When you decide to run for office, or you’ve been elected for a while and are considering jumping online, the options can be overwhelming. Do you start a Facebook Page? Figure out how to buy URLs, find a designer and start a website?  Launch a Twitter site?

No. Yes. No. Consider your constituent base. When they look for information about their state government, where do they go? They Google it. A lot of people are on Twitter, but how many of your voters are there? How many people do you know (think about yourself, too) go looking for elected officials on Facebook? Many Facebook users want to know how their Friends are going to vote, or how they feel about a candidate, but they aren’t looking for political messaging there, they’re posting pics of the grandkids.

The best way to ensure constituents can find you on Google is through a website. It’s daunting, I know, but here are a few key steps in this process:

  1. Find a designer you can trust – ask your friends, but I discourage using big companies – they have a lot of overhead and you get to pay for that! If you don’t want to mess with it, a designer can also help with all of the following:
  2. Buying URLs(Uniform Resource Locator): Your website address.
    1. Enter your first and last name with a .com into a browser, or Google yourself to see if someone else already owns your chosen URL.
    2. If it’s available, be sure to secure the name by which everyone knows you – use Bob, not Robert if you go by Bob, etc. The .com and .org of your name should be a first priority – www.stephaniesharp.com and www.stephaniesharp.org.
    3. Don’t buy a URL with a year or title in it: repstephaniesharp or sharpin2012 because years change, as do titles if you are in public service long enough.
    4. Design & Maintenance: Be careful about this – design fees vary widely and you’ll want to find a designer that will give you a set rate for all changes to the site – adding newsletters, photos, etc. You don’t want to be paying a change fee every time you add a pic to the site! There are plenty of good designers who will design a basic site with everything you need for $5-800, so don’t pay more than $1000 for design – you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles!
    5. Hosting: This is the server where your data is “housed”. Your designer will have a good suggestion for this and either do it for you for a fee or walk you through the process.

To make it easy on my clients, I offer a one-time design fee and combine URL purchases, hosting and maintenance on an annual flat fee so they know their total out-of-pocket costs – no surprises. If I can help you walk through this process, please drop me an email or a phone call!

SAVE THE DATE!!

Join me for a live demonstration of the VoteSharp™ application and a conversation about the creative ways you can use it to improve your constituent communication beyond the legislative session and the election.

Thursday, January 12
7:30-8:30 am
Capitol Building, 144-South

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