I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that you can always come to for using technology in life and in ministry. I’ll add to it as I discover more, but you’ll notice that I reference this page quite often. I recommend bookmarking it for your reference and convenience.
If we got to hang out, as the conversation meandered, I’d probably mention a lot of these things. And we would be drinking lattés. Or Diet Pepsi. And it would be nice to sit and talk.
There are lists for:
- Tools I Can’t Live Without
- Creating Physical Products
- Communication Tools
- Creating Graphics and Websites
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you.
Tools I Can’t Live Without
Well, I probably could live without them, but I use these every day. They are so useful that I don’t know what I would do without them.
Creating Custom Physical Products
Since those in ministry get to steward the greatest message in all the world, it is helpful to use promotional materials to ensure that people here the message, work it into their lives, remember it, and share it with others. I have used all kinds of stuff over the years. I’m always nervous when I order these products over the internet because I’m not sure what the quality is really going to be when it shows up at my door. These are the online retailers that have consistently delivered quality custom physical products.
Besides Amazon, this is probably the site I order from the most for anything on the internet. They are always running sales on postcards, posters, business cards, saddle-stiched booklets, posters, flyers, etc. Their quality is so high that I never even think to look elsewhere. It is my go to place for printed promotional materials.
This guy Ken makes pens in Arizona. Even though his website could use a facelift, his product and his service are awesome. If you order pens from him, tell him I sent you. (Also, I recommend these pens over DiscountMugs.com)
I’ve ordered a ton of promotional products from these guys, and they are always top notch. Cups, mugs, canteens, bags, etc. If you can put a logo on it, they probably make it.
I printed my book LiveNew through this service. It’s awesome. It’s print-on-demand, and you can get perfect bound books for relatively cheap. If you are creating material that you want to mass produce, there really isn’t a better option out there. And if you buy an ISBN, it’s super easy to start selling through Amazon.
My favorite thing I’ve ordered here is letterhead with rounded edges. It looks great and can arrive FAST if you need it. I can also vouch for the business cards and postcards. Both are great quality!
These guys print amazing banners for dirt cheep. They ship out of India, and it will blow your mind when you see how awesome they look, how fast they arrive, and how cheap they are.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve needed lanyards for name tags, volunteer ids, etc. I can order a ton from Lanyard Store that are blank or get a logo printed on them if it fits the event.
Technology has created a lot of communication tools for us. I don’t use all of them (on purpose), and the ones that I do use help me work hard, live joyfully, and most important, connect with others.
I have fallen head over heels for the email list campaign. We are running character building courses through it at our youth center. I use one to get to know people in our church. I use one to get to know people in the community. I use one to run a wait list before a launch. I use one for a weekly digest form of posts on this site. And MailChimp is absolutely amazing at all of it. I can’t recommend them enough.
For a while, I completely turned off email on my phone and tablet. The tools that were built in didn’t help, and I couldn’t stand it. Mailbox is brilliant. It lets me snooze emails until I need to see them. For instance, I had a reservation receipt for a hotel at a wedding I was doing in 4 months. I snoozed it until 2 days before I was supposed to leave. Then, it just showed back up in my inbox when I needed it. It only works with Gmail. And if you don’t have gmail, I highly advise you to switch, if not just for this app.
I would pay serious money for Slack. But it’s free. It is a dead simple chat app for teams to work collaboratively. It’s not super easy to explain, but they have a great demo on their site. The extreme benefit of it is that it gets conversations that go back and forth and plug up your inbox into a separate app that works with a ton of other services.
Creating Graphics and Websites
I love branding. Giving something an distinct identity is extremely energizing for me. One of the most powerful web-savvy invitation mechanisms I’ve been able to create is a dedicated website for a program, series, resource, tool or event. I’ve created a lot of websites for people in business and ministry, and these are my go to resources for creating graphics and websites 99% of the time.
Creating and maintaining websites has changed drastically over the last 10 years. I learned a lot of HTML and CSS that is still helpful, but the backend has changed because of these tools called content management systems. WordPress is my favorite. 99% of my sites run on WordPress. While you can learn and run a site on WordPress.com, I recommend getting your own host and installing WordPress because once it is up and running, it makes adding new content and new sites a breeze.
My websites have been on Bluehost since 2007. Their customer service is through the roof awesome. They have insanely fast WordPress installs, so all I have to do is click a few buttons and I’m all set up with WordPress. Lots of hosts have that, so really, the reason to go with Bluehost is that their customer service is amazing. That’s why I’ve never switched.
In case you don’t know what a host is, this is how it works. I pay for some space on a computer at their headquarters. These are really sweet computers that are always connected to the internet. There are a bunch of folders on that computer where all the files are for my websites. When someone types in misterlib.com, the internet sends them to the computer at Bluehost with my files, finds the right folder, and sends them back to the computer that asked for them.
The beauty about WordPress is that you can pick a theme to display all of your content. I have experience with over a hundred different themes. I recommend paying for themes. The support is better and the price is nominal. Elegant Themes is my #1 choice because there is such a variety. And Divi is one of the most powerful themes I’ve ever used. This site and many others I’ve built are on it, but it is so customizable that they don’t all look the same.
Graph Paper Press is my #2 pick for themes. They are more pricey than Elegant Themes, but they are beautiful. When I recommend themes for people or ministries that like to focus on rich imagery, I will typically send them to Graph Paper Press. Also, their support is top notch. You get what you pay for, and these guys really know what they are doing.
Graphic design always feels risky. 99 Designs takes the risk out. You request a logo, website theme, t-shirt design, content branding, etc. You indicate your budget. Then the designers that are connected there plug away for a week on your project. At the end, there are multiple designers that have created something for you and you get to pick which one you want to buy. If you aren’t happy with any of them, you get your money back. It’s a sweet way to take the risk out.
(*Note: As a graphic designer, I don’t love the idea of doing work and not getting paid. I wouldn’t recommend overusing 99desings. Rather, use it and when you find a designer you like, establish a relationship with them and use them again.)
Because I’ve had my hands in computer science and graphic design, I get a lot of requests to make stuff for people. I’m also a pastor, so I don’t always have time. There are so many awesome freelancers out there that can do the geeky stuff for you when you have an idea. Check out the different types of things that you can find freelancers for on Elance. It’s the #1 place I send people when they ask for something but I’ve got too many projects going.
In creating graphics and websites, I’m always taking pictures and manipulating pictures. This usually works with a camera or google image search. But when the picture needs to be perfect, I buy them from iStockPhoto. So. Many. Pictures. It’s mind boggling.
If you ever want to accept payments online (mobile or desktop), Gumroad makes it super simple. You can sell pdf, ebooks, videos, audio, or whatever. You can even sell tickets to a retreat, accept payments for the workbook you’re selling for a class or t-shirts for your ministry event. Once you set it up, it’s as easy as sharing a link. Whoever invented Gumroad is awesome.