In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age
of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this
financially independent lifestyle, they invite you
to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.
with Len Smith
from Yorkshire, England realized during his career as a
copywriter that many people don't know rules for semicolons, apostrophes, etc.
He took that realization to Udemy, where he has now created nine courses on
punctuation, copywriting and more. Each month he earns thousands of passive
dollars through his Udemy courses, enabling him to scale back his copywriting
business and spend more time with his wife.
RetireEarlyLifestyle are always looking for unique ways for our Readers to
make money and to express themselves. This could be an opportunity for you! Read
RetireEarlyLifestyle: Can you briefly tell us a little
bit about yourself?
Smith: I’m 71 years old and my
background actually originates in the computer industry. I ran a marketing
consultancy to the computer industry for many years.
REL: Where do you call home?
LS: I live in the UK, up in the
REL: We understand that you have
created nine courses on Udemy which is like an online university. How long
ago did you create your first course?
Udemy is an online platform for
experts to share their knowledge with skill seekers around the world. I
published my first course three years ago and am now, as you say, up to
Press ? for keyboard shortcuts.
REL: What requirements are needed to
design a course? How does one go about doing that? Did you receive help from
Udemy in designing a course?
The most important thing when
designing a course is to find a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable
about. The courses are mostly video-based, but there’s no need for fancy
equipment. I’ve seen several course providers use their iPhones or a decent
webcam to film their courses. Sound quality needs to be good, but many
course providers use mics costing around $50. Some use natural lighting. I
spent around $100 on studio lights, which made a substantial difference for
a relatively minor investment.
Very few providers have previous
experience assembling video lessons, and I was no exception. Udemy has a
great free course that gives an overview of the basics, plus lots of text
advice on how to structure a course and how to film. Udemy also has a
Facebook group called
for new and
inexperienced course providers. With more than 20,000 members, there’s great
interaction and mutual help (often from experienced providers like myself)
and from Udemy. The support for “newbies” is excellent. Newbies can submit a
test video for quality checks before going ahead and developing their
REL: Are courses all text or do you
have video, audio, photos or graphs?
LS: At least 60 percent of the courses have
to be video. Many of them are essentially PowerPoint presentations recorded
with voice-over and saved as a video. There are facilities for quizzes,
audio lessons, and text handouts, but the 60 percent rule is sacred. Each
video should be no more than five or 10 minutes - it’s the perfect length of
time for students to learn skills online.
REL: Do you upload your courses to Udemy
and then the student downloads the course when he is ready to participate?
Adventurer's Guide to the Possible Dream
LS: We upload our courses to Udemy
and they stay there. Students who purchase a course get lifetime access to
it online. Any and all updates instructors may add to the course are free to
REL: How do you know what to charge?
LS: Udemy offers instructors pricing
guidelines but at the end of the day the decision comes down to the
students. I experiment with price until I get the right balance between
signups and total revenue.
REL: How do you get paid? Does it go
through an online payment system like PayPal?
LS: We’re paid monthly through PayPal.
Udemy offers a 100 percent refund guarantee to students within the first 30
days, so the payment can be delayed slightly to accommodate.
REL: How do your courses get attention
in order for students to sign up? Do you take out advertisements?
LS: Each course provider develops his or her
own business plan. If courses prove to be popular and are well utilized,
Udemy does massive promotions. Just under half of my revenue comes from
that. I often encourage my existing students to purchase other courses of
mine. It pays to create high-quality material simply because of the
REL: Do you consider yourself retired
even though you have designed these online courses?
LS: I love what I am doing to the extent that
it still seems like a hobby. This year I’m looking forward to developing six
courses over the coast of the year and traveling in the alternate months.
REL: If someone were interested in doing
what you have done, how would they begin? What topics would you suggest?
LS: They should register with Udemy – no cost, no commitment.
Udemy will give them access to all the support material and the
Udemy Studio support lounge on
Facebook. Udemy does give some guidance on the topics that are popular with
students, but in general instructors simply choose to create courses based
on what they like. One provider has a large series of courses on embroidery;
others have courses on deep technical programming skills. Mine are all
related to writing and copywriting.
REL: To what type of person would you
recommend this avenue of making money? Is it a fairly straightforward
LS: Around 17 percent of course
providers are over 55 years old. They tend to specialize on the skills they
have built up over the years. Younger providers often specialize in
fast-changing skills, like website development. No matter an instructor’s
age or area of expertise, the main requirement is a love of the subject.
REL: How long are your courses – does one
attend classes or learn at their own speed?
LS: The video content is self-paced. A few
providers do hold online hangouts, which is something I’ve been seeing more
REL: Do you have
interaction with your students or are your classes hands free? What if
students have questions? Are there interactions between students? How many
students do you have?
LS: There is a facility for students within a
course to communicate with each other. I’m always available to answer
questions electronically. I make myself available to answer my students’
questions a couple of hours each week.
REL: What is expected from you after a
course is designed?
LS: Instructors are responsible for promoting
their own courses using whatever method seems appropriate to the individual.
Answer student queries and keep the course up to date - technical subjects
often require new courses, which is why “techie” subjects are so profitable.
Guide to Early Retirement, 3rd Edition
REL: What else can you tell us about
Udemy and their course designs? Are you happy being a Udemy “professor?”
LS: I love Udemy. I have complete
freedom and am able to produce material at my own pace and very much in my
We at RetireEarlyLifestyle would like to
thank Len for taking the time to introduce us to the many opportunities at
Udemy, either as a student or as an instructor. If you would like to take
one of Len's Udemy classes at a discount,
To read more
interviews with Expats, Early Retirees and Interesting Characters,
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are
recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on
topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of
information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com,
they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since
1991. They wrote the popular books, The
Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your
Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website
Early Lifestyle appeals to a different
kind of person – the person who prizes their
independence, values their time, and who doesn’t
want to mindlessly follow the crowd.