In a perfect world, we’d all have large media teams working for our church. They would continually come up with great ideas for our website, videos and audio, and be able to throw everything together in a pinch.
They would be awesome.
For most of us, this just isn’t the case. We’re the media team. We have the ideas. And we look for the best guidance on how to implement them the best we can. Some of us have technical experience, others just a willingness to build up the church body and proclaim the message. And that’s all it takes to do some pretty great things.
For us, podcasting offers a simple way to publish sermons online as resources for our congregations and potential visitors — without a media team.
But creating and growing a podcast are two separate things. Here are three best practices for growing your podcast on a budget.
1. Create a Sermon Page on Your Website
Along with information about your church — your mission, your community and service times — your sermons say a lot about you. Creating a space where they can be presented and listened to is a great way to build an audience online.
Like all spaces of a website, consider a few things before setting up this important page. Can the sermons be organized in a logical way — by date, speaker, series, topic or book of the Bible? Do you have the time each week to write a short description for each sermon and embed a single player with the audio?
Just as signs in a church help visitors feel more comfortable, your sermon page should make it easy for a visitor to listen, return later on or share the page with a friend.
2. Publish in iTunes
Publishing your podcast in iTunes does two major things to help it grow. First, it places your sermons in front of a much larger audience. Second, it allows listeners to subscribe and receive automatic updates.
But the best part of publishing in iTunes is it’s free and really easy. In fact, most podcast hosting services do all the hard work to create and maintain your podcast’s RSS feed, which is exactly what you need when publishing in iTunes.
Armed with your RSS feed url, you only need to go to iTunes and submit the feed. After that, you don’t have to think about it again. For some best practices, you can find a great beginner’s resource here.
3. Tell Everyone
Just because your sermons are published on your website and in iTunes doesn’t mean your congregation knows about them. You may be surprised at the number of people who wouldn’t think to look for your sermons online.
“Tell everyone” isn’t just an encouragement to put something on Facebook or Twitter, it’s more than that. It’s about sharing the news that your archive of sermons is available online for free.
To do this, you may have to think a little more traditionally. A simple preservice slide, announcement or note in a bulletin is a great way to let your congregation know your sermons are available as a resource throughout the week. Encourage them to listen and share if they feel someone else could benefit from the message.