If you haven’t listened to Serial yet, it might be worth looking into. Since its release in 2014, podcasting is enjoying what some have called the 2014 Podcast Renaissance. This American Life, RadioLab, and more are drawing thousands into the podcasting fold every week. And it shouldn’t be that surprising considering how many of us rely on our smartphones and tablets more than any other device to bring us our audio content.
Podcasting has been around for a while, and it may be something you’ve considered in the past as a way to broadcast your sermons. It’s a great way to reach church members who might not be available every Sunday morning, or for new visitors to preview your teaching. Many listeners don’t have the time to sit in front of a computer to watch a sermon, but they can always listen during the commute to work, as they exercise, or run errands.
Despite these benefits, getting started hasn’t always been easy. Cost effective options for producing a podcasting feed used to be scarce or simply unwieldy. Even if you have the audio on hand, and still burn CDs for your homebound community, trying to wade through the process of creating and maintaining a podcast RSS feed has never been for the faint of heart or those without some kind of tech savvy.
Fortunately, with the growing popularity of podcasting in the past two years, that landscape is rapidly changing. You may be in the right place to start podcasting now!
What is your Budget?
As you plan for a new podcast, budget should be the first thing to consider. The larger your budget, the more options you’ll have in choosing a hosting service to share your audio from. Free podcasting is always possible, but paid services take on a lot of the leg work for you, especially if you’re not so comfortable with the technical side.
Podcasting is also a great place to start if you’ve considered livestreaming or recording video of your sermons. Good cameras and streaming services can be pricy, and come with a robust weekly commitment. For small churches with small budgets, all you need to get started in podcasting is the audio files of your sermons and a place to host them. From there, you can see if streaming and podcasting fit your church. Keep in mind that not every podcasting service will support both video and audio should you decide to make the move. Be sure to research your options and learn what services each company offers.
Where to Start Looking?
If you’re budgeting for a podcasting service, the good news is that you have a lot of options that are affordable. Sermon.net is specifically built for podcasting for your church and it’s ministries. Their free account is a great way to test the waters. Podbean, Libsyn, and Blubrry are other services with various pricing options. You can even podcast from Soundcloud, but they may be more expensive and involve more know how to make sure your feed gets distributed properly to places like iTunes and Stitcher.
You may be ambitious enough to try podcasting on your own, and fortunately, that’s becoming easier as well. Many podcasters host their content through WordPress blogs, and use Blubrry’s free plugin to generate a feed for podcasting. Blubrry even has a great forum to help you troubleshoot any problems or answer any questions. Blogger doesn’t always look as pretty, but it’s very functional if you just need a source for your audio feed. I recommend this tutorial to walk you through the process step by step. Many other website services give you the ability to podcast with them, but they may often require you to be a premium or a paid user first. This could factor into your budget costs and is important to consider.
Finally, once you’ve uploaded your files, be sure to research how you plan to share your audio with your listeners. While Sermon.net has it’s own app to deliver your podcasts to anyone who downloads that app, most smart phone users are more familiar with apps like iTunes for Apple, or Stitcher for Android. For listeners who already use these apps regularly, adding your podcast to the feed they check every day is just a quick search away.
Podcasting is no longer difficult or impractical. With the recent explosion of podcasting popularity, now is the time to start looking again. Your ministry may be ready to take the next step!