Last week, a Facebook ad for Sadie Nardini’s “summer yoga body” online course caught my attention and warranted a blog post questioning the integrity of using weight loss as a yoga marketing tactic. A hot conversation ensued and Nardini herself jumped in to express her dismay over ad copy that allegedly hadn’t been approved by her. By the end of the day, the text on the Udemy website had been changed (see images above).
This morning, Nardini commented again with another update:
I wanted to report back and let you know that I have had a great discussion about the course advertisements with Pedro from Udemy.
I have to say, he was immediately very open to changing the ads, on his dime, and was upset himself that they were upsetting people. Apparently, they extracted the weight loss and anti-aging benefits of my (and many) yoga styles, and failed to give a broader, more mind-body-spirit view of the 14-day program.
As they did not run the ad copy by me first, I didn’t have a chance to let them know this more superficial focus would not fly with we yogis–including me. He nor his marketing team understood the yoga world, so the marketing campaign came from a well-meaning, but uneducated place. And this conversation has helped them evolve in their sensitivity and grasp of why we all practice this discipline, instead of, say, the Stairmaster.
I, as always, remain committed to bringing the practice of yoga to students in a way that shows them all the practical benefits, on all levels. As such, I helped Udemy re-write the ad copy to reflect the full spectrum of the course’s offering, including detox, fitness and empowerment.
First of all, awesome that Nardini was willing to listen, engage and take action, without getting defensive. Many of us in the blogging community chalked this up as proof of the power of blogging, and Nardini was praised for her responsiveness.
Which got me wondering: what exactly is Udemy.com and what kind of online yoga courses are they promoting? According to their About page, “Udemy’s goal is to disrupt and democratize the world of education by enabling anyone to teach and learn online. Just as blogging democratized the publishing industry (enabling anyone to instantly become a journalist), Udemy seeks to dramatically change education by empowering millions of experts around the world to teach & share what they know.”
Sounds pretty cool, actually. Basically, Udemy appears to be a platform where anybody can share their passion and expertise. So how do you create a course? Udemy has “built an incredible platform that makes it easy for anyone to build an online course.” Their Create a Course page tells us that to get started you just have to: “Pick a subject; title your course; write up a description; and create your bio.”
Wait a second… instructors pick their own titles and write their own descriptions? There’s no marketing middleperson?
By all appearances, people who choose to offer a course on Udemy actually are independent and have almost complete autonomy over their course content. On their Instructor Support page, in response to the question, “Does Udemy own my course content?” they say: “Positutely not – since we are not a publisher (just the platform), we have no rights to your course content, other than the terms you agree to if you sign up to be a paid instructor.” And when asked about promotion of Udemy courses, their official response is: “In a small, tightly wrapped nutshell, you shouldn’t count on Udemy to promote your course… We do in fact promote some of our instructors, but only after they’ve invested in promoting it themselves.”
So. At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss Udemy as a shameless marketing machine that will go to any lengths to sell its courses, even if it means pimping a more “superficial focus” of yoga. However, after a little digging around, it seems evident that Nardini holds the reins on her Udemy offering and made a quick turnaround to save face.
Now, I’m wondering if Udemy offers any courses on How To Sell Your Services Without Lying. Looks like somebody might need to brush up on those skills…