Create Podcast Sermons
The Internet has made spreading faith significantly
easier. In the past, community residents were
limited to the churches, temples and houses of
worships that were available within driving distances.
Coordinating schedules with sermons could be challenging
for busy families.
The Internet has opened the doors
to a diverse congregation that exists beyond the
traditional borders that communities have become
accustom to. Using technology as a communication
medium has not been lost on spiritual leaders
and many have embraced the Internet as a medium
to spread their faith. It is rare to find a house
of worship that does not have a website or Internet
presense. Expanding upon this theme, parishes
looked to podcasting to further expanded the reach
of their spiritual counselors and ministers. Many
preachers record homilies, hymns, services, sermons
or gospel teachings, for parishioners and interested
Podcasting allows followers to listen
to mass or sermons on their way to work or at
a time and place of their choosing. Integrating
technology into spiritual messages has become
a modern solution to chaotic schedules in an online
The first step to creating a religious or spiritual
podcasts is to record the sermon or material.
There are a number of both hardware and software
solutions that facilitate the recording of audio
content. Many Churches and Ministries already
record many of their sermons. If that is the case,
its just a matter of properly formatting the file
for podcast distribution. In order to maximize
the sermons compatibility, the recorded file should
be saved as an MP3 file and transferred to the
A podcast feed is an RSS feed that contains audio
enclosures in the feed's items. To create a podcast,
the URL of the audio files must be placed in the
enclosure field of the RSS feed. RSS feeds can
be constructed manually by using a text editor.
A step by step guide is available
. If you are not comfortable hand coding an RSS
feed you may opt to use desktop software to create
the podcast feed. An easy tutorial for creating
a podcast can be found at http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-tutorial.htm
Most desktop podcast solutions provide free evaluation
versions that can be used for 30 days. This allows
users to determine if the software meets their
needs prior to making a purchase decision. In
other words, you can create an entire podcast
using a free download, if you wish to continue
to update the podcast with the software each week
or month you will need to purchase the software.
Once you have constructed a podcast,
you will need to transfer the RSS feed to your
server. This can be done using a standard FTP
client (FTP clients are often integrated into
desktop podcast creation applications). The feed
is usually placed in the domain's root directory
like this: http://www.mydomain.com/nameoffeed.xml
or a sub directory like this http://www.mydomain.com/rss/nameoffeed.xml
Now that a new communication medium is available
for followers, it is important that you properly
promote the podcast as a communication channel.
Be sure to share information related to the podcast
with parishioners, placing notices in the congregations
weekly bulletins or monthly newsletters. Add a
mention of the podcast on your community website.
In order to increase exposure of
a religious podcast, religious organizations can
submit their podcasts to podcasting directories
and RSS search engines. This can be done manually.
Just as you would submit the URL of a website
or web page to a search engine, or you can use
software to automate the process. There is even
a portal specifically designed for religious and
Religious Podcasts - http://www.religious-podcasts.net
A List of podcast search engines.
There is a large list of RSS directories at http://www.rss-specifications.com/rss-submission.htm
that you can submit your feed to.
If you prefer to automate the submission
process, consider evaluating RSS Submit available
There is an add-on module for submitting
specifically to podcast directories, that can
be purchased for an additional fee. In order to
signal to website visitors that a podcast containing
content related to the website is available, include
a colorful graphic on the website. Religious feed
buttons can be customized by selecting the text
on the button and the color scheme of the button.
Once the color and text is entered, a custom graphic
is instantly created. Webmasters can easily match
the style of the RSS button to a website's theme.
Custom Podcast Graphics - http://www.feedforall.com/public/rss-graphic-tool.htm
or locate ready made podcast graphics here: http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-graphics.htm
Many website visitors who have
RSS readers/aggregators installed will automatically
detect an RSS feed on the website if you add a
small portion of text to the header field of your
HTML web page. Use the following format to assist
RSS readers in auto-detecting the location of
the RSS feed. [link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"
title="Insert Title" href=http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml]
Replace the brackets  with less than and greater
then symbols <> and replace http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml
with the URL to the RSS feed. Also change the
information contained in the quotes following
the title= to a descriptive name that relates
to your podcast or faith.
Update the Podcast.
Add new items to your podcast daily, weekly or
monthly. Simply add a new feed item and link to
the audio enclosure as new sermons or teachings
are made available. As the feed is updated and
posted on your website, subscribers will automatically
receive the new content in their aggregator or
In order to maximize the benefit of podcasting
be sure to archive older podcast sermons so that
listeners can optionally download older sermons.
Because podcasting is a new phenomenon, you may
have to educate your audience about how they can
listen to a podcast. Include a simple webpage
on your site that walks them through the process
of subscribing. There is a sample web page that
you can add to your website and edit at http://www.podcasting-tools.com/podcast-subscription.htm
Additional tips to promote podcasts
can be found at http://www.feedforall.com/tips-promoting-podcasts.htm
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS
feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages
marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.