Most people in ministry are not experts in technology, social media or online advertising. If you want to successfully use the Internet for ministry, you are going to need “experts” to help you. However, it takes a lot more than contracting with an expert to be successful.
Be Clear About What You Want to Do
Thinking through what you want to accomplish on the Internet is critical to finding the right expert for your project. If you want a website—who is the audience, how many pages, how interactive do you want it to be, how will it be maintained after it is launched and what is your timeline are questions you want to answer before you seek out an expert. The more detail you can have in the description of your project the better.
Match the Expert with the Results You Want
Once you know in some detail what you want to achieve, find an expert whose portfolio contains samples close to that. If you want a website that includes e-commerce, video, audio clips, blogs or various forms, you want a developer who has done these things before. You really do not want to be someone’s “beta” site either in terms of this particular project or in terms of the “new content management system” they are rolling out. Believe me, I have been this route and it is not pretty.
Use the same criteria for selecting a “volunteer” for the project. If the volunteer has no track record with the kind of project you are proposing—do not employ them. It takes skill and experience to be successful on the Internet. Good will and the time to do it are not enough even when the price is right.
Make a Commitment to Work Closely with the Expert
Ministry on the Internet is not exactly like business on the Internet, even though we will use many of the same functions and features. Every Catholic organization, religious community, and ministry has its own culture, vocabulary and vision of life. The technology expert cannot be expected to just “pick that up.” It will be the responsibility of the ministry person to bring the culture, vocabulary and vision to the project. Do not assume that they will know the right look and feel for your site. You will have to give them concrete directions and feedback throughout the project.
Be Professional at All Times
When you contract for services, you are entering a partnership. Uphold your end of the deal. Meet the deadlines, provide your parts in ready-to-publish condition (no rough drafts), give detailed and positive feedback all along the way. Treat your partner with the same respect you wish to receive. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Pay for services on time and with a word of thanks.
If you work with your technology expert following the above guidelines, you both will have a good experience and you will get the results you want.
Any other suggestions?