Unfortunately, not every organization has the cash to spend $10,000 on a new website. A lot of organizations, especially those just getting started, have little to no funds allocated for creating a new website. So, what do you do if you’re on a shoestring budget, but want your organization to have an online presence? We think your best bet is WordPress.com. Here’s why.
Why Use WordPress.com for an Inexpensive Website?
There are a number of benefits to using WordPress.com to set up your website if you’re lacking funds.
- It’s Very Easy to Set Up: Setting up a website on WordPress.com takes less than ten minutes. I know. I timed it.
- It’s Very Inexpensive: If you’re willing to use a wordpress.com domain name, then the price to create a website is 100% free. However, we recommend using a custom domain name which will only set you back $18 per year. More on this below.
- WordPress Allows You to Manage Your Own Website: WordPress.com is built on the WordPress content management system. This system allows you to easily change the text of your website, post new pictures, add new blog posts and do a number of other things just by logging in from your favorite web browser. You won’t have to pick up the phone and call a programmer every time you want to make a change.
- The WordPress System is used for Custom, Complicated Websites: Learning how to use the WordPress content management system may pay off in the future since a lot of web design companies use it to create their clients’ websites. In fact, the WordPress system is used by a lot of great organizations including charity:water, The New York Times and Georgetown University. So when your organization has the funds to build a fancy new website you may end up working with a system you already know how to use.
So let’s say you’re convinced on the merits of WordPress. How do you go about getting started with WordPress.com?
Creating a Website on WordPress.com
Here’s how to create your website on WordPress.com:
- Go to https://wordpress.com/.
- Click the big orange “Get Started” button.
- Create an account and pick a domain name. As I mentioned before, I’d recommend paying $18 per year for a custom .org or .com domain name. I’ll cover why a little later on.
- Once your website is online you’ll be taken to the Dashboard of your site. Check out the Customize My Site support page from WordPress for instructions on how to choose a new theme to give your website a somewhat unique look and feel.
- Once you’ve customized your website’s look, add some new pages and blog posts. If you need help figuring out what pages to include, check out 4 Pages Your Nonprofit Website Should Include.
That’s all there is to it. After quickly completing these steps you’ll have an inexpensive, live website for your nonprofit.
Why Should You Pay for a Custom Domain Name?
I mentioned earlier that I’d recommend paying $18 per year for a custom .org or .com domain name over a wordpress.com domain name. Here’s why:
Custom Domain Names are More Professional
Websites that use a custom domain such as redcross.org and unitedway.org tend to establish more credibility and instill more trust. Also, using a wordpress.com domain name may alert others that your website was free to create. While this probably says nothing about the quality of your services, it’s worth eliminating the possibility that someone may think your organization is lacking funding.
You Won’t Lose Search Engine Value in the Future
If you use a custom domain name for your website you won’t lose any search engine value when you create a fancy new website in the future. If, for example, your website was originally savethebirds.wordpresss.com and your new website is savethebirds.org search engines see the websites as two different entities and won’t carry your value from the original website to the new one. In this case, you can and should do what WordPress.com calls a site redirect, but even this is unlikely to retain all of your value.
However, if you originally purchased and used savethebirds.org you can continue using your existing domain name when you create a new website. Just follow the steps outlined on the WordPress.com domain management support page. Doing this retains all of your search engine value by keeping your domain consistent when launching your new site.
For more details on domains and WordPress.com, here is a post on the topic.
The steps outlined above should be enough to get you started. If you have any questions about the process or about setting up your first website, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments. For anyone that’s used WordPres.com to set up their first website, how did it go? Were there any big issues that crept up during setup?