Distributing Your Podcast Effectively

A question that I often get is this: how do you get your podcast on iTunes? This is easy once you are set up, but unbelievably confusing. I still don’t know how this fully works and this is where we had the hardest time in getting started. You have to host your podcast somewhere and create a feed for iTunes to pull your podcast feed. Makes sense, right?

Let me simplify this for you: get Libsyn.

Libsyn will cost you about $7/month and does everything for you. They will give you the instructions to setup your podcast with iTunes and connect everything with your Libsyn account so that you don’t have to worry about how it all works. Libsyn is powerful, flexible and simple to use. They also provide the best possible analytics on podcasts, which makes the cost really worth it.

Beyond the automatic pushes to iTunes and other distribution opportunities, their media player is easily embedded into your website.  We have found it important to use our website (Squarespace) for info about our podcast and a place to post “show notes.” During episodes we will mention links and various things that will drive people to our website to get more info. So, for each episode we post the show notes and an embedded audio player for people to easily listen right there on our website as well.

If you use a different distribution platform I would love to hear what it is and why you chose it.

Choosing Creative Podcast Themes

So, you want to start a podcast, but what are you going to talk about? Here are some key questions to ask yourself as you begin focusing on your core podcast content/themes:

 

  • Who is your target audience? (be specific)
  • What can you say that will most help them?
  • Why should they listen to what you have to say?
  •  How can you best engage them around this core topic? (interviews, a monologue, etc.)

 

As you focus in on your core topic and target audience, my encouragement is to lay out your first 10 podcast topics/show themes. This will give you a direction and I promise as you get going your list will grow faster than you can record and your audience engagement will give you direction to what they value most.

 

Here are these answers when it comes to the Social Media Church Podcast:

  • Who is your target audience?

Our target is a church leader who has already seen the value in social media for ministry, but desire direction in how to best utilize these platforms for ministry.

  • What can you say that will most help them?

We want to add value in sharing with them the various ministry opportunities on the different social networks available and giving them practical application tips to maximize their time and financial investments into social media.

  • Why should they listen to what you have to say?

We don’t just talk about social media, we are practitioners using social media in a ministry context every day. We have failed often and found unique success at the same time. We share our experiences openly and honestly as well as invite other ministry innovators to lead the conversation through our podcast episodes.

  • How can you best engage them around this core topic? (interviews, a monologue, etc.)

We have found conversational recordings to best engage our audience where they feel more personally connected to us as hosts as well as deeper engagement with our guests.

Getting the Right Podcasting Equipment

Many people obsess over equipment and tools when it comes to podcasting. Honestly, you likely have everything you need already to launch a decent podcast. My encouragement isn’t to obsess over the tools as you can always upgrade these over time. Here are the core tools that I use:

Blue Yeti Microphone – this is probably the most popular microphone for podcasting out there and it’s a great value at $100. You can easily record 1 person or several people gathered around the microphone. It also plugs right into your computer via USB which is really convenient. I highly recommend this microphone for it’s functionality, but most people (including me) choose the Yeti because it looks cool. Many of these USB microphones are small and either look cheesy or kind of clunky where you have to get a big stand to hold it up.  As you do the research, I think you will find that a decent microphone is going to cost a minimum of $50 and can then get really expensive really fast. I have yet to find anyone who is disappointed in the Blue Yeti though. The one downside to it though is that it’s pretty big and heavy, so if you plan to travel with it I would look for a different option.

Zoom Video Conferencing – because we record our podcast from 2 different coasts we needed an online recording option and we haven’t regretted choosing Zoom. Many podcasters use Skype, but I’ve found the quality to be subpar and you have to use additional software to record. Zoom allows for many users to easily participate at the same time and the record functionality captures both the audio file and video file for easy editing after the recording.

Editing Software – we found GarageBand incredibly easy to use and pretty powerful when you dig into the functionality. In all transparency we found the editing aspect to be too time consuming so we outsource this through Fiverr most weeks, but when we do edit ourselves we use GarageBand which is easy enough to use for a beginning and powerful enough for a pro.

So that’s it. Those are our simple core tools that we use to record and edit the Social Media Church Podcast. I would love to hear what other tools you use and what you might recommend.  Please comment to let us know!

7 Common Mistakes Pastor Search Committees Make By William Vanderbloemen

Pastor search committees are tasked with the weighty responsibility of finding a new leader for their church. But this holy endeavor is far from easy or simple. When you’re searching for your next pastor, watch out for these seven common missteps of pastor search committees.

                    

1. They have too many or too few people on the search committee.

If you have too many people on your search committee, you’re going to move slower and have trouble coming to consensus about decisions. If you have too few people, your committee may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work in the pastor search process and may burn out quickly.

I recommend that search committees have somewhere between seven and eleven people. You should have an odd number of people to prevent stalemates when taking votes. If you have more than eleven people, you might have “too many cooks in the kitchen” and lose your ability to be nimble as a team. The more differing opinions and voices that need to be heard on your search committee, the longer the pastor search process will take.

 

2. They don’t commit to prayer from the beginning.

A prayerful pastor search process is crucial to finding whom God is calling to your church. In my book SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook, I included a pastor search committee prayer guide to help center your committee on seeking the Lord about who He’s calling to be your next leader.

Share your prayer guide with your congregation and invite them to pray along with your committee. Pray for your new pastor and their family. Pray for wisdom and discernment for your committee and church staff. Pray for your church in this season of transition, as change isn’t easy for any organization. The pastor search process is sacred, so unite your congregation as you cover it in prayer.

 

3. They don’t establish how they’re going to make decisions.

Once you have the right people on the pastor search committee, you must decide how you’re going to make decisions. I often see committees stuck because they don’t establish guidelines up front for how decisions will be made. Will you require a majority vote or unanimity to move forward with a pastor candidate? What is your protocol if a committee member can’t make it to the next meeting?

Set a decision-making process on the front end of the search process to avoid frustration and confusion down the road. There is a Pastor Search Committee Member Agreement in SEARCH that can put your committee on the same page about how decisions will be made as a group.

 

4. They don’t establish roles on the committee.

In your first committee meeting, you should assign roles to each person on the committee. Search committees that complete this step cut down on their search process timeline because they are organized and focused on who is doing what.

Here are six ideas for roles to get you started:

  • The Coordinator is organizationally gifted to coordinate meetings and schedules.
  • The Communicator heads up the search committee’s communication with the elders, board, and congregation.
  • The Prayer Warrior coordinates prayer for the committee and congregation.
  • The Follow-Upper is the point person for incoming applications and communication with candidates.
  • The Recruiter researches and recruits candidates that the committee would like to consider.
  • The Host or Hostess has the gift of hospitality and plans for the candidate interviews.

 

5. They don’t communicate with the congregation.

If a committee doesn’t have The Communicator on the search team, I find that the search committee forgets to regularly communicate with the church. Keep your congregation updated on a monthly basis at minimum. I also recommend you have a website or landing page where people can visit to stay updated on the pastor search process. You might even consider recording video updates about your search that you can post on your church’s website, social media, and in email updates.

 

6. They don’t have a projected timeline and move too slow with candidates.

I see churches lose great pastor candidates far too often because they waited weeks or months to communicate with a candidate in between phone calls or interviews. One of the biggest complaints I hear from candidates is, “The pastor search committee flew me out for an interview, then I never from them again.” Take the time to keep your candidates updated on where they stand in the search process.

 

7. They have unrealistic expectations about the role.

The qualifications that many pastor search committees want for their pastoral candidates are so specific that even Jesus wouldn’t meet them (Jesus wasn’t married and didn’t preach every Sunday). While it’s vital for your pastor search committee to have specific qualities you’re looking for in your next pastor, take a moment to ask, “What are the qualities that we must have, and which ones are simply preferences?” Candidates are much more than just a resume, so spend intentional time as a committee determining the type of pastor you’re looking for and if your requirements are realistic to have in one person. Have a way to consistently and objectively evaluate candidates as a search committee, and you’ll be on the right path to a smooth search process.

 

I wrote SEARCH: The Pastoral Search Committee Handbook to provide a guide for pastor search committees navigating the daunting search process. I hope it’s a blessing to you and your church as you plan for healthy and effective pastoral transitions.

My Journey Podcasting

I started listening to podcasts about 8 years ago with the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast with Doug Fields.  As a Youth Pastor I learned a ton through the podcast and also quickly felt a part of the Student Ministry Culture at Saddleback Church. The raw conversation and the practical insights were so valuable to me in that season.

I loved the Simply Youth Ministry podcast so much that I decided to create a podcast for our Student Ministry at Trinity Baptist Church. We called it The Pulse Podcast and we basically talked about nothing for about 20 minutes a week and I even did my own intro and outro music with my guitar and I don’t really play guitar. I had no idea what I was doing, but had a ton of fun experimenting. At the end of the day I doubt that more than 12 people listened to these podcasts and it was incredibly inefficient, but I learned a lot in the process.

Once I got my first iPhone about 7 years ago I began consuming podcasts at a much higher rate. Honestly, I’ve never listened to much music and when listening to the radio it’s more often on AM than FM. I primarily began listening to various pastor sermons through podcasting and then found more conversational podcasts like the Catalyst Podcast and Relevant. While I appreciated the access to sermons, I found conversational podcasts to be far more engaging.

About 18 months ago I began reading more and more articles about podcast trends and the exponential growth of the medium and the expected growth in the coming years.  While mobile is continuing to grow and this passive form of content engagement allows people to listen on the go. People can listen while exercising, cleaning, and doing other productive things when they want how they want. While video is exploding as well, it does require your full attention with your eyes and ears where podcasting only requires your ears.

The biggest growth development really seems to be in the daily commute. The average commute for Americans is right around 20 minutes. Over the past 30 years our attention during this time has been consumed by radio whether that’s FM Radio (music) or AM Radio (talk). How we consume music is changing though as we no longer have to carry around all of our CDs or tapes as we can store thousands of songs right on our phone. Through this technology people can listen to the music of their choosing without the radio dictating it. They can also have an even bigger library through platforms like Pandora or Spotify.

This is where Podcasting comes in. So, just as iTunes, Pandora and Spotify are replacing FM Radio in our daily commutes, podcasts are quickly replacing AM Radio. The awesome part of this is that anyone anywhere can create great content for this platform without having to buy radio time or negotiate with radio stations. We just have to create content and these simple and primarily free platforms do the rest.

I make it sound simple and compared to historical AM Radio it is. The reality is that it still requires a ton of hard work to create content, capture and edit the content, optimize the content for distribution, grow and audience for the content, and adjusting to the constant changes in technology. While that might sound like a big downer, let me encourage you with this: if you are serious about building a platform it’s worth it.

About 18 months ago my friend DJ Chuang generously offered to let me take over his podcast, Social Media Church, that he had spent 2 years building.  He recorded over 100 episodes and then handed over the reigns.  I was thrilled by the opportunity and my friend Jay Kranda offered to join me as my co-host.

In taking over the podcast we were naïve in thinking this would be a piece of cake that we could dedicate a little side time to. We found creatively thinking of podcast themes, coordinating with guests, coordinating with each other, capturing quality audio, editing the audio, finding the best places to distribute, etc. was much harder than we imagined.  I think after 18 months though, we would both confidently say that it’s been worth it. We have seen our audience more than double in size over this time and the response has been tremendous. I have been blogging for 6 years and have gotten great response and had over 5,000 read my book Social Media Guide for Ministry. I have received more response though from this podcast than from any other platform I have been engaged on.

In the next couple of weeks I am going to share with you some of the trends that I am seeing, some of the equipment that I use, the tools and resources that I’ve found, how we promote our podcast and how I measure it’s success. My way isn’t the right way or perfect way, but for me it’s proven to be effective and efficient and I hope it can help you if you are hosting a podcast or considering hosting a podcast soon.