We live in a technological age and consume media, teaching and entertainment through a variety of means. In recent years Podcasts have grown rapidly in popularity.
Podcasts are versatile and can cater to various needs. They provide a backdrop of stimulating content for busy hands, or act as engaging lectures for focused learning. Churches generate valuable content that benefits not just their members but the wider community too. However, this content often fails to reach its intended audience due to limited distribution channels.
Creating a podcast is an excellent solution, especially if sermon recordings or daily thoughts are already being produced. This provides church members and the broader community access to important content on familiar platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Podcasts etc.
The added advantage of podcasts is they house all recordings in one public space for easy access rather than hidden away from local communities. A link on the church’s website could direct people towards it easily. Here is a Process to follow, a Platform to utilise and some pitfalls to avoid when starting a church podcast:
A Process to Follow
Phase 1: Exploration
- I think it’s important to spend a little bit of time considering whether the effort and time involved in podcasting will generate the results you’re hoping for.
- That consideration will also guide the kind of podcast you create and the subjects/conversations you cover.
- It is also important that you consider what ‘success’ looks like for the podcast. Is it the number of listens or length of listens or some other metric. This will help in the review phase.
Phase 2: Experimentation
- Set up a temporary account with podcasting platform (more on that below) – Try and find user-friendly free platform for creating and distributing podcasts, like Spotify for Podcasters.
- Have a play around with recording and creating episodes, knowing that nobody will come across the temporary podcast. The account exists as a playground for you to learn the platform and experiment with creating a compelling podcast format, so be creative!
- You could share a short podcast from this account with someone you trust to give you honest feedback.
Phase 3: Invest
- If you think that you want to proceed, you can create your full account. You can download the audio files from the temporary account or delete the account completely, but it is better to make a clean break and everything on the account be in the format you have decided to take forward.
- You may want to invest in some good sound equipment so that the podcast sounds professional and voices are can be heard clearly. There’s nothing worse than low audio quality when listening to a podcast.
- Start creating! You could try to get into a weekly or semi-regular content creation rhythm or from time to time you could ‘batch record’ and upload slowly over time. It’s up to you and what suits your time best.
Phase 4: Review
- Is the podcast a ‘success’? Is it doing what you hoped it would? What has worked well? What has not worked well? What have you learnt? How has it been received? Is is being engaged with beyond the members of the church?
- What actions can you take in the future? Should the podcast stop, continue, change?
- There are lots of important questions to ask as you reflect on how the podcast serves the wider mission of the church and the use of your time.
A Platform to Utilise
There are a few choices of platform to consider when starting a church podcast. A pocasting platform should be a free user-friendly website or app for creating and distributing podcasts. Spotify for Podcasters has a great reputation amongst Podcasters and has recently made some significant updates that make it easier than ever to record content. Here’s what they say about themselves:
“Spotify for Podcasters, formerly known as Anchor, is the easiest way to create and share your podcast. Create your podcast using the recorder, distribute it to your favorite listening platforms, grow your audience, and earn money for your episodes—all from your phone or tablet, for free.”
The platform is free and can be setup in 5 minutes via your smartphone. Why not give it a go?
Pitfalls to Avoid
Avoid starting without thinking about the purpose of the podcast. What do you hope to achieve with your podcast? Do you want to reach a wider audience? Build community? Share your mission and values? Once you know your purpose, you can start to develop a content strategy.
You’re not the BBC but that’s no reason to not give it a go. You don’t need to have a fancy studio or expensive equipment to start a podcast. In fact, you can start with just a smartphone and a microphone. The most important thing is to focus on creating high-quality content.
Avoid being inconsistent. The best way to build an audience for your podcast is to release new episodes on a regular basis. This could be weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. Once you find a schedule that works for you, stick to it.
Don’t forget to promote your podcast. Once you have some episodes released, don’t forget to promote your podcast. Share it on your church’s website, social media, and email list. You can also submit your podcast to podcast directories like Apple and google Podcasts.
Inspiration from the St Matthews Carver Street Podcast
Here to Help…
Creating compelling content is part of the ongoing life of the church. We have good news to share and demonstrate. Podcasting can help to share our stories, widen the conversations we’re having and make the life and joy of the church more accessible to those in our community.
Elliot Hyliger is the Diocese of Sheffield’s Digital Mission Development Advisor and is ready to help you to think these things through.
Regardless of you experience of podcasts, support will always begin with a conversation. Get in touch with Elliot today.