How to start a WordPress site for your church for FREE

You can start a WordPress site for your church quickly and free. This article will show you how.

I am always shocked when I run across a church that does not have a web page. With WordPress,  it is quick, easy and free. Why not get started today?

I was also shocked recently to hear of a church that spends $6,000 a year on a Web page. Wow.

Just so you have some idea as to what the finished product might look like, here are six examples:

http://www.joshhunt.com

http://salemfriends.com

http://masterworkss.wordpress.com

http://joshhuntphotos.com

http://whatdivorcetaught.com

http://racehorsess.wordpress.com

These are all blog sites, but you don't have to do a blog site. In fact, unless you are going to maintain it regularly, I recommend you not do a blog site. Let's get stated.

Head over to www.wordpress.com

Click on sign up now.

Fill in the five boxes on the screen. None of these will make too much difference as they are all changeable except the first one. That one doesn't matter too much either as you will probably want to get an actual domain in time. This is one thing that is not free. It is $17 for the first year; $12 after that. Check your spelling pretty carefully. I actually registered a domain with a misspelled word once. (Does that surprise my long-time readers?)

Hit create blog. Your blog is created, live and on the Internet. Don't worry though, no one can or will find it. That will actually be a bit of a challenge, There is a ton written on it. The secret? Get lots of external links to your site. Hint: blogs that you comment on count.

Now hit Visit your dashboard. This is the control center for your blog. Everything will be set up from here.

In the upper left-hand part of the screen you see the WordPress logo. By it you see the name of your blog. Right click it and hit "open in a new tab." Go to that tab. Now you can see your actual blog. Call your mother, you are on the Internet. Don't worry that it is public for all to see. No one is looking.

As you make changes you can go back to this tab and hit refresh to see the changes instantly. Let's do that now.

Dashboard Tab. See the word Appearance in the sidebar on the left? See the drop down arrow? Click that. Click Themes. Get ready to be amazed. You could actually choose any theme, but just to keep us on the same page, find Elegant Grunge. Hit Activate.

Blog Tab. Hit refresh. Wow. Amazing, right? You can change the whole look and feel of your site with three clicks. If you want to test it, feel free to try a few more themes. You can end up at anything you want, but for now, let's land on Elegant Grunge. Note that some themes are premium and cost a little. Now, let's get to work in actually making it look right.

Take a good look at the blog tab. You should see a blog post. This is a sample that is meant to be deleted. It is just there to show you how the thing works. You see an about page. Click on that. We will keep that, but change the contents. From the about page click on the title of your blog at the top. This always takes you back to the home page of the blog. You see a blog roll with a bunch of entries. We will be getting rid of all those. They are all links to WordPress sites. At the top it says, "Just another WordPress site." We will be changing that. Assuming you are back on the main page, you notice there is one comment below the blog entry. We will be deleting that too.

Posts vs. pages. One thing that was confusing to me when I first started using WordPress is posts and pages. It is simple, really. A post is meant to be a sequential entry. They are sorted in most recent first order. Your posts appear in the middle of the page if you use the default setting.

We will actually be creating a static page and ignoring posts altogether. We will be using pages. The About link is an example of a page. We will also be creating the following pages: Vision, Welcome, and Contact. You can add more later.

Dashboard Tab. First, we are going to clear out a bunch of stuff. Start with Posts. If you hover over the Hello world post, one of the choices is Trash. Trash it.

Blog Tab. Refresh. The blog should look worse now--naked with no entries. Don't worry; we will fix it.

Dashboard Tab. Links. You could go through and trash these just as you did the post, but there is a quicker way. Check the box by the word Name. All the boxes below should check. Hit the drop down menu that says bulk items. Choose delete and apply. Walla! They are all gone.

If you want to, go to the Blog Tab and refresh. The links that were there are gone.

Let's do one more thing while we are in the Links section. Hit Link Categories. Hover over the word blogroll and hit edit. I would change it to Links. Blogroll suggest you will only have links to other blogs.

Oh, one more thing. Let's add a link: www.joshhunt.com One of the ways you can get found by search engines is to get your blog linked from other sites. You just moved me up in the Google rankings. Thank you.

Dashboard Tab. Pages. This time we won't delete, let's edit.

Hover over the word about and hit edit. Write a little blurb about your church. If you have a brochure about your church you might open that and you can copy and paste into here. Don't worry too much about it as everything is changeable.

Now let's add some new pages: Welcome, Vision and Contact. These can, of course, be anything you want. In time you will want to add and change.

If you would like to add a picture, here is how you do that. See the words upload/ insert? To the left of that is a little icon. Hover over it and it will say "Add and image." Click it.

You can add an image from one of three sources, delineated by the tabs on the top. The from URL is a little tricky because it doesn't actually pull the pic into your web. It just creates a link to an external file. If the owner of that web every deletes or moves that pic, your pic won't show up any more. The Media Library assumes you have already uploaded the pic you want to use.

Let's hit From Computer. Select a file, etc. After it uploads there are some other screens you can fill in or not. I usually don't. The size, however, is important, and this gets a little technical. it is beyond the scope of this article to get into the details of this. A pretty normal size of a medium sized pic is in the 200 X 300 range. There are options there  about size and how the pic is displayed. Take a guess and hit, "Insert into post"

This tripped me up at first because I hit "Save all changes." That saves the changes to your library but doesn't put the pic in your post. Now hit Preview changes toward the upper right part of the screen.

This will load a working copy into another tab. Let's assume the pic doesn't look quite right.

Dashboard Tab.  Click on the picture. Two icons appear. The right one will delete the pic. Hit the left one. This takes us back into the screen we saw a moment ago. Change the alignment to Right. Change the size to 70%. Hit update and Preview changes. You actually will have three tabs at this point--the dashboard tab, the blog tab you had been working with and a new preview tab in between. This one is not actually live anywhere except your screen. It was a little tricky to me getting used to what was refreshing where as I hit preview changes.  When you are happy with the results, hit Update. This is what causes the post to actually go live to the web. I would also close that middle tab--the preview tab. I have a small brain and get confused easily.

Go get some coffee. You have been working hard. We are almost done.

The next thing we want to mess with is under the Appearance tab. Hit Widgets. You can play around with these for days. We are actually only interested in one: Blog Subscriptions. This is a great one to put top right as it allows people to submit their email address and they will be emailed any time the blog updates.

However, for this tutorial, I am going to suggest we not actually set this us as a blog site. If you do set it up as a blog site, you need fresh content regularly. Unless you are committed to doing that, I suggest you just keep it static.

Go to the Settings/ General section. Delete the tag line, or change it to something else

Now go the Settings/ Reading. This is where you can change the front page display from Your Latest Posts (i.e. standard blog site) to A Static page. I suggest you change it to Static page and choose the welcome page you created earlier.

Blog Tab. Hit refresh. You should now have the beginning of working web page. Free and easy, as promised. But, there are a couple of upgrades you might consider.

Appearance / Menus. I am not going to get into this here, except to mention it is pretty cool and you want to look into it later.

Settings / Sharing. One more thing to look into. If you adjust these settings a post goes to Twitter and Facebook every time your update your blog.

Dashboard Tab.  Upgrades. I suggest you get your own domain. Someone told me if you register something like www.yourtownchurch.com or www.yourtownxxchurch.com (replace yourtown with your town and xx with your state: like www.atlantagachurch.com  This one is actually available, but I only recommend it if you are actually in Atlanta!) it will show up higher in the search engines under a search for "your town church" I am not sure if this is true, but it might be worth a shot. You might also want to pay for the $29.97 no-ads upgrade.

Well, you should have a simple working web page and the basic skill to get a much cooler web page. I recommend buying a book. WordPress is simple to get started but has a lot of depth. Last time I looked there were a half-dozen books on WordPress at our Barnes and Noble. All the info is online, of course, but for me, there is something about holding a book.

Don't want to mess with it? I will do it for you for a one time fee of $200, plus domain registration and any other upgrades you might want. Click here if you would rather pay me to set it up for you.

Need more info?  Check out http://wordpresschurch.org/