E-Learning Affiliate Programs


When I discovered Udemy a couple of years ago, my primary focus was on creating online courses as I saw the potential for knowledge sharing, brand building, and making money online. After that, I noticed they had a generous in-house affiliate program that appealed to hundreds of affiliate marketers. By the time I joined, they were in the midst of diluting their program and moving it to LinkShare. Udemy’s affiliate program changes caused quite an uproar and signaled that huge paychecks were over, but their program has persevered, and it remains an attractive one given their competitive advantages, continued growth, and brand recognition.

Udemy Affiliate Program Pros

Increased market demand for online learning equates to ample sales opportunities. Technology has made learning convenient through electronic devices. As students, we no longer need to attend classes in-person or take classes at predefined times. Also, e-learning is significantly decreasing the costs of higher and continuing education. Therefore, millions of learners are gravitating toward platforms like Udemy to take free and paid courses.

EducationUdemy’s market share. Udemy is a top ranked and visited website according to the Alexa rankings. They have a commanding lead regarding name recognition and have attracted over 11M+ students, which is far more than many of their competitors. Udemy’s popularity can be appreciated by the countless unofficial Facebook pages and groups bearing their name including my Free Udemy Courses Facebook group.

Many categories and thousands of courses to promote. Udemy offers fifteen main subject categories including in-demand disciplines such as web development, entrepreneurship, marketing, design, personal development, and more. Topic diversity is critical as to attract affiliate marketers and bloggers from all walks of life, for instance, business, health, and travel bloggers can find courses to promote on their sites.

High commission rate. I only consider affiliate programs with a minimum commission rate of 30% to justify my promotional efforts. With a 40% commission rate, Udemy meets this requirement.

An excellent affiliate program team. The previous affiliate team had no clue what they were doing or how to treat affiliates. However, they’ve been replaced by a new group of highly engaged, communicative, and supportive individuals who want to grow Udemy’s affiliate marketing line of business. They now realize that it takes a committed team in addition to appealing affiliate program terms to achieve success.

Udemy Affiliate Program Cons

Short conversion window. The biggest negative with Udemy’s program is their 7-day conversion window (it was previously 30-days before the transition to LinkShare). Thirty-day windows are standard industry practice, but Udemy has chosen to miss on this factor.

An excellent affiliate team. I hope to God the team they have in place doesn’t change anytime soon. If it does and the experience reverts to what it was, I’ll reduce my participation.

Commissions are mostly sales event driven. Udemy operates a discount-centric business model in that they run two to three sales events each month. These events typically promote courses at the $10 to $24 price points. Of late, I’m seeing fewer $10 to $15 sales events as Udemy pivots. They promoted higher price points last month which had an adverse impact on my commissions, but it’s too early to tell what the future holds.

Update: While Udemy’s affiliate program still carries some advantages, I’ve stopped creating courses on their platform and have ended my affiliate relationship with them. I no longer view Udemy as a viable affiliate partner.

Other E-Learning Affiliate Programs

If Udemy’s program isn’t to your liking or your application gets declined, you can capitalize on the burgeoning online course market through these other e-learning affiliate programs.

Coursera offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) through partnerships with top universities and organizations globally. Although courses are free to take, Coursera provides many attractive specializations and certifications that are worth paying for to receive official credit. Their affiliate program is available through LinkShare.

Thrive LeadsCreativeLive focuses on creative courses which are broadcasts live to an international audience to view for free. They offer courses in multiple categories or “channels” including photography, video, art, design, music, and money. You can learn more about CreativeLive’s affiliate program which is available through ShareASale.

edX‘s value proposition is similar to Coursera’s, and they boast an impressive lineup of university partnerships including Harvard and MIT. The edX affiliate program is available through FlexOffers.

Lynda was on the e-learning scene long before Udemy. In fact, you can consider them to be pioneers of e-learning. They offer thousands of courses and tutorials in nine subject categories. You can learn more about Lynda’s affiliate program here.

Pluralsight offers unlimited online developer training, creative, and IT courses authored by industry experts. They offer 4,000 courses to businesses and individuals. Plurasight continues to grow rapidly and make acquisitions to expand their offerings. You can learn more about Pluralsight’s affiliate program which is available through ShareASale.

Shaw Academy is a lesser known e-learning platform, but growing their presence one diploma at a time. Somewhat similar to CreativeLive, courses are taught live. Their affiliate program is available through LinkShare, and you can learn more about Shaw Academy’s affiliate program here.

Skillshare bills itself as “a learning community for creators, and they offer creative-based courses through thirteen subject categories. I offer a few courses on Skillshare, and you can learn more about Skillshare’s affiliate program here.

Treehouse is technical education focused. They offer 1,000+ videos created by expert teachers on web design, coding, business, and much more. You can learn more about Treehouse’s affiliate program here.


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