This was a post I originally made on my business website simplechurchmarketing.com. The idea was to get some basic information to pastors to help them with the no-duh type stuff most web designers are familiar with. Over the next five days I will be expanding this original article, exploring each aspect in more detail.
I have never been someone for resolutions. Never have liked them, I guess it seems strange to me just because it is a new year that I need to change something about myself. I am very excited that 2009 marks the launch of Simple Church Marketing, a brainchild of mine for some time now.
As I look back to my time a youth pastor and before that as a lowly intern, I think of how much time I spent updating the church website. How much time it took me to Photoshop the marketing for the bulletin, how long I spent in Google searching for new HTML codes that would fix the site I just broke, staying up too late trying to plan for my next sermon, and trying to catch up with all my youth group kids from the week before. I always was searching for more time in my day as I was frustrated that I couldn’t spend the quality time my youth group that they deserved.
As someone who has worked in ministry I know about a pastor’s love for people and their frustration with technology. Technology for the church has been a stumbling block for some time now. There seems to be a huge disconnect between most pastors and what it takes to build a presence online. I am hoping to fill that gap for a few churches out there.
Here are five things you can do TODAY for a better online church presence, in no particular order:
1) Find some good images for your site.
Too often I find clients websites lacking quality images that convey the message of the church. A few places you can start are:
- stock.xchng (http://www.sxc.hu/) – a free stock image site, may require some digging on your part but not a bad place to start.
- StockExpert (http://www.stockxpert.com/)- this is what we use a lot for our clients, pay per download based on size, fair prices.
- iStockphoto (http://www.istockphoto.com/) – another pay to download service, we get some of our images from here as well.
- Vector Stock (http://www.vectorstock.com) – we use them for a TON of our work, you have to have some sort of idea on how to work with vector files, but this is a great resource.
2) Find a teenager and get social
If you want to build any type of online relationship with the people that go to your church, you MUST use the social networks! They are a must for any church that is online!
- Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) – I feel that this is better than MySpace now in terms of networking. Allows you to add friends and keep in contact with your list, also allows you to reach out to new people who are in your area.
- MySpace (https://myspace.com) – The biggest and most used network, create a profile and start looking for people who go to your church.
- Twitter (http://twitter.com) – Twitter allows you to add friends, update them on what’s going on, and connect to others.
3) Take down dated material and keep it down
If you look at your website today and you still have an advertisement for last years Easter egg hunt, please take it down. Part of my job is to make sure our clients always have the latest marketing on their site. If you can’t keep on top of it, don’t put anything on your site that will become outdated.
4) Submit your site to Google
It seems simple enough, but when we are contacted to create a search engine marketing plan for churches most of them haven’t even submitted their site to Google. How are people going to find your site? If that’s you, or you don’t know if that’s you, go here.
5) Make sure you have an email address
I tend to get a lot of email. Mostly from clients, and you wouldn’t believe how many people email from their gmail, msn, yahoo accounts. You email address is ALWAYS marketing to someone. If you’re a pastor and your main church email address is email@example.com, call your hosting company and get email setup at your church domain address.
To a lot of people theses are no-duh type things for your website, but I see these things everyday, and I want to make the church a better place online. I hope that 2009 is a great year for your church!