Podcasts are one of the fastest growing areas of communication today, primarily because our mobile phones enable us to listen to them while driving, working out, cooking, or doing chores around the house. Without any real budget, and with almost no experience, you can podcast for free. As a 2018 study reported:
Podcasting continues to steadily grow, as 44 percent of Americans 12+ now say they have listened to a podcast, up from 40 percent from last year. Podcasting’s in-car gains continue as well: a year ago, 18 percent of podcast listeners described the car as the place they most often listened to podcasts; this year, that number is 22 percent.
Podcasts (a general term for messages shared in audio format) are great ministry tools, particularly when you think beyond sharing the weekly sermon from your church. Sharing sermons via your website and other social media channels is foundational and built into many church website software programs, but there are many other uses for podcasts, particularly if we think of them as simply a verbal message of any length we want to share. Youth leaders could have a series of short studies with applications and announcements. Ministry leaders could share devotional thoughts, challenges, and motivational messages. The children’s pastor could do a series of encouragements for parents of toddlers or teenagers. The options are as endless.
Aren’t podcasts difficult to create?
They can be, just like any other communication can be. For printed communications, you can use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator combined with InDesign for the expensive, difficult way to create communications, or you can whip something out quickly and easily that will look just as good with MS Publisher or easier yet open a free template, modify and be done with it. No one knows or cares [about] how your communication piece was created. A piece that we may have spent hours to create and lots of money to produce will be glanced at, perhaps ignored, or perhaps posted on the refrigerator — and someone will attend an event that will change their eternity.
The impact of the communication piece isn’t the tool you use; it’s the message that’s primary. (That’s why years ago I switched from my design business creating communications for international Christian organizations and started teaching church communications that I switched from my high-end Mac, Photoshop, and PageMaker to a budget PC and MS Publisher, because that’s what most churches have and is easiest to use. The result is pretty much the same. If you’d like to see how true this is, check out, this sample I did a few years ago where I took an advertisement where Adobe was showing you how great they are and I copied the same thing in less than an hour in MS Publisher.)
The MS Publisher approach creating podcasts
It’s never the method, but always the message that is important. There is always an easier way to do things. When a new technology first becomes available often it comes via experts who have the budget and time to create a highly polished product.
But let’s get real: you don’t need the highest quality (however that is defined) in your podcasts because it’s not as if people listen to your podcasts in an acoustically perfect room with $500 headphones. Chances are the phone is on the counter while they are making dinner, or attached to an armband while running, or in the car while driving.
If you have a message to get out, you can just do it today with little to no cost and literally in less than an hour and have a finished podcast that will pop up on an app on your phone, just like the big-deal professionals do. I discovered this because though I’ve been playing around with podcasts for a long time, I recently discovered a system that makes things easier than ever.
You can do a Google search and find dozens of complex ways to do this. There are many, many resources on the web for doing a podcast and many of the creators would die of laughter or derision over what I’m sharing. But trust me, but this works.
The easiest, no cost, 5-minute way to create a podcast
What has revolutionized podcasting is an app from Anchor.fm. Download it and you can pick up your phone, record on your phone, and you have a podcast. It really is that simple. However, what I do takes a little more time and effort than that simple system, but still at a very small cost.
I realize this is a very brief summary, but I was so excited that it works I wanted to share it. I’ll have more on my website (and clear links to podcasts) about it, but many of you will be able to make it work with what I’m sharing now — it is just too easy and too much fun.
What I use:
There’s a free app — download that on your phone or go to the website and download it on your computer — on the site: http://anchor.fm
You can speak directly to the app on your phone or with a headset directly into the app on your desktop computer.
For recording, for many years I’ve used an inexpensive headset, the Logitech USB Headset H390 with Noise Cancelling Mic. It’s only twenty bucks and honestly, it works great. I’ve tried some of the fancy set-ups in the past, but this works, it’s cheap and easy. For quick, fast messages, perhaps a youth worker to kids or teens, a direct recording might work, but I make mistakes, I cough or want a drink of water, so I like to be able to edit my audio.
To do that, you record your audio first. If you have a Mac, Garage Band will work; on a PC you download the free Audacity software. There are lots of videos on YouTube for how to download and edit with it, but it’s very easy and with it, you produce an MP3 file. I’ll be doing instructional videos on it — but grab what you can for now.
Next, you open up the Anchor.fm site, create an account and then upload your audio file. The software will even help you create an image for your file and gives you the opportunity to monetize your podcast by setting up a system where people can donate to it.
It only takes a few minutes to do that. You save it and then, if you have the anchor app on your phone (available and free on all systems), just hit the app, go to listen. Type in your name or name of your show and wow! Your podcast appears. My experiment on this is “A Better Way for Church Communicators” by Yvon Prehn. Check it out and tell me what you think.
What’s even more exciting is within a few days they distribute to many other platforms. You can also download a link and put the podcast on your website.
Technology is always surprising us with incredible new tools for sharing our faith. Sometimes the tools are costly and difficult when they first come out, but often they go down in price, often to free and become much easier to use. That’s what happened with Podcasting and I’m excited to see how many use it for the sake of the Kingdom (and lots of fun also!).