A slightly different blog post from me this week. For my day job, I work in digital communications (e.g. managing websites, email marketing, social media etc). I’ve been doing this for 15 years, so know a thing or two about building, managing and promoting websites.
I thought it would be a nice idea to share my web design knowledge with the table tennis community. In particular, I want to help those table tennis clubs who don’t have a website.
In this blog, I’ll explain how to set up a website for your club, what content you need and how to promote your website.
Although, the focus of this blog post is table tennis, the advice I give is relevant for any sports club. So if you’re part of a football, netball, hockey, athletics, badminton, tennis (or whatever), this blog post will help you too.
How to set up a website
A website is probably the most effective way of promoting your club and attracting new players. A search engine (i.e. Google) is usually the first place people will go when trying to find a table tennis club in their area. So a website is a ‘must’ if you want new players to find out about your club.
Setting up a website is actually not that difficult, doesn’t cost much money and doesn’t take that much effort to maintain.
There are loads of different options for creating a website. I’m not going to list all the different options or compare different services. Instead I’m going to share the simple (and cheap) method I have used for setting up websites over the years.
Step 1: Choose a domain name and hosting
The first step is to buy a domain name and some web space to host your website. There are thousands of companies which offer domain name and hosting services. My favourite is one.com. Why? I have used one.com for a number of years and they have never let me down. Plus the price is very cheap.
If you just want to set up a basic website, then you can choose their starter package. They offer the first year of hosting free. So all you pay for the first 12 months is the set-up fee, which costs £9 + VAT.
This is very cheap. But it gets better! If you sign-up using this link, then you get a £5 discount. This means for your first year, your website will cost less than £5. Any table tennis club can afford this.
The price after the first year will increase, but again it’s perfectly affordable – around £25 per year.
When choosing a domain name, keep it simple. Choose a domain name which includes the name of the club, e.g. www.brightontabletennisclub.co.uk. Some clubs abbreviate ‘table tennis club’ to keep the domain name shorter, e.g. www.fusionttc.co.uk – this is fine also.
Step 2 – Select a website platform
The next step is to select which software you want to use to build your website. One.com actually has a ‘website builder’ tool you can use once you have signed up. It looks fairly easy to use, but I have never tried it.
I prefer to use Wordpress. This is a popular website tool, used by millions of people and companies. It can be used for setting up a very basic website or something much more advanced. And the best thing? It’s free.
When you sign-up for one.com, there is an option in the control panel to install Wordpress. Just follow the short instructions and you should have a blank website set up in about 5-10 minutes.
Step 3 – Designing your website
The great thing about Wordpress is that there are thousands of ready-made designs (called themes) to choose from. You can take a look at the most popular themes on the Wordpess website.
Every theme gives you options to customise the design. So if you want to change the layout or colours, it’s very easy to do.
To install a theme on your website, sign in to your wordpress admin area, go to ‘Appearance’ and then select ‘Themes’. From here you can install the new themes and you will have a beautiful looking website.
There’s so much you can do with Wordpress. I’m not going to attempt to cover it in this blog. There are lots of great resources out there to help you make the most of Wordpress. Two good websites are www.wpbeginner.com and www.wpmadesimple.org.
What content should you put on your website?
People can be put-off by the idea of creating a website because the they think it takes a lot of effort to maintain. In reality, maintaining a small table tennis club website doesn’t have to be a burden. All you really need is a few pages with basic information.
Make sure you include the following content:
- The location of the club, including the full address and postcode. Include specific directions if the club is difficult to find.
- Opening and closing times
- How much it costs to attend and membership details (if relevant)
- The number of table tennis tables available
- Who the club is for, i.e. juniors, adults, beginner / intermediate / advanced players (or everyone)
- Dates of any special events (training days, competitions etc)
- Contact details if someone has further questions
This is pretty much all you need for a basic website. This could just be one web page or you could split content in to 5 or 6 different web pages. And since this content isn’t likely to change very often, the website won’t be time-consuming to maintain.
Take a look at the website I set up for Cambridge-Parkside Table Tennis club. It’s not a brilliant website. It just contains basic information. But that’s all we need. It took a very short time to set and write the content. I’ve only had to make a couple of small changes over the past year. It’s been no burden at all.
Promoting your website
When you have set up your website, you do need to do a little bit of promotion. Again, don’t feel as though you to do loads.
In my experience, the most effective (and cheapest) way to get people to visit your website is to try and get it to appear high in the search results of Google for relevant searches. So if your club is in Manchester, ideally you want it to appear on the first page of results when somebody searches something like ‘manchester table tennis’ or ‘table tennis clubs in manchester’.
There probably isn’t that many table tennis clubs in any one location, so getting near the top of search results shouldn’t be that difficult.
All you need to do is ask a few relevant websites to link to your website. For example, if there is a local league website, ask them to put a link to your new club website. Google will then start indexing your website and gradually you will start featuring in the search results. This can take a little while (4-20 weeks). But if you get more websites linking to you, the process should be quicker.
This is all we did for Cambridge-Parkisde Table Tennis Club. The website now appears on the first page of results when you search for ‘cambridge table tennis’’ in Google. Guess what? Our club has loads of players and new people joining all the time. We haven’t done any other promotion.
Hopefully I have shown that setting up a website for your table tennis club is a great thing to do if you want to attract new members. It doesn’t cost much money and it really doesn’t take much time.
If your club doesn’t have a website, I encourage you to set one up. Even a one-page website is better than nothing.
If you would like any further website advice or suggestions, please feel free to contact me.