Podcasting Church 101209

I’ve had an idea for a book in my head for a few years now. Since there is was a challenge afoot, I started, November 2, 2010, to write that book. This blog will contain the very rough draft and I hope I’ll get a chunk of it out this month. No guarantee I’ll write everyday, but I hope this won’t be the last entry.

Streamable, Downloadable, and Playable

Large media companies want you consume their media on their terms. This makes sense. They’re trying to make money so if you download a copy that they don’t have advertisements in, didn’t sell you, or haven’t somehow monetized, they don’t make money and they can’t make more.

Podcasting is different. Like the Good News itself, you want to spread your message. Most people will subscribe to the podcast and automatically download it. Why wouldn’t they? Once subscribed, you can get the media automatically and it’s free.

Everyone doesn’t consume media this way, though. If you’re not making money by making sure that people consume your media only the way you want, it’s better to create opportunities for people to listen or watch.

Each time you put up a podcast, make sure you put a direct link for people to download and play it from the site. Some people will want to visit your site weekly. They’ll want to see what blog entries you’ve added and listen to your podcast in the background while they do other work. That’s fine. That’s another audience member you have listening to your message.

There are two ways to do this. A simple link provides something that’s playable and downloadable. You can improve that, though. For example, there are audio player plug-ins for WordPress that embed a player on your site for each podcast. A single click causes the audio to play without leaving the other content of the site. The plug-in that I used initially–PodPress isn’t currently in development. Wizzard Media, owners of Libsyn, have released a player plug-in that suits this purpose perfectly.

Some podcasters provide a live video stream of their recording. Whether you are recording an interactive show or not, this can build energy and buzz for your show. This appeals to the same people that love watching the DVD extras of how a movie is made. Someone watching the recording sees your mistakes and starts to feel like a bit of an insider.

If you record on a regular schedule, publicize this and your fans will start to tune in to see what you’re doing. Sometimes they’ll tweet you or interact with you to help you out. If you can’t remember a fact, they’ll help you remember.

You can do this very inexpensively using sites like Ustream.tv, Justin.tv, and Stick.am. Even if you just take a single camera and put it in the corner of your studio, this provides a unique perspective. To netcast the live recording, just sign up for a free account with one of these services and connect your camera to your computer (with usb or firewire) and follow their instructions.

If you record the video locally, you can upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, and the like. In fact, if you don’t want to stream live, you can actually record directly into YouTube. The advantage of doing this is that you leverage the audience of people who are on YouTube and might stumble on your media where they otherwise wouldn’t.

More and more people want to have the ability to consume media not only on portable devices and their computers, but also on their tvs. Devices like the Roku, AppleTV, GoogleTV and even XBox 360 are making this easier and easier to do. The advantage is this puts small content producers on par with and often greater than large producers.

As a small producer, I’d be ecstatic if 3000 people watched my shows. If I made a few hundred dollars each show, I’d make great money. A high-budget television show needs to make as much money as possible to support shows that cost multiple millions of dollars, so they want to encourage people to watch television shows through traditional means that pay more for each viewer than web delivery does. Since this is the case, all the major American networks are now blocking people from watching their media on televisions from the internet. I understand their perspective, but it provides an opportunity for us small guys.

In general, try and make your media available the most places you can in the most formats that you can. Include as many links to the source as possible and do everything you can to get the most people to listen to the great message we all share–that God wants to forgive and love, not judge and condemn you.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. has been a tech volunteer with Lexington City Church (formerly Quest Community Church) in Lexington, KY since 2000 and is the founder of TrinityDigitalMedia.com, llc. He became part of the technology in ministry team when his church’s attendance was around 200 in one Sunday service and has witnessed it’s growth to a peak of 5,200 average weekly attendance in one Saturday service, four Sunday services in one online and two physical campuses. He literally wrote the book on podcasting in churches, twitter in churches, & servant-hearted volunteering, as well as writing various articles for publications like “Church Production” and “Technologies for Worship” magazines. He has thousands of members of his ProPresenter Users' Group on Facebook and thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel.