One mistake many people make when they are beginning organized digital activism is to spend a bunch of money on their website, not realizing that there is an easier and less expensive way.
If you pay someone to build your website, you will need to pay them update it, upgrade it, add new elements, and whatever else comes up in the development of your cause. Each change or addition will cost you more.
Paying to do activism doesn’t seem so bad at first because you are passionate about your cause and you feel it is worth it. However, as time goes on and costs add up, your volunteer hours and financial contributions may begin to wear you down, dampening your resolve.
However, if you are not too picky about certain design elements , there is a very simple way to create your own website completely for free. A website that includes:
- an email feature,
- social icons to direct people to your social media accounts,
- static pages,
- a blog or “news” section,
- navigation bars wherever you may need them,
- your logo easily posted at the top of your page and an opportunity to write a tagline, and
- countless gadgets that enable you to customize your website.
The only cost to you will be to purchase a domain name if you do not already have one. Domain names can cost as little as $9.99 and go all the way up depending on the name you want and whether someone else has already purchased it with intent to sell it to people like you at a later date.
Currently, I have two websites I am running. The one you are reading right now <DigitalActivistMedia.com> which is a WordPress site; and my sex worker rights page <NakedTruth.ca> which is a Blogger site.
Please refer to the NakedTruth.ca page for examples of the elements I will be discussing here.
WordPress vs Blogger: Why I Love Blogger
A note on my experience so far using WordPress vs Blogger:
I am not a web designer. I do not know code. Widgets baffle me. Despite years of digital activism and running websites, I have never been able to work in a program beyond using a WYSIWYG editor.
Running a WordPress website frustrates me, especially when I see what I can do in my blogger site easily and without grief. Beyond the cost of hosting the site, any kind of new element or element I would like to change about my WordPress site costs me money, whether it is a an upgraded template or the web designer to do the work. I have been fortunate that a friend has worked on the site for me for free, but I don’t want to take advantage of her generosity either.
Blogger, on the other hand, has offered me endless possibilities. I can add html codes very easily using their html gadget. Anything I have wanted to do, I’ve been able to do with Blogger by myself.
Steps to Creating an Activism Website in Blogger
I am going to list the steps here with links to the “how to’s” in each of the steps. Since the information is already out there, I didn’t see any reason to re-create it. However, if you’re having trouble, please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I will help you out!
- Create a Blogger Website
- Main Design Elements – Think minimal distraction, clear purpose, and obvious “call to action.” Go into “Design,” then “Layout” to add your logo into the “Header.”
- Remove the “Blogger” navigation bar.
- Add your own Favicon to show at the top of the page.
- Create “Pages” – The main ones you must include are the “About” page, “Resources” page (or other term to describe where all your best information is), and “Contact” page. Limit the amount of pages you have to limit distraction and make navigation easier.
- Purchase and direct a domain name to your Blogger website.
- Add an Email Subscription option using Free Mailchimp. First you must sign up for Mailchimp, create a “List” and then an “RSS Campaign.” Then you can use the code from your campaign to add an HTML gadget to your sidebar or into your posts. You can also use your Mailchimp account to send out newsletters and other messages to your subscribers.
- Add Disqus to your site to make commenting easy for your guests. First you must create an account with Disqus.
- Add Sitemeter to your site, so you can track visitors and traffic to your site. Once you’ve signed up, copy the code (from the manager section of your Sitemeter account which you will find under “HTML”) and paste it into an HTML gadget in your Blogger account.
Add POWr social icons to your sidebar. There is one aspect of this free gadget that you may not like: The “plug” symbol on the POWr widget for social icons which leads people to the POWr site. However, the other icons are customizeable for you to include whichever social media accounts you want to make accessible to your visitors.
Now you have an activism website that is fully equipped to build a subscriber list, send out blog posts and news updates, is easy to comment on, has links directly to your social media accounts, and you can see who is visiting your site and where your traffic is coming from.
Why spend a ton of money on hosting and a web developer, or depend on a kind friend to make your website changes when you can do it yourself easily?
Blogger makes web design so simple, anyone can do it. Once your site is set-up following the above directions, you are left with the fun part of adding blog posts about your cause that will inspire people to support it.
As activists, we already dedicate a lot of our time, energy, and money to the causes we’re passionate about. Make your activism website in Blogger so you can spend your time, energy, and money on yourself. You need your strength if you’re going to change the world.
Please post comments and questions below. xoxo