These are some of the favorite tools that I use to produce the Engaging Missions Show and to keep everything running.
Please note that some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you like what you see and make a purchase with those links, you'll be helping support the show.
Tools for your online presence
To connect with people and share your message online, you'll want to build up the following resources:
- A strong website
- An email list
- Active social media accounts
Below are some of the tools and resources I use to build and host websites, produce the podcast, send emails, and produce the Engaging Missions Show.
A strong website is a single place that you can send people to find out more about you. And if a social media platform is like building a house on rented land, having your own website is more like owning the land it's built on.
WordPress is the #1 website publishing platform on the internet. It's powerful, flexibile, and has thousands of free and paid plugins and themes available. You'll have nearly endless flexibility to tweak your website.
Bluehost is my hands-down recommendation for a self-hosted WordPress website. I use them for the Engaging Missions Show and for several other websites that I manage. Using their shared hosting plan, you can get a website up and running for less than $6 per month (USD).
- Squarespace – If you'd like to have a stunning website that the search engines like but you don't want the hassle of managing security and updates yourself, I recommend Squarespace. I don't use them myself but I know some people who do and really like them.
If you're sending emails to more than just close friends and family, you're going to want to use an email service provider that specializes in sending bulk email. Not only does that put the power of email management in the hands of the people you're emailing, it also helps keep you legal with anti-spam laws (you do want that, right)?
Without question, I recommend MailChimp for nearly every person who is starting out. They are free for up to 1,500 subscribers. And their paid plans offer incredible power and flexibility, such as the ability to auto-schedule when the most people will actually see your email and automation tools to deliver special emails when people subscribe, click on links, etc.
They're the email service provider I've used for years. And I'm still using them.
Social Media Scheduling Tools
Scheduling social media posts throughout the day is a great way to connect with people and keep your account active throughout the day (and across time zones) without having to constantly interrupt your ministry activities.
- Coschedule – Coschedule is a very powerful premium publishing calendar that integrates directly with your WordPress website and social media accounts. Depending on the size of your ministry, you can select from options that are specially tailored towards individuals, small publishing teams, or large teams. I use this to schedule social media posts right in the WordPress editor when I'm working on blog posts and podcast episodes.
- Buffer – Buffer is a very powerful social media scheduling tool with both free and paid options. I use the free option.
- Hootsuite – Hootsuite is another powerful social media scheduling tool with free and premium options. One thing that differentiates it from other social media tools is the ability to listen by adding “streams” to your dashboard. These can help you meet new people and engage in powerful conversations.
- Tweet Jukebox – Tweet Jukebox is a Twitter-only tool that allows you to build up a library (or jukebox) of tweets that can be scheduled throughout the day. I use it to share powerful missions-related and leadership-focused quotes and insights as well as links to old posts.
Other Social Media Tools
I publish a new Engaging Missions podcast episode every week and I help publish the Foundational Missions Leadership Moment. As you might suspect, there are some specialized tools and services that I use to get it all done.
With a podcast, you have to host the audio (or video) files somewhere. While you might be able to load the files directly to your website server, that's not a great idea. Not only does it use up your storage space (and download bandwidth), but it can really slow down your website. In extreme cases, it might even get you kicked off your server.
Thankfully, there are some services that can serve up large audio and video files quickly, wherever your subscribers are.
- Libsyn – Libsyn is one of the most mature players in the podcast file hosting space. With plans as low as $5 per month, it's hard to go wrong. I use Libsyn to host the files for the Engaging Missions Show and Scott McClelland uses them for the Foundational Missions Leadership Moment.
- Blubrry – Blubrry is another great podcast file hosting company. I use their free plugin in conjunction with my podcast. They start out a little more expensive than Libsyn (with more storage space) but if you're looking for an all-in-one solution that integrates right into your WordPress website, Blubrry is my recommendation. And, you can use the promo code engage to get your first month of hosting for free.
Podcasting Plugins (WordPress)
These WordPress plugins are the easiest and most powerful way I've found to integrate a podcast into your WordPress website.
- Blubrry PowerPress – Created by Blubrry, this is one of the most widely-used podcasting plugins out there. And it's free!. It'll help you make sure that your feed to iTunes and Google Play Music (and other services) is clean and it makes it VERY easy to put an audio or video player right on the page. I use this with Engaging Missions.
- Simple Podcast Press – Simple Podcast Press is a premium WordPress plugin that not only adds a player to your page, but includes incredible features that help you connect with people, grow your email list, add clickable timestamps and tweets to your episode's show notes page, and much more. I use this with the Engaging Missions Show and so does Scott McClelland with the Foundational Missions Leadership Moment.
I recommend and use the following 3 microphones. All three are dual use – USB or XLR. That means they can be used by plugging directly into the USB port of a computer (or into an iPhone or iPad using the Apple Camera Kit) or into a standard XLR microphone audio cable with some other kind of mixing or recording device.
Not only do all 3 of these microphones work great, they each come with the USB and XLR cables you need, as well as a collapsible table-top microphone stand.
- Audio Technica ATR2100-USB (This mic is my primary recommendation. It comes with a warranty)
- Audio Technica AT2005USB
- Samson Q2U (This mic comes with headphones)
NOTE: If you want to use one of these by plugging into an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Pro, you'll need the Apple Camera Connection Kit.
If you want to discuss additional gear such as external recording devices, mixers, audio interfaces, high-end microphones, etc. please email email@example.com and I'll be glad to connect with you.
- Audacity (FREE, Mac, PC, Linux)
- GarageBand (included on new computers, Mac, iOS)
- TwistedWave ($80 – Mac, $10 – iOS)
Fixing Levels, Noise, id3 Tagging
Back Office Stuff
Software and tools to keep it all running.
Document Sharing and Collaboration Tools
- Google Apps – Email, documents, spreadsheets and more. All in the cloud. Sometimes I have coupon codes available for 20% off. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to see if I have one available for you.
- Dropbox – Online file storage and sharing.
Financial / Accounting
Fundraising & Partner Relations
- DonorElf (DonorElf is software that helps missionaries become fully funded and thoroughly engaged with their ministry partners.)
- Be a Fully Funded Missionary (Resource to help create and execute a plan for fundraising.)
- Relational Fundraising (Online course to help you raise funds.)
- The God Ask
- Coach Your Champions
Get a Free Book
IF you love the Engaging Missions Show, you'll want to check out these podcasts as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”