Udemy Pricing Change

Having only just wrapped my head around the pretty bizarre pricing model at Udemy, they go and change it!

Let’s rewind to get a necessary perspective.

Udemy sells online educational courses which are primarily video-based. Those courses could be priced from $9 to $299. However, a lot of the time, courses were priced towards the high end ($249, $299), but actually sold at the low end ($10, $15). The discounting was done by both course instructors, using deep discount coupons they created and sent via mailouts to their Udemy students, and by Udemy themselves who would have offers and sales events such as the “Black-Friday” site-wide offer where you could pick up any course for $10. Of course, the discounts appeared highest for courses priced near the maximum, hence instructors gravitated to the high end of pricing, knowing that a “90%-off” deal was much juicier than a “20%-off” deal to prospective buyers.

However, this pricing caused a trust issue to build up for Udemy. What happened to someone new to Udemy who wasn’t wise to the discounting games? What if that person bought a $299 course, only to find it was on sale along with every other course at just $10 the week after. It’s not hard to guess their reaction, nor their likely response which would probably be never to buy from Udemy again!

And so it came to pass that Udemy decreed that, as of 4th April 2016, all courses would be priced from $20 to $50, rising in $5 increments. So there would only be seven possible prices for all courses, site-wide. Not only that, but the maximum discount offered, by either an instructor or Udemy themselves, would be 50%.

Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the “discounters” who offered courses for less than $10, and there were a LOT of discounters. FaceBook coupon groups had to be re-named swiftly from “Udemy courses under $10!” to, erm, “Udemy courses over $10!

So Udemy is trying to shed its discounting image. They want to remove the possibility of Bob being mortified at spending $299 for a course he could’ve got for just $10. They also want to iron-out the spikes in sales throughout the calendar year. It seemed to me that the big sale events of November and January hoovered up about 75% of the year’s sales because a lot of people put off buying any course at anything over $10 until then next sale, then “stocked up” on courses to last them the next several months.

As Udemy grows past 10-million users towards 11-million and beyond, it may be that people forget their “early days” with the “wild west” discounts. Both Udemy and their instructors need to hope so!