newsletter below.

Hi, I’m Dan Vega. I am a Software Engineer living just outside of one of my favorite places in the world, Cleveland Ohio. I am a self-taught programmer who firmly believes that you can accomplish anything in this life if you put your mind to it, roll up your sleeves and are willing to put in the work.

I have been writing software for over 16+ years now and I use my knowledge, passion, and influence to help other developers achieve their goals. I teach online and currently, have over 16,000 students.

When I am not writing software I have a number of things that really keep me busy. I love to read books, listen to podcasts and watch online courses. I have a real thirst for knowledge and it consumes me every single day of the week. I also love to run & lift heavy weights which keep me balanced throughout the week.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dan, Thanks so much for posting this. I’m actually getting started with my first course that will be going on Udemy. Reading this is super encouraging. I’ll be teaching a course on a cross-platform toolkit called Haxe.

    Anything I should keep in mind when creating videos. I feel like I’m recording ever video 5-10 times before it feels right 🙂 Would you recommend following a script or any other small pointers that you think would help ?

    • Great question Matthew. I personally don’t follow a script because I just don’t like the way I sound when it’s rehearsed. I do follow a list of bullet points for my talking head videos so I get everything I want to say in. I will say once you get better at video editing you will see that you don’t have to record everything perfect in one shot. If you record your first bullet point good but then screw your second one up there is no need to stop and go back and do everything all over again. Trust me I did the same stuff on my first course and it took me forever. I am still getting better at this and unfortunately the only way to get better is to do and learn from your mistakes. Good luck with the course and let me know if you have any other questions!

      • I’ve tried creating bullet points so I can remember what all to say as well. That seems to work best! thanks for the advice.

        As for video editing. Any advice on tools to use and things I can do to get better there ? I currently use ScreenFlow for capturing video and editing it.

  • Mohammad Azam Mohammad Azam

    Hi Dan,

    Great article! I have 3 courses on Udemy and I pretty much make nothing at all. Is this because my courses are under 2 hour. Do you think that the length of the course is a big factor?

    • I wish there was one right answer to this but there isn’t. My courses are both pretty long (12 & 14) but not all courses need to be that long. A course needs to be as long as it needs to be to teach what you want to teach. Have you gotten feedback from your students yet? Maybe there are things you can add / update. How about your marketing efforts? It isn’t just enough to post a course and walk away. I do a lot of blog posts / YouTube videos / Social media posts to let people know about my courses. I hope that gives some things to try out and I wish you the best of luck.

      • Mohammad Azam Mohammad Azam

        Thanks for the reply! Yes, I do crazy marketing on Twitter and YouTube. I even raised the price to $100 since there is Udemy promotion going on my course and Udemy is giving away for $25 dollars. I thought when people see that they can get the course for $25 they will jump in. Another question. How do you price the course? If you set $100 for course then nobody is doing to buy it and you will have to wait for the promotion by Udemy which might take a long time. I price high and then distribute the coupons on Twitter for like 80% off. No one has every in any of my courses used the coupon..ever 🙁 My courses are all under 3 hours.

  • CollectedReader

    Inspirational post. At least to me as I’ve been thinking of doing something similar so I’m glad to hear about an honest description of what the journey has been like. Question: Did you have to spend a lot on equipment such as camera, mike, editing software. Does it make a large impact in terms of quality and feedback?