With bargain-priced courses on every imaginable subject, learning on Udemy is very tempting. But is Udemy worth it, or is it a waste of your time? In this Udemy review, you can find out.
The HomeWorkingClub team has lots of experience with Udemy. As well as discussing the platform itself in this Udemy review, we also discuss our experiences with courses we’ve taken personally.
We’ve reviewed a huge range of different e-learning sites on HomeWorkingClub, and frequently suggest low-cost Udemy courses to people who want to learn new skills. Thanks to the company’s almost-permanent sales, you can often pick up courses for little more than 10 bucks each – a very small investment in adding to your knowledge.
But the site isn’t perfect, so it’s important that we cover the downsides too.
Here’s a quick summary for those who don’t have the time to read the entire review.
Udemy Review Summary:
“Udemy is a good value platform for learning new skills, and there are definitely some gems amongst its enormous range of courses. There are some duds too, but so long as you choose wisely, you should be able to pick up a satisfying and rewarding course.”
Table of Contents
- What Kind of Courses are on Udemy?
- How Much does Udemy Cost?
- Udemy Money Back Guarantee
- Is Udemy Worth it as a Place to Learn?
- How Will Udemy Courses Help Your Career?
- Features and Functionality
- Is Udemy Worth it Since it Provides No Sense of Community?
- Example Udemy Courses
- How to Choose the Best Udemy Courses
- Specific Courses We’ve Taken on Udemy: Our Experiences
- Is Udemy Worth it for Selling Courses?
- Udemy Review Roundup: The Good and The Bad
- Who is Udemy Ideal For?
- Udemy Review: Conclusion
- Alternatives to Udemy
- Other Popular Content
What is Udemy?
Udemy is an online training platform offering over 130,000 different courses in a vast range of subjects. Around 50 Million students have taken courses using the platform.
Unlike some other online course providers like edX and Coursera, Udemy doesn’t market courses created by universities and educational institutions. In fact, anyone can create and sell a course on Udemy – and that includes you!
This means that there are actually two important questions to answer:
- Is Udemy worth it if you want to learn new skills?
- Is Udemy good as a place to create and sell courses of your own?
Don’t worry – in this Udemy review, we look at both angles!
Is Udemy Legit?
Udemy is completely legit. It’s had accolades from the likes of Forbes and Mashable, and millions of people use the platform to learn new skills. It’s also a platform that household-name companies use to train staff.
However, the fact that anyone can create Udemy courses is a double-edged sword. It means that the quality of courses can vary considerably. It’s best to read individual course reviews in detail, and to look for round-ups of the best Udemy courses, such as our own list of suggestions for freelancers.
Some Udemy courses are created by true gurus in their field. An example is Ryan Kroonenburg, a renowned expert in cloud solutions and Amazon Web Services. His related courses on Udemy have attracted over 650,000 students.
So yes, Udemy is completely legit. Those who are negative about the platform are likely to have chosen a poor-quality course – and it’s impossible to deny that those exist.
What Kind of Courses are on Udemy?
You can learn just about anything on Udemy, from mindfulness to music, or design to dog training. It’s fantastic for learning a new hobby or updating skills.
For example, one of us needed to know how to use Garageband on an iPad before using it with young students. A quick search: “Garageband for iPad” found three possible courses, and the one chosen walked through every required step.
In cases like this when all you want is knowledge, Udemy is ideal. However, if you need a certificate or an industry-recognized qualification, then Udemy is not the platform to choose.
How Much does Udemy Cost?
Using the Udemy platform does not cost anything but the prices of the courses can vary wildly due to the fact that the prices are set by the individual instructors. To add to the fun, there are almost constant sales. In general, it is possible to find a wide variety of courses priced or on sale for under $20.
Udemy can be a very affordable option for improving your skills but the only way to truly estimate the cost will be to look at the cost of the courses YOU want to take.
To be perfectly honest, you should always look at what skills you need and which courses meet those needs. It is really only once you know this that you can compare course quality, cost, and platform experience. So you see, there are quite a few steps you need to take in order to be able to ask yourself “Is Udemy worth it or not for me?”
Udemy Business Account
Although Udemy does not have a subscription plan for individuals, it has decided to try and start selling itself as a platform that businesses can use to keep their employees’ skills up to scratch.
The Team account costs $360 per year per user before taxes. While this does provide access to over 5,5000 top-rated courses it doesn’t really seem to me that a Udemy Business Account is worth it.
Businesses are either going to have to invest a lot of time selecting which courses they want their employees to take or rely on the employees to choose the most appropriate job-related courses. Since you can get courses for as little as $9.99 on some Udemy sales simply giving employees a learning stipend seems a better option.
Udemy Money Back Guarantee
Udemy promises a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked, but do they deliver on that promise?
For the most part, yes. If you can’t cope with the instructor’s accent, change your mind or find the course didn’t live up to your expectations, you’ll get your money back. Just follow the refund guidelines.
The refund rules are so broad that some instructors complain that people can complete an entire course and still ask for the money back within 30 days. They feel ripped off, and legitimately so.
Fortunately, most buyers are honest and use the money-back option for genuine reasons. Most instructors believe that the 30-day guarantee attracts more honest clients than dishonest ones.
In short, you really needn’t worry about getting your money back if you’re dissatisfied with Udemy.
How do I Request a Refund from Udemy?
You simply need to log in, go to the course in question and select “Request a Refund” from the drop-down menu in the top right corner. But you must do so within 30 days of purchasing the course.
If you try to apply for a refund at a later date you will no longer be offered the link to request a refund, as shown in the image below:
Is Udemy Worth it as a Place to Learn?
Absolutely! Given that Udemy courses are almost always on some kind of sale, Udemy is a very low-cost place to learn. There’s rarely any need to spend more than $20 on a course. If you choose one of the good ones, you can absorb a huge amount of information and genuinely learn brand new skills from scratch.
But are Udemy certificates valid qualifications? Well, no, not really. You can’t spend $20 or less on an online course and expect it to be a match for a university degree or a vendor certification from Microsoft or Apple!
However, that doesn’t mean that learning new things on Udemy can’t massively help you advance your career.
How Will Udemy Courses Help Your Career?
While landing a job or getting a promotion might be influenced by the certificates you can list on your resume, what will ultimately affect the path of your career is the quality of your work.
Learning valuable skills at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home and for relatively little investment really is a bit of a no-brainer. The hard part is more likely to be focusing and finding the specific courses which will benefit you. You do not want to fall into the trap of constantly learning and never applying your newfound knowledge.
If you are a freelancer, qualifications mean even less. All a client really wants to know is that you are capable of doing their job well. This is why I was able to say at the start that the HomeWorkingClub team has lots of experience with Udemy.
Investing in your personal and professional development is always important and platforms like Udemy are a great option if you are having to foot the bill yourself.
Features and Functionality
The Udemy learning experience is exactly what you’d expect if you’ve ever studied online before. Courses are arranged into a series of modules and lessons, and these can include videos, text notes and assessment tests.
Udemy’s video player has all the usual features, such as closed captioning, and there’s also an inbuilt facility to make notes as you pass through a course.
As a general rule, you can’t download courses for offline viewing for piracy reasons (some course creators allow this by exception) However, an interesting alternative is the Udemy mobile app. This DOES allow you to study offline, by downloading all or part of the course content.
You can also use a podcast-style mode to listen to lectures on the move, which is a great feature.
You can also view Udemy courses via Apple TV and Google Chromecast. All in all, this adds up to a decent number of study options, especially considering that some e learning sites don’t even have an app.
Is Udemy Worth it Since it Provides No Sense of Community?
Online communities are becoming increasingly important for all of us so this is a legitimate question. Udemy feels a bit like an e-store for courses rather than a learning community.
So why is Udemy not doing this while other e-learning platforms like edX are pulling out all the stops?
The answer lies in Udemy’s business model. Udemy allows anyone to take courses and it also allows anyone to create courses. This model is the reason for the wealth of variety on Udemy but it also makes it almost impossible for the platform itself to create a sense of community.
But don’t leave the Udemy review yet! As I said, communities are important for all of us. Many, if not most, instructors invite the students who take their courses on Udemy to join their communities on other platforms like Facebook.
You can find some awesome communities by taking courses on Udemy and those communities are going to be much more helpful than a generic “learning community”.
Yes, you might have to go through the entire course with little to no interaction with other students but you still get the course materials. Plus, it will be more than worth it if afterwards you do find yourself invited to join an active community focused on the same skills as you are. Instructors on other platforms do not tend to do this!
Example Udemy Courses
While we put together this Udemy review, we found some great examples of courses on subjects we’re asked about all the time:
Blogging for a Living has over 13 hours of training content, and covers everything from setting up a blog from scratch to establishing streams of income with affiliate marketing. It’s a “top-rated” course on Udemy, with a 4.7 star rating from over 3500 students.
Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant includes 56 lectures and was created by a successful VA who’s been in the game for over a decade. That’s a tremendous amount of content for a course that often costs less than $15 when there’s a Udemy sale on.
Kickstart a Freelance Editor & Proofreader Career is one of the platform’s most highly-rated courses. It’s created by a Canadian university lecturer with over 12 years of experience. The course covers everything from “editing philosophies” to how to bid for proofreading work.
How to Choose the Best Udemy Courses
In addition to following other people’s recommendations, you can – of course – also browse Udemy’s catalogue of over 100,000 courses.
It can feel quite overwhelming, but at long as you follow some simple guidelines, you shouldn’t go far wrong:
- Read plenty of reviews: It’s hotly debated whether Udemy fake reviews are a problem, so it’s definitely worthwhile to read several for courses you’re interested in, to ensure you get a good overview.
- Remember that most people take Udemy courses when they are on sale: This means that students are more likely to leave a positive review since their expectations are not as high. It is probably best to consider every course as having got their star rating at a price of around $20. A $200 course with a 4.8 star rating will likely be very good but it still might not be worth $200.
- Research the instructor: As stated above, some Udemy instructors are big names in their fields – but some are little more than hobbyists. Find out about your instructor’s credentials before signing up.
- Check when the course was last updated: Good instructors will ensure that their courses are up-to-date. Even on topics that aren’t subject to much material change, good instructors tend to review student comments and make periodic improvements to their courses.
- Try a sample: Most courses offer some preview content, so you can get a good idea of what’s in store, and of the teaching style, before you hand over any cash.
Really, you have to look at what you’re getting for your money; You may not get a graduation ceremony and a funny hat at the end, but you do get the knowledge.
Furthermore, it’s often delivered by the very same people who’d impart it in a college environment. For less than 20 bucks, that’s surely a “no-brainer?”
Keep in mind, also, that if you’re learning skills to help towards a freelance career, it’s what you know that matters, not where you learned it.
Specific Courses We’ve Taken on Udemy: Our Experiences
In this section, Lyn discusses specific experiences with a couple of courses she has taken on Udemy.
It was 2020 before I took a good look into this course that I bought in 2018, so I was pleased to see it was all still available, just as promised. What’s more, the course was last updated in July 2020, giving me confidence that the content was still relevant.
Writing Tools and Hacks delivers what it promises, introducing many online tools, explaining how to use them and describing why they are useful.
Each section starts with a helpful “hack.” e.g. the Tools for Brainstorming Killer Content Ideas hack explores the how, what and why of brainstorming before you dive into learning about the online tools.
All the videos are screen shares so Tyler can demonstrate exactly how to use each website. He’s a younger instructor, too, so his style may appeal to a broad range of students.
A bonus is the link directory included at the end — that’s a big timesaver right there. Whenever you do a course, I recommend scrolling down to see if it has a review with links at the end. But don’t let it stop you doing the whole course properly.
One critic of this course complained that he could find the information on the internet for free. And it’s true.
But that can be said of many courses. What you’re paying for is information that is new to you and the convenience of having it right at your fingertips. Really, you’re trading money and saving time.
This was the first course I took on Udemy when I discovered the platform back in 2018. I was brand new to writing, and the course information was a revelation to me at the time.
But, two years later, the course content hasn’t been updated, and some of the advice seems dated now.
It’s a good idea to watch at least one preview video when you’re choosing a course because the delivery can make or break the experience for you.
In this case, Len Smith is an older man, with a “fireside chat” style which might not be to everyone’s taste. The course offers four preview videos from various sections and shows the titles of every lecture. It’s enough info to gauge whether this is a course you’d enjoy.
PRO TIP: One tip with Udemy videos is to check the playback settings. They offer a range from half-speed to 2x. For me, 1.25x is the perfect playback speed.
Another oft-heard criticism of Udemy courses is that sometimes the videos stick. In “Become a Freelance Copywriter,” much of the information is downloadable as PDFs which helps to get around that problem.
Is Udemy Worth it for Selling Courses?
So what about if you’d rather be the teacher than the student? Well, Udemy is well worth a look for that too.
The general rule is that Udemy splits the money earned on courses 50/50 with the course creators, although there are various factors that determine the exact percentage. Instructors can also use a Udemy coupon system and keep almost all the revenue from their training materials.
There are people making six-figure incomes from selling courses on Udemy. You only need to do some quick sums on some of the courses mentioned above to work out that these courses can prove rather lucrative.
Get yourself 5000 students for a course selling at just $15 and you’ll make $37,500 on that course alone at the 50% commission rate. It’s reasonably passive income too, once the course is created.
Of course, nobody’s saying it’s easy to do that. With tens of thousands of courses, yours needs to be one of the very best to rise to the top.
You can be sure there are plenty of people on the platform who’ve created rubbish courses and are – unsurprisingly – earning rubbish money. However, Udemy is a genuine meritocracy.
If you can create better than what’s out there, then you have a very real chance of making a living from selling your own courses.
Udemy Review Roundup: The Good and The Bad
The Pros of Udemy
There are plenty of things to love about this platform, but here are some of our favourites:
- Udemy has 130,000 courses available. It is undoubtedly the biggest platform out there.
- There is still room for new topics. As crazy as this might seem, it is true. And we are not just talking about strange or off-the-wall topics. Llama breeders take note — there are no Llama courses on Udemy as yet!
- You can gain information and skills for a small price. While you could possibly obtain similar information to what is contained in most courses by watching a series of good YouTube videos, Udemy packages everything up in a nicely structured format. As a bonus, you also tend to get fairly significant access to the course creators.
- The Udemy platform is easy to use. Some people might criticize the fact that the search engine and course pages are fairly standard, but I think having a platform that feels familiar plays a big part in avoiding the sense of overwhelm that having such a large number of courses could create.
- It’s highly visual and mainly video-based with some downloads. Most courses are highly engaging thanks to the emphasis on video. If having text is important for you to process or search for the information you can always access transcripts of the videos.
- Udemy is available on all devices through app or internet. The app is a great bonus as it does allow you to download at least part of the course content so that you can continue learning while offline.
- Courses are frequently discounted to less than $20. Sales are so frequent that there really is no need to pay more.
- Anyone can create a course on Udemy. If you have some particular knowledge, you can get paid to share it without needing a teaching or college degree. All you need is time, careful planning and some half-decent equipment for recording your videos.
- As an instructor, you can earn a relatively passive income. If your course is genuinely useful, you could make some not-too-shabby returns on your initial investment of time and effort to create the course. Just remember that top instructors get to that position by interacting with their students, keeping their courses up-to-date, and through marketing.
The Cons of Udemy
- Reviewers report problems with some videos. Since the individual instructors create their own videos you can come across some courses with poor video and audio. There have also been some Udemy reviews that report videos sticking and a lack of customer support for the issue. Unfortunately, aside from Udemy providing basic requirements, the quality of each course really does depend on the course creator.
- Course pricing can be misleading. Instructors are free to price their courses however they like so high prices do not necessarily mean excellent quality. It is especially important to remember that the reviews of high-priced courses may not have been provided by people that paid full price.
- Some reviewers claim that as long-term customers they aren’t being offered the discounts. There are also claims that they’re charged the full price when they try to purchase a discounted course. That hasn’t happened to me, but I have noticed the discounted price changes by a few dollars if I search for a class using a new IP address. I guess that technically this could simply be considered a part of marketing since the actual price courses do not vary, but it is rather disappointing since they know most people only buy courses when they are discounted.
- No qualifications are required in order to create a course. Obviously, this is a positive thing if you want to create a course but not so much if you are taking one. Since anyone can create a course on Udemy you can, unfortunately, find some instructors who are not prepared or who even teach outdated or inaccurate information.
- There’s no guarantee of quality. Thankfully, if the money-back guarantee works as it should, you’ll get your money back. Still, a rubbishy course will get so many negative reviews that it’ll sink to the bottom of the heap and you probably won’t notice it when searching for courses anyway.
Who is Udemy Ideal For?
When you consider all of the different aspects of the platform that we have covered in this Udemy review it is clear that Udemy is best suited to hobbyists and those curious about learning a new skill.
That is not to say that you can’t learn some serious skills on the platform. There are definitely some industry gurus who turn to Udemy because they are not part of a university or do not meet the restrictive instructor qualifications that other platforms require.
Still, should you really need to boost certain skills for your job or freelance career then you might want to consider some of the alternatives to Udemy that we have listed at the end of this article.
Think of Udemy more as a way to dip your toe in the water and see if something is really right for you. Before shelling out on becoming a certified medical transcriptionist, for example, you might want to take a few transcription courses on Udemy to learn what is really involved.
Udemy Review: Conclusion
Like so many places online, Udemy gives back in proportion to what you put in.
If you choose a crappy course to study and don’t look at reviews, you’ll probably regret getting involved (even if you have only spent 20 Dollars!)
Even if you do pay out for a highly-rated course, you’ll still struggle to get much out of it unless you dedicate time to it and actually act on the things the course tells you to do.
But if you choose a recommended course and take your studying seriously, there’s no reason why a Udemy course won’t enhance your career. It may even set you off on a completely new and rewarding path.
It’s the same with creating courses; If you cynically throw something together in the hope of making a quick buck, every Udemy review for that course will suck and you won’t make any money.
But if you set out to make your course the best and the most up-to-date out there, then there’s no reason why you can’t set your sights on being the next “six-figure” Udemy instructor.
Is Udemy worth it? It absolutely is if you make it worth it.
Alternatives to Udemy
There are lots of alternatives to Udemy out there, several of which provide cheap (or even FREE) training options.
Take a look at:
- Freelance Kickstarter – our very own freelancing course, designed to take you all the way to a lucrative freelance career.
- edX – another big training platform, with courses from the likes of Berkeley and Harvard, and lots of free options. Review here.
- Coursera – a top e-learning platform with courses from major universities and professional certificates from the likes of Google. Review here.
Other Popular Content
- Compare Coursera vs Udemy
- Fancy running a blog of your own? Read this article.
- Looking for a reliable source of remote jobs? Check out our FlexJobs review.
- Want to see just how many online jobs exist out there? Read this.
Udemy: Lots of affordable courses to choose from
Udemy is Cheap and (Mostly) Cheerful
Not every Udemy course is a gem, but there are certainly plenty of courses that deliver loads of value for a low price. As our Udemy review explains, the key thing is to carefully check course reviews. The fact that people can freely offer courses for sale on this platform is both a good and a bad thing.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.