If your Toastmasters club operates on a tight budget, the free club websites offered through the WordPress for Toastmasters project at toastmost.org are probably the right answer for you. On the other hand, if you have a little money to spend, I’m developing a more affordable option for those who want their own domain. Click to jump ahead to the details or read on for some background.
Does your club want or need its own website domain? That is something you do not get with the free club website hosting offered through WordPress for Toastmasters, but you do have the option of using the exact same software with a web hosting account you set up at your own domain.
For those not familiar with the jargon, google.com, facebook.com, and wp4toastmasters.com are all domains.
My home club has clubawesome.org, which is also an independent domain.
On the other hand, op.toastmost.org and buddies.toastmost.org are club websites hosted at subdomains of the toastmost.org domain. The main toastmost.org website is where you go to sign up for a free club website. I seek ads and sponsorships to cover the cost of running this service. As I write this, all toastmost.org websites are running sponsor ads for Geeks on Tour, the technology tutorials for travelers website run by my friends Chris and Jim Guld.
Running a website at your own domain costs money — some combination of the cost of registering the domain (securing the rights to use myclubname.com) and hosting the website (paying someone to operate the computer servers and network services where the content of your website is stored), plus technical support. The domain registration expense is relatively minor, something like $10-$15 per year. Unless you have a company or university sponsor providing your hosting, you might expect to pay $100 or more per year for a web hosting account for capable of running the WordPress for Toastmasters software.
There are two advantages to a website hosted at your own domain:
- Branding: Your clubsite looks a little more “professional” with its own domain, and the web address is easier to print on a business card or a flyer. Personally, I think having the right content on your website and telling the story of what makes your club special is more important. Most people will come to your website by clicking on a link from Google or Facebook or TI’s Find a Club service, rather than typing in the address. Still, if we were talking about a business rather than a Toastmasters club, I would tell you that you absolutely need your own domain.
- Independence: You have more administrative control over your own website, meaning you can install whatever plugins and make whatever design changes you like. The clubs with toastmost.org subdomains have control over their own websites, but within limits. (On the other hand, they don’t have to worry about as many of the technical details such as installing software updates and worrying about website security).
The main drawback to running an independent website, aside from the expense, is that you shoulder more of the technical burden of setting up the website and getting it running properly.
Other strategies are possible. The online Toastmasters club Competitive communicators registered competitivecommunicators.com but set it up to forward to https://competitivecommunicators.toastmost.org/. You can register other internet services such as email to work with your domain, while still using toastmost.org for your website.
Toastmasters Domain Hosting Offer
As an alternative to a toastmost.org subdomain or a completely independent website, I am offering $50 web hosting at your own domain, not including domain registration. This price is conditional on allowing me to run ads on your website, just as I do on the toastmost.org sites. This is a limited time offer, until Jan. 31, 2018 — subject to being extended if there is sufficient interest.
One reason for this offer is to make WordPress for Toastmasters more attractive to clubs who may already have their own web domain registered — or who think having their own domain is important — but have a limited budget for web hosting. I would provide the same preconfigured set of software that I do for toastmost.org sites but host it at your domain. You get the freedom to administer your website as you see fit, but with me backing you up and assisting with software updates and website security.
Please understand that this is not a money-making venture. The only way I stand to make money on this service is through referrals of other business or job opportunities (I’m a writer, editor, and digital impresario – look me up on LinkedIn). I do WordPress consulting on the side. My small business Carr Communications Inc. underwrites the WordPress for Toastmasters project to the extent that it falls short of break even.
Meanwhile, sponsors of the WordPress for Toastmasters project get to run their ads on a larger network of websites. More sponsors ought to help me get this project to break even. Still, there is enough additional technical effort on my part to support the independent websites that I need to charge something for hosting at your own domain.
If your club would be interested in the hosting-at-your-domain offer, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonus Branding Tip: Whether or not you have registered a domain, you can make your club more visible in Google search by going through Google’s “add your business” process to register your meeting location as a “place of business.” Google will then display your club website more prominently to people searching for “Toastmasters in [city name goes here].” As a result, you will get more visitors who are actively looking for a club in your area. There is no charge for this service (although once Google will send you lots of promotions asking you to advertise).