While I am by no means an expert web-designer, I have built more than 10 websites in my lifetime, and most of those were for churches where I worked on the ministry staffs. I have used (or at least experimented) with numerous website design programs over the years, including Microsoft Frontpage, Apple iWeb, Adobe Dreamweaver, Rapidweaver, Google Sites, Blogger and various other online programs. About 5 years ago I started using WordPress and never looked back. It is today’s web standard, and the possibilities are endless. Your sites can be as simple or as complicated as your skills allow. Since I am self-taught and do not know how to write code, WordPress is perfect for my intermediate skills because I can start with the basics and add new features as I teach myself new skills, without having to start the website over from scratch in a new program.
WORDPRESS.COM & WORDPRESS.ORG
To clarify, there are 2 different ways to use WordPress. You can get a free website/blog at WordPress.com. This includes free hosting on their site. The catch is that you will not own your own domain, and your website address would look something like storiesbystephen.wordpress.com. I want clean website names and ownership over my sites, so I always buy domains and have them hosted elsewhere. When you own a website hosted with one of the countless web hosting companies, you must install the WordPress CMS (Content Management System) from WordPress.org (not WordPress.com). This WordPress software is free, but it comes from a different place.
The easiest way to use WordPress.org software on your hosted website is to using a hosting service that sets it up for you. When I started using WordPress to build sites, I looked at tons of different web hosting companies. The big name that everybody knows from their risqué Superbowl commercials is GoDaddy.com. Since I was building sites for a church, I felt like GoDaddy.com’s advertising methods and reputation did not match up with the message of the church, so I immediately scratched them off the list of possible web hosts.
FREE WEB HOSTING AT DREAMHOST.COM
There are lots of good options out there with quality ratings, but I became loyal to one company called DreamHost, and here is the reason. DreamHost.com offers completely free website hosting to all non-profits. This is worth $8-12/month for life, and all you have to do is send them a copy of your organization’s 501(c)(3) form. All the churches I have worked for have been 501(c)(3) non-profits, so I have gotten free website hosting for both of my last 2 churches.
DreamHost also has 1-click WordPress installation, so this setup happens instantly without needing any database or CMS knowledge. I have had several online email or chat conversations with DreamHost employees over the years, and they have always provided quick, friendly and reliable service. Just recently I had to move a website from one DreamHost account to another, and they helped me make it happen very quickly and easily, even doing some extra things for me that they did not have to do.
I am currently not employed by a church or non-profit, but I still use DreamHost.com to host this website and some other projects I am working on for the future. In other words, I liked their free services well enough to pay for those services now. I highly recommend DreamHost.com for anyone who needs website hosting services, but if you need these services for a church or non-profit, it is absolutely a no-brainer!
Another great thing about DreamHost, whether you are using a paid account or a free non-profit account is that you can host unlimited websites on your account. This worked well at my last 2 churches because each church had an old website and a new website that I was building. We were able to keep both sites on the account, and at my last church I had another site I built just for the children’s ministry (see FairfieldKids.com).
Now with my paid account I have several websites I would like to build for various purposes, and I can host them all on my account without paying any extra monthly fees. The one monthly fee covers all the unlimited sites on the account. The only additional fees come from the annual domain registration, usually about $10 per website domain.
If you found this information useful, whether for your personal, business or non-profit web hosting needs, please sign-up for DreamHost.com using my affiliate link by clicking here.