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.