In the past several weeks and months I have had more opportunity to help set up / rework some blogs for more pastors and ministry leaders than I ever imaged I would be involved with doing. I must say it was helpful for me as I have had the opportunity to learn much more about WordPress and Blogger than I knew before.
Here are some of the blogs I’ve helped with recently and some things that were unique or what I learned in the process. These comments are not about using the blogging software, but rather about installing / customizing it. Each has different merits in the actually processing of creating and posting blog entries. I’m only going to share my thoughts on the technical side here.
- A Student Ministry Search Committee – an interesting use of a blog to keep interested parties updated on the general progress of the effort by the search team. (WordPress hosted blog)
This was the first one I created on WordPress.com. The process is fairly straight forward and mapping to a personal domain was easy (after purchasing the $10 in WP credits from paypal). We were able to pick out a simple theme, customize it a bit, add in a few sidebar widgets and were up and running fairly quickly. I like the ability of creating new users for the site with out much hassle.
- Life From the Porch – A view of the worship life from Sam Stein – Pastor of Worship and Music at BVBC. (hosted on Blogger)
Blogger (Blogspot) is one of the most common blogging platforms and one that many use to get start with. I did myself. It has improved much over the years and provides much more flexibility and customization then it did in the past. One pet-peeve of mine is that WordPress-hosted blogs do not let you override the default RSS feed. I’m glad to see that Blogger now does. However, I did find it much harder to get the custom domain working from GoDaddy.com with Blogger. Maybe I just wasn’t doing something right, but it took forever to get it to work. One good reason to start with Blogger, almost all other platforms have the ability to import your blog from Blogger. Very handy when you want to bring your history with you to a new platform.
- Cremeans’ Blog – John Cremeans is the Lead Pastor of Fellowship Churchin Glen Mills PA – . (self-hosted WordPress)
This was my first actual complete install and setup of WordPress. I had heard and read about others doing it, but had never done one myself. So while it was more work, I did learn a lot about working with a generic host provider, downloading the WordPress files and doing the SQL DB setup, FTP of the WP files and installation on the host. Being able to compare it to the other WordPress hosted sites, I can see how you get more flexibly by going with the self-hosted option (more widgets you can add, ability to hack the theme more, ability to remove the default WP feed so that you only publish your Feedburnerfeed, and a few other things, but it is a bunch more work on the front-end to get everything set up. I guess once it is up and running it is about the same (fingers-crossed). We did a good bit of custom design work on this one but in the end looks and works pretty well I think. I just wish there was an easier way to import new themes instead of having to manually download and upload to your site.
- Jeff Ream – Jeff is the Worship Pastor at Fellowship Churchin Glen Mills PA. (WordPress hosted blog)
His I have had to do the least with so far – just a basic set up to get his custom domain “jeffreyream.com” to be used instead of the WordPress default and “burning the feed” via Feedburner and add the links to the sidebar. Jeff already added the cool custom banner!
- Ryan Geiger – Ryan is the Pastor to Students at Fellowship Churchin Glen Mills PA. (WordPress hosted blog)
This to was fairly straight forward. Ryan already had a sweet theme picked out and custom banner put in. I did the work of getting his custom domain “ryangeigerblog.com” to be used on the site as well as the Feedburner RSS and e-mail subscription options. On Ryan’s we also put in his Facebook profile badge and link to Twitter.
The next one on my schedule? Buddy Cremeans (John’s brother). Looking forward to this one because I’m hoping to move it off of WordPress and maybe use Squarespace (the platform I’m using). The biggest hurdle I see so far will be importing the history. I may have to use a TypePad account to make the bridge as Squarespace cannot import a WordPress blog directly. Should be interesting experience.
I’ll be sure to post an update when I’m done about key learnings and final results. Let me know if you have any suggestions!