The Most Absolutely Definitive Guide To Starting A Podcast

You need to repackage your sermons as a podcast, if you’re not already.

Here are 3 reasons to podcast straight audio files:

  1. They don’t take up much space.

  2. You can download them and play them back on any device without a connection.

  3. Most people can't devote 45 minutes to a video of a sermon, but for 45 minutes while running or commuting they can devote 45 minutes of their ears.

Simon Sinek says start with why.

That’s your why. You’re already preaching every Sunday.

You need content on your otherwise dead church website.

You don’t need a tab for every ministry.

Plug in some heat map software from Crazy Egg or App Sumo. You’ll see most of your pages are dead, and the media page is the hot seat.

heat.png

So create/keep a media page and have clear contact/service information on every page.

That’s it - that's all you need on your website.

And you can do both with Squarespace.

NOTE: I’m not an affiliate - don’t worry. I’m a fan though, and this site is a Squarespace-powered site.

Let me show you how you can edit your podcast (as needed), upload your podcast, and get it onto iTunes if you’re already recording with your ministry.

And even if you’re not preaching from the pulpit every Sunday, here are the 3 steps you need to do.

1. Record your audio

If you already record your sermon audio every Sunday, then you’re fine - skip to part 2.

If you want to record a podcast in the traditional sense of the word, you will need a mic and a recording/editing software.

You can scrub through Amazon to find a quality mic and spend a good hour or so reading reviews.

(Note: I’ll give you my recommended workhorse mic below in the bonus section.)

If you know nothing about recording audio, you must appreciate this:

You get what you pay for.

Option 1: If you are broke as a joke and constantly praying “Lord, give us the money we need…” then two things:

a. Stop that prayer.

God is the provider of all things. Don’t forget that.

He is way more secure than your W2 check or your tithe bucket (whichever applies to you).

Pray instead “Lord, teach me to trust You when it comes to this podcasting gear. If it’s in Your will, please provide a way, and teach me to obey regardless.”

Savvy?

b. Use Blab.

Blab is pretty new.

I just learned of it at the end of January.

If you’re not shy about people watching you chat live, then give it a whirl. It’s free.

I’m not too sure about the quality of the audio though. I still recommend getting some gear and doing what you can to improve audio.

But if you’re eating gov’t cheese and living in a van down by the river, then you can use your phone, tablet, or computer and Blab.

Merci.

Total cost: $0.00 (apart from ordinary internet service).

Option 2: If all you have is $ for the Ecamm Call recorder, and you’re forced to use your hands-free earbuds, then use those.

You can sign up for a free Skype account.

If you’re already a user of Microsoft Office (OneDrive, Word, etc.) or Office 365 or whatever Gates and co. keep changing the name to, then you’re set with Skype.

They own it.

The basic account won’t hurt the ole wallet; did I mention free?

So for you penny-pinching ministries out there, you can rest easy.

Total cost: $29.99 (for Ecamm).

Option 3: Each of these options will build on the last option, so in addition to the Ecamm Call recorder and Skype, you need a

  • mic

  • something to hold the mic (gaff tape if you have to)

  • XLR cable (repurpose one from the music team if you have to - take them out for a boba tea to smooth things over afterwards)

  • recorder (for your audio)

You can get all four of the items on Amazon, Ebay, B&H photo, etc.

I’ll give you my recommended setup below in the bonus section at the end of this post. If you still need more info, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll sleep on the idea of building a painfully in-depth class for you.

This ministry is here for you.

Total cost: At least $29.99.

2. Upload Your Audio

I use Squarespace. I notice a lot of ministries do too.

It’s clean, simple, and your office admin can use it with its drag and drop structure.

It has setbacks, but not for a church ministry or a solo artist, both of which make up the Church Films audience.

Squarespace is perfect for either of you.

And if you want to learn a little bit of coding, that’s great because Squarespace allows its users to mess with coding, from HTML to CSS to javascript.

Bon appétit.

Now, you can use SoundCloud.

Or, you can use Stitcher.

The call is yours. Shoot, there are plugins for Wordpress.

I don’t use any of those services, so I can’t vouch for them.

But I use Squarespace. If you do too, you’re in luck. All you have to do on your blog page (or regular page) is choose the “audio” feature.

Then upload the whole turkey.

Be sure you do this first - i.e. the actual upload.

You can update every other bit of info (subtitle, iTunes longform description, runtime, etc) while the podcast is uploading BUT if you enter the name of the podcast OR the author first, you will have to do it AGAIN after the .mp3 uploads.

That’s right. You have to use an .mp3 file. Don’t upload a .wav.

  1. They're too big for you to upload.
  2. They're too big for your listener to download.

Since a podcast generally has one main audio source (two if it’s an interview), then it’s okay to use an .mp3 as your file type.

I understand the .wav file is better for quality, but you’re not mixing the next Lecrae album. You’re mixing one or two voices and maybe, just maybe a jingle at the top and bottom of your podcast (like this guy).

In short, use an .mp3 and save your audience (who this is for anyways) the hassle.

3. Publish Your Audio

On your Squarespace site, you can sync your podcasts to upload to iTunes.

Don’t panic.

You can do this.

Need an affirmation? Remember, everything God created He called good (1 Timothy 4), and that means YOU are good.

Yes, we have free will and we biff it sometimes, but God calls you good.

Soak that up, and press on. You can do this.

a. Sync Up!

You have to navigate to the little cog in your blog editor. Look for the “Syndication” tab.

Enter in all the info.

NOTE: you’ll want to follow this format that Squarespace mentioned in their help section:

    http://YOURNAME.squarespace.com/YOURBLOGNAME?format=rss

So enter your name; for me it’s the default url they provided when I signed up for Squarespace originally: jake-keenum.squarespace.com….

For example, if you’re Hogarth Hugs (and that’s the name you gave Squarespace when you signed up), and if your blog is simply called “blog,” then you’re going to use:

    http://hogarth-hugs.squarespace.com/blog?format=rss

That’s it. REMEMBER THIS. Copy and paste it. Sharpie it on your forehead if you have to. Because you need it in a little bit inside of iTunes:

The rest of the fields are entirely manageable. Their instructions are right there on this “Syndication” tab.

b. Submit Your Feed In iTunes

Go to the podcasts menu.

If you’re on a desktop, look to the lower right hand area (that’s where it is as of February 2016) and look for “Submit A Podcast.”

Follow the prompts and enter that rss feed url that you had earlier, the Hogarth Hugs one (your name of course in lieu of Hogarth’s name).

Now, if you are going to use an unique tag for posts that have a podcast (I use “podcast” every time I load an audio file in a blog post - my blog post that contains the podcast has as one of its tags the word “podcast”), then be sure to include that in your rss feed URL.

For example, if you use my example tag of “podcast,” then your feed that you will submit to iTunes needs to be

    http://hogarth-hugs.squarespace.com/blog?tag=podcast&format=rss

The reason for this is simple. If you’re uploading two different kinds of audio files, say podcasts and music tracks, then you’ll want a tag that separates the two.

Otherwise, iTunes will likely just upload everything that you submit as as an audio file.

The next screen is more or less a verification screen.

If you completely missed the category earlier inside of Squarespace (that is, you had the wrong category), here’s another chance to redeem yourself.

NOTE: Go back to your Squarespace “Syndication” menu and adjust the category to match (verbatim) the iTunes category you end up selecting.

Don’t make it harder on iTunes than it needs to be to process your podcast. Their venue is already uber crowded.

If you’re a ministry, go ahead and opt for “Religion” and pick the subcategory “Christianity.”

Don’t split hairs with me here. I know a lot of followers of Christ that are reluctant to use the word “religion.” I’m one of them, but I suck it up and you can too.

Most people recognize “Christianity” as an appropriate label, and they don’t mind lumping it in with “religion.”

You want people to find your message, right?

The final screen is a thank you.

Then you’ll get an email letting you know it’s under review.

All things considered, you should hear back from the iTunes team with another email in a few days with a direct link to point listeners to.

From day 1, ask for people to subscribe and leave reviews.

Because it’s not entirely easy to do this with iTunes (they don’t make this a super accessible feature), the ratio that I've observed is about:

You will collect roughly 1 review on iTunes for your podcast for every 500 downloads you get per month.

That’s about a 0.2% conversion rate. Yikes.

Spread that out over several years of podcasts, and you might garner 14 reviews.

It happens. 

So either create more compelling content or (the likely issue) you need to promote your podcast better. Creating something is not even half the battle - it’s less than half.

At this point however, you can look into getting your podcasts on Stitcher and other places as you desire.

If you’re just starting out (whether as a solo adventurer or a full-blown ministry), don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep your podcasts to just your site and iTunes.

...

John Lee Dumas is who got me into podcasting. He has over a million downloads a month he says.

How many of those are repeats? I don’t know for sure.

iTunes is sketchy about download stats - they won’t share that information.

I’ve had podcasts that get released to the crickets. In fact, I’ve had more of those than not.

It takes time.

It takes promotion.

It requires help.

Yes, just because you put together a tight sermon and uploaded it to the web doesn’t mean that it’s going to reach people.

You have to promote it.

The web is too crowded these days to just upload something into cyberspace only to have it flounder.

So get to work.

Because a podcast may in fact be a great fit for you and/or your ministry.

Use it as an extension of what you do, but use it for the benefit of others.

Meeting new people is a wonderful side effect.

When you can have 60 minutes of quality conversation with someone about faith, failures, and film (or INSERT the drivers of your ministry), that’s priceless.

Don't know how to get a person to chat with? That's a followup post, but for now, here's a screenshot of what I send guests:

And you can get a setup for fairly cheap.

CTA

You know what to do, so download this sequence and get started.

I’ll also throw in a bonus video walkthrough of mixing your vocals inside of Adobe Audition.

I’ll even throw in my recommendation for a mic, one that hasn’t let me down and you’ll even see it from time to time in my videos.

Lastly, I'll give you the email script I use for reaching out to guests to invite them to the show, something I developed through 9 months of "figuring this out."

To get all of the goodness, download here.

If you’re looking for advanced training, comment below and let me know.