If your church or village has a website, check whether ringing is mentioned as one of the groups or if open days and practices are included in the upcoming events. Find out who manages the website and ask if you can have a section for ringing. If you have your own ringing website you could ask them to add a link to your site.
The only slight drawback with having your ringing featured on someone else’s website is you’ll always be dependent upon them if you need to change any content, such as announcing a cancellation of practice night or publishing details of special Christmas ringing.
Think: if you wanted to learn to ring and knew nothing about ringing, where would you look and what would you want to know?
If you’re reasonably happy with using computers, it’s surprisingly easy to set up your own website quite cheaply and there are plenty of ready made templates that you can use to create a basic site without doing anything more complicated than typing in the text you want, uploading a few photographs of your tower and choosing a colour scheme. Check out:
All of these and many others will guide you step-by-step through making your very own website and you can add extra bits later if you get more adventurous, such as a blog, a website contact form, embedded YouTube videos of you ringing, or social media links. Most of these companies offer a limited free website option but also you can pay and upgrade to something more involved, especially if you buy a domain name.
It’s a good idea to get a domain name (or DNS). This is basically a label for your website so that people can find you easily. You might want something obvious such as www.AllSaintsBellRingers.org, but first you need to check out what’s available, just in case some other band have already got the name you want. Basically, it’s like an address – it needs to be unique.
Many companies which sell domains such as:
have a search facility so you can find the domain you want, or search for other variants that might be available.
The cost of a domain name varies considerably depending on how many other people are likely to want it – so in online businesses, it’s driven by commercial forces. If you wanted a website title selling shoes or handbags, you might find that competition would be quite fierce and you’d have to pay quite a lot. Luckily, the chances of someone outbidding you for www.allsaintsbellringers.org are quite slim and a specific domain like that should cost you about £5, which you would renew annually, assuming you wanted to keep your website.
There always has to be a snag doesn’t there?
If you plan to feature email addresses for tower contacts (good idea), consider using a generic forwarding address such as firstname.lastname@example.org rather than displaying your personal email addresses. Unfortunately, there are robotic programmes which look for personal email addresses published online in order to plague you with spam. One bell team set up a website to advertise their tower information, only to find that within a week the Tower Captain was being bombarded by emails trying to sell him everything from designer watches to types of medication, personal services or handbags … and he suddenly enjoyed an amazing streak of good luck with the Nigerian National Lottery.
Another good reason to set up some generic email addresses means that if someone else takes over as tower secretary, the secretary@ email can simply be re-directed to the new person, making life easier all round!
With your domain, you’ll usually find you are allowed a certain amount of free forwarding email addresses which are connected to the domain, so you could have several such as: towercaptain@, secretary@, steeplekeeper@ or anything else you like.
If you’re new to websites and the thought of setting one up for your tower is rather scary then have a look at websitesetup.org. Or, why not delegate? Setting up and managing a tower website would be an ideal job for a newer member of the band. They can be “the expert” for a change!
Problems arise however if the one and only person who knows how to edit or maintain your website moves away or gives up ringing. Then you’re stuck with online information that you can’t do anything about. You might have changed your practice night, got a new Tower Captain or different phone numbers but the old ones are still stuck up there for the world to see!
It’s amazing how often local guild or association websites can contain out of date contact information because “the person who made the site has sadly died and we don’t know the password”, or “the ringer who looks after our site has gone away to college and doesn’t have time any more.”
Just as it’s a good idea for someone else to have a spare set of keys for the tower, it’s important to let another team member know how to access your website to change things, just in case your web-master gets hit by the proverbial bus.
Keeping a website up to date and relevant can take a significant amount of time so be sure that you are going to be able to sustain it before you start.
No website might be better than a stale one. So if you can't sustain a site of your own you might be better looking at other web presences such as Twitter or a dedicated Facebook page.
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