These top 5 website tools will empower your ministry (or business) online, sometimes in unexpected ways.
You may or may not find this surprising, but website tools are a big part of my prophetic ministry. And being a technology buff, I love to share things with the world that actually work.
If you’re thinking about moving your ministry, church or business online (or know someone who is) then this post is for you!
Tip: If you’re not interested in the whole online thing but want to write a book instead, then don’t go away!
This post is still for you, because if you want people to actually buy your book when you’re finished, then you’ll need a website to let them know about it.
Last time, I shared a personal story of how the Lord has spoken to me over the past few months, culminating in a job change and new support for my ministry.
Some of that felt quite serious, so today I thought I would relax a bit and have a little fun. I apologise in advance if I get a little geeky!
I’m going to let you know about some of the website tools I use in my ministry. That’s partly for your interest, to explain how I and my website tick, but it’s also for your encouragement.
I’ll give you an inside look into my life, ministry and business, and show you how an ordinary man can step into God’s promises. (Hint: you can do that too!)
Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you click through to an external website and purchase the relevant tool, it won’t change the price you pay, but I may receive a small commission.
In my last post, I mentioned 3 prophetic words which informed my choices and decisions throughout the year so far.
What I didn’t say was that there were a couple of other words, which are still in progress. These came to me at the beginning of the year in the form of some significant numbers, the main one being “222”.
I won’t go into the detail of where the number 222 came from. Suffice it to say that the Lord has spoken to me consistently about it, throughout the past few months.
And much of what he has said has had a practical working out.
The essence of this number is about growth and specifically about exponential growth.
Exponential growth is all about doubling:
If you double something and then double it again, then you don’t get 2 or 3 times the original amount, you get 4. And if you double it once more, then you get 8 times! And so on…
As you may imagine, when I received it, this 222 word was encouraging in and of itself.
But the Lord revealed to me that it related to 3 specific aspects of my website: traffic, subscribers and customers.
I don’t really like to use the word “customer” in my ministry. However, as I mentioned last time, God told me to operate it as a business. That means that I need sales of my prophecy training course, to support that ministry.
The heart of my ministry is, of course, the 4 Steps Prophecy School.
What you may not know is that there’s a process, a journey, that people go through to get on to that training course.
First, they need to become aware of my ministry and that the prophecy school exists.
Then, they need to find out more about the school and understand that it will be beneficial to them.
Finally, they need to make a decision to register for the School.
And that journey starts with traffic to my website.
Whether people hear about the 4 Steps Prophecy School through word of mouth or a Google search result, their first encounter with me is usually through my website.
So the number of people who find my website, read some articles and decide to stay (because they found it interesting and helpful) is important to me.
If I can make some simple changes to get more traffic to come to my website, then the greater the number of people who will know I can help them.
Of course, getting traffic to my website is one thing, getting people to stick around is another.
A few people will click through from one article to another, perhaps through the “related posts” widget I have at the bottom of every article – but it’s not as many as you might think.
I have, therefore, invested in tools to make my website look great, be easy to read and generally increase the chances they will stay on my site. But there’s more to it than that.
What I need is the secret weapon in every marketer’s toolbox: I need them to sign up to my email list.
Whenever I publish a new article I send out emails to my subscribers to let them know.
That drives more traffic to the website, but it’s even better than that: being able to send information directly to subscribers’ inboxes enables relationship.
It’s the only way I can get people engaged with my ministry and enable me to get to know them too.
If you doubt that, then consider that I get replies from my subscribers every week. They share their struggles, they tell me how an article helped them or how excited they are about something they just read.
I read every single one of those emails and I try to continue the conversation as soon as I can. I never want to forget that it’s all about people, not numbers!
The crux of the matter is this:
My heart is for more and more people to take part in the 4 Steps Prophecy School.
Yes, that’s the main way I receive support to keep going in ministry.
More importantly, that’s the best way I know for Christians to receive transformational teaching about prophecy and get to practice what they have learned.
The more people I get going through the Prophecy School the more Christians will be out there, bringing this amazing gift into people’s lives.
They will be the ones who:
I want more customers because I want to change the world!
What the Lord showed me was that if I consistently double my traffic, double my subscribers and double my customers – then that will lead to the exponential growth he wants for my ministry – and his kingdom!
Believe it or not, the tools I’m now going to share with you help me to do exactly that.
Ok, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
To make the rest of this article easier to digest, I’ll give you the following for each tool:
Price is obviously important, particularly if you’re just starting out in the online world.
Be reassured that some of these tools are free, but also note this:
One thing I have learned is that you get what you pay for.
Most free tools will only get you so far.
If you want to change a hobby into a business or move your ministry up a level, there comes a point where you will need to consider paying for it.
Tip: payment for a service may be in the form of money, but it may also be in terms of your time.
For example, you will need to invest time in order to understand and use a new tool effectively.
Tip 2: Sometimes you can save money by writing a review of a trial product (and sometimes, you can pay money in order to save time, as you’ll see below).
Build a website without having to know code.
WordPress allows me to set up posts and pages using a simple visual editor.
It also deals with all the technical stuff of making a website work, formatting text and images and so on, without me having to worry about it.
It also comes with lots of “plugins” (many of which are free) which can extend its functionality to do almost anything you want your website to do.
Anyone who wants their own website or blog …or to publish videos, podcasts, host their own training course, or a plethora of other things.
I need to know:
Google Analytics gives me a simple script I can copy and paste into my website (or use a WordPress plugin to do it for me. It gets to work monitoring all website activity.
I can then view all kinds of nifty reports to tell me anything I want to know. It also encourages me that people are reading my stuff, if I feel down about it all!
Anyone with a website: if you’re on the ‘net you should have Google Analytics set up.
I don’t just want to build a website, I want a conversion-focused website.
I want to:
I want to do a lot with my website and Thrive Themes enables me to do it all.
I use their WordPress theme “Pressive” as the foundation of my site. It looks great and has plenty of options, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Thrive Themes is actually a suite of tools. You can buy individual products separately for a one-off price or you can purchase a membership to get them all at once.
From my perspective, their core products are:
Most of what you see on this website, including the 4 Steps Prophecy School, was built using those 3 tools.
There’s a lot of power wrapped up in Thrive Themes’ products.
They are relentless in their pursuit of making business centred, non-techie software. And they continually update it to add new features.
No, they’re not the cheapest out there, although they do represent excellent value for money.
However, I want to honour the company because IMO they treat their customers extremely well.
WordPress bloggers and website owners who want a professional-looking website with a focus on growing their business or ministry.
Most of the individual tools are around $97 each.
Membership costs $19 per month when paid yearly.
I want to build my email list to keep people engaged while keeping it real, but I don’t have time to email every single person individually.
I also need to ensure I’m fully compliant with data protection rules and GDPR.
ActiveCampaign integrates with my Thrive Leads forms (see above) to enable a fully GDPR compliant opt-in process, but it does much more than that.
I can send email broadcasts to targeted segments of my audience, but it also allows me to build automated workflows.
Those workflows can keep people engaged for weeks and months at a time, in a way that I could never do if I tried to do it all manually.
Website owners who want to engage more with their audience and find out how they tick. Email is far more personal than staring at another analytics report for your website!
$9 per month (when paid yearly) for the Lite plan, with less than 500 subscribers.
I want a professional, super-fast website that doesn’t frustrate me or my readers.
Website speed is more important than you might think.
As I’ve discovered, website performance can make or break your experience – and your business or ministry.
My previous web host (who shall remain nameless) started off reasonably well. They were fast enough for a beginner Blogger, their support people were courteous and they were cheap.
However, as the hosting company grew, my sites slowed down, support took that bit longer to respond and I began to see problems with my websites.
I recently upgraded to WPX Hosting and the difference is like night and day.
Support has been amazing and migrated my websites across from my old host in a matter of hours. They explained everything, answered my questions and took care of all the technical stuff, so I didn’t have to worry about it.
And the speed! Oh, the speed!
Pages that used to take a full 10 seconds or more to load, now take 2 or 3 seconds at most!
WordPress is so much quicker now, so I’m already getting more done on my Fridays.
WPX Hosting is a premium product, so it’s probably not for complete beginners.
However, if you’re serious about your website speed and are tired of a slow WordPress site, then give them a whirl.
$20.83 per month, when paid yearly.
Since I wrote this post only a couple of weeks ago, I have added another service to my writer’s toolkit: CoSchedule.
I want to plan content in advance, publish a new blog post every week, write emails, promote my ministry on social media …and still have time for everything else.
CoSchedule allows me to see all of my blog posts on a calendar, but it does far more than that.
For every post, I can create its own project. Projects include the article itself, links to external research and notes, plus every social media post I’ll need to promote it.
I can build a whole schedule of posts for Facebook and Twitter (and other networks) and have them ready to go out a week after publication, then a month and through to a whole year of content.
Bloggers who want to keep on top of their schedule, publish consistent content and stay relevant on social media.
$20 per month, paid annually (50% off if you write a review).
See my full review here.
Or check out the CoSchedule Website.
The question you may be asking is: have these tools enabled me to achieve the exponential growth I talked about earlier?
The honest answer is, “not yet”.
I’ve seen an increase in traffic and subscribers, but no boost in customers – yet.
However, I have seen steady progress towards that goal.
By measuring my website’s performance through some simple numbers, I’ve seen growth in each quarter this year.
And that’s been backed up by further improvements as I have added each of the tools discussed in this article.
P.S. If you’d like to support me, then why not sign up to the School? 🙂
I’d like to finish this post with another shout out to Thrive Themes.
I’ve done so much on my websites in a relatively short space of time and it’s due in no small part to the Thrive Themes suite.
But it’s not just the tools, it’s the company.
I’m continually impressed by the attitude of the staff and their CEO Shane Melaugh, who shares updates and hints and tips, week in, week out.
…then I can wholeheartedly recommend them.
You can of course, purchase their tools individually. However, if you want everything you need in one package, then you can’t go wrong with their membership.
You can find out more here.
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