Why having a website is important for Civil War groups
Many people involved in the Civil War, whether it is in education, living history, reenactments, historical or patriotic groups, are learning the value of having their organization represented online. It seems ironic that an event that took place over 150 years ago could possibly benefit from modern technology.
A website is the perfect tool for visibility, marketing, information and resources not only for members of your organization but also for those who may be interested in joining your organization.
The beauty is that it is simple to accomplish and highly beneficial and can be done on the cheap!
I am not trying to write myself out of potential customers or business, but I do know that with the amount of hosting providers out there that charge the equivalent of a gallon of gas for a years worth of hosting (some even do it for free) is astronomical.
Most Civil War organizations do not have deep pockets and rely almost solely on dues and donations. In the past, a website was conisdered a luxory many groups just could not afford when it came to allocating their resources. This also usually meant paying someone to do the work and manage the site.
However, with tools such as WordPress, building a site takes little to no skill to have a basic site up in no time that, with a very small learning curve, will be easy and cheap to manage no matter what your budget or skill level is.
There are obviously other methods you can use and by all means if your organization can afford to have a professionaly designed site I would recommend that. But if you have someone who is at least a little bit web savvy you will be able to setup and maintain a WordPress site with ease.
So what are the benefits?
1. Online visibility – If you are not seen you are not known. Most people in today’s technology driven world rarely, if ever, pick up a newspaper, magazine, etc. They do however Google everything and if you have a website, you have an instant marketing tool at your disposal. Civil War organizations rely on visibility as the main tool in recruiting new members and wooing potential donors. The limit to how you can market your group online is limited only by ones imagination.
2. Central point of information – Your members need a place to see the “what, where and when” of your organization. Your website gives them a one-stop shop. Easily convey to them (and the public) upcoming events, minutes from your last meeting, how to become a member, who the current officers are and how to contact them. Again, the only limit is imagination.
3. Historical record – Having a website also provides your organization with an electronic historical record of meetings, events, pictures, etc. Many groups are now scanning their documents and providing them online. An example is you can find rosters, minutes, financial records, etc from the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) of various states online and these are highly usful in genealogical research.
4. Quick access – With mobile technology becoming a standard, being able to find information quickly is critical. Your website provides just that – location, directions, information about your site available from pretty much anywhere. Having usuful information readily accessible combines all these other benefits together.
One last thing to remember is that if you do setup a website it needs to be maintained. There is nothing worse than a website that has old and outdated information. For example, if you are a reenactment unit and visitors come to your site to look for a schedule of your groups event activities and it only shows dates from a year ago, you are not utilizing your site to it's full potential. In fact, it could have the opposite effect and turn people away from your site.
So, as I said, having a website for your Civil War group is win-win situation for you. It costs very little (even sometimes to the point of being free), is easy to setup and maintain, and will certainly payback in dividends over time.
If you’d like more information or would like for me to talk to you and give you a quote for getting your Civil War group online, feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to help.