By S. Housley
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
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 listeners.
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 world.
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 Internet.
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 at http://www.make-rss-feeds.com
. 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
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 spiritual
Religious Podcasts - http://www.religious-podcasts.net
A List of podcast search engines. http://www.podcasting-tools.com/submit-podcasts.htm
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 from: http://www.dummysoftware.com/rsssubmit.html.
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 podcast receiver.
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
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
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.