Step 3. Create content and publish.
Now that you have your online space, you can write, draw, photograph, and publish it all online. Technically, your web-based work will be up and running, but it’s just a drop in the ocean, and you have several more things to do for it to become a full-fledged and effective online ministry. Some gurus of online marketing would say you need to do marketing first and then launch so that once your ministry is online, people will flock to it. That’s possible to do, but if you don’t have a large social network and don’t mind developing the ministry slowly at its own pace, then you don’t need to wait for that. Begin with publishing content: write your articles, post your photos, and share your work on social media. If you can, establish patterns: publish on certain weekdays, vary the length of your posts within a certain range, and write around certain topics (not about everything and anything). It is crucial to form repetitions that both your audience and search engines will appreciate. Occasionally publish personal posts, and let your audience get to know you so that you can build deeper connections as much as possible.
Step 4. Collect email addresses and keep in contact.
From the get-go, you want to be able to collect email addresses from your audience. This will allow you to stay in contact with them and send updates or other content as you develop relationships. There are plenty of tools to accomplish this goal or similar goals related to web-based ministry. You will need to set up opt-in forms and offer your audience free and useful information or gifts that will interest them and contribute to their growth. To gain access to that information, they must sign up by giving you their email address. Obviously, it does not mean everyone will sign up, but slowly the number of people who agree to receive your emails will increase. This step requires that you know your audience well, understand their needs, and meet those needs based on your skills. For example, if your ministry reaches out to teenagers and addresses their need for God and belonging, then your offer should meet that need in some way. There is no need to offer teenagers an analysis of Nietzsche’s übermensch unless you’re addressing a few geniuses.
Step 5. Market and Network.
Marketing makes some of us cringe, but you don’t need to go out of your way to market or network your web-based ministry. By marketing, I mean promoting your ministry, connecting with people and talking about it, publishing guest posts on other blogs, becoming a guest in podcasts, etc. You can do an online ministry without it too, but believe me, without it your ministry will run the risk of being a drop in the depths of the online ocean that’s not accessible to the rays of online traffic. Well, that’s a fanciful way of saying that without marketing, your ministry won’t be exposed well enough to potential audiences to grow. In order to market yourself, start by commenting on other blogs in your ministry field and then try to publish guest posts in those blogs. You should do this because you want them to link to your blog. When you guest post on another blog, usually (you ask for it in your email) they link to your website, which helps boost your online ranking in Google.
Also, attend conferences or gatherings where your potential audience gathers, and network with influential people. Try to meet and befriend them, comment on their blogs, and react to their blog posts. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. In short, make efforts to connect with both your audience and influencers. Make an effort to promote your online ministry.
Step 6. Sell services or products to compensate for the financial resources invested in your online ministry.
Like any other work, doing web-based ministry requires time and money, and because you have a limited amount of both, the question is how to address that need. So one option is to take the financial burden upon yourself as sort of tithing given to God and channel some of the money that you earn from your day job into your ministry. Obviously, this requires that you have a day job and do ministry as a hobby in your free time. I haven’t seen many ministers go with this option, but it is possible, depending on your vision. The second option is to find churches that would support your ministry financially. This option requires you to convince people and be accountable for the money they give you. It is a traditional ministry model and ties your ministry to the community. The third option is to produce and sell some services or products as a secondary activity (the main activity being the ministry itself, which by definition is non-profit work). By selling a service or product, you can offset any financial losses and generate enough money to keep the ministry from sinking. But this is not easy because it demands some business-related skills such as knowing the market. This model involves more risk-taking because selling products or services doesn’t necessarily mean that people will buy them frequently enough for you to generate income. In addition, for some of you selling may be difficult, and I understand that very well. As a person who grew up in a society that actively stereotyped businessmen as capitalists who unjustly make money, I’m still wrestling with my aversion to selling. But if you can overcome your own aversion and succeed, your ministry will be fully independent, which is no small gain when you consider the petty church conflicts between ministers, missionaries, and their effects on financing the work.
These are the most general steps you can take to establish a web-based ministry. Each step can be broken down into several smaller steps, but all of them are necessary. They may overlap, or in your world their sequence may be different. However, none of the steps listed are dispensable.
So follow them and respond to God’s call. Establishing and developing an online ministry takes quite some time. But I believe you would not take on this journey unless you felt some urge or need to the point of obsession with what God calls you to do. So follow your call, and let God reward your attempts in his own time and way.
That’s it, my friend. I hope it encourages you to do your ministry online if you have limited resources or want more flexible way of doing ministry. Did you like it? Then please share it on social media so that others may learn.