How To Get £100,000 Free Advertising Every Year For Your Church

How To Get £100,000 Free Advertising Every Year For Your Church

You read it right. I can guarantee there is no click bait happening here.

At some point in history, Google decided that they wanted to help nonprofits by giving them free advertising. They do this by giving charities a whole load of spend (approx £100,000 in sterling) each year with their Google Adwords programme.

Did someone just say one hundred grand worth of free advertising? For some reason this fact is remarkably unknown in the church space.

A few caveats before we start:

1. This is only for registered charities (which most churches are or at least should be)
2. I’m not familiar with all of the rules outside of the UK but it seems that the requirements are very similar

So what is Google Adwords?

Google Adwords basically provides adverts to people who are using Google search. What’s so cool about online advertising in general is that you have the ability to target people who are already looking for you.

When you give out 10,000 flyers around a neighbourhood, a whole bunch of people don’t actually want your flyer. Not only do you potentially irritate some but you definitely waste a lot of time in the process.

With Google Adwords, you can make sure that every single person you connect with is at least vaguely interested in finding out more.

Google of course is the largest search engine with over 70% of the market share. Second is YouTube which is of course owned by Google too.

How churches can use Google Adwords

Most simply, you can start by advertising to people who are looking for a church in your area. If someone types into Google “church near me” or any other plethora of options then you can hit them up with an advert which will appear right at the top of their page. Not too shabby.

Running successful paid advertising campaigns requires a good knowledge of keywords and SEO to maximise your results. Think about how brands engage the community with campaigns. “Come to church” is an ok start but there are plenty more opportunities to take a hold of.

(You might like this campaign I helped design which captured 500 email addresses of first year students: The Hidden Gems of York)

Google does have some rules about minimum engagement on your ads to stop spam so it’s worth doing properly.

So wait… how much are they giving us again?

You get $10,000 USD per month to use on Google Adwords. This works out (depending on when you check the exchange rates) as £100,000/year.

How do we sign up?

Google offers this free advertising in the form of a grant. All you have to do is head to and apply.

Expect to be taken through a fairly bitty process full of forms, verification, back and forth and the like. Or reach out if you’d like some help accelerating up the process.

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How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Actually Click On

Hopefully someone already told you that YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world after Google. And if they didn’t… well at least you know now 😉

What do people do when they have a problem? They search the internet. This is of course a fantastic opportunity for business owners, content creators and church leaders.

If people are actively looking for answers then they are already looking for you. They just don’t know it yet.

All we have to do is figure out three golden questions:

1. What problems do people have?
2. What language are they using to describe said problems?
3. How do we attract their attention?

In all honesty, some of this is trial and error and not every video we create is going to hit the mark in all of these categories.

But don’t worry, the wonder of the algorithm means no one will see it if it doesn’t. Keep on putting yourself out there and experimenting.

As we work on figuring this out, our aim is to do the following:

1. Create good content that helps people solve their problems
2. Use the right keywords that reflect what they’re searching for
3. Have engaging thumbnails that grab people’s attention

Today we’re focusing on the third aspect. Because even if you have great SEO, people may be reluctant to click on your video if it looks rubbish. This is where we come to understand that design is not just about art but achieving a specific purpose. In this case, getting someone to click.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

One of the most common errors with YouTube thumbnails is simply to use them to repeat what the title says. Instead as much as possible you want to expand on the concept of the video.

Let’s search on YouTube for “places to visit in London”. Here’s what comes up.

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On 1

Whilst this thumbnail includes a lot of the same information there are some crucial additions:

1. Big Ben in the background is a strong association for London.
2. The colour of the text is tuned to the Union Jack.
3. Heart eyes emoji & the smiling girl paint a picture of tourist wonder, joy & happiness.

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On 2

Here’s why this thumbnail isn’t as good in my opinion:

1. It’s not immediately obvious what the background image is.
2. Is that a child? Lol – I wasn’t sure at first glance.
3. Orange text colour isn’t very London.

Use Your Thumbnail To Tell A Story

Here’s an example from YouTube legend Mr Beast.

(By the way, one of the best ways you can learn about thumbnails is to go and look at successful YouTubers and how they do it).

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On 3

I know what you’re thinking – if you were making a video about giving away $100,000 then it wouldn’t matter too much what the thumbnail looked like. But consider how the thumbnail expands the story:

1. Working at McDonalds is seen as the ultimate low paid job.
2. The size of the money compared to the person shows how much this could transform a person’s life
3. The expression on the person’s face is a mixture of sadness (from working at McDonalds) as well as shock, wonder and joy at the prospect of $100,000

Create Intrigue By Challenging Assumptions

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On 4

Many of us have heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. In this example, the text on the thumbnail challenges this belief and creates intrigue.

Don't Go Bonkers Though

If you’re thinking that YouTube thumbnails need to be fun, loud, controversial and surprising then you’re absolutely right. But be careful to make sure that they are always relevant and connected to the content you are creating.

If you create crazy looking thumbnails but your actual video is very different then users will be frustrated with you. Of course it’s not fair to trick people. This will also undoubtedly affect the algorithm which will show your videos to less people.

What About Thumbnails For Churches

Here’s one final example from our church YouTube channel (C3 Reflect):

How To Design YouTube Thumbnails That People Click On 5

This was a snippet of a preach which was repackaged to try and reach more people.

1. The background image looks trippy (like your mind)
2. Shot of the person actually talking in the video (yes that’s me ha – we take separate images just for thumbnails)
3. The text “THIS IS WEIRD” adds to this specific story about the subconscious.
Bright and clashing colours help grab your attention

Creating YouTube thumbnails is definitely an art not a science. And experimentation is the key so go test some things out. Pay attention to the results and then adjust as you go.

For more training on levelling up in design, you might also find a Design Workshop helpful.

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Man at table with empty coffee cup using laptop to search on Google

Boost your social proof with Google Maps

Imagine the scene – you’re new to the city and looking for a church. Or you’ve been learning about faith online and you’re exploring the idea of going to church. You have a quick Google search for churches in your area and see the following reviews pop up.

Average Google Review
Positive Google Review

Which church are you going to go for? Well of course the second one for obvious reasons. There are more reviews (33 vs 4) and fewer bad reviews.

Once upon a time...

Before the internet, if you wanted to go to a new restaurant or place you’d have to ask your friends for recommendations. And whilst that is still incredibly powerful, we can now access these sort of recommendations in just seconds thanks to smartphones.

What’s important to note is that when people search on Google, these results are often connected to business listings on Google Maps. Meaning the easiest way to get your church to show up to people in your area is to make sure your Google Maps listing is strong.

(Interested in strengthening your church presence further? Check out this article on why churches need branding).

Get started with your Google Business Profile

Our first step is to create your free Business Profile with Google. You may already have a listing for your church but do you manage it?

Head to to do this. It’s a fairly easy and intuitive process.

In the process, you’ll also want to verify your business. This will cause your listing to show higher up in the search and allow you to be in full control of what you share.

Google will send you a postcard with a verification code to your business address to check you are actually there and then you can use this verification code on your business listing.

If you’re in rented facilities or a temporary venue, it’s still worth doing this and in my experience most venues don’t mind at all as it’s helping profile their location.

There is plenty you can do with your Google Business Profile but I would suggest starting with the following:

1. Update your details

Make sure all of your details are up to date. Think address, website, opening times etc. It’s too easy not to get right so make sure you do.

2. Upload photos

Upload as many photos as possible that capture who you are and what you do. Don’t just upload fancy stage shots (although that’s cool too). Make sure you include photos of people who actually go to your church. Children & families (with permission of course), young adults and so on. Think coffees and conversation.

Try to look through the lens of someone who doesn’t know what to expect – what would they like to see? (This is a key part of the process of branding for your church). It’s definitely worth investing in professional photography as these images will literally get thousands of views but the most important thing is to upload something and get started where you are right now.

3. Ask for reviews

Ask your congregation to leave reviews that are genuine, honest and specific. Most people won’t think at all to do this but this is the real power of social proof. You will have to ask people regularly (try an email that explains how helpful it would be). Make sure these reviews aren’t at all fake or too glossy as you can see through them a mile off. You can also reply to each review through your Google Business Profile.

Here’s how you might frame it in a church-wide email:

“Would you be able to help us reach more people by leaving a review on Google? It’s so helpful for new visitors to be able to see what church is like and hear from the community before eve they come. Every review helps to remove any barriers someone might have about coming to church. Please do keep it honest, genuine and specific – the link is below!”

The important thing with Google Maps is simply to get started. Users like to see reviews spanning over time as it looks more organic so include this as a regular part of church life and communication.

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Everything you need to know about ring lights

So what is a ring light?

The clue is in the name. It’s literally a ring of light that lights your face better on camera.

Customise your ring light

You can usually adjust the colours from warm (yellow-ish) to cold (blue-ish) as well as the brightness. This can help fit your local context as well as present you in your best light (pun definitely intended).

For example, at my desk I have a window that provides a lot of light to the right side of my face. I use my ring light on a blue-ish setting to make content creation more even.

Do you need a ring light?

If you’re someone who is creating content regularly (e.g. a church leader or creative) then a ring light can be super helpful.

You don’t need to be a beauty influencer (although I did feel like an absolute diva purchasing one).

Why buy a ring light?

Lighting goes a long way in getting high-quality visuals because it means the camera doesn’t have to work as hard.

Upgrading your camera gear can cost a lot of dollar but great lighting is much more inexpensive and make a huge difference.

In other words, you will often get better results with a cheap camera + great lighting than vice versa.

Film at night with your ring light

If you live in the UK like me then right now (in November), it’s getting pretty dark pretty early. If you don’t have the luxury of natural light or you want to film in the evening then a ring light can help a lot.

Which ring light is best?

There are plenty to choose from but I bought the Neewer 10inch table top on Amazon for just £33 and am pretty happy with the results. There were some much more expensive options but I’m not sure what else you could want to include for an extra £100+.

Happy content creation – I hope you’ve found this article helpful.

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A comprehensive online course for church leaders & teams exploring how to leverage social media to help fulfil their mission. This is all about learning how to reach more people and see more impact in the digital space. Get your digital copy today.

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How to leave meaningful comments on Instagram

To maximise the opportunity of social media in reaching more people, we have to learn to move from simply producing content to having conversations.

If you want to reach more people, you need to be talking to more people. If it sounds obvious, it’s because it is.

But this is where so many of us get it wrong. Instead of engaging in conversations online in a similar way to how we do in person, we can often lose that personal touch and start to behave in ways that are a bit spammy.

So how do we have great conversations on Instagram that produce genuine connection and expand our audience? The simplest to start is in the comments section. A proper engagement strategy on Instagram will dedicate time to leaving meaningful and valuable comments.

Define your target audience

Who are you trying to reach? Because it makes sense to spend time interacting with those sort of people.

For example in my sphere, I spend time interacting with churches, creatives and thought leaders. Instagram is an endless game and you simply don’t have enough energy or resource to spend it with everyone.

Get ruthless and actually define your target audience. Note that for churches, your digital audience may well be very different to your Sunday gathering. And that’s ok. It reflects the reality that social media is much better suited towards digital evangelism as opposed to digital discipleship.

Focus on similar communities

If you’re a church but you’re leaving comments on a nightclub then you might be barking up the wrong tree. Not because those particular people don’t need Jesus but simply because it’s not a similar profile.

You can easily leave a few thumbs up or other meaningless emojis on any image but will that really help you create a conversation?

The biggest mistake churches make is to truly believe that everybody is in their target audience. Whilst it’s a nice and inclusive thought, the reality is very different. If you focus on everyone, you will reach no one. By watering down your emphasis, you actually become less palatable full stop.

Make a tangible list

Rather than just a general sense of who you want to interact with, make an actual list of 5-10 accounts that you’re going to start interacting with. They don’t necessarily need to be your target audience but have a shared community that you would like to introduce yourself to.

Avoid short and spammy comments

There is no shortcut to creating comments of value. It actually takes time and we would be foolish to think that we can skip this. So actually watch/read/think about the content you’ve just seen and then add your perspective.

Write a whole sentence or even a paragraph and you’ll instantly jump to the attention of those who scroll.

Be genuine, positive and personal

Say thank you for sharing. Tag the account in question (it may notify them which is an added advantage). Use first names where you can as well as emojis.

If you’re a church or a business then you need to decide your approach in how you personalise things. You can sign off as a volunteer name or you can simply be the brand itself. Just be consistent.

Write something that you loved about the content. Or a question that you have about it. Make it clean, simple and just genuine interaction. Enjoy the process of talking to people.

Focus on being helpful above all

Don’t copy and paste comments all over different accounts. You need to personalise your approach. One of the ways you can do this is by actually responding to other people who comment as well as the account holder.

If you take the time to answer questions others may have, you’ll find them trickling through to follow you.

Allocate time for commenting

After reading above, you may be realising that commenting on Instagram is actually proper work. It requires energy, time, effort, thought and heart to succeed. So instead of checking Instagram every 20 minutes, why don’t you allocate a proper session (30-60 minutes) where you are active in conversation and community. Use the power of batching to help supersize your productivity in this area.

We all know a fake spammy comment when we see one. So don’t be a robot – bring your humanity to the equation and watch and see as people will interact with you and become part of your community too.

The Sticky Social Content Formula

A comprehensive online course for church leaders & teams exploring how to leverage social media to help fulfil their mission. This is all about learning how to reach more people and see more impact in the digital space. Get your digital copy today.

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