We already talked about 5 reasons you need a blog if you're called to ministry. In this post, we are going to focus on how to get started with the very basics of reaching people online: message, branding, and design.
A lot of people might think that you should start with more glamorous steps than the ones I list below. However, I encourage you to BEWARE. If you put the cart before the horse, you'll be in danger of starting something that won't fly in the long run. A few foundational steps at the very beginning will spare you a world of possible mistakes and hurt later on.
So, what's the first step to building a business or ministry online? The first step is clearly defining who you are and what you're called to do.
Here's the backstory:
Every person is an expert at something, and you're called to do something specific.
You may not necessarily feel like an expert, and you may not be sure where exactly your expertise lies. Nevertheless, even if you don't know it yet, you ARE an expert! Your message may be about:
- Christian living;
- healing the racial divides;
- faith & encouragement;
- the craft of writing;
- social justice;
- or anything else.
Related: Read my prophetic word for entrepreneurs here, in Your Dream Is Your Key to Financial Breakthrough!
No matter where your expertise lies, you have a message that you, and only you, can convey to the world.
YOU see something unique that the world needs. And YOU have the perfect combination of experience and words to convey that message to the world. God is calling YOU …
… to something specific.
Deciding out what that message of your life is, focusing on it, and presenting it to the world in an attractive way is called branding … and good branding results in increased sales, increased reach, and stronger influence.
In this post, your assignment is to identify some key components of your ministry/blogging/online strategy in three different areas.
Here are the questions to ask yourself:
1. If you could spend the rest of your life doing or talking about one thing, what would it be? What would be your message to the world?
These questions are extremely helpful in figuring out what God is calling you to do. And knowing who you are and what you're called to do is extremely important.
Another way to ask yourself this: If you could tell people anything and have them listen to you and receive your message, what's the one thing you would want them to know?
And if they got that one message, what are several other sub-points you'd want them to really get as well?
For me personally, I know I'm called to preach, to write, and to minister prophetically. I am called to equip, empower, and build up God's people; to help them walk in the total victory and power that Jesus purchased for us on the cross. That is my message.
What's your message? No matter what your message is, write down your thoughts in answer to these questions.
The ideas you just had are very likely the areas to which you are called, and ALSO the areas in which you are an expert–whether you ever thought of yourself as an expert or not. 🙂 They are the ideas that you will be able to communicate most powerfully in your writing and products, and they are the messages people will clamor to hear.
2. What caption could you write in just a few words that over-arches and summarizes all those points that you thought of above?
Write down some ideas for captions/umbrella phrases that summarize your message. Then pick your favorite. That caption is called your tagline.
I had to do this first a couple of years ago when I went to design a business card. I was already blogging–but about pretty much whatever crossed my mind.
Then, one day, I needed business cards for a particular reason. But when I went online to have some printed, I had no idea what to write on them! I suddenly realized that if people asked me “What do you write/preach about?” I would have no idea how to give them a specific answer
So I thought about my truest passions, and the Holy Spirit quickened to me one day that my main message is the manifest presence of God.
Then I realized that prayer, supernatural lifestyle, encouragement, and prophetic ministry are my primary passions under that over-arching umbrella of “the manifest presence of God.”
The tagline I came up with after that was “Living in the power, purpose, and presence of Jesus.” Another one with which I'm currently experimenting is “Your life can be Heaven on earth.”
When you identify your core message and the thing(s) at which you are an expert, not only will it boost your confidence, but it will also boost your READER's confidence in you!
People don't flock to others who have no clue. People DO flock to writers, products, etc because that writer or product has a solution to a problem they are facing! And when you know exactly what you can help your reader with, they will become a devoted part of your tribe. People everywhere are looking for the answers you possess. 🙂
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3. Think about the overall look and feel you want your ministry, brand, and website to have.
What kinds of services or goods do you want to make available to your readers/tribe? How do you want to reach people, and what kind of technology should your website support to allow you to do that?
Web design has changed A LOT over the last few years, even over the last year. Mobile-optimization standards have also changed a lot.
Current web trends are all about telling a story and offering solutions at first glance. Long front pages used to be taboo, but now they are hot because they tell stories easily.
People are looking to connect with people; business has become personal. Your would-be customers want to know you, your story, and what you can offer them–and they want all of it to look pretty and attractive at first glance.
So. If you have a website already, does your website fit the bill? Is your theme modern, attractive, and mobile-optimized?
And if you don't have one yet, what do you want your site to look like? Find an example to use as your inspiration.
In order to answer this question, I want to encourage you to check out a few different websites that I feel have modern, clean, attractive design. Just click on these and pay attention to the look and feel of the sites. Some of them you may like; others not. But watch to see what you do like, what you don't, and how they have branded and presented themselves.
Pay special attention to:
- how modern or old each site looks;
- the colors they use;
- the fonts they use;
- what buttons each site has on their menu; and
- what calls to action and/or solutions to reader problems do you see right at first glance on their pages?
The sites I encourage you to look at are:
- MichaelHyatt.com: (Note: You have to go to his page twice. The first time, it redirects to a landing page, which I do NOT like–it gets in the way of his message, in my humble opinion. But when you re-load the page, it will take you to his real site, which has great design.)
- www.AmandaAbella.com: This site was used as one of the gallery demos by the theme company from which I bought my theme (StudioPress). I actually contacted her designer, who wanted to charge me $7,000 for a similar site design. I didn't have $7,000 to spend, so I purchased a similar child theme and built mine myself. It's still a work in process for me, but I've been very happy with it.
As you're looking at these sites, begin to think about how you'd like your site and branding to look–how you want to present your message to the world.
Just get a picture in your head of how your material, your newly-focused topics, and your name, logo, and tagline could look. We'll begin taking additional steps toward branding in the next challenge.
TO RECAP: For this challenge, decide on the following things before you start your business or ministry online:
1) What is your unique message to the world?
2) What catchphrase or tagline sums up your unique message? and
3) Is your site modern and appealing? Or does it need an update–and if so, what would you love for your update to look like?
Don't worry yet about putting the pieces together. I'll post a different post about how to do that. But DO get some ideas in your head. Open your heart to high possibilities, and let yourself dream.
Let's do this inspiration thing together! Please leave your comments and thoughts below as you go through this process. Go, expert friend, go! 🙂
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