Free Toastmasters Club Websites vs. Custom Websites

With WP4Toastmasters.com, your club can have a free website at an address like myclub.wp4toastmasters.com. That you can use for all the club marketing and meeting management/member management functions documented here.

Free Websites

Free websites are supported by advertising and free will donations (if you find the service really valuable, consider making a contribution to help sustain the project).

Still, free means free, and I’m not trying to bait-and-switch you into something that costs money.

There are some aspects of what I’m offering that cost money (see note below), so if the economics don’t quite add up … well, who knows? But I see no reason why I couldn’t continue to support the early adopters of this service indefinitely, or at a bare minimum give you plenty of notice if I find I’m bankrupting myself and have to make a change.

Your Own Domain

Right now, if you want to use this system but have it show up at your own independent domain (www.myclub.com), you’ll have to sign up for an independent hosting account (see custom websites, below).

One other possibility might be to register your own domain and have it forward to the wp4toastmasters.com subdomain. This would allow you to print your own domain on promotional literature or maybe use email associated with that domain, but have web visitors wind up here.

I do not currently support independent domains as part of the shared wp4toastmasters.com environment, although I may in the future. It’s technically possible in WordPress Multisite, but not a near term priority.

Custom Websites

If you would prefer to have a website at your own domain and/or have a club webmaster who wants to be able to paint outside the lines of what I provide on wp4toastmasters.com, that is something I charge for. There is also an open source version if you prefer to host elsewhere.

Preliminary / introductory pricing: $200 per year includes hosting with FTP access and all the facilities you’d have on any other website. I will keep you updated with current versions of the WordPress software and the cocktail of plugins that power WP4Toastmasters, which include my own RSVPMaker and some others that, for example, allow members to upload a photo of themselves to be displayed on their member profile. You will have the freedom to add other plugins and additional or customized themes (to change the look of the website).

The $200 per year does not include additional labor on my part such as adding features or customizing a theme to add your club logo. I’ll provide basic support and do my best to make it a good experience for you or your club, but if you’re requests get a little too fancy or involved I’ll have to quote you a price for additional work.

Domain registration is not included in that price. It’s better for you to have control and ownership over the domain anyway. Among other things, that gives you the control needed to move to another hosting provider if you’re unhappy with my service. You can purchase a domain for about $10 to $15 per year, sometimes less, from a firm such as GoDaddy or Register.com.

Project Expenses

This project ideally should earn enough through advertising and custom site hosting to cover my server expense, currently $140 per month with a planned upgrade that would take it to $200 per month ($2,400 per year).

If this project really starts to take off, I would probably want to invest in another $1,000 to $2,000 per year into security and performance upgrades. Eventually, if I were to host thousands of websites here, that cost would have to grow. I’m sharing this information to make it clear that even with the custom website charges and advertising, I will be fortunate to cover my costs and very lucky to make a small profit.

If I can prove the worth of this approach, I may eventually approach Toastmasters International for financial support of this project. The first step is to get at least a few hundred clubs up and running and successfully using this service.

My goal is to make this project self-sustaining, have fun with it, and make some friends along the way.

Developer and Designer Support

If you have WordPress programming or theme development skills you can contribute, please drop me a line at david@carrcommunications.com (include wp4toastmasters in the subject line).

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