How to Create a Mini Course From Scratch in 6 Simple Steps

How to Create a Mini Course From Scratch

If the thought of creating a full online course overwhelms you or you’re struggling to organize your ideas into a cohesive digital product, it might be time to learn how to create a mini course.

In this article, we’ll walk you through what a mini course is and why you should create one. Then, we’ll move through the mini course building process together so you can see what goes into making them.

As you review this article, think about your expertise and skills and how you can apply them to crafting your own mini course.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

What Is a Mini Course and Why Should You Create One?

A mini course is a type of online course that is short, compact, and targeted in terms of the content it covers and its duration. It’s highly specific and hyper-focused on a small segment of a broader topic.

It doesn’t necessarily conform to a specific format and can be audio, video, or text-based.

The only real shared characteristic of mini courses is brevity: they might last only minutes or take up to an hour. Anything longer, and you’ll likely want to trim it down.

For example, Caleb Wojcik from DIY Video School offers a short course—Premiere Pro 101. The course is short in duration, free to enroll, and its main function is to generate leads for his premium online courses.

Premiere Pro 101 mini course example
Premiere Pro 101 mini course example

Because the process and tools associated with creating a mini course aren’t different from those used to build a regular online course, let’s quickly cover why making one matters.

The Marketplace Demands It

When analyzing popular social media platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube, the recommended video length can range from as little as 15 seconds to no more than 10 minutes.

Short, refined content is easier to consume, and billions of people worldwide have already been trained to expect it.

Develop and Deploy Your Course More Quickly

Because mini courses are designed for efficiency, creating them shouldn’t take long.

When it comes to developing and delivering your mini course, think in terms of hours.

When it comes to the consumption and completion of your mini course by a learner, think in terms of minutes.

Keeping these abbreviated time frames in mind will help you determine what goes into your course.

The Mini Course Is Your Minimum Viable Product

In business start-up speak, a minimum viable product (MVP) is a marketing strategy based on marketing a product with enough features to attract early adopter customers, who will then offer feedback for future product development.

An online mini course has the same characteristics as an MVP. It allows you to go to market quickly, obtain feedback, and evaluate demand, so you’ll be able to build a bigger, more profitable course with your audience’s feedback in mind.

Generate High-Quality Leads

Because mini courses are relatively easy-to-create, they work great as lead magnets, allowing you to:

  • Showcase what you know in an easily accessible way for your subscribers
  • Collect emails and manage the relationship with your audience
  • Gauge the broader market to see if there’s demand for a paid product

As a lead magnet, your mini course should be free and used as a point of leverage for future paid products. It’ll function as the magnet that attracts people into your conversion funnel.

Now that we’ve covered why you should incorporate a mini course into your digital product mix, let’s dig into how to do it in six simple steps. 

1. Choose a Course Topic

As a course creator, selecting your mini course topic is critical. However, it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated.

If you’re at this point, you likely already have a broad topic area in mind, and now it’s time to refine it, so pulling your course together remains quick and manageable.

What might this look like? I’ll give you a personal example.

I have a deep passion for running. I’ve coached individuals one-on-one and in groups in track and field, road racing, and trail running. I’ve always regarded it as a hobby, but now I want to scale up and make a side hustle out of it.

I’ll ask myself these questions and then brainstorm some course ideas:

  • What aspects of running am I most interested in?
  • Do I have access to pre-existing content or have a deep understanding of a specific area?
  • Is there a good market for this kind of mini course?
  • What does my research suggest?
  • How does this course align with my long-term business goals?

Because I’ve already begun sketching out a signature cohort-based trail running program for beginners, I’ll use this larger topic as a frame for my mini course.

Using Apple Notes, I quickly mapped out some potential subtopics for a trail running-focused course. It’s not pretty, but the brainstorm is a visually effective exercise for me to organize my ideas.

Course ideas brainstorming in Apple Notes
You can use Apple Notes to brainstorm course ideas

From there, I can select a subtopic and pare it down to a specialized mini course.

Now, if you’d like this to be an evergreen course, be sure to avoid a topic that might be too trendy, seasonal, or a one-off thing.

For example, the area where I live is surrounded by hills and mountains, so a short online course on uphill running techniques can be useful and evergreen content for runners in my community.

To summarize, we took a broad topic (trail running), identified subtopics (running form and local terrain), and turned it into the focus of a specialized mini course (hill running techniques).

We’ll call it something like:

Effortless Mountain Running: Simple Form Techniques for Trail Runners

Now, let’s begin to organize it.

2. Outline Your Mini Course

Here’s where the mini course creation process will start to look very much like you’re creating a full-length course, with a couple of obvious exceptions that you should always have in the back of your mind.

First, you need to be selective with your subject matter. Every word and video you include should have a clear purpose.

Secondly, make sure that your mini course solves a problem and provides standalone value.

There are many ways to outline a course, so know what works best for you and trust your own process.

Because this example is focused on trail running techniques, we want the content and activities in this course to be biased towards action.

In other words, what will the learner do during the course to achieve this goal? How will the learner change once they complete the course?

To accomplish this goal, the delivery format will include lecture or demo videos and specific activities to practice. And the subtopics might cover lessons on balance, foot strike, arm swing, and body alignment, depending on the terrain and hill climbs.

You can use Trello to put together all of this information. Trello is a project management app that allows you to visually organize your outline, course content, and workflow and stay on top of deadlines.

Course project planning in Trello
Here’s a snapshot of how we’ve set up a Trello board for this mini course

There are many other approaches to creating a course outline. For example, you can use a spreadsheet application (e.g., Google Sheets) or even pencil and paper.

Here’s another example of organizing your course outline using our Google Sheets template.

Course outline template
Course outline template

While your outline might only cover one module, you can see the level of detail that goes into it. This outline includes:

  • Module
  • Presentation type
  • Content topic and subtopics
  • Delivery format
  • Status
  • Length

As you can see, the outline is your roadmap. Now you just have to follow it to complete your mini course.

3. Build Your Course Slides

In this section, we’ll learn how to create course slides that help facilitate the recording of your online course content.

Remember: this is only a suggestion. If it’s easier for your mini course to be mostly text-based and part of an email course, that’s fine.

You’re in charge of your content creation and how you think your target audience will consume it best.

With that in mind, there are numerous presentation software applications that allow you to create a course, including:

For this portion of the course-building process, we’ll use Microsoft PowerPoint, a slide creation app found in MS Office.

Once there, you can choose a slide theme, select your slide deck, and begin to design the slides.

Creating slides for mini course
Here’s how the mini course slides look in the PowerPoint interface

Again, and we can’t stress this enough: prioritize speed over perfection. You want to get this course to market and don’t need these slides to look perfect right now.

As a rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to slide creation. You’ll be able to narrate each slide and include other supporting information to add meat to your course.

Once you’ve created your slides, compare them to your course outline.

  • Were you able to follow your outline closely?
  • Do you have too much information?
  • Does the logic and flow of your presentation make sense?

Once you’re done here, let’s get to recording.

4. Record Your Course Videos

If you’re new to creating an online course, you’ll make some important decisions in this phase.

The mini course creation process shouldn’t feel overwhelming, and we recommend you mainly use screencast video content. We’ve compiled all the tools you’ll need to record your video successfully in our screencast video creation guide.

Here are some helpful tips as you begin:

  • Excellent audio quality wins the day. No matter how good your slides are, the success of your course will suffer if your sound is subpar.
  • Plan your video and write a script. Scripts provide clarity and ensure you stay on topic.
  • Add variety to your videos if time permits.
  • Don’t forget to keep your videos short. When your student completes a full video, it feels like a mini-accomplishment. Stack those wins.

Be sure to select the right screencasting software that meets your needs.

If you’re already proficient in using a piece of software you like, that’s great. You can jump ahead to the next section.

Otherwise, here are some screencasting options to choose from:

  • Screencast-O-Matic
  • Camtasia
  • Loom
  • Screenflow
  • PowerPoint

For this trail running mini course, we’ll record the presentation using Screencast-O-Matic.

Once the application is launched, select the new recording option, adjust the screen size, and start recording your screen and audio.

Recording screen using Screencast-O-Matic
Recording screen using Screencast-O-Matic

Screencast-O-Matic has a powerful, versatile video editor that will allow you to edit and customize your videos.

You may need to experiment to find out what works best for you. But, most importantly, the screencasting software you select should be simple and intuitive so that it doesn’t frustrate or overwhelm you.

Now that the videos are created, let’s publish them online.

5. Get Your Mini Course Online

There are many online course creation platforms that you can use to publish and promote your mini course.

Regarding course platforms, we encourage you to review Kajabi or Thinkific.

Kajabi is considered to be a best-in-class, all-in-one course platform. It offers tools to manage every aspect of your online course business, including an online course and website builder, a suite of marketing tools, and e-commerce functionalities.

Thinkific isn’t an all-in-one platform like Kajabi, but its course builder and learner engagement features are second to none.

Any platform you choose will have different features and benefits, so you’ll need to determine which one will meet your needs most effectively.

For this exercise, we chose to experiment with Kajabi to publish our mini course. The course builder is intuitive and can handle various content types, offering a clear way to organize courses.

Mini course outline in Kajabi
Mini course outline in Kajabi

As you can see, we have replicated the course outline in Kajabi with lessons on trail running form techniques and uploaded the video files for each lesson.

There are many feature-rich course creation platforms, but the bottom line is this: the best platform for you is the one you’ll use.

In this example, Kajabi has plenty of functionalities that will help get the mini course up and running quickly.

6. Promote Your Mini Course

The next and final step of creating a mini course is finding your online audience and promoting it to them.

Your course marketing plan should be as organized as your course outline. Do not treat it as an afterthought; engage all your marketing channels to promote your course.

  • If you have a blog or podcast, publish an article or episode.
  • If you have an email list, send out an email blast or create a campaign.
  • If you’ve got affiliates who can help, reach out to them.

For the trail running course, we’ll rely on the course marketing features found within Kajabi to help with promotion.

We put together a pre-launch sales page before creating the mini course. Why?

The sales page will allow you to collect emails before your course is created and serves as another way to create buzz around it.

Mini course pre-launch page
Here’s what a draft of the sales page hero section looks like

When a visitor signs up for the pre-launch, it triggers an email campaign that will help you connect with the audience and notify them when the course is ready for enrollment.

Inside Kajabi, you can create a sequenced campaign, tag users, and create segments, as well as set up automations to help automate your marketing efforts.

So, when it comes to promoting your mini course, develop a plan and use the marketing tools that make sense for you.

Summary

Mini courses are small in name only. Their impact on your course business, however, can be massive.

Over the course of this article, we’ve shared insights on why you should create a mini course.

  • The marketplace expects short-form content.
  • You’re able to develop and deploy your ideas more quickly.
  • You can test your ideas and evaluate demand.
  • You can generate meaningful leads to build and grow your audience.

We then took you through the thought and practical process of creating a mini course to contextualize the whole thing and show you how fast they can come together.

We hope this article was helpful for you and that you now have the understanding and know-how to create a mini course.

What topic will your mini course cover? What kinds of content are you using to make it? Let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!