How to Make Certificates of Completion for Your Courses for FREE

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For those who sell online courses, offering a certificate of completion is an effective way of motivating students, and boosting engagement.

Certificates can also help you distinguish your courses from your competitors and so, they can be an effective marketing tool as well.

However, there are certain online learning platforms like Kajabi that don’t allow you to create certificates natively. Similarly, certain course platforms like Teachable and Thinkific don’t allow you to create certificates on their lower pricing tiers.

In this case, you need to make certificates in a tool like Canva and send it manually to your students every time which can be really time consuming.

Or, you need to use a specialized certificate tool like Accredible which means an additional expense for your business which might not work for everyone.

Sometime back, I was working with a client and I tested Google Slides for issuing certificates of completion. Guess what, not only it worked well but we could actually automate the entire process of creating and issuing certificates.

In this guide, I am going to show you the exact process of creating a certificate of completion using Google Slides for free and further send it to your students automatically via Zapier.

So, let’s get started!

Step 1: Make a Certificate of Completion Template in Google Slides

The first step in the process is to make a certificate template in Google Slides. You can either create a presentation from scratch or you can use one of the existing templates.

For this tutorial, we will use a standard template which can be found here

certificate template google slides

Now there are two important things that you need to do!

First, you need to modify the design of the certificate template and you will do this the same way you would edit any Google Slide. I will leave this task to you and you can modify the design as per your requirements.

Second, you need to specify what information you want to add to your certificate and define them as variables in your template.

Some of the information that you would normally want to have on a certificate include: student name, course name, issuing date etc.

For Google Slides to treat these as variables and not regular text, you need to wrap variable names with two curly braces.

The variable name has nothing to do with the variable name either in your online course platform or any other tool. For example, you can have a variable for student name as {{name}} or {{student_name}} or {{user_name}}, it doesn’t really matter.

Create Variables in Google Slides Certificate

Once you are done editing the certificate, give it a proper name so that you can identify it later.

Your certificate template is now ready and we can move to setting up the process of making actual certificates.

Step 2: Set up a Zap to Create Certificates Automatically

In order to create certificates automatically based on student activity in your online course platform, we’ll use Zapier. Zapier is an automation tool that lets you connect various apps to each other.

Most of the popular course hosting platforms including Kajabi, Teachable, and Thinkific integrate directly with Zapier. If you use some other online course platform, make sure to check if they have an integration with Zapier or not.

Zapier has a free plan but you’ll need to use some of its premium features in order to create and send certificates. They do offer a 14-day free trial of their premium features. 

If you already have an account, just login and you will see ‘Make a Zap’ button at the top. Click on the button to start creating your zap.

Make a Zap

First, you need to select your online course platform as your trigger app. For example, if you use Kajabi, you need to search for it and select it from the list of the apps on the right.

Basically, we are creating a zap that gets triggered when a certain event happens in your online course platform.

Select Kajabi as Your Trigger App

Next you need to define the trigger event!

In this case, we want to send the certificate when someone passes a quiz successfully. So, you need to make sure that there is a trigger action for Quiz Result for your online course platform in Zapier. 

For example, if you use Teachable, you can use the trigger for New Graded Quiz Result in Zapier.

Similarly, Kajabi has an Assessment Completed trigger which can be used to trigger your Zap when a student completes a quiz. However, I prefer using the Tag Added trigger for Kajabi because it gives you much more flexibility.

So, you can tag your users in Kajabi when they pass a quiz and then you can use the same tag to trigger this Zap.

Tag Kajabi Users

First, select the Tag Added trigger in Zapier.

Zapier will ask you to connect your account in the next step if it isn’t connected already. Then select the tag that you want to trigger this Zap with.

Select Kajabi Tag

Zapier will also let you test the trigger app so that you can make sure that it is pulling data correctly from your online course platform.

Your trigger app is now ready and we can move forward and create an action step. The action step in this case will be Google Slides. So, search for google slides and select it as the action app.

Select Google Slides App

In the next step, select Create Presentation From Template as the action in Google Slides app.

Basically, we’ll pass the information from our online course platform to Google Slides using the variables we defined in step #1.

Create Presentation from Template

Now, you’ll need to choose what data will be passed to Google Slides. Basically we need to define what goes where.

  • Give your certificate a unique name. You can use a combination of Student’s Name and Course Name. 
  • Make the presentation shared so that the user can download it.
  • Select the certificate template we created in step #1.
  • You will then see the variables that we had created for the template earlier. Select the corresponding data from your trigger app and map it to the variables in Google Slide.
  • You can pass date to your certificate by using {{zap_meta_human_now}} in your date field. If you want to format your date or modify it, you can check this guide on Zapier blog.

The screenshot below shows how to set this up.

Pass User Variables to Google Slides

You can click on Create & Continue to test how the certificate looks. Zapier will create a new certificate in your Google Slides account. 

As you can see in the screenshot below, Zapier has created a personalized certificate for your student which means our Zap is working fine.

Sample Certificate

The approach of tagging students in Kajabi makes sure that the user has passed the quiz and only then this zap gets triggered.

But if you were to use the inbuilt quiz result trigger for either Teachable or Kajabi in Zapier, the zap would get triggered every time a user completes a quiz irrespective of whether he/she has passed it or not.

The workaround in this case is to add a filter step between the trigger app and the action app, and set a condition that the student score is greater than the passing score. This will make sure that the certificate is created only when a student passes the quiz.

Filter Based on Quiz Result

So,  we have completed the basic setup to create a certificate in Google Slides and now, we can modify the zap so that the certificate gets sent out to the student automatically as well.

Step 3: Modify the Zap to Send the Certificate of Completion to the Students

In order to send the certificates automatically, we need to add one more step to our Zap. This will be a multi-step zap and the additional step will be Email by Zapier.

So, add another action app at the end which will be Email by Zapier.

Email by Zapier

Next, setup the email template. You can pass the student’s email address from your trigger app in the ‘To’ field. You have to further enter the subject of the email and the email body.

The email body and the subject can be a combination of static text and variables as shown in the image below.

Finally, you need to select Export Links Application/pdf option under attachment. This will make sure that a pdf copy of the certificate will be sent to the user.

There are other fields like From Name, Reply To etc. which are optional and you can customize them as well if you want.

Setup Certificate Email in Zapier

Next, click on Create & Continue to test this step in your Zap. When I tested it, I got an email like this from Zapier:

Certificate Email Screenshot

Now you can click on the ‘Finish’ button and then turn your Zap on. You can always go back and make any modifications to your certificate template, your email body etc.

Now that your Zap is on, it will create and send an automated certificate to anyone who completes a course on your platform.

A Few Bonus Tips for Making & Sending Certificates for Your Courses using Zapier

This method actually works very well for a free solution and I know that you are impressed!

I also know that you will have many questions around: can we do this and can we do that! So, let me answer a few of the possible questions about making certificates using Google Slides and Zapier.

1. How can I create a certificate based on course completion rather than quiz result?

It really depends on what online course platform you use. If you use Teachable or Thinkific, they have a trigger app for Course Completion in Zapier.

So, you’ll need to replace the trigger for Quiz Result with Course Completion in your Zap and the rest of the setup will remain same.

Teachable Zapier Triggers

If you use Kajabi, there is no inbuilt trigger for Course Completion in Zapier and there is no easy way to tag your users within Kajabi when they complete a course.

As a workaround, you can use the Content Locking feature to prevent users from skipping any lectures and when they complete the last lecture, you can tag them which can then be used to trigger the Zap.

2. How can I format the date on the certificates?

The default date format in Zapier includes date as well as time. If you want to change the format, you’ll need to use the Formatter App in Zapier.

The Formatter will go just before the Google Slides step in the Zap so that it can pass the formatted date to the certificate.

Format Date in Zapier
Setup Formatter in Zapier

Once the Formatter app is setup, modify the Google Slides app and you should now pass the Formatter Output to the date field in the template.

That’s it and the formatted date will be added to your certificates from now onwards.

3. How can I can add a unique verification id to the certificates?

In order to add a unique verification id to your certificates, you’ll first need to modify the certificate template you set up in the first step. You’ll need to add a new variable, something like {{verification_id}} to your certificate template. 

Most course platforms assign a unique id to your users as well as lectures and courses, and this information is generally passed to Zapier. So, you need to create a combination of these variables and make sure that it is unique.

If you use Teachable, you can create a combination of User Id and Lecture Id. Similarly, with Kajabi, you can combine of Contact Id and Tag Id to create a unique verification id.

So, it’s just about figuring out a way to generate unique codes based on some sort of combination.

Wrapping Up

You can always build further on the setup that I explained in this tutorial. 

For example, you can issue a certificate of completion only if a student has passed a particular quiz as well as completed the course. Obviously, it involves some workarounds but it’s totally possible.

There can be so many different cases for issuing certificates and what’s possible is just limited by your imagination.

If you have any questions or you have some ideas, feel free to share them with us in the comments below.

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