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Tools & Resources

Church Website Maintenance: 25 Tasks You Can Outsource Today

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase “church website maintenance”?

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Church website maintenance is time-consuming

If you’re a busy leader in a small church, you may be thinking something like, “I don’t have time to maintain the website.”

Yep, I get that!

And, with so many other demands heaped upon your shoulders, it can be easy to prioritize church website maintenance behind them all.

Easier still is considering it a “non-essential”, and putting it off altogether.

We see the evidence of that kind of thinking strewn all over the Web in the form of abandoned church websites.

Poor church websites do little to help meet the needs of the people who visit them.

Dying, dead, or poorly constructed church websites also fail to bring glory to a creative God (which is the ultimate goal of all that the believer does) (1 Corinthians 10:31). Oswald Chambers comments on this verse in His Utmost for His Highest,

Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God . . .Even the shallow things of life, such as eating and drinking, walking and talking, are ordained by God. These are all things our Lord did.

The shallow things of life are those things which lack depth, or that are considered “superficial”. When compared to spiritual things or the things of God, building and maintaining a church website is a “shallow” thing in our modern lives.

Yet, it is ordained by God.

Did Jesus make websites? No, but that’s not the point. What He did do is honor God in everything that He did.

Since a disciple is not above his teacher (Matthew 10:24), believers are called to do the same.

If you’ve invested time (and money) in building a website for your local church, and if you’re aiming to effectively use it to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, then investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Church website maintenance is vital

This is worth saying again: if you’re aiming to effectively use your church website to help you accomplish some or all of your ministry goals online, investing time and money in church website maintenance is not an option.

Keeping software, add-ons, and plugins updated, researching, implementing, and monitoring security features, and regularly writing, editing, formatting, proofreading, and publishing new content just scratches the surface of all that church website maintenance involves.

Yes, these things are necessary. And, yes, they are incredibly time-consuming.

But, the good news is these tasks and more can all be delegated and accomplished, with minimal expense, through outsourcing.

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Church website maintenance made easy

Now, you might be thinking, “Hmm, outsourcing? That’s not for churches.”

I can’t imagine why not! In fact, if you have a church website you’re probably already outsourcing church website tasks.

Do you pay a monthly fee for a third party hosting and technical support solution like FaithConnector or WP Engine (as opposed to hiring staff in-house to build and maintain your Web server)?

Guess what? You’re outsourcing.

Outsourcing is simply contracting out a business process to another party.

Many churches have already realized the benefits of outsourcing such administrative processes as payroll, bookkeeping, accounting, and legal services.

Leaving these tasks in the hands of experts is a no-brainer.

But, have you considered that trying to figure out how to design graphics, edit and produce videos, or design and build landing pages for church events is a HUGE waste of time if you don’t know what you’re doing?

Why not contract people who DO know what they’re doing?

They’ll get the job done right the first time, and you’ll be able to spend your time accomplishing the core ministry work the Lord’s entrusted to you.

25 church website maintenance tasks perfect for outsourcing

You’d be amazed at how many website maintenance tasks can be outsourced!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are 25 website tasks you can outsource immediately to lighten your workload, as well as that of staff and/or volunteers:

  1. Designing banners, icons, and headers
  2. Designing landing pages for special events
  3. Editing and producing video
  4. Editing audio
  5. Updating content management software
  6. Installing, configuring, and updating add-ons, plugins, and themes
  7. Monitoring website security
  8. Customizing or “refreshing” themes
  9. Integrating your website with social media accounts
  10. Calendar management
  11. Updating website content
  12. Sitemap submissions
  13. Basic graphics editing
  14. Podcast setup
  15. Transcribing audio
  16. Online research
  17. Adding media to web pages
  18. Adding new web pages
  19. Writing, proofreading, and editing website content
  20. PDF conversion
  21. Forms creation
  22. Keyword research for church blog content
  23. Creating backlinks and linkbuilding
  24. Monitoring Google Analytics
  25. Troubleshooting and fixing website errors

The bottom line

No matter the size of your church or what church website solution you’re using, outsourcing is a low-cost option for getting the expert help you need to keep your website updated and properly maintained.

What would outsourcing church website maintenance tasks help you free up time to do?

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Categories
Tools & Resources

Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done

Building and maintaining a church website is time-consuming work. Accomplishing even small, simple tasks can be a huge challenge for the lone church Web worker or non-technical team.

If you think a lack of resources—time, expertise, money, or human—is keeping you from having a great website, I’ve got news for you.

The truth is, for a lot less expense than you may think, a treasure-trove of expert technical and creative help and support is literally at your fingertips.

You really have no reason to settle for having a poor website. Why not consider outsourcing your Web work?

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Outsourcing Definition

Generally, outsourcing is defined as the practice of hiring outside companies or individuals to perform job functions, rather than handling them in-house.

For the church, creating service opportunities and recruiting from within your congregation is always preferable.

But, if the abilities and expertise to meet your technical or creative needs isn’t there (or is unavailable), hiring temporary help through outsourcing is a sensible solution.

What church Web work can be outsourced?

So, what kinds of website tasks fit neatly under the general outsourcing definition? Well, just about anything.

You can hire technical experts to take care of “heavy lifting” projects like adding new features and services to your website.

You also can outsource something as small as changing the copyright date in the footer of your website, removing a page that’s no longer relevant, or applying available updates to site applications.

Tips for outsourcing success

I recently wrapped up my very first experience with outsourcing. I hired two freelancers—one on oDesk, one on Fiverr—to complete two projects for me. The oDesk project was a one-month contract, and the Fiverr project took less than 7 days to complete.

With both services, I found amazing talent right out the gate. Prayer, good planning, and common sense guided my hiring process. It was a breeze! And, now I have the confidence (and the know-how) to get the help I need when I need it, and all within my budget.

To find the best people for my projects, here are a few basic tips I adhered to:
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  • First, I got clear about my basic requirements. I started by deciding what I needed done, why I needed to outsource it, and what my budget was for getting the work done. I documented it all to help me stay focused. I also needed a written reference to help with course-correction if I found myself veering off by chasing after “wants” instead of sticking with my “needs”.
  • Reviewed options, then learned all about the services I selected. Some services offer experts who only perform “personal assistant” kinds of jobs, like booking reservations or setting appointments. Others provide everything from tech, creative, and general office support to voice-overs, jewelry-making, and song-writing. Since this was my first attempt at outsourcing, I wanted to learn how to find the best freelancers for my job types, as well as tips for how to handle the application/interview process. Each service provides a Help or Support section. I used it to get grounded.
  • Researched similar jobs. Completing this step helped me to determine what skills successful candidates needed to have. I was glad I did this step, because there were some (necessary) abilities and software expertise I had not even considered for what I needed done. It also helped me to write a very detailed and thorough job description for the oDesk project. If you’re a non-technical or non-creative person looking for technical or creative help, this step will empower you to communicate your needs clearly, and make informed choices among applicants.
  • Decided early to only hire individuals, NOT agencies. I knew I wouldn’t have any control over who completed my project if I hired an agency. That meant the probability was high that the process for getting it done could take longer, as I very likely would have needed to communicate through a “middleman”. Start to finish, I wanted to work directly, one-on-one, with the candidate of my own choosing.
  • Used the service tools to filter and select only top freelancers who met my criteria, and saved their profiles. I hate spam. So, on oDesk, I decided I would be saved much time and frustration by choosing candidates myself first, then inviting them to apply for my job. Posting the job publicly would have meant having to wade through and filter out all the spam from unqualified applicants—a most unsavory option. Following this path enabled me to arrive at my shortlist about 2 days after my job posted.
  • Inserted a “reply code” at the very end of my job description. Ahh, I discovered this little gem while researching similar jobs on oDesk. It was gold Jerry, GOLD! The “reply code” accomplished two things: first, by placing it at the very end of my job description, I would know whether or not the candidate had read my entire job description. You’d be surprised how many applicants don’t take the time to read the full job description before applying for the job. Second, it revealed whether or not the candidate had an attention to detail and could follow simple instructions. The “reply code” was just a request to add a certain phrase in their Subject line when applying for the job. Honestly, that single bit of instruction made super easy work of filtering out a lot of applicants. No “reply code”, see-you-bye-bye.
  • Tested all candidates on my shortlist. I wanted to confirm that they could do what they said they could do. So, in the oDesk job description, I let them know that, if selected, they would be required to complete a very small job as part of the application process. This wasn’t “spec” work, meaning a request to complete a project that would be used as the final product. I gave them a very small assignment designed to test the same skills needed for the actual job I was hiring them to do.
  • Insisted on conducting my interview through Skype. It was really important to me that the final candidate and I got to see and hear each other, face to face, during the application process. A Skype video interview was added as a requirement in my job description. If an applicant only wanted to communicate by email, that raised a red flag and they were immediately disqualified.
  • Chose to hire at a fixed rate. I chose to do this, as opposed to paying hourly, because I didn’t have a lot of time to manage the freelancer or the project once things got under way. I needed the freelancer to do that.  I also didn’t want to risk having the project drag on and on, if the freelancer exercised poor time management or failed to prioritize my project. Hiring at a fixed rate for a fixed period, with fixed milestones and deadlines, ensured my project was completed and delivered when I needed it to be and at the price I budgeted for.
  • Clear and ongoing communication was key. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Poor communication on the part of either party is a  recipe for disaster. Success depends on how clearly you communicate what you need and when you need it, as well as your requirements and expectations. And, you need to be sure to find a freelancer who takes communication just as seriously. Provide as much detail as possible, then include some more. Don’t assume your candidate “understands” what you mean.

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Once you’ve gotten clear about your project requirements and budget, it’s time to start researching service providers.

Below, I’ve listed five of the top online service providers for outsourcing freelance talent. Each service offers a “how it works” or Help section on their website to enable users to get a handle on what to do and how to do it.

For your convenience, I’ve linked to those sections.

Top Outsourcing Service Providers

Elance

Finding a freelancer on Elance is free and fast. Simply post your job, or browse categories. Get quotes from freelancers from around the world. Elance verifies each freelancer (and each client). Review portfolios, interview applicants, and choose the best one to complete your project. In 2013, Elance merged with another outsourcing powerhouse—oDesk.

oDesk

oDesk is a popular choice for finding expert freelance talent. Big or small, short- or long-term, individual or project team—whatever you need, oDesk has a solution. Tools and processes like Word Diary and Dispute Resolution provide peace of mind. They even offer a Money-Back Guarantee when you hire one of their freelancers with a Money-Back Guarantee stamp on their profile. The website is easy to use and intuitive. They made my first foray into outsourcing a stress-free experience.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an intriguing concept. You can get jobs done through registered freelancers of this website for as low as $5. The website currently has more than three million listed services, ranging from $5 to $500. Each job in Fiverr is known as a “gig”. Search gigs to find someone offering the task you need done, or post your own gig. Expect the unexpected when you visit Fiverr. You’ll find simple, straight-forward gigs like WordPress setup, Web banner design, and website maintenance. I had fun using this service. I’ll definitely use them again.

Freelancer.com

With access to more than 11 million skilled freelancers worldwide, Freelancer.com is the heaviest of the heavy-hitters. Projects start at $10, and the average job is under $200. Freelancer.com works like other outsourcing websites. As a client, the hiring process is simple. Tell freelancers what you need, freelancers contact you, you choose the best one and get the job done. You only pay freelancers once you are happy with their work.

Guru

Guru’s network of more than 1.5 million freelancers offers employers support for all kinds of technical, creative, and administrative projects. Get started by searching for services offered by freelancers that match the skills your need, then contact them. You can also post your job. Choose to display your job publicly on Google, limit viewing to all freelancers on Guru.com only, or make it private by inviting only select freelancers you choose on Guru.com.

Thinking of outsourcing some Web work?

Your church website requires a lot of work to keep it looking great, alive with fresh content, and running in tip-top shape.

When needs arise and hiring additional staff is not an option, outsourcing can be a quick and cost-effective way to get the help you need when you need it.

From website design and maintenance, to creative and administrative tasks, outsourcing enables you to work smart and get things done.

Would you consider outsourcing Web work? Has your church used outsourcing to get things done? What impact did that make on your ministry? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: Willi Heidelbach | Flickr cc

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Categories
Web Design

5 Questions To Ask Before You Contact A Web Designer

I chat with web design clients all the time about their website projects. We talk about website goals, budgets, features, competitors, and technology. Looking back at my conversations there are a few questions I wish potential clients would ask themselves before contacting me. By looking at these 5 simple questions, you can save a lot of initial back and forth time with any potential designer you might hire.