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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Interview with Len Smith

Len Smith from Yorkshire, England realized during his career as a copywriter that many people don't know rules for semicolons, apostrophes, etc. He took that realization to Udemy, where he has now created nine courses on punctuation, copywriting and more. Each month he earns thousands of passive dollars through his Udemy courses, enabling him to scale back his copywriting business and spend more time with his wife.

We at RetireEarlyLifestyle are always looking for unique ways for our Readers to make money and to express themselves. This could be an opportunity for you! Read on.

RetireEarlyLifestyle: Can you briefly tell us a little bit about yourself?
Len Smith: I’m 71 years old and my background actually originates in the computer industry. I ran a marketing consultancy to the computer industry for many years.

REL: Where do you call home?

LS: I live in the UK, up in the Pennine Hills.

REL: We understand that you have created nine courses on Udemy which is like an online university. How long ago did you create your first course?

LS: Udemy is an online platform for experts to share their knowledge with skill seekers around the world. I published my first course three years ago and am now, as you say, up to nine.

Len Smith

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REL: What requirements are needed to design a course? How does one go about doing that? Did you receive help from Udemy in designing a course?
LS: The most important thing when designing a course is to find a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. The courses are mostly video-based, but there’s no need for fancy equipment. I’ve seen several course providers use their iPhones or a decent webcam to film their courses. Sound quality needs to be good, but many course providers use mics costing around $50. Some use natural lighting. I spent around $100 on studio lights, which made a substantial difference for a relatively minor investment.


Very few providers have previous experience assembling video lessons, and I was no exception. Udemy has a great free course that gives an overview of the basics, plus lots of text advice on how to structure a course and how to film. Udemy also has a Facebook group called Udemy Studio for new and inexperienced course providers. With more than 20,000 members, there’s great interaction and mutual help (often from experienced providers like myself) and from Udemy. The support for “newbies” is excellent. Newbies can submit a test video for quality checks before going ahead and developing their courses.

REL: Are courses all text or do you have video, audio, photos or graphs?

LS: At least 60 percent of the courses have to be video. Many of them are essentially PowerPoint presentations recorded with voice-over and saved as a video. There are facilities for quizzes, audio lessons, and text handouts, but the 60 percent rule is sacred. Each video should be no more than five or 10 minutes - it’s the perfect length of time for students to learn skills online.

REL: Do you upload your courses to Udemy and then the student downloads the course when he is ready to participate?

The Adventurer's Guide to the Possible Dream

LS: We upload our courses to Udemy and they stay there. Students who purchase a course get lifetime access to it online. Any and all updates instructors may add to the course are free to existing students.

REL: How do you know what to charge?

LS: Udemy offers instructors pricing guidelines but at the end of the day the decision comes down to the students. I experiment with price until I get the right balance between signups and total revenue.

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REL: How do you get paid? Does it go through an online payment system like PayPal?

LS: We’re paid monthly through PayPal. Udemy offers a 100 percent refund guarantee to students within the first 30 days, so the payment can be delayed slightly to accommodate.

REL: How do your courses get attention in order for students to sign up? Do you take out advertisements?

LS: Each course provider develops his or her own business plan. If courses prove to be popular and are well utilized, Udemy does massive promotions. Just under half of my revenue comes from that. I often encourage my existing students to purchase other courses of mine. It pays to create high-quality material simply because of the upselling.

REL: Do you consider yourself retired even though you have designed these online courses?

LS:  I love what I am doing to the extent that it still seems like a hobby. This year I’m looking forward to developing six courses over the coast of the year and traveling in the alternate months.

REL: If someone were interested in doing what you have done, how would they begin? What topics would you suggest?

LS: They should register with Udemy – no cost, no commitment. Udemy will give them access to all the support material and the Udemy Studio support lounge on Facebook. Udemy does give some guidance on the topics that are popular with students, but in general instructors simply choose to create courses based on what they like. One provider has a large series of courses on embroidery; others have courses on deep technical programming skills. Mine are all related to writing and copywriting.


REL: To what type of person would you recommend this avenue of making money? Is it a fairly straightforward process?

LS: Around 17 percent of course providers are over 55 years old. They tend to specialize on the skills they have built up over the years. Younger providers often specialize in fast-changing skills, like website development. No matter an instructor’s age or area of expertise, the main requirement is a love of the subject.

REL: How long are your courses – does one attend classes or learn at their own speed?

LS: The video content is self-paced. A few providers do hold online hangouts, which is something I’ve been seeing more frequently.

REL: Do you have interaction with your students or are your classes hands free? What if students have questions? Are there interactions between students? How many students do you have?

LS: There is a facility for students within a course to communicate with each other. I’m always available to answer questions electronically. I make myself available to answer my students’ questions a couple of hours each week.

REL: What is expected from you after a course is designed?

LS: Instructors are responsible for promoting their own courses using whatever method seems appropriate to the individual. Answer student queries and keep the course up to date - technical subjects often require new courses, which is why “techie” subjects are so profitable.

The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement, 3rd Edition

REL: What else can you tell us about Udemy and their course designs? Are you happy being a Udemy “professor?”

LS: I love Udemy. I have complete freedom and am able to produce material at my own pace and very much in my own style.

We at RetireEarlyLifestyle would like to thank Len for taking the time to introduce us to the many opportunities at Udemy, either as a student or as an instructor. If you would like to take one of Len's Udemy classes at a discount, click here

To read more interviews with Expats, Early Retirees and Interesting Characters, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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