When creating content for your non-profit website it’s important to consider what will engage your visitors and help you achieve your SEO goals. Here are some tips for creating content that will work well for identifying what content works best for your faith-based ministry website.
Identify your target audience
Who are they and what information would they be interested in right now? What questions do they have about your organization or perhaps more importantly, about your faith beliefs?
This is your one-size-fits-all quick start to identifying what content will work best for your faith-based ministry. Answering those questions will help you to create the best content and content marketing plans for you in any niche. Ask yourself who you are making the content for and what information or guidance they need in order to solve their problem.
This is called a customer avatar or buyer persona in the commercial world. For non-profits, it’s often called a donor profile. In faith-based non-profit ministries it’s a little different because you do need donors but what you are ‘selling’ is often free information about God, the Bible and answers to some of the big questions in life. Regardless though, like any other organisation, you want to help guide your readers through to taking action and to do that you need to understand who you are talking to.
Let’s say you are a faith-based ministry that wants to introduce people to Christ. Think about the person you are making content for. Trying to appeal to everyone doesn’t work well so be very specific. Even think of a real person you know who fits the type of person you want to connect with. How old are they? What is their gender? Are they married? Do they have children? What kind of work do they do? Where do they live or spend much of their time? How much knowledge do they already have about the Bible? Do they have a pre-existing or past relationship with Christ? What challenges are they facing? The amount of detail can vary but always create your content for a specific audience.
So, once you have settled on who you are targeting, you should know the answers to these questions:
- Who is your target audience?
- Where is your target audience?
- What challenges does your target audience have?
Once you know the above, it’s much easier to determine what content will work best on your website.
Create content that is relevant to their interests
Once you know who your target audience is, think about what content will be of most interest to them. If you are targeting people new to Christianity for example, then content about the specific issues they are facing combined with relevant Bible stories or teachings may be more engaging than content about church history. However, if you are targeting lapsed Christians, content about how to get back into the church may be more relevant. The key is to think about what information they would want, factoring in the challenges they face, and then give it to them in a way that is easy for them to understand and engage with.
Wouldn’t it make sense to better connect with a male audience that you create content that is focused on issues in a way that men will relate to better and vice versa for women?
In the same way, wouldn’t it make sense that what you create for someone single would look different than for someone who is married? The same goes for age, children and so on. Every attribute impacts how someone will relate to your content. Chances are if you want to talk to a woman in her late 30’s about challenges with her teenage daughter, it probably won’t connect with her if it is presented in video form by an early 20’s male presenter who isn’t old enough to have a teenage daughter without even factoring in that men typically don’t see the world the same way women do.
As you delve into who you want your content to reach, you’ll discover that there are multiple ways to connect and engage with them. Try to find the challenges your audience is facing and you are well on your way.
Make sure to consider how your audience is likely to consume your content and potentially present it in multiple ways. Include images, infographics, videos and other types of visual content as well!
Visual content is a great way to connect with people and can be very engaging. It’s also a great way to present your ministry in a positive light. Just make sure any visuals you use are high quality and accurately reflect your message and add value. As always, test different kinds of content out to see what works best. Even the best audience profile needs to be tested.
So, what kinds of content should you consider?
Content can incorporate a lot of different things. Here are just a few of the things that could be considered content for your ministry website:
- Videos and vlogs
- Art (including visual art, audio and written art eg poems)
- Case studies
- Guides / eBooks
- Email campaigns
What content works best on a faith-based non-profit website? Here’s what I suggest:
A blog post is typically 1000 words or more in length and provides an opportunity to go into greater detail about the topic you are talking about. It also gives your content some longevity and is excellent for SEO. Blog posts are a must and arguably are the best way to incorporate all other forms of content into your website anyway.
If you aren’t already blogging, get started today! Here’s a blog I wrote on how to set up a new WordPress-based blog website and here’s a blog I wrote on why WordPress is the best choice for faith-based non-profit ministries.
Videos and Vlogs
Videos can take many forms from short clips of videos that explain a concept quickly at just a few minutes long to longer tutorials covering multiple topics within one video lasting over 20 minutes or even hours in some cases! They can also be in the form of a vlog that tells an ongoing story, usually your story, as each subsequent video reveals something new that has been happening recently.
Infographics are another great way to present content visually which makes them engaging and easy for people to understand, especially when the topics are complex. These combine really well with blog posts and The Bible Project actually uses infographics as the basis for a lot of their videos.
Case studies, while typically used commercially to provide an in-depth showcase of ‘work we’ve done’ are a great way to show how your ministry has helped people or work that you have done recently and they can be very engaging. They also make excellent content for videos, blog posts and can form part of an ebook and email campaign.
Case studies are all about a journey and need to be extremely relatable to have an impact. Keep in mind that the case study isn’t about you. It’s about the story of someone you helped.
Reviews are another interesting one for faith-based non-profits. Typically a review is used to review a product or service being offered by a third party. I think this gets pretty overlooked in the non-profit world. Consider using reviews in two ways:
- To review content that has been released by a third-party that is relevant to your audience. You might just talk about the content, or you might build on it and use it to tie in with some of your own content that has been previously released. You could also treat it as a kind of peer review, if that is relevant to your audience.
- To review products or services that are relevant to your audience and the context of your ministry. In a faith-based ministry you are targeting specific people and presenting them with a solution to a problem, or problems. There is no reason you can’t review third-party products that also help your audience solve their problem. You might even consider including affiliate links to help fund your ministry, just keep it strictly relevant!
Guides and Ebooks
Another content format that can provide a lot of value is an ebook or guide. This content typically takes the form of a PDF download and it’s designed to be used as ‘how-to’ content that helps your audience achieve something or solve their problem while demonstrating your expertise.
These PDF’s can be given away as free downloads or they can be used as a ‘tripwire’ by requiring an email address before the download. The value provided by these documents is an excellent trade for email addresses so use them to help grow your subscriber database.
Choose topics that are going to be of interest to your audience, and yes, you can include reviews, infographics, case studies and blog content in your ebooks. Ebooks and guides are great for promoting on your website, in email campaigns, on landing pages and across social channels as well.
Similar to ebooks and guides, tutorials help build your ministry up as an expert and are a great way to provide content that is both engaging and valuable. The best thing about tutorials is that they can cover just about any topic and the terms “how-to”, “how do I”, and “how do you” are used frequently in searches on Google and YouTube. People turn to the internet for answers on how to do things. If you have content that doesn’t quite fit into one of the other categories, and it can help teach someone how to do something, it’s probably worth turning it into a tutorial.
Tutorials are perfect for video content, but blogs can work well too. The content is all about step-by-step instructions so it needs to be simple, easy to follow and very engaging. Keep it short and concise.
The best tutorials also include examples of how others are doing it and stories from your audience where possible which provides you with an opportunity to showcase the difference you have made in their lives (remember those case studies?).
Last but not least, email campaigns are an excellent way to connect with people that have begun to engage with you already and opted to receive emails from you. Don’t just bulk mail them though. Personalise communications so that they feel like you are interacting with them on a personal level as you keep them updated on what’s going on with your ministry and content that is relevant to their journey. You can also use them to get signups for events or request donations. Whatever you do, personalise things!
Most email marketing tools these days, including Mailchimp, offer some form of automation that will allow you to set up custom email flows based on the things you learn about your subscribers. Don’t expect to set everything up overnight, but aim to customise these to provide the most value to a specific person. For example, if someone downloads your ebook on “How to study the Bible more effectively”, you might send them a series of emails with related blog posts, videos, tutorials or other content. The emails might be designed to encourage the reader to get started in their Bible study with motivational wording and tips to keep them going at common drop-off points. If your ebook has a timeline in it, you might tie these emails into that timeline too.
Use your emails to help your subscribers succeed in their journey based on the actions you know they have taken so far. Give them value and they will remain subscribed and are more likely to reach the end of the journey that you are helping them get through.
Summing it up: Build a relationship
When creating content for your faith-based non-profit website, it’s important to consider the kind of content that will be most engaging and useful to your audience. You want to build a relationship with them to keep them coming back, subscribing, and interacting. In this post we have looked at eight types of content that can work really well for faith-based non-profit ministries:
- Blog posts
- Videos and vlogs
- Case studies
- Guides and ebooks.
- Email campaigns
Experiment with all of these to find what works best for you. Keep in mind who you are talking to, what the purpose of each piece of content is, and what platform you are publishing it on. Plan out your content and over time you will build up a repertoire that attracts lots of search traffic, engages your audience, builds your subscriber database and nurtures a relationship with your ministry and hopefully also with God.
As much as we don’t like to focus on donations in the faith-based space, a big database of highly engaged subscribers that have a strong relationship will also help to keep the lights on.
Your faith-based non-profit ministry provides some of the most immense value in the world, so get it out there!