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CREATE AN ONLINE COURSE
OVERVIEW
• Introduction
• Validate Your Course
• Creating Content & Content Mediums
• Course Marketplaces
• Learning Management Systems (LMS)
• Pricing Your Course
• Creating Your Website
• Screenflow Walkthrough
• Internet Marketing & User Growth
• Everything Else
1 INTRODUCTION
SEO Project Manager at Airbnb
Previously SEO Manager at PayPal
Created an online SEO training course
with 5,000+ users called ClickMinded
Who is this bozo?
ClickMinded started
as a live, face-to-
face training class at
a co-working space
in San Francisco.
We eventually filmed
it and turned it onto
a comprehensive 5-
hour online training
course.
ClickMinded now
has more than 5,000
paid users. This
course is about what
worked and what
didn’t.
2 VALIDATE YOUR COURSE
Use tools to determine if there’s demand
for your content before you create it.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Trends SkillShareUdemy
Amazon
Search the way your target market would.
“dog training course”“dog training how to”
“how to train a dog”
Read reviews of what people say they
liked / didn’t like and take note.
3
CREATE CONTENTS &
CONTENT MEDIUMS
The Course Skeleton
Create a simple
skeleton outline
of your entire
course in Google
Docs.
Create a simple 1.0
presentation with
just text in Google
slides.
Convert the
Google Slides into
a well-designed
Powerpoint or
Keynote.
No good at Powerpoint or Keynote?
Use Upwork.com to find freelancers to do it for
you.
Stock Photography & Video
• Free
‣ Unsplash
‣ Gratisography
‣ Death To The Stock Photo
‣ Negative Space
‣ Picjumbo
• Paid
‣ Shutterstock Video
‣ VideoHive
‣ VideoBlocks
‣ GraphicRiver
‣ PhotoDune
• Video courses seem to command the most dollars.
• They’re more difficult to pull off but worth it in the end.
• Live audience vs just you.
• Scouting a location.
Video Courses
Video Courses & Meetup.com
• One of the best, fastest, cheapest ways to get people of similar
interests into a room with you.
• Set up a Meetup group at least 30 days before your event, create an
event right away.
• You don’t even necessarily need a location for your event, just start
collecting names.
• This effectively becomes a mailing list for people interested in your
subject.
• Integrate Eventbrite - don’t make it free! Put a price on it and offer a
discount.
Fast, Cheap & Effective Video
Have a Mac? Use Photo Booth.
Fast, Cheap & Effective Video
Have a iPhone? Shoot with that.
Tools & Apps for Your Phone
Cinema FV-5
on Android
FiLMic Pro
on iPhone
Smartphone
Tripod
One of the best films at Sundance was
shot on an iPhone 5s.
Additional Content Mediums
• Slides: Use Slideshare to embed an entire presentation.
• Slides with audio: Record your voice while you’re going
through slides via Screenflow.
• Embedded quizzes: Use self-graded quizzes to make sure
students are getting it.
• Downloadable files: PDFs, MP3s, MP4s, Programming Code
& Scripts, Graphics and more.
4 COURSE MARKETPLACES
Marketplaces
There are a few top-tier “self-serve” course marketplaces. These
are ecosystems you should consider uploading your content to.
Marketplaces
• There are a number of additional “teaching ecosystems” that have a
high barrier to entry. You generally have to contact them, get approved,
and sometimes even fly to where they are and re-shoot their content in
their style. Don’t start with these.
• There are a large number of “2nd tier” course marketplaces. Don’t start
with these either.
• There are also MOOCs, which are generally free and have content from
major universities. You generally couldn’t even start with these if you
wanted to.
Self-Serve Marketplaces:
• The first place you should go to create a course.
• Great if you don’t want to create your own site.
• Millions of students, thousands of teachers, strong promotional
network.
• Pretty good UI and a good course editor.
• Very high revenue share (Udemy takes a minimum 50% of all sales).
• If you opt-in to Udemy’s marketing programs, they take even more.
Udemy
Self-Serve Marketplaces: Udemy
• Udemy sends out coupon codes way too frequently.
• Udemy gives you 100% of revenue from students you refer, but you
don’t get their email address, and Udemy markets competitor
courses to them.
• You can not price your course above $300.
• The rules are subject to change (and have changed frequently).
Self-Serve Marketplaces:
• 750,000+ Students.
• Creative orientation (Design, Photography, DIY, Culinary).
• 25+ students puts you in their partner program.
• Pays out on the number of monthly premium enrollments + student
projects created in each class.
• Not very straight forward and they seem to obfuscate it with weird
examples on their FAQ page.
• I generally don’t like participating in “all you can eat” learning
engagements because the incentives are for the marketplace and
not for you.
Skillshare
Self-Serve Marketplaces:
• “All-You-Can-Eat” course marketplace from Shutterstock.
• Students pay $19 a month, can access all content.
• Instructors are pooled together and paid 30% of all revenue based
on how many minutes students watch.
• Most courses are less than 20 minutes.
• I generally don’t like participating in “all you can eat” learning
engagements because the incentives are for the marketplace and
not for you.
Skillfeed
Second-Tier Self-Serve Marketplaces
Learning & Teaching Ecosystems
MOOCs
WordPress
• WordPress is a free content management system (CMS) that powers
~20% of the internet.
• What started off as blogging software has become a powerful way
to run a comprehensive website.
• One of the biggest benefits of WordPress is the vast ecosystem of
themes and plugins that are available.
• Many learning managements systems (LMS) to create online
courses are built on WordPress as themes and plugins.
5
LEARNING MANAGEMENT
SYSTEMS
Learning Management System (LMS)
• Software that hosts your online course is called an LMS.
• Most LMS’ allow you to create multiple courses, and within
those courses you can create a series of chapters and
lessons.
• Most LMS’ also include a grade book and progress tracker.
• An LMS is not an online learning ecosystem like Skillshare or
Udemy, it’s the software you install yourself.
Learning Management System (LMS)
• The upside to using an LMS is more control over the look
and feel.
• The downside is more technical integration needed and
multiple 3rd parties that need to ‘play nice’ with each other.
• Content can be text, video or images and grading can be
automated
• Not all of them are on WordPress, but many are.
LMS:
• In my experience, the best way to host your own course.
• You can host your content as a subdomain on their site or
your own.
• I recommend WordPress as your primary site and Fedora
installed on a subdomain.
• $0 - $300 a month.
Fedora
• A WordPress plugin that functions as a great LMS within WordPress.
• Technically works with any WordPress theme, but some
customization is required. They recommend using the WooThemes
Definition theme.
• Other themes that work well with Sensei are Skillfully, Guru and LMS.
• Relies on the insanely popular WooCommerce for checkout
functionality.
LMS: Sensei
LMS: Sensei
• Uses the regular WordPress database to store user
information.
• Not great for quizzes and tests.
• Lots of plugin conflicts that would break lessons, checkout
functionality, logins.
• Starts at $129.
• WordPress plugin that integrates with your existing theme.
• Drag-and-drop content creation within WordPress.
• Full courses have modules, modules have course units,
course units have tests and quizzes.
• Better quiz and test functionality than Sensei.
LMS: WP Course Ware
LMS: WP Course Ware
• Not as seamless as Sensei.
• Requires a separate membership & payment integration to
secure content.
• Easily integrates with s2 Member, Wishlist, Premise,
Memberpress, Membersonic & Paid Memberships Pro.
• Starts at $99.
LMS: Learn Dash
• WordPress plugin that integrates with your existing WordPress
installation.
• All-In-One solution: You don’t need a separate plugin to manage
memberships, drip content or process payments
• Integrates with PayPal, 2CheckOut, Woocommerce and a few other
LMS: Learn Dash
• Uses the Tin Can API, which allows other high-end learning
systems to communicate with each other and track learning
experience
• Many higher ed institutions use LearnDash.
• Starts at $99.
Second-Tier WordPress LMS
WPLMS Academy Clever Course LMS Press
EduLMS Educator WPS
There are lots of these you can check
out, but I still recommend using Fedora.
WordPress Membership Plugins
• You can create content, and then create a WordPress
membership site to access that content (DIY LMS).
• Some LMS plugins require a membership integration (WP
Courseware):
‣ Wishlist Member
‣ Digital Access Pass
‣ Magic Members
‣ Member Mouse
‣ Paid Memberships Pro
GumRoad
• GumRoad is a beautiful, fantastic, fast way to sell digital content.
• 5% + 25¢ per transaction.
• There are a number of ways to sell an online course through
GumRoad:
‣ Use GumRoad to create a multi-file product.
‣ Drip out course content over time with a GumRoad Workflow.
‣ Use memberships to charge on a monthly / annual basis for content.
‣ Use pre-orders to sell content before it even exists.
6 PRICING YOUR COURSE
Charge More Than You Think
• People get value in different ways.
• Have multiple price points: The best price is the most the student
will pay.
• People value the product more when you price higher.
• Rule of thumb: $25 for 1 hour of content.
You Charge More When You Have:
✓ Higher production quality.
✓ More teacher / student engagement.
✓ Offer more value than competitors.
Multiple Products & Bundling
• Consider cutting up your
course into multiple
products.
• 3 products is a good start:
‣ Bronze
‣ Silver
‣ Gold
• Additional upsells & products
for each:
‣ 30 minute phone call
‣ Premium support / unlimited
email support
‣ Additional content / eBooks /
Information
‣ Access to a community
Discounting
• Price your course high and don’t lose credibility with
excessive discounts.
• Set a firm deadline on your discount a.k.a “finite sales
window”.
• Deadlines get deals done!
Discounting
• 3-7 days is a good start (enough for 3 emails):
‣ First send a “This discount is coming soon” email.
‣ Then send a “This discount is now live” email.
‣ Finally send a “This discount ends in X hours” email.
• Add products as a bundle rather than lowering your
price. Example: “get an additional ebook free if you
sign up in the next 24 hours”.
Subscriptions
• If you’re providing ongoing value, offer a subscription.
• Subscription model is okay, but only if you can
consistently provide value:
‣ Monthly webinar or phone call
‣ Forum or message board
‣ Weekly or monthly lesson updates
Subscriptions
• It doesn’t make sense to pay monthly for content that
doesn’t change.
• Huge value in recurring revenue.
• Most membership and LMS WordPress plugins offer
this functionality if they integrate with a major payment
processor.
7 CREATING YOUR WEBSITE
Starting a site for the first time?
I recommend WordPress.
WordPress & Website Hosting
There are lots of sites that offer
“1 click WordPress installation”
and cheap web hosting.
My favorites:
Faster and with more features, but comes at
a price.
Don’t Want To Create A Website?
• Fedora & GumRoad will host for you (but you bring
your own users).
• Udemy, Skillfeed & SkillShare will host for you (with a
revenue share).
10 EVERYTHING ELSE
Video Hosting
• Many course platforms take care of video for you
(Fedora, Udemy, Skillshare, Skillfeed).
• A few others require you to manage video on your own.
• If this is the case, you have the following options:
‣ Wistia
‣ YouTube
‣ Vimeo
‣ Easy Video Player & Amazon S3
Promo Video
• Over-invest in your promo video.
• For many people, the promo video is the make-
or-break factor in purchasing.
• Be succinct and end with a clear call to action.
Student Management
• Email response time is a giant consideration
for everything:
✓Getting sales
✓Getting referrals
✓Getting great reviews
✓Keeping students
Commenting on Lectures
• Many LMS include the ability to comment on lectures.
• This is great - but maintain it! Seeing a lecture with
unanswered comments from weeks / months / years
ago is not good.
Facebook Groups & Community Forums
• Offering a community is a great value-add.
• It’s very difficult to manage / maintain / contribute to a
community over the long term. Have a long term
vision before you commit to this.
Launching Your Course
• Get your course live before it’s perfect.
• Consider a very precise, very specific value
proposition. Example:
‣ ClickMinded: 10x your traffic from Google
Other Good Course Titles
• Build 15 iPhone apps in 30 days.
• Become a Bartender in 12 hours.
• Learn CPR this Weekend.
• Remix Your First Song Today.
Collecting Email Addresses?
Consider a launch day with a finite sales window that
has clear start and end dates.“Deadlines get deals
done”
SlideShare
• A web-based version of powerpoint or keynote.
• Great way to embed content.
• Not only is Slideshare great to embed on your own
site, it’s great for generating leads to your content.
• Publish your slides, leave them public on slideshare
and make sure to include links back to your site.
Certificates
• People love certificates.
• People will justify absurd things in order to add a line
on their resume.
• Many LMS have certificate systems built into them -
most of them suck.
• Accredible is a great 3rd party tool to host and
manage certificates.

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How to create your online course

  • 2. OVERVIEW • Introduction • Validate Your Course • Creating Content & Content Mediums • Course Marketplaces • Learning Management Systems (LMS) • Pricing Your Course • Creating Your Website • Screenflow Walkthrough • Internet Marketing & User Growth • Everything Else
  • 4. SEO Project Manager at Airbnb Previously SEO Manager at PayPal Created an online SEO training course with 5,000+ users called ClickMinded Who is this bozo?
  • 5. ClickMinded started as a live, face-to- face training class at a co-working space in San Francisco.
  • 6. We eventually filmed it and turned it onto a comprehensive 5- hour online training course.
  • 7. ClickMinded now has more than 5,000 paid users. This course is about what worked and what didn’t.
  • 9. Use tools to determine if there’s demand for your content before you create it. Google Keyword Planner Google Trends SkillShareUdemy Amazon
  • 10. Search the way your target market would. “dog training course”“dog training how to” “how to train a dog”
  • 11. Read reviews of what people say they liked / didn’t like and take note.
  • 13. The Course Skeleton Create a simple skeleton outline of your entire course in Google Docs. Create a simple 1.0 presentation with just text in Google slides. Convert the Google Slides into a well-designed Powerpoint or Keynote.
  • 14. No good at Powerpoint or Keynote? Use Upwork.com to find freelancers to do it for you.
  • 15. Stock Photography & Video • Free ‣ Unsplash ‣ Gratisography ‣ Death To The Stock Photo ‣ Negative Space ‣ Picjumbo • Paid ‣ Shutterstock Video ‣ VideoHive ‣ VideoBlocks ‣ GraphicRiver ‣ PhotoDune
  • 16. • Video courses seem to command the most dollars. • They’re more difficult to pull off but worth it in the end. • Live audience vs just you. • Scouting a location. Video Courses
  • 17. Video Courses & Meetup.com • One of the best, fastest, cheapest ways to get people of similar interests into a room with you. • Set up a Meetup group at least 30 days before your event, create an event right away. • You don’t even necessarily need a location for your event, just start collecting names. • This effectively becomes a mailing list for people interested in your subject. • Integrate Eventbrite - don’t make it free! Put a price on it and offer a discount.
  • 18. Fast, Cheap & Effective Video Have a Mac? Use Photo Booth.
  • 19. Fast, Cheap & Effective Video Have a iPhone? Shoot with that.
  • 20.
  • 21. Tools & Apps for Your Phone Cinema FV-5 on Android FiLMic Pro on iPhone Smartphone Tripod
  • 22. One of the best films at Sundance was shot on an iPhone 5s.
  • 23.
  • 24. Additional Content Mediums • Slides: Use Slideshare to embed an entire presentation. • Slides with audio: Record your voice while you’re going through slides via Screenflow. • Embedded quizzes: Use self-graded quizzes to make sure students are getting it. • Downloadable files: PDFs, MP3s, MP4s, Programming Code & Scripts, Graphics and more.
  • 26. Marketplaces There are a few top-tier “self-serve” course marketplaces. These are ecosystems you should consider uploading your content to.
  • 27. Marketplaces • There are a number of additional “teaching ecosystems” that have a high barrier to entry. You generally have to contact them, get approved, and sometimes even fly to where they are and re-shoot their content in their style. Don’t start with these. • There are a large number of “2nd tier” course marketplaces. Don’t start with these either. • There are also MOOCs, which are generally free and have content from major universities. You generally couldn’t even start with these if you wanted to.
  • 28. Self-Serve Marketplaces: • The first place you should go to create a course. • Great if you don’t want to create your own site. • Millions of students, thousands of teachers, strong promotional network. • Pretty good UI and a good course editor. • Very high revenue share (Udemy takes a minimum 50% of all sales). • If you opt-in to Udemy’s marketing programs, they take even more. Udemy
  • 29. Self-Serve Marketplaces: Udemy • Udemy sends out coupon codes way too frequently. • Udemy gives you 100% of revenue from students you refer, but you don’t get their email address, and Udemy markets competitor courses to them. • You can not price your course above $300. • The rules are subject to change (and have changed frequently).
  • 30. Self-Serve Marketplaces: • 750,000+ Students. • Creative orientation (Design, Photography, DIY, Culinary). • 25+ students puts you in their partner program. • Pays out on the number of monthly premium enrollments + student projects created in each class. • Not very straight forward and they seem to obfuscate it with weird examples on their FAQ page. • I generally don’t like participating in “all you can eat” learning engagements because the incentives are for the marketplace and not for you. Skillshare
  • 31. Self-Serve Marketplaces: • “All-You-Can-Eat” course marketplace from Shutterstock. • Students pay $19 a month, can access all content. • Instructors are pooled together and paid 30% of all revenue based on how many minutes students watch. • Most courses are less than 20 minutes. • I generally don’t like participating in “all you can eat” learning engagements because the incentives are for the marketplace and not for you. Skillfeed
  • 33. Learning & Teaching Ecosystems
  • 34. MOOCs
  • 35. WordPress • WordPress is a free content management system (CMS) that powers ~20% of the internet. • What started off as blogging software has become a powerful way to run a comprehensive website. • One of the biggest benefits of WordPress is the vast ecosystem of themes and plugins that are available. • Many learning managements systems (LMS) to create online courses are built on WordPress as themes and plugins.
  • 37. Learning Management System (LMS) • Software that hosts your online course is called an LMS. • Most LMS’ allow you to create multiple courses, and within those courses you can create a series of chapters and lessons. • Most LMS’ also include a grade book and progress tracker. • An LMS is not an online learning ecosystem like Skillshare or Udemy, it’s the software you install yourself.
  • 38. Learning Management System (LMS) • The upside to using an LMS is more control over the look and feel. • The downside is more technical integration needed and multiple 3rd parties that need to ‘play nice’ with each other. • Content can be text, video or images and grading can be automated • Not all of them are on WordPress, but many are.
  • 39. LMS: • In my experience, the best way to host your own course. • You can host your content as a subdomain on their site or your own. • I recommend WordPress as your primary site and Fedora installed on a subdomain. • $0 - $300 a month. Fedora
  • 40. • A WordPress plugin that functions as a great LMS within WordPress. • Technically works with any WordPress theme, but some customization is required. They recommend using the WooThemes Definition theme. • Other themes that work well with Sensei are Skillfully, Guru and LMS. • Relies on the insanely popular WooCommerce for checkout functionality. LMS: Sensei
  • 41. LMS: Sensei • Uses the regular WordPress database to store user information. • Not great for quizzes and tests. • Lots of plugin conflicts that would break lessons, checkout functionality, logins. • Starts at $129.
  • 42. • WordPress plugin that integrates with your existing theme. • Drag-and-drop content creation within WordPress. • Full courses have modules, modules have course units, course units have tests and quizzes. • Better quiz and test functionality than Sensei. LMS: WP Course Ware
  • 43. LMS: WP Course Ware • Not as seamless as Sensei. • Requires a separate membership & payment integration to secure content. • Easily integrates with s2 Member, Wishlist, Premise, Memberpress, Membersonic & Paid Memberships Pro. • Starts at $99.
  • 44. LMS: Learn Dash • WordPress plugin that integrates with your existing WordPress installation. • All-In-One solution: You don’t need a separate plugin to manage memberships, drip content or process payments • Integrates with PayPal, 2CheckOut, Woocommerce and a few other
  • 45. LMS: Learn Dash • Uses the Tin Can API, which allows other high-end learning systems to communicate with each other and track learning experience • Many higher ed institutions use LearnDash. • Starts at $99.
  • 46. Second-Tier WordPress LMS WPLMS Academy Clever Course LMS Press EduLMS Educator WPS There are lots of these you can check out, but I still recommend using Fedora.
  • 47. WordPress Membership Plugins • You can create content, and then create a WordPress membership site to access that content (DIY LMS). • Some LMS plugins require a membership integration (WP Courseware): ‣ Wishlist Member ‣ Digital Access Pass ‣ Magic Members ‣ Member Mouse ‣ Paid Memberships Pro
  • 48. GumRoad • GumRoad is a beautiful, fantastic, fast way to sell digital content. • 5% + 25¢ per transaction. • There are a number of ways to sell an online course through GumRoad: ‣ Use GumRoad to create a multi-file product. ‣ Drip out course content over time with a GumRoad Workflow. ‣ Use memberships to charge on a monthly / annual basis for content. ‣ Use pre-orders to sell content before it even exists.
  • 49. 6 PRICING YOUR COURSE
  • 50. Charge More Than You Think • People get value in different ways. • Have multiple price points: The best price is the most the student will pay. • People value the product more when you price higher. • Rule of thumb: $25 for 1 hour of content.
  • 51. You Charge More When You Have: ✓ Higher production quality. ✓ More teacher / student engagement. ✓ Offer more value than competitors.
  • 52. Multiple Products & Bundling • Consider cutting up your course into multiple products. • 3 products is a good start: ‣ Bronze ‣ Silver ‣ Gold • Additional upsells & products for each: ‣ 30 minute phone call ‣ Premium support / unlimited email support ‣ Additional content / eBooks / Information ‣ Access to a community
  • 53. Discounting • Price your course high and don’t lose credibility with excessive discounts. • Set a firm deadline on your discount a.k.a “finite sales window”. • Deadlines get deals done!
  • 54. Discounting • 3-7 days is a good start (enough for 3 emails): ‣ First send a “This discount is coming soon” email. ‣ Then send a “This discount is now live” email. ‣ Finally send a “This discount ends in X hours” email. • Add products as a bundle rather than lowering your price. Example: “get an additional ebook free if you sign up in the next 24 hours”.
  • 55. Subscriptions • If you’re providing ongoing value, offer a subscription. • Subscription model is okay, but only if you can consistently provide value: ‣ Monthly webinar or phone call ‣ Forum or message board ‣ Weekly or monthly lesson updates
  • 56. Subscriptions • It doesn’t make sense to pay monthly for content that doesn’t change. • Huge value in recurring revenue. • Most membership and LMS WordPress plugins offer this functionality if they integrate with a major payment processor.
  • 57. 7 CREATING YOUR WEBSITE
  • 58. Starting a site for the first time? I recommend WordPress.
  • 59. WordPress & Website Hosting There are lots of sites that offer “1 click WordPress installation” and cheap web hosting. My favorites:
  • 60. Faster and with more features, but comes at a price.
  • 61. Don’t Want To Create A Website? • Fedora & GumRoad will host for you (but you bring your own users). • Udemy, Skillfeed & SkillShare will host for you (with a revenue share).
  • 63. Video Hosting • Many course platforms take care of video for you (Fedora, Udemy, Skillshare, Skillfeed). • A few others require you to manage video on your own. • If this is the case, you have the following options: ‣ Wistia ‣ YouTube ‣ Vimeo ‣ Easy Video Player & Amazon S3
  • 64. Promo Video • Over-invest in your promo video. • For many people, the promo video is the make- or-break factor in purchasing. • Be succinct and end with a clear call to action.
  • 65. Student Management • Email response time is a giant consideration for everything: ✓Getting sales ✓Getting referrals ✓Getting great reviews ✓Keeping students
  • 66. Commenting on Lectures • Many LMS include the ability to comment on lectures. • This is great - but maintain it! Seeing a lecture with unanswered comments from weeks / months / years ago is not good.
  • 67. Facebook Groups & Community Forums • Offering a community is a great value-add. • It’s very difficult to manage / maintain / contribute to a community over the long term. Have a long term vision before you commit to this.
  • 68. Launching Your Course • Get your course live before it’s perfect. • Consider a very precise, very specific value proposition. Example: ‣ ClickMinded: 10x your traffic from Google
  • 69. Other Good Course Titles • Build 15 iPhone apps in 30 days. • Become a Bartender in 12 hours. • Learn CPR this Weekend. • Remix Your First Song Today.
  • 70. Collecting Email Addresses? Consider a launch day with a finite sales window that has clear start and end dates.“Deadlines get deals done”
  • 71. SlideShare • A web-based version of powerpoint or keynote. • Great way to embed content. • Not only is Slideshare great to embed on your own site, it’s great for generating leads to your content. • Publish your slides, leave them public on slideshare and make sure to include links back to your site.
  • 72. Certificates • People love certificates. • People will justify absurd things in order to add a line on their resume. • Many LMS have certificate systems built into them - most of them suck. • Accredible is a great 3rd party tool to host and manage certificates.