Even if you have no technical knowledge when it comes to coding, a professional and versatile website awaits you or your church with the help of WordPress.
Why you should build your site with WordPress
1) WordPress is incredibly easy to use.
- Several web hosting companies offer one-click WordPress installation.
- Once installed, your entire website is controlled through a user-friendly dashboard.
- Adding or changing your site’s theme, installing plugins to enhance your site, and adding content is a breeze.
- There’s a small learning curve, but not much of one.
2) WordPress is nearly free.
- WordPress itself is free as well as thousands of its themes and almost every plugin you’ll ever need.
- You will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars by not hiring a professional web designer or developer.
- You will only pay approximately $12/year for a domain, $6/month for web hosting, and possibly $30-$50 for a commercial theme.
3) Everyone is using WordPress.
- More than 60 millions websites are powered by WordPress, many of which are run by web designers and programmers.
- Browse the WordPress Showcase (wordpress.org/showcase) to see all of the sites running on WordPress.
- With so many users, there is a WordPress plugin or solution for almost any need out there.
4) There is more to WordPress than blogging.
- The uses of a “blog” are greatly misunderstood. It’s more than a personal online journal.
- A blog is used to release content (written, audio, video) in chronological order through a feed which allows subscriptions.
- Using WordPress plugins, you could build anything from an online store to a social networking site like Facebook.
What you’ll need before installing WordPress
1) Choose a potential domain name (for example, yourchurch.com).
- If this is for your church, you may want to consult others in the church.
- Choose a domain that looks good in print.
- Choose a domain that is easy to tell others about.
- Use keywords in your domain like “church” or the name of your city, if possible.
- Shorter is better. Avoid hyphens. Go for .com over .net and other domain extensions.
2) Decide who will fill the roles (not an issue for websites owned and operated by one individual).
- Who will own the website and have his/her information listed as the domain registrant?
- How will the domain and hosting be paid for?
- Who will assume the role of administration on the website (could be more than one person)?
- Who will be responsible for maintenance of the site?
- Who will be writing or uploading content on the site?
- If you have social network accounts connected (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), who will be responsible for them?
3) Find the time to install WordPress.
- Expect the process to consume at least thirty minutes of your time.
Choose a web hosting company
1) Option #1: GoDaddy.com
- I have personally used GoDaddy for domain registration and hosting since 2007 with no complaints.
- Great service. Great customer support.
- They offer easy installation of WordPress.
- There are possible moral objections based on their racy advertisements during the Super Bowl and allowance of pornography websites.
2) Option #2: BlueHost.com
- I have never personally used their service but I have set up websites for past clients on BlueHost.
- In the past, navigating the BlueHost site was not as easy as GoDaddy. That might be different now.
- BlueHost comes strongly recommended even by WordPress.
- They offer easy installation of WordPress.
3) Option #3: WebSynthesis.com
- I know very little about this company other than a few positive reviews I’ve seen or heard.
- They are a web hosting company exclusively dedicated to self-hosted WordPress websites.
- WordPress comes pre-installed and they offer the Genesis Framework with your hosting package.
4) Option #4: WPMinistry.com
- I have never used their service, but this might be the easiest solution of all.
- While you might pay a bit more per month, they will register your domain, provide hosting, and install WordPress.
- They exclusively serve churches and offer premium church-centered themes and plugins.
Purchase your domain, hosting, and install WordPress
1) Choose your domain.
- On GoDaddy and BlueHost, you will start the process by choosing your domain(s).
- On WebSynthesis and WPMinistry, you will purchase a complete domain/hosting/WordPress package.
- You will be given the option to register your domain for years in advance. Longer is typically less expensive.
- You will need to provide registrant information such as name, address, email, and phone number.
- You might be offered other options like privacy. It’s up to you but you will pay for these additional options.
2) Purchasing your hosting account.
- On WebSynthesis and WPMinistry, hosting is a part of the package.
- On GoDaddy and BlueHost, you will want to purchase hosting while you are registering your domain.
- There may be various hosting plans available. Settle for the most basic plan. You can always upgrade later.
- Ignore anything else the company might try to sell you other than extra email addresses if you’re interested.
- Hosting prices are set on a monthly basis. The longer you purchase in advance, the less expensive it will be.
- Before checking out, search the Internet for working promo codes that might give you a discount.
3) Install WordPress.
- On WebSynthesis and WPMinistry, WordPress installation will be automatic.
- On GoDaddy, you will need to set up your hosting account first by visiting “My Account –> Web Hosting”.
- GoDaddy will email you when your hosting is ready. Visit “Web Hosting” again and find the WordPress installation option.
- On BlueHost, find your C-Panel and the WordPress installation option.
- You will choose where to install WordPress. The default or root folder is what you want.
- You will choose an administrator username and password.
- On BlueHost, you will have the option to install certain plugins. Deselect all of them and skip this step.
4) Check the installation and sign in.
- It may take a few minutes before WordPress is completely installed.
- If you visit your newly purchased domain, you should see your site with a very basic theme.
- Visit yourdomain.com/wp-admin to log in to WordPress. You may want to bookmark this page.
- You will see the WordPress Dashboard where you will control your entire website from this point forward.
Connecting with your local community using social networks
1) Using online tools to reach the offline world is a great idea.
- In John 4, Jesus told his disciples to look out over the fields for they are white already to harvest.
- In Luke 15, Jesus said there is joy in heaven over each sinner who repents.
- James wrote, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death.”
- Regardless of your views on evangelism, Christian disciples have an obligation to share the gospel and lead people to the church.
- Nothing can replace offline, personal relationships, but it never hurts to start those relationships online.
- It all begins with a conversation which can be done online.
2) Find people in your area through Facebook.
- On Facebook, search for your city, your state. Click “See More Results” beneath your existing friends.
- Join a Facebook Group built around a local business, organization, church, or even the city itself.
- Send a message or befriend them. Chat with them within the Facebook Group.
- Please understand, they may not see your message or accept your friend request.
3) Find people in your area through Twitter.
- Twitter is largely neglected by churches, but it was designed to encourage users to make new connections.
- On Twitter, search for your city, your state. You will see tweet and people results.
- You could also search geocode:[longitude],[latitude], 10mi. Find your church’s coordinates on Google Maps.
- Send them a reply, add them to a list, and/or follow them.
- Avoid appearing like a spammer. Set up your profile completely, tweet, and follow people you know before reaching out.
4) Find people in your area through Foursquare.
- Foursquare is entirely location-based. Check-in wherever you go, earn points and badges, and compete with friends.
- There is no easy way to add local friends and it lacks the social aspect.