How to afford a great church website
Last week, my goal was to help you understand the value of your church’s website.
And now that you’ve gathered all of the content for your website, and you've started coming up with ideas of how you want your website to look...
I truly believe any church can afford a great website that is appropriate to their size and situation, and I want to help you see how that’s true.
The reality is that building a website is expensive. As THIS source explains, a website can range in cost from 6,000 to 20,000 for a small business website (THIS cost estimate gives even higher numbers).
NOTE: Before you stop reading, the cost of websites do tend to surprise many people, but they don’t have to cost as much as I’ve listed above. My goal is to help churches by working with what they can afford. So don’t let the price stop you! You can contact me at email@example.com and we can start talking about what your needs are and what your budget is. However, I encourage you to continue reading though these 4 ideas where you might be able to cut costs in order to help your website budget.
Sadly, I think many churches don’t use their current funds in ways that brings the most long-term benefit and therefore can’t fund very important high cost things, such as a website. Here are five ideas, many of which our church has personally had to work through, for you to prayerfully consider when deciding your monthly, quarterly, and yearly spending:
##General financial wisdom
Before suggesting specific budget cuts, I think it’s important to consider what costs are draining your church budget, but shouldn’t. I mention having longterm financial thinking in a post on how we are called to live wisely, and that directly applies here. The largest piece of financial advice I can give is to not get sucked into longterm costs by saving a little money today. This breaks down into two types situations:
- Saving today, but spending more in the long run. A perfect example is why I like using Squarespace for churches. There are church website builders out there that will only cost you $1000 for the first month (you set it up yourself), but then they cost $30+ a month indefinitely. If you go on the higher end of their service and pay $80 a month (which most churches would need), then you’re already paying an additional $700 a year than if you paid for Squarespace. That’s only after one year!
- Choosing monthly plans. One of the best ways to save money is seeing if you can pay for something for a full year. Squarespace, as an example, allows you to save $8 per month if you pay per year (as of this writing). In addition, you gain a free domain by buying one year of service at a time. This is a total savings of about $110! It may not seem like much, but if you’re counting every cent, then having 10 situations, like the above example, where you can buy in bulk will save you $1,100 per year!
The reality is, that if you’re currently paying for advertising of any sort, but have a bad website, you should stop and start saving for a website. Instead of paying a couple hundred dollars a month in advertising, you could be putting that money aside and have a great church website by the end of the year. I suggest this for two main reasons:
- It’s better longterm. Investing in a good website, that will have higher SEO than your current one, will bring local visitors to your website naturally, and that’s without paying for each visitor!
- You’re hurting yourself by paying for advertising. By paying for people to find out about your church, but not preparing for them to visit your website, you’re wasting advertising dollars. They’ll see your website and feel like a guest who wasn’t greeted properly, and they’ll have a bad taste in their mouth. Although people are visiting your site, you’re doing more harm than good - and you’re paying for it.
NOTE: As I wrote in a previous post about free advertising money via Google for non-profits, I hope no church with nonprofit status is paying for Google ads. If you are, and want out, that is one of my hirable services I offer churches which you can read more about on my Tnsinks Designs website.
##Kids Curriculum (for example)
I don’t mean that we should give the kids second best, but there’s a lot of cheap options that can still bless your children’s ministry (or men’s ministry, women’s ministry, etc). For almost the first two years of the church we helped start three years ago, my wife wrote and organized every kid’s class and lesson from scratch, and the lead pastor’s wife drew a picture as a coloring page (she’s an amazing artist, so they were awesome). After those first years, we started paying for the cheapest kids curriculum that we could find, which was still a lot of money, for the most basic resource “plan". Recently however, we’ve switched again to a kid’s storybook Bible. We paid for each teacher to have a copy and we’re simply going through the kids Bible. We also paid for some videos that go along with different stories in the Bible. This has saved us a lot of money, and our kids' teachers like the format a lot better too!
NOTE: I used kids curriculum as an example, but there are many opportunities like this that we have where we can be wise and save money in the long run. Another example is finding places that will donate coffee and food for before/after service rather than paying for it. Other examples could be men's or women's ministry breakfasts, etc.
##Live streaming Services
It’s becoming popular to have a live streaming service or podcast service. However, for the most part, streaming services can be very expensive, and most people will not even bother going to your website to find or use your streaming services if your website is too difficult to navigate. It’s not good to put the carriage before the horse, and it’s important to make sure your website is in good shape before you tack additional features onto it.
There are many podcast services out there, especially for churches, but they tend to be unnecessary expenses. There are a few cases that are the exception, but for the majority of churches, having your podcast on your church website platform is your best option (and it’s far cheaper). Like many of these things, it requires longterm thinking, but for the price of most podcast services, you can pay for the Squarespace platform (my platform of choice) which allows for podcast hosting. It’s actually cheaper to have a church Squarespace website than it is to pay for most podcast services. This means you get a website and a podcast service built in for less than you were paying for just the podcast! Again, like with advertising, you have to make sure you don’t get roped into putting the carriage in front of the horse. It’s easy to get buried under all of these monthly fees and to never be able to invest well into something as important as your website.
I hope this encourages you that, you too can have a great website that will reflect your church well, and serve your people and city to the best of your ability.
###And if you are thinking about taking your next step for getting a new church website, or you have some specific questions regarding how to get there, I’d be glad to help you. I do offer payment plans for churches in order to help them have a great website sooner, as well as other other options. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out my services for churches at www.tnsinksdesigns.com.