How I built my club online presence and did so cheaply
My club had a problem. We needed to attract new guests. The pandemic, as you can imagine, made it very challenging to attract new guests. As a Club President, I figured I should do something about it. I managed to produce paddingtontoastmasters.co.uk for a cost of £1 and a couple of hours of my personal time… And its attracted nearly 300 unique users since it first went live- which thankfully now, we are able to see the fruits off as we have returned to a hybrid meeting format.
If your club already has an Instagram, Twitter or other social media handle that works for your club, great! This case study is for those who want to take their personal club marketing to the next level with their own website.
If you remember anything from this article, please remember these three points:
- Understand your club and the skills your members possess.
- Start small.
- At a minimum, your club should appear on Google Businesses.
Understand Your Club and the Skills Your Members Possess
The last 15 years have seen a boom in jobs and career in digital media management. Content creation, website design, website development, search engine optimisation, social media management, digital marketing to name a few…
Is there somebody in your club that does this for a living? Or somebody who wants to actively improve their employability in the digital skills space? Help them achieve that through the improvement of your club online presence. Offer incentives! I see no harm in personalising your ask… If they want a LinkedIn recommendation, be willing to give one. If they want to use the club as a case study for their cv, let them. Make it as mutually beneficial for all parties as possible.
I was in my first year of a software development role, and wanted more practise so I took on the mantle to build our site with a little bit of code. Mutually beneficial for both parties!
Your online presence should do three things
- Outline your club
- Display where and when you meet
- A method to contact a committee member.
That’s all it should do at a minimum.
If you find your improved online presence is successful for your club, and brings you more members, only then would I recommend you spend more money. How you can start small?
1. Purchase your domain
Your club should have its own domain as it becomes the unique space on the internet where your club lives. Domains need not be expensive- can be as cheap as £1 for the first year. I was able to use LCN.com to purchase our .co.uk domain for £1 for the first year. Now the value of our site and domain has been proven, my club will happily continue to pay for it.
But there are a range of domain registrars that can be used – LCN.com, Ionos, GoDaddy, Namecheap to name a few. Be mindful that every domain registrar will provide various levels of support so do your research and understand what you will require as you build your website and online presence. Watch the advertising! They offer 1st year for 10p if you commit for 2 years and year 2 will cost £15.99
2. Pick a Domain
While it is not the biggest of deals, be mindful of your domain. You can tell a whole lot from your chosen domain
- .org domains reserved for non profits
- .net domains usually for tech services
- .co.uk or .uk – UK based services
- .com – USA based services
- .xyz if you want to be a little quirky and used in many applications like e-commerce or to highlight your unique digital services
All of this is to ensure your club looks as legitimate as possible and gives off the feel that you want new guests to get from your club.
3. Use website builders
If you know somebody who can build websites, there are range of products, code languages and tools where it can be built and hosted for no cost… I will not go into that in this article. However, there is a wide range of no code, website building tools that can be taken advantage of. If you are not technical and need to produce a presence, please do explore the following resources!
Other Free Resources
- WordPress – comes with free site.wordpress.com domain. Allows you to link custom domain. WordPress allows for more creativity with design so here you can build something that is more unique.
For more insights, please take a look at Web Builder Expert – great resource that looks into free website builders into a lot more detail.
Search Engine Optimisation
This is how your website, or any online presence you have is indexed in Google. You want to influence this as much as possible so that your club presence ranks near the top and therefore increases the chances of it being clicked by prospective guests.
Visitors help. Point those who find your club via Toastmasters International towards your website. Whatever is clicked on the most by guests, will appear higher on the Google rankings. This goes for any Facebook, Instagram ect pages that you may already have.
Consider optimisation for mobile devices. Can your website be viewed well via mobile? With the world being at our fingertips via our phone, of course prospective guests will be searching for how to improve their public speaking from their phones.
If you choose to use a website builder, chances are, they have SEO tools that you can utilise to improve your ranking. Maximise them!
Appear on Google Businesses
If what had been shared about website building and domains as a little too time intensive or you cannot source the support to start, at the very least your club should appear on Google Businesses as it allows your club to be found on Google maps!
Think about how a curious human may go about looking for a Toastmasters club to join? Chances are they are going to Google first. and possibly go into Google maps to see the location of all clubs that they can join. We as clubs have moved online and there is scope for anybody to join any club in any location- exciting, isn’t it? Google Business also allows for you spotlight your website- even more ways for your club website to gain clicks!
Get started with Google Businesses here – and join the many clubs who are on Google maps!
At the minute, you can have your club appear on Google without officially verifying your location which is perfect as it means that you can display your information without having to own bricks and mortar!
Use a combination or all of what you have seen here to improve the online presence of your club and reap the benefits of being visible online!
——— Shaquilla Evelyn Johnson
——— President of Paddington Toastmasters for the 2021/22 programme year
——— Want to ask me any questions? Please reach out to me on LinkedIn. I am more than happy to help out my fellow Toastmaster!