What Makes an Online Course Flourish? Unveiling Insights from Udemy (Sekolah Data Pacmann Project)

Ahmad Fatih Barkah
9 min readDec 2, 2023



The revolution and transformation of education have been profoundly and progressively impacted by information technology. A 2011 TED talk by Salman Khan entitled “Reproducing Education with Video” brought “micro-lectures” and “flipping classrooms” to the attention of educators worldwide. The proliferation of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has facilitated the creation of an extensive collection of micro-lectures. MOOCs provide access to high-quality courses offered by prestigious universities, catering to learners worldwide. Conversely, they may be repurposed as adjunctive residential courses, wherein learners initially engage with online courses via MOOCs and subsequently attend in-person classes to concentrate on particular inquiries. (Wang & Zhu, 2019)

Understanding what makes an online course effective is critical for educators and e-learning platforms in an era when online education is increasing. As a data enthusiast and believer in the power of education, I set out to discover these secrets using data analytics. This essay delves deep into the dots of online courses, examining major elements that influence student involvement and course popularity.


Using data visualizations, my investigation seeks to provide answers to the following key questions:

  1. The number of courses across various categories available on Udemy: to understand the distribution of available courses (as a supply) and the differences between paid and free ones
  2. The number of course subscribers across various course levels and categories/subjects available on Udemy: to understand the popularity as it spreads among the number of subscribers (as a demand) and the differences between paid and free ones
  3. Price distribution over all course categories: to ascertain the pricing distribution across all course categories and levels, which may serve as a guide for pricing strategy
  4. Potential revenue: to give an idea of the gross earning potential for aspiring teachers or educational content creators
  5. Price’s effect on course popularity: to explain the effect of price on enrollment
  6. Rating and feedback on course success: to identify the relationship between subscriber reviews, the number of lecturers, and its duration as an evaluation that affects student interest
  7. Top 5 most popular course formats: to give recommendations on course content structure that fits the demand

In the cutthroat world of online education, these inquiries are vital for developing competitive course offerings, cost plans, and marketing strategies. Of course, I’m not only talking about the financial side of online courses here; I hope this can shed some light on the process for aspiring tutors and mentors who are also content creators looking to launch their careers on sites like Udemy.


The analysis I conduct employs datasets containing information on Udemy courses from many areas, such as business, design, music, and web development. It includes details on the categories mentioned by Udemy, such as the course title, URL, cost, quantity of reviews, quantity of lectures, number of subscribers, course level, rating, length of the material, published timestamp, and subject. Researchers can monitor course performance and find revenue-generating opportunities with this dataset. The data has features with the following information:

  1. course_title: the title of the course. (String)
  2. url: the URL of the course. (String)
  3. price: the price of the course. (Float)
  4. num_subscribers: the number of subscribers for the course. (Integer)
  5. num_reviews: the number of reviews for the course. (Integer)
  6. num_lectures: the number of lectures for the course. (Integer)
  7. level: the level of the course. (String)

The source of dataset is Kaggle (The Devastator, 2022)


The insight obtained through the analysis of associated objectives is as follows:

Category, cost (free or paid), and subscriber breakdowns are available for the estimated number of courses.

The graphic below shows Udemy as a well-known online learning platform with top-notch business and financial categories. Thus, it is advised that educators concentrate on the business and finance categories when they first start experimenting with different types of educational content on this platform.

Fig. 1 Udemy Course Content Breakdown 1 (Author’s analysis, 2023)

As shown in Figure 1, the field of Business Finance offers the most courses in total, 1191 in total, of which 96 are offered for free and 1095 require payment. Web Development is closely followed by a total of 1204 courses, of which 134 are free and 1069 are paid. The disciplines of Graphic Design and Musical Instruments each have 602 and 680 courses, respectively, and exhibit a comparable trend of a greater number of paid courses in comparison to free ones. However, a noticeable surge in demand for web development courses reflects market trends, hinting at tech’s growing influence due to web 3.0 developments and upcoming technologies, which make the category highly sought after by both career changers and beginners in programming. The web and development category is rated highest.

Identifying the emerging trends in online education and advise on areas for expansion or reduction, helping in strategic planning and market positioning.

More breaking down on course content structure can determine preferred course lengths and structures that maximize student engagement; this can also lead to identifying the course subject that is popular and represents the demand of prospective students.

Fig. 2 Udemy Course Content Breakdown 2 (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 3 Udemy Course Content Breakdown 3 (Author’s analysis, 2023)

The quantity of courses accessible for levels ranging from All Level to Expert Level, arranged from high to low, is shown in Figure 2, which explains why Udemy content creators appear to offer a lot of information for novices in each category. As previously indicated, Web Development has the highest number of subscribers for paid courses at the All Level level. This may be due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in a lot of flash sales and discounts in that category.

Price distribution between courses, pricing strategy across different categories and identifying the price points that are most saturated with courses.

The majority of courses across all categories are clustered in the lower price range, indicating a high number of courses that are affordable or moderately priced.

Fig. 4 Course Price Distribution (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 5 Overall Price Distribution (Author’s analysis, 2023)

There is a noticeable majority of courses that are priced at the lower end of the spectrum, indicating that Udemy has a wide range of reasonably priced options. When considering the free courses offered in each category, there is a clear peak at the zero price point. Free courses are also common, as the spikes at the zero price point show. A long tail to the right is seen in the distribution for each category, indicating that while the majority of courses are less expensive, a small number of them have significantly higher prices. There are some more expensive courses in each category, as shown in Figure 4, but they are less common, as the long tails extending to the right of the histograms show. The price distribution’s peaks and spread differ for each category, which could be an indication of the demand for and perceived worth of the courses offered in each subject. Differences in the height and dispersion of the histograms across various categories might be an indication of the distinct dynamics of pricing and customer demand in each field.

Potential revenue indicates a lucrative market for online education.

At a cumulative earning potential of over $885 million, the total potential revenue figure indicates that there is a substantial amount of money to be made in this industry.

Fig. 6 Potential Revenue (Author’s analysis, 2023)

Figure 6 emphasizes how educators and content producers can capitalize on the rising demand for online education. Moreover, the mean prospective income per course, which stands at roughly $208,707, emphasizes the potential for individual profit for prosperous courses. It implies that individual courses can bring in a sizable income with the correct promotion and content. For content creators, the subject-by-subject breakdown offers additional strategic insights by highlighting areas with higher earning potential and potential areas of focus. Anyone wishing to expand their current offerings or get into the online education market will find this information to be very helpful.

Price effect as the price of a course is often thought to be a significant factor in attracting learners

In the world of online learning, it’s common knowledge that a course’s cost plays a big role in drawing students. But the information paints a more complex picture. The relationship between the course price and the number of subscribers is only 0.051, according to the Pearson correlation coefficient, which measures the linear correlation between two variables.

Fig. 7 Price Effect on Subscribers (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 8 Price Effect on Rating (Author’s analysis, 2023)

Figures 7 and 8 imply that although price might influence a prospective learner’s choice, it is not the main element influencing course popularity. Simply put, a course's popularity is not a guarantee of its affordability, and a higher price does not necessarily turn away a sizable portion of students. Because it highlights the significance of other factors like course content quality, instructor reputation, and marketing initiatives in influencing a course’s success, this insight is especially helpful to those who create educational content. It also gives prospective teachers confidence that they can set a fair price for their courses without worrying about a significant decline in student enrollment.

Is the number of subscribers affected by the number of reviews, content duration, or price?

Relationship between course ratings, number of reviews, number of lectures, course duration, and the number of subscribers to identify the relationship between these factors and course success.

Fig. 9 Relation of Content Duration and Subscriber (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 10 Relation of Number of Lecturers and Subscriber (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 11 Relation of Number of Reviews and Subscribers (Author’s analysis, 2023)
Fig. 12 Relation of Price and Rating of The Content (Author’s analysis, 2023)

Unlike Figures 9 and 10, Figure 11 shows that the number of reviews has the strongest positive correlation with the number of subscribers, suggesting that courses with more reviews tend to have more subscribers. Therefore, the amount of course content and the duration of the content tend to have no effect on the number of subscribers. Similar to how the ratings at different prices are distributed in Figure 12, low-cost courses also have varying ratings in each category. This is to be expected, as subscribers who are dissatisfied with the content will not give a minimum rating, regardless of price.

Top 5 course title available in Udemy

Next, to sum up, I will present the top 5 courses from each category, both free and paid.

Fig. 13 Top 5 Free and Paid Courses (Author’s analysis, 2023)

Testimonials from former Udemy students who stated that the platform is a good way to learn Business and Finance are now beginning to move toward the Web Development category. Content creators can use this information to fill the remaining niche market by focusing on the caliber of their work.


Practical recommendations that may be implemented include offering discounts or complimentary classes as a means to popularize the course, thereby augmenting its visibility and enticing prospective students to enroll. Subsequently, a continuous course could be established wherein part 1 is provided at no cost, with payment due for part 2. The course may attract a greater number of subscribers, thereby increasing its potential revenue, in response to positive reviews and ratings. Potential revenue should be taken into account along with the possibility of filling other niche markets that are either unfilled or readily available based on particular categories and levels, as well as the difficulty of entering the market for content creators.

According to the data, elements like cost, course length, category/subject trends, ratings, and student reviews have a significant impact on the success of online courses. Teachers and platforms can adjust their services to match market needs, raise student satisfaction, and eventually prosper in the competitive online education space by being aware of these factors.


Wang, K. and Zhu, C. (2019). Mooc-based flipped learning in higher education: students’ participation, experience and learning performance. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-019-0163-0

The Devastator. (2022). Udemy Courses | Kaggle. Kaggle: Your Machine Learning and Data Science Community. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from https://www.kaggle.com/datasets/thedevastator/udemy-courses-revenue-generation-and-course-anal

Barkah, A. F. (2023). Pacmann Project on Data Visualization using Tableau. Tableau Public. https://public.tableau.com/views/dvdw-w4-mentoring/Price-Subs?:language=en-US&:display_count=n&:origin=viz_share_link



Ahmad Fatih Barkah

🇮🇩 - We are agents, we are society, we are shifting, we learn to survive. Living life as empowering other.