Increase Your Online Impact
All leaders should own a piece of real estate on the web that is separate from their church site. This will be the place you blog, create eBooks, offer you published works, podcasts, create courses or share teaching videos. Owning real estate typically costs about $15/year for your website address.
The easiest way to get started is to search here. Use your own name if possible, or an easy-to-remember name. If you can get a .com, .net or .org that is great, but don’t fuss about it too much. Make it as short as possible so people don’t misspell and NEVER use numbers in your website address. Once you have found an available name, don’t purchase just yet.
Bluehost is about the best hosting site online and is the only one who will not host pornographic websites. A starter website will cost about $60-75/year. You can always upgrade but choose the least expensive plan to get started. It does not affect the quality of your website in any way. Here is where you purchase your website name as part of the package and save money doing so.
Once you purchase, the first thing you’ll need to do is download WordPress onto your new site. You can find the icon in what is now called your c-panel. There are a plethora of resources here to help you get started.
For step-by-step help in building your website, I recommend http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/byob. It is a free course on how to build an excellent website.
Episode 9 will help you get started and offers a free download with additional resources.
Podcasting is an inexpensive way to share your thoughts online. As with blogging, you will need your own website mentioned above so you have a place to send people after they listen. On your website, you can offer free downloads, videos, and other resources to help them. As they come to your website often, a relationship develops that you can build and develop over time.
If your only objective is to get your weekly sermons featured on iTunes, you can use Sermon.net below and send people to your church website. If however, you want to move the next level by podcasting, I have a few suggestions.
First, write down 20 potential podcast show titles. If you cannot do this, I suggest you focus on writing an eBook or published book. Podcasting requires regularity and once you develop a following, they will always want more.
It is relatively inexpensive to get started. I invite you to download this cheat sheet which will lay out the basic equipment you’ll need.
Publishing Your Book
The publishing industry has been turned on its head during the last few years. Not too long ago, a self-published book was a near admission that it had little merit. Now, Hollywood is producing movies from self-published books via Amazon and Kobo.
Gone are the days when church leaders must lay out thousands of dollars to purchase their own books and store them in their garages. Now, you can write your book, get professional advice and publish it for no cost at all. In addition, each sale garners much more income.
I speak at length about how to accomplish this during Episode 53.
Free Web Tools I Use Regularly
- Grammarly is a wonderful writing assistant that does much more than a spell check. It makes sure your spelling and grammar are right without being annoying.
- Sermoncentral is a great resource for sermon preparation. The services and tools they offer are free, but I would highly recommend getting a paid Pro membership. As a subscriber, they have a decent amount of free videos, text illustrations, and worship slides for every occasion. Because members rate all the content, you don’t have to spend hours trying to select the good from the mediocre.
- Sermon.net is a free website to upload sermons that can post to your church website, iTunes and Google Play simultaneously. If you use the site often, a minimum cost is required that is very reasonable.
- Evernote.com is another free app and website that helps you organize your thoughts, ideas, documents, and sermons. Download it on all your devices and never lose a thought or idea again.
- Canva.com is a simple free tool to help you quickly design beautiful social media posts and graphics for any printed material. You can upload your own pictures, use theirs or buy some for $1 ea. I never buy pictures, but use freeimages.com for most of my picture needs.
- StockSnap is a website to gain access to stunning and usable pictures for your website, blog or any social media project.
My Favorite Apps
This is by far my favorite app. Go to the website and download it onto your smartphone. Set up your basic information and MileIQ tracks your mileage every time you drive. Since it is always on, you never have to activate it. At the end of the day or week, MileIQ shows you every single trip you took down to the tenth of a mile.
You swipe to the right to indicate it was a ministry trip and to the left to indicate it was a personal trip. That’s it! It automatically adds up your miles and keeps track of taxes at the end of the year. No more keeping logs or forgetting to record your miles. The app comes with 40 free trips per month. I opted for the paid plan ($60/year) because I found that I drove a lot more than I thought. Click here to try it for free.
Here is another great app that enables you to create instant pictures with graphics right from your phone. You can select from thousands of images by typing the subject into search, and then superimpose your favorite quote or saying. For an extra few dollars, you can also create a “watermark” that puts your church or personal website info on every picture. You can instantly create great quotes or sayings and post them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in a matter of seconds.
HootSuite is my latest addition. This app enables you to post to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus…etc. from your phone. Then you schedule posts automatically for the optimum times during the day.
If you want to have a presence on social media, HootSuite is great. The first 3 networks are free. If you want to post on more networks, the cost is $10/month. Buffer is the same cost, but I don’t think has as many features. Meet Edgar is another but is much too expensive in my opinion. HootSuite allows you to post to your favorite networks in one sitting instead of being a slave to social media.
Audible.com is an Amazon Company that turns your car or iPhone into a learning institution. You gain access to over 120,000 books to listen to each month for $15.00. This is great for driving, jogging, working out at the gym or listening at your leisure. Audible comes with a thirty-day trial and free book. If for any reason you don’t enjoy it, cancel within 30 days and keep the book with no questions asked.