Church Podcast Tips: Technical & Distribution
This is the second part of a series of blog posts I’ve done around podcast tips for the Church. You can find the other posts here.
Podcast Channel Title & Description
Keep the title of your podcast channel simple. Just the name of your church will probably do! Try not to include the word ‘podcast’ as well, as some voice controlled systems require you to add the word podcast at the end to find it. Imagine telling your listeners to say ‘OK Google, play The Church Podcast podcast’.
If your channel just has sermons from your church, consider naming it ‘Westminster Chapel Sermons’, however it is not vital.
The description also references ‘both services’, however this hasn’t happened for a couple of years. This could also be updated to reflect the latest mission statements from Chapel.
- Remove the pipe ‘|’ from the channel description, leaving it as ‘Westminster Chapel Podcast’.
- Update the channel description to reflect the latest mission and values of Chapel.
You probably have a website already, so why not make the most of it when it comes to your podcast.
Where you say ‘subscribe to our podcast’ this link should be platform agnostic and not just point towards the Apple Podcasts service (it’s not called iTunes or iTunes Podcasts anymore). Using a service like Podfollow or smartURL will send people to a more appropriate podcast service for their platform.
Approximately half of UK mobile devices run Android vs iOS, so it should not be assumed that all devices will work correctly when they tap a subscribe link.
The founder of Podnews suggests there should be two buttons to subscribe/listen; Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
- Option A) For all ‘subscribe’ links, use a service like Podfollow or smartURL.
- Option B) Use two subscribe links; Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
Episode Pages & Notes
Having each podcast on its own page is great, as it allows you to have fuller and rich format description.
You can add where to find books or resources mentioned during the sermon, or link back to anything that’s mentioned during the message. This will help with SEO too and your website’s own search facility (should you have one)
You should make sure that you have the option to playback the audio for each episode too. Most podcast hosting services will have a player you can embed manually, or platforms like WordPress allow you to add a player with any audio link.
- Use individual pages to host additional notes about things mentioned in the sermon.
- Have the ability to play the episode audio on each episode page.
Most podcast hosting solutions from third parties deal with the RSS feed and you’ll never have to do anything.
However, if you self-host your podcast, then I’d recommend putting your RSS feed through the Cast Feed Validator. It will come out with some ideas specific for your feed.
Here’s some suggestions of other things you should be doing:
- Have no more than 300 items in your feed (Apple only stores this many).
- Ensure you have a valid duration/length for each item. This will help services quickly display the length of the audio.
- Add content to the <description> tag for each item. A lot of podcast services display this and it helps the user understand better what the audio is about.
- The <link> for each item should go back to the page on your website that talks about the episode.
I’d recommend doing these things before you submit your podcast to any of the services below, as it could take time for the services to pickup your updates.
There are a large number of services you could list your podcast on, but these are the places I’d start;
- Apple Podcasts; their list powers quite a few other places and they are still the largest source for all podcast plays. You have to submit your podcast to approval with them, so do it as soon as you have one episode in your RSS feed.
- Spotify; the second largest source of podcast plays and for quite a few countries, the easiest way for people to listen to podcasts.
- Google Podcasts; available to all Android users and it helps significantly with SEO, plus their pie in podcast plays is increasing steadily above anyone else’s. This one can take time too, but then gets it within Google Home/Nest/Assistant devices.
If you want to be on Amazon Alexa enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, then you have two options:
1) Submit your podcast to TuneIn, as they are the default provider on these devices.
2) Create your own skill. This requires skill developer knowledge, or you could try this blueprint.
For tips on things you can do for every episode, read the first part here.
If you’ve found this article useful at all, feel free to share it, comment or let me know on Twitter.
There’s quite a few links in here, especially to a great source of podcast industry news and tips, Podnews. Check them out for the latest techniques and also signup to their daily email for the most up-to-date podcast related news.