Social media will have you convinced that nobody cares about the things you care about. You will have hundreds of contacts, but get maybe one or two likes a week. It gives you the illusion that you have lots of people following your content, but most people on your list will hardly see that you are posting anything for days or weeks.
Unless you are paying them, very few people will even see your posts most of the time. Someone would have to purposefully search for you and go to your profile to see more than maybe one of your posts every third or fourth time they visit.
A few years ago, I found myself in a precarious position. I had spent some years building a business selling art and mystical items here and there. I did spellwork too for patrons sporadically, but most of my workings were for friends and family.
In the course of the business beginning to grow though, I first found out there was a Pagan community who needed me. Then the sector of the Pagan community who needed me formed into an ile. One day I became the king of this ile and then we had to keep up a schedule. So the business took a back seat. Again, the spellwork for patrons became more sporadic, but a growing number of patrons needed more than this. They needed someone who was consistently observant, accessible, Queer, and in one of the historical territories of Kemet.
Now I’m not just private appointment clergy. I’m community clergy. Everything I make goes to feeding my family, my ile, and the deities. Not that I had any dreams of being a millionaire, but at this point I couldn’t horde wealth even if I wanted to. There is too much to do with any money that I receive. However, I had done all this work to build a web presence. So here I am out here looking around wondering what to do with it.
Well, uplift my community of course.
Just when that was about to gain steam, I got some chastisement from my ile’s Queen about taking care of myself. So I went ahead and did the knee replacements and dental work I had been delaying. When I came back, the bad situation of people becoming overly dependent on social media was even worse. It was like nobody remembered how to build a website, and most never bothered to try.
People were getting sabotaged and shut down left and right. This “platform” or that was having issues. I winced a lot in the course of reading post after post of my people complaining about being “censored” because some place or another shut their account down. Then there was the problem of sharing space with nazis and the incredibly stupid, posers spreading misinformation about Africa and African spirituality, and scam artists. To make matters worse, the scammers make more money and can afford to buy ads.
So here I am, ready to help the real African spiritual people promote their services and nobody remembers how to even start. The only advice they are given is “build a social media page” and post to it, but that is the same thing the scammers are going. I’m going to tell you how to beat them. Better, I’ll tell you how I beat them; why you are here and not one of their sites.
1. Have an Actual Website
The hosting service this site lives on and many others now offer hosting and a domain with Control Panel, SSL, and WordPress pre-installed or easily installed for under $50 per month. Hostinger, one of the best in my opinion, is offering 20% off their already good deal. AQhost also has very easy and inexpensive hosting. If you don’t know how to set it up, then pay me or someone else to do it. It is worth it. Setting up a site for the first time and making sure everything works as it should is many hours of work. It took many more hours to learn how to do. It will cost you between $500 and $1000 depending on what kind of features and design you want, but that will be a one time thing. Once you have it set up, you can log in and manage it the same as you would on WordPress.com but you will have many more options.
If you absolutely can’t build your own site and don’t know anyone who can build it for you for a reasonable price, you can opt for WordPress.com, Blogger, or another blog site with paid options, but then take the paid options. Otherwise your site will be mostly invisible or lost in the crowd unless you are very lucky. You need your own domain. Also, remember that even if you have your own domain, on a “platform” if someone gets offended, you can still get kicked off. If you do animal sacrifice or there might be some nudity, it could be an issue.
Some additional tips:
Make your domain name as catchy and short as possible without looking like gibberish.
com, net, org, and, me or a country suffix is best. The “vanity” ones are nice, but at least try to get the .com of something first.
Your site should be easy to navigate. People should be able to see a way to contact you and how to pay you without hunting more than one click. The more clicks it takes to find something, and the further down it is on the page, the less likely anyone will see it.
Your site should not be noisy. Your site should be silent unless or until visitors click on a play button. Even then the default volume should be on the lower end.
Your site should show your humanity. Have photos of yourself doing the work, but also in other contexts. Use your discretion about how human you want to appear, but it should show some of your soul.
You site should add value to the internet and your niche. Yes, you should be paid for your labor, but part of advertising on the internet is to offer something special that folks get just for browsing. You will notice that all of my sites have free something. Visitors will either learn something new or gain something they can’t get anywhere else. Free samples get “asses into the seats”. It builds trust that lets them know that you’re the person they want to pay when they need a professional.
Share your site content on social media instead of using social media as your site. You’ll understand one reason why (aside of readability) next.
2. Be Everywhere and Ready to Pull Out Of Anywhere
Don’t post more than a paragraph of content on any social media, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. This is where most people today mess up. If their social page gets shut down or they have to move because the “platform” gains a bad reputation or gets overcrowded with junk, they are dreading the fact they have to move all their content. Some platforms rely on this massive inconvenience to keep members despite shady or unfair policy. People will fall in line and tolerate all sorts to not risk all of their content disappearing.
If you want to have power, be one of those users social media doesn’t want to lose. The only way to do that is to be self hosted, and use social media to let people know what is going on in your site. Quiet is kept, once you do this you’ll start noticing all sorts of options opening up. It’s a whole different world on social media once you are known to them as a “developer” because you’re actually using things others don’t like apps and API’s.
If it is possible, and you have some time on your hands, for the same reasons, learn basic HTML and if possible, CSS. WordPress and other content management systems are very handy, but not everybody is thrilled about them. In the spiritual community, for better or worse, we have a lot of overlap with conspiracy theorists, and this isn’t all just paranoia. Some people have legitimate privacy concerns, nosey family, oppressive governments, and all sorts of reasons to prefer a regular old HTML page. Sometimes the wonderful software we use to create these brilliant sites has bugs or a plugin or two doesn’t work properly, or there are issues in the developer community.
More than once, I have found myself in the situation where there’s a new version of PHP, and developers pressure everyone to update, but not every host can do that. Sometimes the updates would break other features of the site that rely on an older version. Yet developers still push out new versions as if it is an emergency, before people would be able to use them in a stable way. The only thing that slowed this down even a little bit was when people stopped complaining and just built HTML versions of their sites. This also made readers happier because then they had stable, static pages to refer people to. Search engines also love regular old HTML pages. You will find that these will rank higher in most search engines than the a page with the exact same content within your CMS, with no penalty for repeated content.
And oh yes, put some goodies in the HTML version that aren’t in the CMS. This encourages people to visit them to see what’s new.
3. Don’t Believe the Hype, BE the Hype
A lot of manipulation, algorithms, and stealth ads determine who gets seen the most on the internet. However, be aware that there are hits and then there are good hits. Measure your success in donor and patron happiness, not in hits and likes. A lot of time the “like” issue is that you’ve said or posted something that makes people think instead of smile or laugh. They may not “like” what you have to say, but that same person trusts you enough now to pay you for some work, buy your products, or donate to keep your site alive and algorithmic ad free.
Try to avoid posting things just for likes, and oversharing or reposting unoriginal memes and sayings unless they are particularly important or moving. Also, understand that a lot of the stuff people share around came from shady sources, and you’d best believe there’s a link to them somewhere. Another problem is that often art and photos are stolen and reused without permission. I’ve seen many of my images shared around, often with people taking credit for them. Be mindful what you reshare. It builds trust and increased your popularity if you do better than those before, find the source of the art or photo, and post that with it. Search engines penalize repeated content. So adding source information not only helps the artist but increases your ranking.
4. Make It Easy For People to Find and Share Your Content
Especially if you are hosting events or broadcasts you want people to actually attend, make it easy to share anywhere.
This means you post announcements on your site or blog first, and then after that post to social media about it. When you post to social media and not your site, you are limiting each post to that platform. This is especially limiting for spiritual sites because many people avoid certain platforms for personal or ethical reasons. Also some people value their privacy. When someone logs onto Facebook everybody is notified that they’re online. Same with some other platforms. Not everybody is ready to have a conversation or deal with people just because they logged on.
By posting things on your site first, you allow them to control their own level of exposure. They’re more likely to share things if they don’t feel pressured or antagonized. Plus, it is annoying when all the information is in an image instead of text. They can’t copy and paste anything. They have to manually type things out. It’s a headache.
You want to get more happy visitors? Don’t annoy them.
Also, search engines are not scanning your images for text information. They’re scanning your text for text information.
Example Free Sites
So that I can learn how to manage sites on a variety of free platforms, I created some. You can browse them to see what can be done with them. When I have the time, I try to use their most advanced capabilities just to see what they’ll do.
This should be enough to get you started. Also, don’t forget to promote your site here. Add your link to the directory.