There two main ways to get a blog.
- Start a blog on an external blog site, like blogger.com
- Install a blog within your church website
There are benefits and draw-backs to both options as I will look at below.
One of the benefits of an off-site blog is that it is free and easy. You can setup a blog within a matter of minutes and updating the blog is relatively easy. If you setup your church blog on a large blog hosting site, like Blogger.com or BlogSpot.com, you also get the benefit of being in a searchable blogging community that may allow people to just stumble across the blog. I wouldn’t count of a lot of people stumbling across the site, but it is possible.
One of the downsides of an off-site blog is that the blog is not customizable. Your blog pretty much looks like everyone else’s. Another problem is that some free blog sites put ads on the blogs they host. You have no control over these ads and they could be advertising something you would not want advertised on your church’s website. The last negative for off-site blogging is that the blog isn’t on your church’s website (obviously). This means that it is more difficult to get visitors to see your church’s website because you have to convince them to go to a different website. It also means that any time someone links to the blog or an article in the blog, that link only helps the blog, not the church’s website.
The most common blog software and the software I recommend is WordPress. It’s free, it’s not too difficult to install, and the maintenance of the blog is pretty simple. One of the benefits of an on-site blog is that they are customizable. How customizable will depend on whether the church has someone adept at web design, but even non-web designers can customize an on-site blog to some extent. You are also able to control the features of the blog and install “add-ons” that can add additional functionality.
Another benefit of an on-site blog is that they tend to look more professional. Free off-site blogs look like…well…free sites. Even a basic WordPress installation usually looks more professional and having the blog on your church website makes it seem more professional. The last benefit I’ll mention is that because the blog is on your church website, your church website links can be right there on the blog making it easier for visitors to move from your blog to the rest of the church’s website. Also, every link to the blog or a blog article is a link to your church’s website which helps both the blog and the church’s website in the search engines.
One of the downsides of on-site blogging is that it does take some setup. If you do not have anyone with some website experience able to help, then it may be too difficult. I wouldn’t consider it difficult, but it is probably above the ability of a novice. Another downside is that because the blog isn’t hosting in a large blogging community, it won’t be searchable in those blogging communities. That said, it will be searchable within the major search engines and there are several popular blog listing directories in which you could list the blog.
If at all possible, I recommend installing the blog in your church website. I think the benefits far out-weigh the negatives. If nothing else, the benefit of getting new links to your church’s website is worth a little extra setup. If you can’t install a blog in your church, website, I’d still encourage you to start a blog.
Do you have a preference between off-site and on-site blogs?
Kurt Steinbrueck is a Deacon at his church and has been Director of Marketing Services with Ourchurch.Com for over 5 years providing Christian search engine optimization services including a service specific for church marketing, the Top Church Search Rankings service, a church search engine optimization service. Please contact Kurt at OurChurch.Com if you would be interested in getting better rankings for your church in the search engines.