We're so glad you're considering running for office! This guide aims to give you a quick overview of what you need to get done asap to lay the groundwork for your digital presence.
Step 1: Own your name
- Buy web domains with your name. Ragtag's go-to for searching for domain names is Namecheap.com. Put your name in the big search box, and see what comes up. If you can get yourname.com, yourname.org, or yournameforyouroffice.com or .org for under about $15, you should just do it.
- If it is more than about $15 it might be worth checking for a better deal on other domain name registration sites, like www.domains.google.com or www.gandi.net.
- Why is this so important? Two reasons. One, you want your potential supporters to be able to find information about you in the easiest way possible. Owning yourname.com is the best way to do that. The second reason is so that your opponent doesn't buy your domain. If your opponent buys yourname.com and puts smear ads on it, there's nothing you can really do about it. So prevention is key here.
- The same goes for Twitter. Go to twitter.com and create a Twitter account with your name and/or the office you're running for. Don't let anyone else own that!
Step 2: Set up a campaign email address
- Set up an email address for your work with your campaign. It is very important for you to keep your personal emails separate from your campaign emails. Same goes for Google Docs accounts.
- You can get an email address for free from Gmail or Outlook if you like, by making an email account called firstname.lastname@example.org.
- An even better approach is to pay for professional email from Google or Microsoft. Both are accessible entirely online, and cost about $5 per email address per month.
- BONUS: if you use Google's G Suite, you get all the Google apps you know and love, but with more centralized access control, so you know YOU are the one who owns and controls ALL the Google docs.
- Remember: Don't mix personal and campaign accounts. Just don't.
Step 3: Get a basic web page up at your domain
- Make sure it includes your name, the office you're running for, a way to donate, and a way for people to sign up for your list.
- Squarespace is an excellent place to set up a professional-looking "cover page" with buttons linking to donations and a built in sign-up form. It can be a pretty great platform for building out a more complete website, and you can even integrate with your G Suite account!
- If you need some help, check out Ragtag's Web Squads program. Ragtag volunteers can help you get a campaign website up and running.
- Keep in mind that if you are using NGP, you may have a built-in website builder. Be sure to check it out!
- There are several other easy website builders available. Just make sure that your final site doesn't have obvious branding on it, other than your own campaign's.
Step 4: Set up a Facebook page for your campaign
- You can connect with a lot of potential voters on Facebook. Candidate should create a "Page" for the campaign, which is different from a personal "Profile." For information about how to do that, see Facebook's guide for Politics and Government.
- Make sure to connect your Facebook Page with your website to build up your overall web presence.
Step 5: Get ready for emails!
- In addition to a campaign email account, you're going to need a mailing list tool. Mailing list tools allow you to email more people at once than a regular email account will. This ensures that your emails will actually get to your supporters and donors, and won't be bounced back. This also lets you email all your donors at once, while keeping their email addresses private.
- For really excellent, well-designed, and inexpensive bulk emails, you can use Mailchimp. Constant Contact is another popular choice. If you just want simple, straightforward, and super cheap emails, you should also take a close look at Google Groups.
- Once you've declared, make sure to set up your BallotPedia page.