Sometimes Performance Coaches Need Coaches Too

New online instructors can hit plateaus where they may feel tempted to throw in the towel. For those struggling to push on, the husband-and-wife team of Susmita Dutta and Akshay Goel may provide the inspiration you need.

Despite having loads of offline training experience, getting in front of the camera was a new and uncomfortable challenge for Susmita, but her DIY spirit and natural proclivity for teaching gave her confidence.

Turning her passions into Udemy courses
Earlier in her career, Susmita worked as a book editor and then as a project manager overseeing two global teams. She noticed that other project managers simply pointed out mistakes but didn’t step back to see how these errors could be reduced if people understood their roles better.

Susmita took the initiative to create training around common mistakes and solicited her teams to identify other areas where they had questions. A company vice president saw how Susmita’s teams were more productive than others—publishing 12 books a month instead of the typical five—and suggested that training was her calling.

In time, Susmita went into business as a performance coach, leading workshops on career building, personal positioning and branding, and other topics to help people advance in their careers and life. Susmita also stayed active as an editor, and that’s how she connected with an Italian Udemy instructor who’d received some negative reviews and was looking for help translating his course material into English and improving his course structure.

And so the seed was planted. As an experienced trainer, Susmita figured she could create her own courses on Udemy too. “Why not give it a shot?” she told herself. Not knowing what the results would be, however, she didn’t want to invest in fancy recording equipment. So, like any true DIYer, she built her own teleprompter and designed her own lighting on a shoestring budget. She was also new to video editing and had to teach herself Adobe Premiere Pro and Camtasia, and, while she spent a full week editing her first course, “Pursue Top 1% Career: Become The No. 1 Success Magnet,” now she can do it in one day.

Learning and improving on Udemy
Acquiring A/V skills wasn’t Susmita’s only challenge. She also had to adapt her in-person training style to work online. “I’ve always been a people person and speaking in front of a group was not a big deal,” she explains, “but talking to a camera was very different. For example, in my workshop I demonstrate how to give a good handshake, but it looked weird and distracting to move around that way in a video.”

Susmita has also found that she needs to deliver much more content in her video lectures than in her workshops, and that entails doing much more research. “I have to understand the topic really well and gain even more knowledge to help students. I don’t want to give them cookie-cutter answers,” Susmita says.

Susmita’s first course did pretty well, thanks to the free coupons she offered and Udemy’s highly popular Black Friday promotion. But then she hit a plateau. She realized she’d need to continue creating more and better courses all the time. And this is where Akshay, Susmita’s “secret weapon,” stepped in to offer encouragement and stop her from feeling demoralized when comparing her results to other instructors.

“Wow, I did it!”
Now, Susmita has cracked the formula: more Udemy courses (she’s published 11 so far) means more students (about 43,000), who write more reviews and generate more revenue. And she’s leveraging her varied interests to come up with more course ideas, from design thinking to salary negotiation to healthy cooking. She’s also exploring collaborating with co-instructors to broaden her reach and increase her output. (Watch an interview with Susmita at Udemy LIVE 2017 below!)

“I never expected to be an online instructor, but I saw the potential,” Susmita says. She, along with her husband Akshay, is enjoying the lifestyle benefits of Udemy success, knowing they’re earning money “no matter whether I put in a whole day or only work for two hours. You can go on vacation or be asleep and still have new students signing up,” she said. “I was on a week-long vacation in Canada and still earned money without spending even a single minute.”

The secret (besides having a super-supportive spouse), according to Susmita, is putting dedicated effort into your Udemy courses, just as you would for anything else important to you. No excuses! She also stresses the importance of putting yourself at the service of your students and not being arrogant, even when their reviews seem unfair or inaccurate. “Be humble and approachable, and people will see, ‘She wants to help me,’” Susmita advises.