If you’re creating an online course, you’ve probably wondered about the optimal online course length. Would it be better if it were a short course or a huge premium course?

A huge course can overwhelm your students but a short course can turn them off and make them think that you’re not giving them enough bang for their buck. There’s a fine line in getting it just right.

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Naturally you will want to give your students the best value for their money. You want the online course length to be long enough that they are filled with useful information, yet short enough that they don’t feel overwhelmed.

In other words, you want them to finish the course and learn a new skill to help them become more successful. With that said, your online course should have the end goal of providing them valuable information that you can use later on.

How can I get my student from A to B in the shortest amount of time possible and still keep them happy?

Remember that online students are passive learners and get distracted easily. The more information they have to overcome, the more concentration and effort they need to complete your course. For them, the optimal online course length will generally be on the shorter side.

So what exactly do you do?

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START SMALL

I hear the word flagship course all the time. Seriously, unless you’re Marie Forleo, you don’t have to sell a gigantic flagship course. Considering that she only sells one course a year, it’s no wonder her course is so large and sold at a premium.

Online courses are a huge commitment in time for you and your student, so providing the best online course length will consist of providing the most value in the shortest amount of time.

The bigger your course, the longer it’ll take you to produce and the longer it’ll take your student to complete…if they ever complete it.

  • Create a small but very specific course focused around one of your audience’s core problems.
  • A small course will often have better completion rates and you can re-purpose the content should you ever decide to create a huge premium course later on.
  • An ideal short online course length is around 4 to 6 weeks. Remember to take into account actual study time (time at the computer) plus additional time students need to take action or implement strategies.

CHUNK YOUR LESSONS

  • If you have no choice but to create a longer course, then chunk your content as much as possible.
  • Break up your content into topics which will become your course modules. Within each module, you can create further sub-topics or lessons. It’s better to have a course with many smaller modules than a few large modules.
  • Bear in mind that each lesson should be no longer than 30 minutes and at least 15 minutes in length. Test the lesson time with your beta testers and tweak it until the length is just right.

Consider that most television advertisements or sitcoms are very short and under 30 minutes…there’s a lesson in that itself.

CREATE A LIBRARY OF COURSES

By creating a range of short courses, and compiling them into a course library, you’re able to serve a variety of customers with different pricing points. This way you’ll be able to generate a nice steady stream of passive income because you’re offering a variety of products.

Two of my favourite bloggers, Melyssa Griffin and By Regina, have a range of courses with varying price points. None of them sell for $997 and Regina even sells books from as little as $5.

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Ultimately, you have to consider the value that your course will add to your student’s life once they’ve completed it. A lot of people prefer to invest in something small. If it’s their first time buying a digital product, they will want to test the waters first.

There’s no reason why you can’t update and bundle a few courses together in the future. Once you have guaranteed demand, you will be able to create a premium course.

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