June 25, 2013

Some find teaching a skill via Web videos can be a money-maker


Victor Bastos was making $20,000 a year as a freelance Web developer in Lisbon, Portugal, when he started posting videos to YouTube. Already fluent in several programming languages and looking to branch into new ones, he thought making instructional videos would help him keep track of what he'd learned.

click image to enlarge

Victor Bastos has made close to $500,000 teaching classes on Udemy, an online learning startup.

Courtesy of Victor Bastos

"It was like an online notebook for myself," said Bastos, 33. "But then I started getting a lot of subscriptions. People told me, 'Your tutorials are great -- why don't you make a full course?'"

Within a few months, Bastos got an email inviting him to do just that. The proposal came from an online-learning startup he had never heard of called Udemy. The offer: Host his course on Udemy's Web-based platform, and he could charge students to take it and keep 70 percent of the revenues. Udemy would keep the other 30 percent.

Bastos accepted and got to work fleshing out a full curriculum. His goal: a one-stop course that would turn total rookies into professional Web developers.

In a series of more than 220 video lectures, he lays out the basics of languages like JavaScript and MySQL via screenshare, narrating each step in a slow and soothing voice. Since he began teaching "Become a Web Developer From Scratch!" in late 2011, it has drawn some 7,000 students -- and Bastos has earned $453,000.

He is not an outlier. Udemy, launched in 2010, reports that its top 10 instructors have generated more than $5 million in revenue so far. Many others are taking in sums that would be unheard of for a high school teacher and impressive for a college professor.

A class on IT certifications and training has earned its teacher $260,000 in a little less than two years. One on video, animation and multimedia has brought in nearly $150,000 in the same period.

The focus is on technical skills, and computer classes are the biggest draw. But Udemy's 8,000 offerings also include a smattering of courses in the humanities, social sciences and other subject areas.

Unlike schoolteachers and professors, Udemy instructors don't need credentials, and they don't have to quit their day job to get started.

The company is quick to point out that it's not a get-rich-quick scheme: The average instructor on the site has earned more like $7,000 in total, and only a minority quit their day jobs.

"You don't start teaching purely for the money," said Udemy spokesman Dinesh Thiru. "You start teaching because you're passionate about something."


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)