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Nov
05

Sermon Podcasting Made Easy

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I’ve had a couple of requests that I do a tutorial for sermon podcasting, so I decided to jump ahead in the Building Rockin’ Church Web Sites series and do it. It seems like there’s enough interest to post a tutorial now instead of waiting for it to come up in the series … so I’ll make this the inaugural post.

Here is the easiest way I know of to create a sermon podcast using a blog …

Ingredients you’ll need to create a podcast your sermons:

  • Blog account – I’m using Blogger in this example, but you could use just about any popular program, including WordPress or TypePad. In fact if you’ve already got a blog, and don’t mind using your blog to podcast your sermons, you’re a step ahead.
  • Feedburner account — They don’t just “burn” feeds, they also do podcasts too! Automated, easy, and free. Just the way I like it! Feedburner does all the heavy lifting. No coding needed!
  • Your sermons in MP3 format — The free software Audacity is best way to get your sermons into MP3 format. If you’re a small church and don’t have access to equip that can automate this for you, go buy a cheap digital recorder (I use an Olympus one similar to this one: Olympus WS-300M 256 MB Digital Voice Recorder) and a mic (like this one Microphone, ME-15) and record your sermons digitally.
  • Web site to upload sermon audio files – Your sermons have to be uploaded to the Internet somewhere, go get a free account at SermonCloud, OurMedia, or Odeo, if you don’t have a Web site hosting account. If you’re needing a site in general, I’ve got hosting plans too.

Now that you’ve got those ingredients in place … here are the simple steps to sermon podcasting with a blog:

1. Go to: Blogger.com and sign up for an account and create a new blog. This can be a blog specifically for your sermons, but it doesn’t have to be. As I mentioned earlier, you can also use your existing blog, where you post written things too. For this example, I created one titled Church Podcasting Made Easy for this tutorial to show you how it could look.

2. Now, upload an MP3 sermon from last Sunday onto your church’s Web site. In my case, I already had a sermon on my personal site. Once you’ve done that … copy the link location. In my case, it looks like this:

http://www.corymiller.com/Sermons/CJM_LivingLikeaMissionary.mp3

3. Once you’ve uploaded the sermon and copied the link location, you’ll need to “Create a New Post” on your sermon blog
… give it a headline like: “Living Like a Missionary” … and in the body of the post, type a description, then something like “Download now,” or “Sermon MP3 here” and link it to the MP3 file location you just uploaded and copied.

See my example here:

http://churchpodcastingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/2006/11/living-like-missionary-by-cory-miller.html

Hint: If you want to use your blog as both a place to easily podcast your sermons, but also to write things, add a little flavor when posting your sermons and put in your sermon outline or something to give your readers a feel for what the sermon is about. It’s the Internet version of a Bulletin sermon outline. :-)

4. Once you’re done, Publish your post.

5. Now, find the blog’s site feed and copy the link location for that. We’re going to FeedBurner now.

For this blog illustration, my site feed is:

http://churchpodcastingmadeeasy.blogspot.com/atom.xml

In Blogger, this is located in the “Settings” tab and then “Site Feed” sub-tab.

6. Go to Feedburner and paste your site feed location into the feed form provided, check the box “I am a podcaster,” then push “Next.”

[Note: Be sure you click the checkbox "I am a podcaster." It sets everything up for you that way.]

You’ll go through a couple more windows and steps and I just want to comment on some of them as they may matter.

Go through the windows and click “Next.”

One of the steps includes configuring your podcast and optimizing it for iTunes. Here you’ll want to be sure and click the category “Religion & Spirituality” (if you’re a pastor of course) … then the subcategory “Christianity.” Also, make sure and fill out the “podcast description” and “podcast search keywords.” You’ll want to push the church name and items specific to your audience. Once you’re done, click “Next” again.

On the window about traffic statistics, I’d click on “Clickthroughs” and “Item enclosure downloads” (both are free services but unchecked by default when I went through). This just allows you to see who’s downloading and how many. I’d do it, it’s free afterall!

Now, you’re podcast is setup in Feedburner. See how this looks for my illustration blog.

But there’s a couple more steps you’ll wan to do to “Publicize” your podcast.

7. In Feedburner, click on the “Publicize” tab. Then click on the “Chickleft Chooser” in the left sidebar. This is that neat little orange button that looks like this . People push on that orange button and are able to subscribe to your podcast.

I choose a big orange button for this illustration. Once you choose what button to use, scroll down and copy the HTML code provided at the bottom of that page. We’ll need to paste that into the template of your blog, usually in the sidebar, so it will show up on your blog and people can easily subscribe to your podcast.

8. Now, go back to Blogger, or you blog and paste that code into the sidebar of your blog’s template, or wherever you want your readers to see that you’ve got a podcast. And republish your blog so the new button and code are “live.”

Viola! You’re done. You’re now a podcasting pastor!

Just a couple more tips and comments: By the way, be sure and tell your readers that you’ve got a podcast. Explain what that orange button is. All they have to do is click on that orange button and subscribe via iTunes or their favorite podcasting program.

Also, one great Feedburner feature is the Headlines Animator … it gives you a neat automated and animated graphic that you can use on your blog site or even in your email sginature to tell people you’ve got sermons available in podcast.

Using Feedburner is the easiest way I’ve found … there’s no coding involved … just clicking!

[Check out the digital sermon recording kit that's perfect for getting a sermon podcast going here.]


 
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Comments

  1. micah says:

    You rock man! Our church’s is finally setup. That was exactly what I needed! Thanks!

  2. Jason Curlee says:

    Cory…as always so wonderfully helpful…wish I would have had you about 3 weeks ago when I was figuring it all out on my own…you took us through the steps and it was very easy to follow.

    We started podcasting our youth ministry sermons two weeks ago.

    I use audacity to record and for editing as well … check out http://jaycurlee.blogspot.com/2006/11/elevate-podcast-2.html to see how we edited it all into a show…we used royaty free music which I downloaded off the internet.

    I uploaded to ourmedia which was pretty simple to do. Blogger for my blog host. And feedburner for my feeds…

  3. Chad says:

    Good evening. I have searched and searched and I cannot figure out how to make out webpage a podcast. There is no problem for those who don’t mind manually downloading the MP3s. However, how do I set it up so that someone can automatically download newly available messages? Help me, I am lost!

    Chad

  4. Cory Miller says:

    Chad, follow these steps in the post … it’s that easy. Follow the steps, set up a free blog and let Feedburner do the rest.

  5. David Butler says:

    Hey:

    Thanks for the podcasting tips. I have recently implemented a Christian Podcast, and am about to start my own weekly program using your ideas…

    God Bless,

    David

  6. Laura says:

    Thanks man, I don’t think it could have been explained more clearly. That was awesome.

  7. Cory,

    Awesome article! I wanted to let you know about Gabcast (http://www.gabcast.com/). For those withour a digital recorder, you can record anything over the phone and the site will convert it to an mp3 which you can link to or download.

    Thanks,
    George

  8. [...] If you haven’t yet heard of Cory’s blog, Church Communications Pro, you must not read Micah Fries’ blog. Corey will get you up to speed on all things technical. My favorite post so far is his primer on how to podcast your sermons. Good stuff. [...]

  9. Mike Morris says:

    Thanks for the great article. I have been working through a very similar tutorial here on my blog. Thanks for the great site. I look forward to reading it each week.

  10. Mark B. says:

    The church I attend records onto CD and then I take them and compress them into mp3s at home and upload them. Unfortunately, the original quality isn’t great on the CDs and when compressing them I try to keep the size down so I compress them pretty hard. The hour long sermons generally turn out to weigh in at around 8MB.

    The sound is ok for spoken word but the level seems too low when I lower the bitrate of the mp3.

    Do you have any advice on compression settings to keep the downloads small and quick?

    On an unrelated note, I see you use WordPress. I wrote a plugin for it if you’d like to check it out:
    http://www.imaginekitty.com/bible-tags-v2

  11. Brook Drumm says:

    There is an easier way (shameless plug coming). I have been doing it the hard way for 2 years… the same way you described… Then I got sick of it and built http://www.portablesermons.com

    Upload, title, done. We do the rest. It is now THE EASIEST way to podcast your sermon… oh, and 1 a week is FREE!

    -Brook Drumm

  12. Cory Miller says:

    Brook, yeah … but this way is FREE …

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