You’ve studied theology, prayed with people, and delivered sermons and yet this podcasting thing is overwhelming. I get it. There are some details to work out but once you do, you will come to love this powerful platform. You know your message, let’s figure out the tech together.
Hosting Your Church Podcast
Your podcast is a representation of your church. This is content that not only helps draw people to your church but to Christ. So, you know you need it but where do you host it? Where do the files go? Where do you put the RSS feed? The good news is that there are many choices for how and where to host your podcast. We’re going to discuss a few of the top choices and talk about why one of them is truly the best choice.
Host On Your Website
The first option to host your church podcast is on your website. The files live on the same server as your website. WordPress, Wix, Squarespace or any other platform for your website all work for this purpose. Upload the finished podcast files to your website’s media library. You then create the RSS feed there. (RSS means Really Simple Syndication. It’s how podcast players and apps find the files.) The podcast files and any episode content pages are pointed to the media library from your RSS feed.
Host On Your Website + CDN
Another option to host your church podcast is on a CDN. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network. Use your website for all your podcast-related content items (episode pages, RSS feeds, etc) but upload the actual files to the CDN. You can think of a CDN as a global network of servers that host files so that users can access the files on the server closest to their physical location. This reduces the server load on your website and decreases the time it takes for a user to access the files as the distance between their computer and the file server is reduced. The result is a fast website and a fast download for your podcast.
Most Managed WordPress hosts also offer a CDN option on their hosting plans. There are also options like Amazon S3, Digital Ocean Spaces, and Google Cloud Storage. These can be integrated with a plugin for platforms like WordPress if you’d rather manage the storage yourself.
Host with a Third-Party Vendor
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. This may possibly be the easiest platform to host and share podcasts. This is an especially good choice for video podcasting. And, once your video is posted, it can be shared on social media and even embedded in a blog post.
This is one of the bigger podcasting platforms. It’s been around for over ten years and easily integrates with Apple and WordPress. The plans go from $5 (50mb) to $40 (800mb) per month which is mostly based upon the storage size. Think of this like renting a storage unit. Small rooms are less than a 10×10. Distribution is one of the best factors in this option from iTunes to Spotify to Pandora and everywhere in between.
Cost $5 – $40/mo.
One advantage of Blubrry is their WordPress plugin that helps with integration if your church website is already on WordPress. It has many of the features you would expect but is less-than-robust when compared to Libsyn. The cost ranges from $12/mo (100mb) to $80 (1,000mb) to “call us.” So this might not be the best option for a nonprofit.
Cost $12 – unknown/mo.
Church Podcast – Third Party Hosting
Though there are quite a few upsides to third-party podcast hosting, you sacrifice control and, possibly, ownership. The platform can shut down your account (if you didn’t pay, for example). YouTube can stop showing your video if there is copyright infringement (intro/outro music). You can even be extorted to get back the podcast.
Third-party podcast hosting is also quite expensive. In addition to the costs to host and maintain your church website, you have additional fees for the podcast.
Church Podcast – Website Hosting
Hosting your church podcast on your church’s website is an excellent idea. You have already paid for the hosting costs, you have full control of the site, and, more importantly, you can create backups. (Losing podcast files is no fun, believe me.)
In addition to hosting your RSS feed on your website, and sending that feed to iTunes (et al), you can embed the podcast in a blog post. This means that your congregants can have access that matches their technology preference.
Hosting your church podcast on your WordPress website is the best option. Ideally, you’re using the CDN that your managed host offers. With nightly and/or weekly backups, you will feel safe and secure with this relatively technical task. Once it’s set up, it gets easier. And remember the end goal of your church podcast: bringing people closer to Christ.