Meet a mom of 10 who has earned $323,000 teaching people how to bake sourdough bread on Udemy

Udemy sourdough baker Teresa Greenway.
Photo courtesy Teresa Greenway
Key Points
  • Teresa Greenway was looking for a job in 2014 when she had an idea: She could teach people how to make sourdough on the online course site Udemy.
  • She released her first course in May 2015 and made $1,000 in that first month alone.
  • Greenway now offers 13 baking courses through Udemy, and has earned $323,000 from the site altogether.

In 2014, Teresa Greenway, who had spent the last few years escaping an abusive marriage and bouncing around between California and Washington as she tried to support her young kids, was trying to figure out how to make money.

"I did any work that I could find," she says. "I worked as a hotel maid for a while. I worked as a nanny for a while. I worked in two bakeries." Greenway had married young, had 10 kids, and had never gotten a college degree. "I felt like I didn't have anything to offer to the workforce," she says.

That year, once she was back in Washington state full time, Greenway got a scholarship to take business coach Sherold Barr's online course, "Smart Women Make Money." As Greenway tried to figure out her next career moves, Barr asked point blank, "What can you do?"

"Well," Greenway says she told Barr, "I can make sourdough."

Greenway had started baking sourdough bread as a hobby in 2004. Since then, she'd honed her craft and accumulated years of experience. In researching how she could potentially build a business on that experience, she discovered online course website Udemy. She decided to create a sourdough-making course and posted it in May 2015.

"The very first month of my course, I made $1,000," she says, "which was amazing because, at that point, I was only making about $300 a month."

Since then, Greenway, now 63, has uploaded a total of 13 courses onto the site, including a slew of courses on more sourdough baking, pizza crust baking, and challah bread baking. She's made $323,000 from Udemy altogether.

Here's how she built her online baking empire.

The first loaf was 'blistered and beautiful'

Greenway's foray into sourdough-making initially came as a challenge. In 2004, her eldest daughter tried to learn how to bake some herself. Never quite able to figure it out, she gave up and told Greenway, "nobody can make real sourdough bread, Mom, not even you."

Challenge accepted. It took several months, but Greenway was, ultimately, able to perfect the art.

"When I made the first loaf that was really successful, it was all blistered and beautiful and it was crackling out of the oven and my children were dancing around clapping," she says. "It was just such an amazing moment that I decided that that I was going to open up a website and share."

Greenway founded a site called Northwest Sourdough, which included a blog where she shared the lessons she'd learned.

'Why don't I try to do a Udemy course?'

Over the years, as Greenway continued baking and contributing to her blog, "I accumulated a lot of experimental knowledge about sourdough," she says. She decided to collect this knowledge into a 400-page, four-volume book series, "Discovering Sourdough," which she self published on Amazon.

She also started posting videos about sourdough baking on YouTube, "just for fun."

Greenway's sourdough bread.
Courtesy Teresa Greenway

Initially, when Barr suggested Greenway try to build a business on her knowledge of sourdough, she looked into monetizing her YouTube channel. It was in the process of researching that she came across Udemy, where people had been offering courses on how to optimize your YouTube channel.

"I was taking all these courses," she says, "and it suddenly clicked. I thought, 'Well, why don't I try to do a Udemy course?'"

Offer 'life changing' content, and viewers will overlook video quality

Greenway didn't have a lot of resources to begin with.

"I almost didn't publish my first course on Udemy because we were living in a kind of garage and the surroundings were not very pretty," she says. "I had set up a type of kitchen in there. It was just a makeshift kitchen. And I thought, 'I can't videotape in this, it would look terrible.'"

But, she realized, if you have knowledge "that's life changing for someone, they're willing to overlook the quality" of your production. So she went for it, and the course was a hit.

With the success of her courses, she's since moved to a bigger home with a real kitchen.

'Be consistent'

Greenway's courses range in length from 44 minutes to four and a half hours. They range in price from about $30 to $100 each. In part because Udemy often offers sales, her monthly income from the site varies.

"When I averaged it all out, it came to almost $4,000 a month overall," she says.

Greenway's early kitchen.
Courtesy Teresa Greenway

Greenway's latest venture is a membership site called The Baking Network. For $10 per month or $110 per year, members get access to some of her Udemy courses, as well as tutorials from other bakers, workshops she's done over the years, and recipes.

For anyone keen to build a business on their own unique skills or knowledge, Greenway's No. 1 tip is to "be consistent," she says. There are so many avenues to share what you've learned, whether an online course, a YouTube video, a blog, or an e-book. Even on the days you don't feel like creating, "just be consistent in your effort," she says. Write one word or record one snippet.

"Just continue to do something."

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