How One Woman Earned Over $250,000 Selling Sourdough Baking Courses Online

And how you can utilize her tactics to grow your own side-hustle.

Krista Brown
Oct 24 · 5 min read
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Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

ave you ever felt like your niche is too niche? Teresa Greenway’s success will dismantle that insecurity.

In 2004, one of Teresa’s daughters spent a frustrating month trying to bake sourdough bread. Upon giving up, she told Theresa that it was impossible. Well, Teresa decided to put that to the test. She spent several months of trial and error until she figured it out. She had learned how to bake the perfect sourdough loaf!

If she had stopped there, it would have stayed a nice party trick as opposed to the 6-figure income stream she has made it into. When she realized there was a crowd of people interested in learning sourdough baking, she started building a business centered around this acquired skill.

In 2015, Teresa released her first online course through Udemy, an online course provider that enables people to share their expertise with an interested audience.

Since then, she has created 13 Udemy courses on various types of sourdough. Last year alone, these courses earned her $86,000, and her projections for this year are in the six figures.

In addition to this, she has shared her expertise through 8 self-published Amazon books and an online blog.

How to succeed on a course teaching site

The first step (and often one of the most important steps) to creating an online side-hustle is finding your perfect niche.

Think through your current skills. What are the things your friends and family ask for your help with regularly?

It could be anything from advice on car maintenance to calligraphy or personal finance to basketball technique. Make a list of things that you enjoy and are good at. Try to think of a minimum of 10–15 ideas.

Once you have your list, go to Udemy and search that topic. If there are already a lot of high-rated creators in that niche, try another one.

The goal here is to find a topic that you know is desired but not oversaturated. You want there to be some evidence of traffic through this search, but not so many courses that yours will get lost in the noise.

Udemy creator, JasonDion, recommends finding a topic that only has 10–20 courses. He also recommends watching some of the top courses in that niche. Then, make sure your coverage of the topic is better than what is already out there.

Online courses are less work than you might think

Don’t get me wrong, creating a course is still a lot of work; I’m not trying to say this will be easy.

That being said, one of the most surprising realizations I’ve had about online course sites like Skillshare and Udemy, is that the courses are significantly less involved than I had imagined.

The online courses I’ve purchased in the past have been through independent creators. They charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and in return offer roughly 30–40hrs worth of researched and tested expertise through video lectures and written notes.

I imagine these courses take months to create, and would not be surprised if these creators hire out some of the editing and filming workload.

When I hear online bloggers touting selling courses to increase passive income, that’s what I imagine.

I couldn’t envision myself being able to create something of that level that would ever be worth my time in financial payback.

However, Udemy has a 30-minute minimum course length, with the average according to this article being 3hrs long.

Skillshare, while having more guidelines on what topics you can (or cannot) teach, has an even shorter minimum length of 10 minutes.

The two sites have quite a few differences for creators; your first step of research should be the sites themselves and deciding which one fits you best.

How much will you make?

As with any site, Udemy has its own group of outliers — people who make an unusually large amount compared to the “average.” While some of you will be that outlier, there isn’t a guarantee.

Course creator, John Purcell (who has earned over $1 million through Udemy) put it this way when asked how much a Udemy course creator makes,

“Some none, very many a bit, many quite a lot, and some are positively getting rich.”

Naturally, before creating a course, you’d like to know what your expected return on interest will be. This source cites that the average course creator on Udemy can expect to make between $15–30 per course every month.

When I first heard that, I got a bit bummed. It honestly doesn’t sound like all that promising of a side income.

However, keep in mind that you can set yourself apart from the crowd by researching niches and finding ways to improve on the top selling content in your niche. At the very least, this will hopefully put you on the upper end of that average.

As the story of the hare and the tortoise teaches us, slow and steady wins the race. A consistent passive income of $15–30 per course every month will quickly begin add up.

In addition to the slow and steady game, this year, the demand for online learning has skyrocketed Udemy’s projected revenue. The month of May alone saw 25 million new users (opposed to last May that only brought in 9 million new users).

With millions of new users every month, there is definitely the opportunity to build an audience as you teach people new skills.

Perseverance matters

Teresa is a highly successful course creator in the sourdough bread niche, but she didn’t start out that way. As a high school dropout with ten children, she knows the meaning of working hard.

Before posting her first course, she had already spent several years building a small following through her website and blog — both centered around sourdough baking.

The first course she published earned her $1,000 in the first month. By the end of the year she had earned $28,000. Now, in 2020, her projected net income is over $100,000 for her Udemy courses.

Building a reliable online business takes time and hard work. In Teresa’s case, I guess you could say her bread really is raking in the dough.

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Krista Brown

Written by

Lover of music, culture, and dark chocolate. Observer and analyzer on this journey of life.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

Krista Brown

Written by

Lover of music, culture, and dark chocolate. Observer and analyzer on this journey of life.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

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