Sep 13, 2022

How to decide the price & length of your course

By Wes Kao
As a first-time course creator, how should you price your course? And how long should it be? Here's exactly what we recommend.

If you're a first-time course creator, you might be wondering:
  • How long should my course be? 
  • How much should I charge for my course? 
  • How many students should I aim for?
Here’s what we recommend:
Run a 1-week course. Price it at $500 and aim for 10 students. You can run three 90-minute live workshops, let’s say on MWF.
Let’s dive into why.

How long should my cohort be?

Three 90-minute sessions over 1 week is a great place to start. We’ve seen dozens of first-time instructors succeed with this format. 
For example, Amanda Goetz (Instructor of Startup Marketing Bootcamp) is a full-time CEO and parent. Her students are also busy marketers and operators. So, she wanted her cohort to be efficient with high ROI. Her course is 1 week: three 1.5-hr live workshops on Mon/Wed/Fri with optional events in between.
Laura Tacho (Instructor of Measuring Development Team Performance) is a coach/consultant for engineering managers. Her clients have limited time, so she wanted her course to be dense and high ROI. She repurposed her top frameworks into three 1-hr live workshops on Tue/Wed/Thu.
You might be wondering: Will a 1-week course be too short? It depends on your scope. Building a shorter course means you’ll cover fewer topics but go deeper. For example, if you’re teaching a data science course, it would be a mistake to squeeze 6 weeks of content into 3 days and promise that students will become data scientists. Instead, you could trim your content to focus on visualizing datasets with Python over 3 days. This narrower scope offers a more concrete and realistic outcome.
A new Maven instructor shared how cutting scope helped her get unblocked. This is a great example of being “ruthlessly practical.”
“I started with a big, ambitious idea. I kept putting off creating content because it felt so big. Then, I figured out how to narrow the scope of the course to fit into 4 sessions. It only covers a portion of what I thought it would cover. But it immediately started to snowball in my mind of how it can come to life and the exercises I could give.”
You might ask: “Is 1 week enough to build community?” Yes, both Amanda and Laura’s courses are highly rated (over 9/10) because of the community and interactivity. They create ample opportunities for their students to discuss and collaborate throughout the week. We recommend using breakout rooms and facilitating discussion in the community to maximize interaction.

Why price your first cohort at $500?

Price depends on your students’ willingness to pay, the return on investment of learning the skill, how much the alternatives cost, and the minimum you want to earn.
If you’re hung up on price, we’ve seen a lot of instructors price their first cohort at $500 and have success. The price you set now doesn’t have to be the price you have forever: You can increase your price in future cohorts as you improve the quality. For a professional audience, the $500 price point doesn’t raise eyebrows when students ask their boss to get reimbursed. 
Some instructors prefer to price higher and offer an early bird discount for their first cohort. This can reward early adopters and create urgency. If you want to give it a try, here’s how you can create discount codes. In general, we recommend keeping it simple and going with a $500 price point for your first cohort.

How many students should I aim for?

A cohort of 10 students means that at least 7-8 students attend each workshop, allowing you to set up 2-3 breakout groups. This is a good minimum number of students because facilitating discussions in breakouts and in your community will help students build camaraderie, even in a 1-week cohort.
You might be wondering: “What if I get way more student demand for my course than expected?” First, you should celebrate because that’s awesome! We’ve seen some instructors have 250+ students in their first cohort. Many instructors can support ~30 students without additional help by strategically using breakout rooms and facilitating peer feedback in the community. If your cohort grows beyond 30, instructors have asked colleagues, friends, and family to assist with simple Zoom operations (opening/closing breakouts, admitting students, playing music).

Prospective students may say to you: “I want to take this course but I can’t make the dates.” If that happens, that’s a great sign you’re potentially on your way to course-market fit. You should engage with them and open a second cohort so they can enroll. We’ve seen several instructors fill a second cohort quickly after their first one by capitalizing on this excess demand.
Ready to get started? Over 3,000 subject matter experts have gone through the Maven Course Accelerator to turn their knowledge into a community-driven, live course. Sign up for a free account on Maven to join our next cohort.

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