Do you have an outdated league website that you want to improve? Or need to create a sports website for your organization from scratch?
A website can be an effective way for your sports organization to promote your teams, register players, manage payments, and communicate throughout your season.
Follow these five tips to build a website for your youth sports teams next season.
As a volunteer you need to make sure that your website builder is simple and easy to use. Don't take on too much work by creating extra moving parts or by trying to learn a complex system.
Don't let this be you. Find an easy system to build and manage your sports website.
Websites shouldn't require any "techy" skills or require a manual. Many modern website builders just require a computer and an internet connection. If you can send emails or post on Facebook, you can probably manage a simple website.
Updating your website can be a breeze. No need to be intimidated.
You'll also want to try to find a website that you can update on a phone so you don't have to be at a computer to make changes. If you need to cancel games and you're on the go and don't have access to a computer, you'll want to be able to post updates to your website quickly from your phone.
Getting a domain name (like www.yoursportsorganization.com) is critical if you've never had a website before.
Domains are generally inexpensive (between $10 and $20 per year), and some website providers include a domain name when you sign up.
You can also transfer domain names between websites. So if your organization has an old website, it's generally easy to keep that same domain name if you decide to switch to a new website builder.
It's important when people land on your website that they can easily learn about your organization. You should include information about your staff and coaches so parents or community members know who manages the organization.
Listing staff profiles, organization accomplishments, community involvement, and photo albums from previous seasons are a great way to build trust with people learning about your organization or registering for the first time.
A few things you can include on your Homepage or "About Us" section are:
The year your organization was founded.
The communities you serve and locations of events.
Other important information like age groups, seasons you play, volunteer requirements, and liability waivers.
Building out more content on your website will also make your site show up in more Google Search Results. You want to make sure that when people search things like "youth sports (insert your community)" that your site is easy to find in the search results.
Including more content about your organization, the sport(s) you participate in, and your location is critical to help Google "find" your website when people are searching.
Need more tips on getting your website on Google? Learn more here: How to get your Sports Organization's Website in Google Results
Registering players and collecting payments efficiently is one of your most important roles as a volunteer. It's critical that parents and community members can quickly fill out a form and pay on your website.
At least 80% of people prefer to pay with credit or debit card as opposed to cash/check, and that number will only continue to rise as millennial parents begin to register their kids for sports.
Parents prefer to use a card because it’s more secure than writing a check, they can monitor and keep track online, and it’s convenient. As a sports organization offering online payment and registration can save you dozens of hours of work, trips to the bank, and mounds of paper forms.
Make registration and online payment easy, and you'll see participation increase at your organization next season.
The good news is registering players online, collecting credit card, debit card, and other payment methods has become much easier over the past few years. Online systems also allow you to view, sort, and manage player information easily.
Finding sponsors and recruiting new volunteers can be the most painful tasks if you manage a league or club. You should be using your website to reduce workload and list all of your sponsor information and volunteer requirements.
Raising money and budgeting for your season can be one of the biggest challenges as a coach or administrator. Most organizations run on tight budgets and player registration fees need to cover the costs of equipment, uniforms, facility rentals, and anything else you need for your season.
Posting your sponsors with logos and website links can help create encourage more companies to sponsor your teams.
Seeking out new sponsors each year can increase your funding. Traditionally signs at your facility or logos on uniforms have been the most popular way to get sponsors involved in youth sports. Today, you should be taking advantage of your website as a key place to promote your sponsors.
How many volunteers does your organization need each year? Between coaches, board members, concession workers, banquet organizers, facility maintenance, and other roles you can never have too many volunteers.
Volunteer requirements should be clearly listed on the website, including any age requirements, how to register, necessary experience, and whether or not coaches are require to complete a background check.
The website can be used to inform and register new volunteers for your next season.
Your website should serve as the hub for registration, refund policies, schedules, and in-season communication. To turn your website into the "hub" for communication, you'll need to make sure to connect your social media accounts and send updates via text message to parents, coaches, and community members.
Is your organization using phone trees, social media, or email to get the word out about cancelled games, payment deadlines, and other important messages? Using text messaging to send out bulk messages to parents and coaches will be a much more effective way to reach everyone at your organization quickly.Text message open rates are as high as 98%, while only 20% of emails get opened.
Many text messaging systems can integrate with your website or registration system so that everything can be managed in one place.
The Communication Features on Jersey Watch allow you to send text messages to teams, age groups, or your entire organization with a few clicks.
Chances are your organization probably already has at least one social media account. If not, creating an account on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is a great way to get information out to the public. You can link to your social media accounts from your website so that parents can easily like, follow, and interact with one another.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be great places for non-profits to post photos, organize around a specific hashtag, and respond to questions.
Social media should be the "cherry on top", not the main focus of your organization's online presence. Not all parents or community members will be on social media, so it's critical to make sure you have a website with all relevant information as the main hub for your teams online.
Never set up a social media account for your organization before? Learn more below:
Learn to build, manage, and promote your website in this 5-minute video!
Remember, as a volunteer it's critical to not overcomplicate your role or put too much work on your plate. Keep things simple and focus on making registration, payments, and communication quick and easy before and during your season.
And don't wait until the last minute to get started. Spending some time updating your website getting it ready to go 6 months before your season starts is a great way to get your year off on the right foot.