To my sorrow, I often find that Toastmasters leaders who signed up to create a club website on Toastmost.org but didn’t publish it never got past the first few steps in the process. Although few have told me directly, my suspicion is that these would-be WordPress webmasters are overwhelmed by the number of choices available.
I’m writing this as a plea not to be overwhelmed, with some clues about how to keep the process manageable. Persevere, and you can create a website that dramatizes the value of your club and also helps you organize your meetings.
The point of creating a WordPress-powered site is that you get access to a lot of tools for digital marketing and recruiting, along with agenda management reimagined for this era of online and hybrid meetings. The tradeoff is that the software can serve lots of different purposes, and the number of menus and buttons you see on the administrator’s dashboard is scary for some people. (Regular members will see a much less complicated dashboard, with access to a few functions like updating their profile and password).
Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid:
- If you’re just getting started, take advantage of the website setup wizard, which tries to walk you through some basic choices for the setup of your agenda and whether you want to invite guests to register online to attend your meetings.
- Take the time to customize your home page, telling the world what’s special about your club. The WordPress editor is essentially a web-based word processor — nothing to get overwhelmed about. Learn just enough about WordPress content blocks that you can elements like images and subheadings, in addition to paragraph text.
- Activate few if any plugins. The extensibility of WordPress is one of its strengths, and Toastmost has a number of plugins necessary for operation of the service turned on by default. I’ve made many additional, optional plugins available, but turning on too many of them will slow down your website and can cause other problems. Use them judiciously.
- Focus on the essentials. You don’t need to explore every menu option and setting. On Toastmost, I try to make sure accounts start out with reasonable defaults.
- Most of the settings you might want to change will be on one of two Settings screens, the one for RSVPMaker and the one for Toastmasters. The Toastmasters Settings screen is where you would specify your officer list, for example, and allows you to designate additional site administrators.
- To edit your standard agenda, go to the Events Templates submenu under RSVP Events. The individual events are listed under RSVP Events, but your regular meetings typically start out as copies of a template that defines your standard meeting format. Change the template, and you’ll be prompted to update all the events based on that template. (See this article).
- Remember I’m here to help. Post questions to the Facebook group. Or write me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I don’t respond promptly, email again and try text or WhatsApp to 954-290-6788.
- I’m available to do Zoom tutorials, particularly if you invite other clubs in your district to join the session.
Yes, there is a lot to learn. Just keep in mind that WordPress is also a popular choice for business websites, so everything you learn on behalf of your Toastmasters club is something you can use later, professionally.