How Long Should Your Online Course Be? - Course Pursuits

How Long Should Your Online Course Be?

One of the first question any online course creator has is "how long my online course should be?" Believe me, as you go down the journey of course creation, this question will continue to haunt you.

As a course creator, you want to accomplish two things:

  1. You want your course to be the best one on the topic
  2. You want to include everything, which is to know about the topic.

As you create your course, you're focused on adding content. However, as your training course grows - you start to wonder if my course is too long or too short?

If you were to ask someone -- you'll get an answers like

  • "Your course should be as long as it needs to be."
  • "The length of your course should be something that makes sense."

None of these answer provide any kind of help, right? 

So, let's try to tackle this common question of how long should an online course be? What is the ideal length of an online course?

how long should your online course be


How Long Should Your Online Course Be? 

Getting the right course length is actually a fine line. You don’t want your course to be so long that your students start to get bored, neither do you want your course to be so short that people feel they did not get their money's worth.

To tackle this question on your course length, let's analyze critical factors, which come into play in determining the length of your course. 

Learning Objectives

An online course needs to achieve the learning objectives. If a course fails to achieve the learning outcomes, the duration of the course does not matter at all. 

You need to deliver on your promise and focus on helping students achieve the learning objectives. If it takes 100 hours to achieve the learning objectives, create a course of length 100 hours. If a course takes just 2 hours to achieve the learning objectives, create a course of length 2 hours!

Competition

Whichever topic you're thinking about creating a course -- chances are that someone else is already teaching it.

You should checkout your competition to decide the length and price of your course. A good option is to do competition research using Course Pursuits.

Go to CoursePursuits.com, type your niche or topic and get results of all your competitors. Analyze what they have to offer and try to figure out a price and length, which could give you an edge over others.

Topic of your Course

There are certain topics, which almost everyone has a fair idea of how much effort they require to learn. Even if they don't have a fair idea, they can easily Google for related information.

For example, it is a common knowledge that Futures and Options Trading is next level of share trading. It takes a bit of effort to learn about the subject, so, anyone would except a course on futures and options trading to be longer. Hence, a 2-3 hours of course on Futures and Options trading might feel like everything has not been explained in-depth.

Another example - if you have a course on "learning to use iPad", it can be short course of 1-2 hours but if you're planning a course on iOS 13 programming - it needs to be a long one like a minimum of 20-30 hours.

length of the course

Price of your Course?

Price is always a factor especially if someone is not your customer yet. If someone is your customer and a true fan, price is less likely to be a factor for them. They would be ready to scoop up whatever you have to offer

However, for those, who're not your customer yet - price would alway be an influencing factor.

People will evaluate the value of your course based on the length and price of your course.

If a 80-hour long course is available for $10, no one would mind buying it. They may chose to ignore it for reasons other than price (for example, they may not have 80 hours to spare) but they will certainly never ignore it for price-value.

However, if a 2 hour course is available for $100, they may thing about it again.

Name of your Course?

The use of certain keywords in the name of your course play a crucial role. You should decide a topic and create the course first. Decide the exact name of the course later on, depending on how your course turned out to be.

For example, have a look at the below course:

a very long course

This is a lengthy course (79 course) for sure. In fact, it is a very very lengthy course!

Think about it - if someone is learning Java on the side by assigning 2 hours daily towards the course - this person needs about 40 days to complete the course. Add about a few days of lesser availability or unavailability and you may say that it may take about 2 months to complete the course.  

Judging by the name, to whom will this course appeal to? It is likely to appeal to most of the people except those who want to learn something quickly.

So, if you end up creating a say 5 hour course - probably the term masterclass will be a misfit in your course title.

If you have a perfect course title in mind, then you should have a content, which can justify the name of the course.

Course Format

Your online course delivery format would also play a role in determining the length of the course.

For example, if you're doing live classes, you've have a set schedule for your classes and the length of your course could be determined by the length of your classes. 

For a self-paced (recorded) format, you have to determine using several factors discussed in this article.

Perspectives

Think from different perspectives.

For example, think from the perspective of a prospective client (person looking to learn something) first. When a person is looking to learn something, they may be having one or more of following thoughts about which course select:

  • The course should cover the fundamentals so that I can make my basics strong.
  • The course should cover advanced topics as well, so that I can master the course.
  • The course should not be obsolete.
  • The course should have real-world examples and not just theory and concepts

What do you think an ideal length would be for such requirements and work out an average figure, which can be justified.

Just Do It!

Don't procrastinate forever on what should be the length of your online course. 

Just try out whatever makes sense and make changes along the way. It is more important to get started than to get started right.

We've had courses, which we sold for $200 when starting out. After a couple of years, we were selling the same course for $1500 (of course with an improved course content but the topic was the same).


Feel free to share your thoughts using the comments box below.

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