The majority of ministers have families and bills and are leading small churches. A little bit of extra income could go a far way, am I right? Well here’s the thing: Pastors have a unique advantage over most others in today’s world when it comes to making a little bit of extra money from home.
Information is, as it always has been, a high commodity. The difference with today (from any other point in history) is that it has never been so easy to monetize information and generate a little extra income.
What makes this particularly advantageous for ministers is that researching, creating, and delivering information is what you do. In other words, the “product” is already in place and you already have a platform. All you have to do is learn to package and sell the “product.”
High profile ministers have done this for years. Think about Billy Graham. His books, sermons, crusades, are all available for sale. Think about David Platt who has a passion to tell people about the radical Gospel. So he wrote a book called Radical which you can buy. He also wrote a book called Follow Me recently. If you haven’t read that book, as a minister I urge you to pick it up. You can thank me later. Or think about John Piper, or David Jeremiah, or just about any of large Christian personality.
Some give away their extra profit while others rely on the profit to help support their families. But one thing is for sure: you shouldn’t feel guilty about selling the information you have, even if it’s gospel driven information.
For one thing, putting it together is work and Paul says that
“the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14)
For another, studies have shown that people who invest in something will take it more seriously. If someone invests money in a book you wrote or video you made, they will pay closer attention to the message. And that’s what you want. Not just to make extra money, but to impact lives.
But in today’s world, with the help of the internet and especially social media, you don’t need to work tirelessly in the hopes of landing a contract with a big publishing house or spend thousands of dollars to produce sellable DVD’s.
Here are four ways you can begin to start generating extra income today:
1. Sell a PDF from your website
Take a topical series you preached on. Put it all into one single document. Make sure to cross all of your “t’s” and dot all of your “i’s.” Get two or three people to read and re-read it, checking for typos and making sure you’ve properly referenced your sources. It doesn’t have to be professional, but it should be readable and people should know, for example, if you quote Max Lucado, where that quote came from.
Then save it as a PDF file. Next make it available on your website. Here’s how you can do that if you have a WordPress church website (by the way, I highly recommend you have a church themed WordPress website!). You can install a plugin called “Paid Download.” With that plugin you can upload your PDF e-book, set the price and then tell people about it. Simple as that.
2. Sell a PDF on Amazon’s Kindle
Nowadays’ you can easily turn your message series into an e-book to sell it on Amazon. Just follow all of the steps above, except rather than selling it on your website directly, sign up for Amazon’s Kindle program by going to “KDP Amazon.”
By the way I suggest you create a cover or get someone to create a cover for you. It’s really easy to do today. Here’s how I do it. Open up a PowerPoint presentation document. Use the geometric shapes to create your cover. Add a title, subtitle and your name. Select all of the elements and under “arrange” select “group.” Then right click on your cover (it should be one object now) and click “Save As Picture.” Give it a title and save it as a PNG file to your desktop. That’s all I did to create my book covers (see here or see my “Church Leaders Online” book in the top right).
3. Sell a physical book (that’s right, a real physical book)
Today you don’t need a contract or a lot of money to create and sell a physical book. In fact, I wrote a 56 page book on my first year of marriage, (called The Joys of Marriage) and got it published for free. Yup, you read that correct. And it’s available for sale on Amazon. And if I want to sell it in my church or around town, all I do is buy it at wholesale and then sell them for the retail value which I set. For example, my book cost me about $3 to buy and I sold them for $10 each. That’s right, each book only cost me about $3 to have printed and bound with no cost upfront!
All you have to do is create an account with CreateSpace. Then take your sermon series that you made into a PDF, upload it with your cover design, set a price and you’re done. The good thing about CreateSpace is that they are owned by Amazon. So when you allow them to create your book it will automatically be available for sale on Amazon and they will turn it into an e-book and make it available in the Kindle store for you too.
4. Sell video series and workbook
Today it is easier than ever to create and sell teaching videos. You can buy a decent camcorder for around $100. And you can buy an audio recorder for $100. By the way, I cannot stress enough the importance of good sound. We tried to skimp on the sound and figured video was enough, not so. To put it bluntly, without good sound your video will suck. I highly recommend you spend $100 on a ZOOM H1 audio recorder (if you buy it now on Amazon, you can save over $60! It’s regular $159, on sale for $99!) It’s what I use for my videos.
Now you have some options. You can burn your video series or course on to a DVD or you can make them available on your website for a price (people pay to access them through a specific webpage.) I suggest you do both. Additionally, if you create a video course, why not combine your video with a workbook. In other words, combine options 1, 2 and 3 above and sell you series DVD with a workbook for $37. It’ll only cost you about $7 to make.
So there you have it. Four great ways that you can begin to make a little bit of extra money online and in your community. By taking the material you’ve already created, packaging it and selling it. And as a huge bonus, you get to impact lives at the same time.
Question: If you have any questions about anything covered in this post, let me know in the comments section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
There is the question of who owns your sermon, you or the church you preached it at. This can be a grey area. According the a CT article, “Who Owns the Pastor’s Sermon?“, copyright laws tend to favour churches. My suggestion is that you do one of two things. You write a series or create a video that you do on your own time with your own resources and that you finalize and package for sale before it’s ever delivered to any church. That way you own the rights. Or you could come to an arrangement with your church to share some of the profits.
Yates and Yates, a law firm that represents high profile pastors/authors like David Platt says (according to the CT article):
His firm’s standard agreement recognizes that the pastor, as the creator, owns the intellectual property rights and has the right to determine copyright ownership. Who owns the pastor’s sermon depends on the agreement between the pastor and his church. Under Yates’s agreement, the pastor grants the church a royalty-free license to use his written or recorded material.
Christianity Today’s article has lots of helpful advice and suggestions. And nothing here detracts from the possibility of a pastor making extra income through the suggestions outlined in this post. Just make sure you own your sermon or series. Read the CT article here: Who Owns the Pastor’s Sermon?