Several recent events in my life have made my calling clear when it comes to website design. The result of the events is the reaffirmation that helping others is the way to help Luthernet, but I was somewhat surprised by how the series of events made it clear.
A few years back, a friend of mine said that he wanted to focus on helping his friends. This meant taking on fewer clients in his financial business and trying to make lasting connections between friends. His generous idea materialized a little bit , but then there was a downturn in his business offerings, and it kind of fell apart. However, I liked the idea of trying to help others in order to make meaningful relationships rather than just business deals.
The next event was when a friend asked me to help his market an item he invented. It's a Chromebook cover that doubles as a white board, called the Cranium. Because we're friends, I did the work of putting it on Amazon for free in the hopes that a small commission here and there would be great. While he has since signed a deal that will likely be lucrative with one of the actual manufacturers of Chromebooks, my plan of writing a lot of articles on my dozen or so blogs at least secured one big order that led to one big commission for me. While my use of content writing might not have helped land the big deal he was offered, it did help make the product more legitimate for that company, as well as the competitors who may wonder how to add the same strength to their own versions of the Chromebook. Essentially, I win BECAUSE he wins, not because I get rich monetarily.
With websites, it works the same as both of the examples above. I realized that if I build a website for someone, it gets a lot more traffic if I boost it with a Youtube video and blog posts. I have the power of many domains to make each website I build better for the customers, even if they don't really realize what's happening. So, why would I do it? Well, part of the deal in any website build is to add a signature with a link down at the bottom, so more traffic to the site means more people seeing who built it. That's a good reason, but it's also because I want the businesses and churches that choose me to succeed. Many of my first websites were personal blogs or ideas, then friends and family, and now people I don't know as well, but they all showcase what I can do as a business owner AND as a good person, so I want them to get the hits that keep them going.
While the percentage of churches that need a better website is high, I have not seen a huge business boom yet, so I asked my smartphone (and I did JUST get my first smartphone) how to make a million dollars. Using some online resource, the phone literally spoke to me, and said it's more about figuring out how to help a million people. That's perfect for the internet, when you think about it. One church website makes life easier for a few staff members, a few hundred members, and maybe a few hundred more seekers. For my business sites, it's the same, since people a looking for goods or services with my job being to make the connection happen. It's not about tricking people or search engine optimization. It's about relevant articles that help people in some way.
I made it my goal to index all articles for all of my websites in order to get Google on my side, but I also made it a goal to continue to write articles FOR the churches and businesses that I represent. I won't get the commissions like from the Cranium, but they will, and with a goal of helping a million people, I will succeed at that first in order to see if it helps eventually pay the bills.
The point is that when I build your church website, that's not all I do. I monitor it for new articles, adding them to Google for you. I write about you, link to you, post a video about you, and get the word out about your organization. I want to use my gifts: creating websites, teaching, and writing. I want my career to be using those gifts and helping others, and website building is how I can do that. Your own website will become an extension of what you do to help other people, too, and as such, it should be of exceptional quality, like the ones I build. However, I totally understand if it means more to help another church member who runs a freelance web design business, as long as the result is still a website you can use to shepherd your flock.