Dear Church, You're Paying Too Much
When I hear how much churches are paying for their website, live stream or other internet-related services, I cringe. Yes, as little as five to ten years ago something like building a quality website or getting a live stream of your service was very costly and only done by the largest houses of worship.
Today, that's simply not the case. But the people who provide those services still want you to think it's just as expensive as it used to be.
In the past, to fashion a website from scratch took deep knowledge of HTML, PHP and other web languages. You needed to know about FTP, domains, hosting and everything in between. Paying for someone's knowledge in this area could cost 1000's of dollars, in addition to whatever graphic design, logo creation and other media assets you would need.
Now, services like Wordpress, Squarespace and easy-to-use web creation tools like Rapidweaver allow even a web novice to create something for as little as the cost of a domain and hosting (about $100 per year). Not only that, but take a month to teach yourself basic web development or graphic design and you could open a side business doing it for other people.
I recently heard of a church will be investing literally tens of thousands of dollars in a new website redesign and live streaming service. Let me be perfectly clear:
If you're thinking about paying anymore than $1000 for a new website, or more than $100 per month, reconsider doing it yourself or getting a second opinion. Just a small amount of know-how can literally save you thousands.
Live streaming is another seemingly high cost for churches. Looking at some of the "mainstream" church streaming providers you'll be paying at least $1000 per month, with add-ons like mobile streaming and chat costing extra.
While some churches with tens of thousands of online viewers may need a more robust option than what I'm about to suggest, the vast majority of churches will have a few hundred viewers on a weekend and do not need the bandwidth or storage of these larger companies.
Services like Livestream and UStream make it easy to have an online campus. Livestream costs around $300 per month and includes mobile streaming and a chatroom. You can even insert lower thirds, tickers or commercials from their application. UStream's ad-free plans start at just $99 per month and also include mobile + chat. Their player has UStream branding on it though and to remove it you'll have to move to the $500 per month package.
Either way, you can be paying $100's per month as oppose to $1000's. If you're a very small church and really have zero budget for online viewership, UStream has a completely free, ad-supported option, which is what I began using at the first church I worked at. Read my previous post: Live Stream Your Church Service for Free for details on how to do it.
In today's market, the adage "you get what you pay for" applies less and less. You don't need to spend thousands for something that only has to cost hundreds. Get a second opinion on that new website you're buying, or drop me a question and I would love to advise you.