303
10 min 24 sec

Published Author Adds Income Source; Makes Additional $21,000 Her First Year

A successful novelist teaches an online course about productivity for writers, reaching 3,700 students in year one.
Education Online Courses Passive Income Service Udemy Writing

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What It's About

Successful writer finds a successful side hustle in selling online writing courses.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Writing & Communication
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

When we asked her for tips for others looking to start their own courses she had this to say:

“Don’t be afraid of sharing EVERYTHING you know about your topic to your students—that’s why they’re buying the course after all. Apart from the content of my courses, the most common piece of positive feedback is people who appreciate that I didn’t hold back. I gave them ALL of my secrets. I think new instructors worry about giving away too much like they’re creating their own competition, but you can’t think that way. No one can BE you—only you can do that.

Even if you tell your students everything you’ve ever done to succeed, not everyone is going to do it the same way or even interpret it the same way. If you hold back key information that you believe are your ‘trade secrets,’ students can tell and the course (and reviews) will suffer because of it.”

Fun Fact

When Jessica got her first customer, she didn’t even realize it. She put the course online, promoted it on social media, and waited. She thought Udemy would email her whenever they made a sale, but they don’t. After she and her husband landed in Dallas to visit family, and they sat down at a Mexican restaurant in the airport, Jessica watched her inbox obsessively thinking nobody was interested in her course and she’d wasted a ton of time. When she actually logged into Udemy, she saw that she’d already sold over 30 courses. She was ecstatic. They ordered another round of margaritas.

Notes from Chris

Episode 303
Jessica Brody (a recent transplant to Portland, OR from Denver, CO) is a seasoned author with over a decade of experience under her belt, and more than 15 novels for teens, kids, and adults to her name. She’s worked with some of the biggest publishers in the world—Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan—and she’s also the author of The Descendants: School of Secrets series, published by Disney Press, based on the hit Disney Channel Original Movie, Descendants.

Having found the success many writers dream of, she thought it might be worthwhile to share her knowledge with others. As many before her, Jessica started leading workshops on writing in person with her local communities and even started picking up paid speaking opportunities at middle schools, high schools, book festivals, and writing conferences. But as much as she enjoyed having an opportunity to share what she’s learned and connect with other writers, it was time intensive and provided little flexibility.

But all of that changed when she heard about the education platform, Udemy. Jessica’s husband runs a software consulting business and he stumbled onto Udemy when he was looking for platforms for him to host training sessions.

Udemy’s online marketplace was essentially the digital version of what Jessica was doing with her in-person workshops, but they would require far less of her attention since she’d only have to create the courses once. Naturally, her husband suggested that she look into it for converting some of her in-person workshops into online courses.

Similar to ideas for side hustles, ideas for courses are sometimes challenging to develop, so Jessica started out by reflecting on problems she encountered when she first started out writing—things like how to be productive as a writer, how to approach publishers and deliver a winning pitch for your novel, how to develop stories that become lucrative blockbusters, and general guidelines for how to write fiction and nonfiction. And from there, she built her courses with the intention of solving these problems.

Since then, Jessica’s launched four courses and is aiming to launch her fifth course by the beginning of November! She has over 3,700 students in more than 90 different countries, and she was able to bring in an additional $21,000 her first year on Udemy.

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

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Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Don’t be afraid of sharing EVERYTHING you know about your topic to your students. I think new instructors worry about giving away too much like they’re creating their own competition, but you can’t think that way. No one can BE you—only you can do that."
—Jessica Brody #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau