You have been wanting your mission's work put out there on a website. Why? Because you hope that people who have money will come forward to sponsor your work, right?
However, you think it is so hard that you can't possibly do it yourself. And, before long you learn that hiring professionals is expensive, so when you discover a Christian who has some skill in web design, and that there is a chance they may do up at least one or two pages on yoru ministry you leap for joy at the opportunity.
If that person is like me, you are in for delays and discouragement. I am presently so busy that I have a hard time keeping current clients satisfied, never mind taking on more special projects. This bothered me until I realized that I could advise you with one detailed article how to go about teaching yourself - just as I did! If I set out the steps you can take, you should be able to build your own website or more - all for free.When I first went online (that is on the internet) in 1999, I had a goal of publishing and marketing a book I had written. But I had no money, no income, only time and an active mind. I decided to teach myself, and see how far I could go on free.
Surprlsingly enough, one can go a long way on the internet without having to pay money. When I reached any point when I could not go further without spending at least a bit of money, then the Lord provided it to me. If you walk with God by faith, you should experience the same thing.
So what are your options? What can I recommend to you for building your own website for your ministry?
1. Build a FREE website.
There are a number of websites that offer you FREE websites. They offer various paid packages of services too, but they hope that if they let you in on a free level, you will respond to their constant advertising of their other services, and decide to upgrade. If you are as broke as I was, it is easy to resist those ads. Just make the most of the free website services, and follow the tutorial guides and learn to build your own site.
If you do a google search, you'll find plenty of them, but I found a review site which compares the most popular ones. Here's some links for the top ones. Check them out and then choose one.
2. Sign up for a FREE Blog
If you are able to use a hotmail or yahoo email account to send and receive emails, then you should have no trouble learning to use one of the many FREE blogs out there on the internet. There are pros and cons; in some ways a blog is like a website, and you can easily enter the text and upload the photos you want to show to the world.
A blog, if you list it on some of the blog directory sites, will soon have visitors. More than your website, likely. On the other hand, a blog is more like a newspaper. It soon appears dated, so you must keep feeding it more and more information and photos, etc. If you neglect it for weeks and months at a time, it will make a very poor impression on the public. If you are prepared to work at it regularly, and can write well, and you can upload photos from time to time. This might be the quicker and better choice.
So where can you sign up for a free blog?
I recently wrote a blog on how to use blogs for evangelism and in it I listed some recommended free blogs:
Remember to choose your username carefully when you sign up for the blog. Since you want to promote your ministry to the world, you might do well to condense it altogether into one word as your username. For example, if your ministry is called Jesus' Friends & Followers you might create this username; Jesus-Friends-Followers. Then your blog address would become http://Jesus-Friends-Followers.wordpress.com. That's what you would give to people when you tell them to go read your blog online.
Note, also that a free blog can usually not be deleted. Once you have signed up for one, your username is part of the address of the blog, and even if you abandon it, that company will leave it up, so that if anyone stumbles on it, they may at least see the company's ads. That is one other thing. Websites and blogs are often given to you for free because they will place some banner ad at the top of each of your pages, and naturally, they will make money when your visitors click on that banner or ad.
But, when I began to build websites, I took that in stride. The time I spent on those free sites were very educational for me. That was where I built up my basic web design skills.
In fact, you want to think about this very carefully before you begin. If there are people who would persecute you if they discover details about your ministry, and your people on the internet, then don't even start a website or a blog. You might be better off to pick a username far removed from who you are, and then to register as a member on some forums where you can join in discussions and at the right times say things in defense of your ministry or work, without giving away your own connection to it. You would need to be very discrete about what you broadcast on the internet. Keep in mind that many governments and employers are now researching the names of people they want to watch on the internet.
I had once put up a profile on my business site for a minister and Bible college president in a closed country. All at once I had an urgent email from him to take off any and all references to him from my site. I have never heard from him again, but watching that country on the news has convinced me that the man has suffered for his Christian testimony on the internet. He may not be alive any more.
If you have nothing to hide and no one to fear, then yes, a website or a blog may be a help to your ministry. But do not expect instant results. You need to keep adding good quality information to your site over a long time, and you need to promote your site by listing it regularly with the search engines and on various directories. Ideally, you need a contact form on your site. (Do NOT put your email on the website or blog! You will be flooded with spam before long!) With the contact form you will see the visitor's emails first before they see yours when you reply and you can be careful to only reply to those that seem sincere, and not full of nonsense.
Also, do not make your site or blog one big blatant plea for money. People will turn away in disgust!
Instead, provide information in a friendly way about your work, and your people, and the needs or programs that you have plans to carry out when the Lord provides the necessary funds. Invite people to come and visit you. Be friendly toward everyone. Offer something for free if you can. Something they can download is usually an inexpensive gift, which you don't have to send by parcel post. Work at winning friends because in the end, most Christians will give more readily once they feel you are a friend and that they know and can trust you. Secular people are not likely to give at all.
If you do come into some money for a web presence, where should you spend it?
My highest recommendation would be to get a SiteBuildIt! subscription, and learn how to build a truly top-notch and effective site that will accomplish what you need it to do, plus make you some money. It does the submissions to search engines automatically. If the instructions and training videos are followed, SBI sites are generally in the top 1% of ALL sites in the world! This costs $299/year at full-price, but you can often sign up at a holiday special for nearly half of that. Read up on it, watch the videos for free, and wait for the Christmas-New Year's special if you must start at a bargain.
If that is too much for you, a lower priced option is to register a domain name at a place like GoDaddy.com, where you can often get the cheaper names like .info for just a dollar or two per year (at least the first year). Then when you have a domain name like myministry.info (or .org, if you are a registered non-profit mission) you can look for cheap hosting. - It's one thing to have a house registered, but you have to have an address for it too. The same applies to a registered domain, it has to rent space to be somewhere.
I have found some in the past for just $10/year. Right now I can offer you some for free if you are truly a mission or ministry. Then you could install a blog software for free, or build your own website on that domain. However, in this case you would need to know something about ftp, to upload your pages when you have created them. Except of course, for the blog. There you would just login, choose the theme template you like best, and start writing posts and uploading photos or graphics. Listing with search engines would be up to you, as it would not be automatic in this option. Your website would be as professional as you make it, but your yearly costs could be under $10-12 a year.