Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
The internet is still new to many churches. If your church is wondering if there are benefits to moving online, consider that probably over 50% to 70% of your members are online daily and that number is growing. Your congregation has smart phones and tablets to get the information they need when they need it. They may have misplaced their church newsletter, or the recent email they received is buried in spam, but if you have a website, they are connected.
Budgeting for a Church Website
As a non-profit, cost is probably the biggest concern. A website developer is not necessary, if you do have one on hand that can volunteer their time, perfect. Some freelance professionals work with non-profits at a more reasonable price. If you donít have one, then there is apt to be a number of individuals in your church who can help get the job done. Have no fear because registrars, hosting companies and more have support teams and online support documents to help.
Here is a list of what you will need and approximate costs if you choose to go it on your own.
Registering a domain name is easy. Cost runs between the amounts $5 - $15 on the most common extensions (.com, .org, .net, .info). Many registrars have coupons to save on new registrations or transfers.
It is usually recommended to get a host company separate from where you register your domain. The thinking is if one area has a problem or technical difficulty, you still have control over the other. Some hosts use third party resellers which can either bump up the cost of the domain, or leave you confused if hosting doesnít work out and you want to move to another hosting company. When that happens you have to consider who owns the domain, and how to gain control of it to move it with you.
Hosting companies charge fees between the amounts of $4.95 to $8.95 a month or more. You will save on hosting the most if you can pay upfront for a one, two or three year plan. Extra discounts are applied at checkout or with a coupon code for first time customers at most major hosting companies. Higher amounts are charged when paying monthly.
Website or Blogging Tools
Most hosting companies offer the tools necessary to build different types of websites and to install and use WordPress. It is recommended to use WordPress because it is so easy to use and maintain your site, and it is accessible to users online from anywhere. For the best experience, make sure the hosting company you choose has CPANEL (a control panel of some sort) and if possible Fantastico (a great tool to easily install a number of programs on your shared server, including WordPress with the touch of a button).
There are a lot of free themes out there but sometimes they are not supported or they contain self-promotional developer links to sites that you donít want advertising on your site. It is best to select a theme from your WordPress backend that is free, with a minimal amount of promotional links (one to the developer usually) or consider a premium theme. Search Google.com for WordPress premium church themes or WordPress church themes. Costs for a premium theme should be reasonable, between the amounts $35 to $120. More expensive ones in that range should look like a website instead of a basic blog and it should have extra features on the backend (better ways to organize content by sermons, news and events).
When your WordPress theme or premium theme doesnít have the features you need, WordPress Plugins come in handy, and are free.
The biggest cost to building a church website is time. With a little blogthusiasm, youíll overcome any difficulties and be blogging in no time.
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