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. Soon after, I noticed they had a generous in-house affiliate program that appealed to hundreds of affiliate marketers. However, 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 remains attractive 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 Alexa’s rankings. They have a commanding lead regarding name recognition and have attracted millions of 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 topics 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 so forth. Topic diversity is critical to attract affiliate marketers and bloggers from all walks of life. For instance, affiliates and bloggers can promote courses on business, health, science, math, and travel on their sites.

High commission rate. I only consider joining affiliate programs that pay high commission rates. For example, thirty percent. With a forty percent commission rate, Udemy meets this standard.

An excellent affiliate program team. Udemy’s 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 However, they’ve been replaced by a new group of highly engaged, communicative, and supportive individuals who want to grow Udemy’s affiliate marketing line of business.


Udemy Affiliate Program Cons

Short conversion window. The biggest drawback of Udemy’s program is their seven-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 buck fairness and sensibility.

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.

Affiliate commissions are mostly sales event driven. Previously, Udemy ran two to three sales events each month. These events typically promoted courses starting at ten dollars. As of 2016, they ran fewer sales events which negatively impacted affiliate earnings and instructor royalties. While Udemy favors a handful of instructors such as Rob Percival, their pivot away from sales events has hurt the majority of affiliates and instructors.

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. Keep reading for alternatives.

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 various networks.

Thrive LeadsCreativeLive focuses on creative courses which are broadcasts live and for free to an international audience. 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. They offer thousands of courses and tutorials in nine subject categories. You can learn more about Lynda’s affiliate program here.

MasterClass is an immersive online experience that offers access to genius by allowing anyone to take online classes with the world’s best. Their instructors include Kevin Spacey, Christina Aguilera, Serena Williams, James Patterson, and more. MasterClass produces exclusive courses directly with the instructors to capture exactly what the masters want to teach. The MasterClass affiliate program is available through ShareASale.

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 has made several 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 they’re 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. You can learn more about Skillshare’s affiliate program here.

Treehouse focuses on technical education. They offer more than one thousand videos created by expert teachers on web design, coding, business, and more. You can learn more about Treehouse’s affiliate program here.


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