So you want to start a website. People are going to ask you why.
Unprompted, “why” questions often lead folks into the dark labyrinth of their soul with no way out. Most of us don’t know why we want what we want. We’d do well to start with some easier questions.
Who Are You Writing For?
Choosing a target audience is important. But more critical is battling your tendency for self-promotion. Are you writing for others or yourself?
In Andrei Tarkovsky’s acclaimed film, The Mirror, he defines the goal of poets (though this line applies to any art form): “A poet must stir souls, not nurture idolaters.” Writing — like any other ministry — is service. We seek to stir up a more profound love for God and others through our words.
Starting a website won’t change your life or status that much. Before making this decision, settle in your heart and mind to serve others rather than build a name for yourself.
What Do You Want to Say?
Your website needs a niche. Do the hard work of processing the focus of your content. For me, I’m passionate about helping others grow in spiritual and emotional maturity. Concepts connected to that drive my content.
Your site needs a foundation. You’ve got to lay it before you can start building.
Where Do You Want to Write?
Is a website with your name on it necessary, or can you write for other websites?
I still write for other websites (I’m writing for AIC right now), yet I started my website to catalog my ideas in one place that I own.
If you desire to build out focused content over time in one place, then starting a website might be right for you.
When Will You Write?
I’m a pastor with plenty of ministry work to do. Before I ever launched my website, I had multiple conversations with my pastoral team. We discussed the pros and cons as well as when I should write. We decided that any work done for my website will be on top of my work hours for the church. Other churches build writing time into their pastor’s workweek.
No matter what you decide, it’s wise to seek input from not only your pastoral team, if you’re a pastor, but also your spouse if you’re married or anyone in your life whose opinions you value most.
How and How Often Do You Want to Write?
Do you want your website to showcase articles? Podcasts? A Newsletter? A YouTube channel? Educational videos? Decide what methods of communication you want to use and how often you plan to use them. Be honest with yourself about your capacity. Set yourself up to enjoy the work — otherwise, why are you doing it?
I send a weekly newsletter to subscribers on Mondays and publish a different article each Thursday. I wanted to force myself to write more consistently. These two weekly goals are enjoyable and keep me writing.
Why Do You Want to Start a Website?
After engaging with the above questions, you should have enough clarity around your desire to start a website. If you’re unsure that it’s the right next step, build a site, start writing, and keep it offline. Pay attention to your excitement level — Are you getting increasingly excited to share your work with others, or are you growing weary from the upkeep?My best counsel to you is to make sure you enjoy it.
Above all — “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do (including starting a website), do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV – parenthetical phrase added). Because at the end of the day, what else but God’s glory truly matters.