Mini course do not necessarily jump to mind for most would be course instructors because on platforms such as Udemy, Skillshare and others the length of your course matters in terms of rankings, pay and credibility.   But ask yourself,

Do you have 100 hours to spare? How about $1000?  Have you ever taught a class? How ‘bout an email list and sales funnel – is your database of contact 1000 friends strong?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, but you want to launch an online course, you should consider creating a “mini course”.

What’s a Mini Course?

OK, the name should pretty much say it all, but just in case it’s not clear, a mini course can take whatever form you want, but essentially it’s no more than 2 hours long and it covers are fairly concise topic or handful of very specific topics related to the bigger course you are thinking of creating.

A mini course often serves as a kind of minimum viable product for an online course.

What Should You Use a Mini Course For?

The reasons why you would opt to do a mini course are all interrelated to a certain extent. Depending on your situation, certain benefits may be more relevant than others.

  • Monetize and repurpose existing content – If you’ve been blogging, written an ebook, or developed other educational content such as webinars or YouTube videos, a mini course can be a way to create an additional income stream from that content and put you on the path to earning even more income from your current content down the road.
  • Determine if there’s demand for an online course idea – If you give your mini course away for free, this may not entirely reflect demand because the willingness to pay is not taken into account. Nevertheless distributing a free mini course can gauge interest in a topic. If you charge for your mini course, even better to determine true willingness of people to pay for your bigger course. 
  • Get feedback on a course idea – Once you have people enrolled in your mini course then you can get feedback and evaluations from them that may give you a clue as to the potential demand for a larger course. Their feedback might give you new course topic ideas too.
  • Build up an email database/audience – much like an ebook or guide you can offer a “free” mini course as a lead generator and use it to collect emails on your website. Then you can start interacting with your list/audience on other levels to nurture people into your sales funnel.
  • Expand your existing business or brand – Maybe you’re a speaker, trainer, masseuse or other service provider that delivers your product “in person”.  Putting a mini course on your website and distributing through social media can attract new customers and potentially boost your revenue. It can help augment your business brand. It’s basically advertising for your brick and mortar business.
  • Trust building – Putting any kind of legitimate mini course on your website or elsewhere helps to establish your authority on your chosen topic and to build trust with your audience. If it’s a video course, it also helps present you as “real” person in the eyes of potential students. In addition, the reviews and evaluations that you get through your mini course can be used to build trust on the landing page of your eventual larger online course or on your website to establish credibility.
  • Pre-sell your course – besides assessing if there is demand, you can generate some initial revenue. You can develop a 1 hour condensed version of your course, send it to your email list and see if anyone will buy it for a price you are thinking of. Or offer it as a preview of a course in exchange for someone pre-enrolling and pre-paying for your course at a discounted price.
  • Keep you on track to building a longer course –  It can take months to create a full length course. Maybe you don’t have that right now. A mini course or even multiple mini courses can be a way for you to stagger the content development for a broader course if you do not have the time and inclination to devote to seeing a several hours course to fruition. You can stagger the development of your bigger online course in this way and learn and experiment before devoting time to the final product.

What’s a Typical Mini Course Format?

A mini course really is not complicated. You can build one on just about any online course platform whether it’s Udemy, Teachable, your own website or YouTube. It’s commonly a teaser to a larger course idea. So it may consist of a (longer) chapter that you are thinking of for a much broader course.  It can also be as simple as a 30 minute tutorial or video on your topic.

Some common formats for mini courses are:

“The Beginner’s Course” – This is a mini course that will teach the first few steps towards a larger learning objective, solution to a problem, or transformation.

“The Snapshot Course” – This is a course where you take a single topic in your broader online course topic that can stand on its own and turn it into a course. A popular format would be “5 Steps to Achieve ‘X’” or “5 Tools to Do ‘X’”.

“The Segueway Course” – In this kind of course, you offer teaching or problem solving on one topic which naturally leads to interest in your actual longer course topic or solution. So for example, you might offer a mini course on how to reduce stress, and then use it to drum up interest in your Relaxation Yoga course.

“The Condensed Version” – In this type of course you take the lessons of your broader course and only touch on them at the highest level.  An example would be a very high level guide to creating an online course with 5 major steps (choose a topic, outline your course, create content, launch, market) and not much detail. Another example would be a course titled “The Fundamentals of ‘X’”.

In general you follow the same steps as you would to develop a larger online course. The one exception is that the course has a slightly different purpose than your full blown course in that it is more of a marketing tool. Therefore when you decide on your course outline and content, the emphasis may be slightly different. So ask these sorts of marketing-related questions to help determine your course outline:

Mini cooper
Your course might be mini like this car, but you can make it exciting people will purchase it despite its compact size
  • What type of content or topic related to my course idea will people enjoy most?
  • How much of this content is just enough to peak their interest and give them a great learning experience?
  • How much content is too much for the price I am considering or for free?
  • What can I add to the mini course to make it more exciting?

Some Examples

We’ve put together a few mini course examples from a few different platforms just to show the variety and usefulness that is possible with mini courses.

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