[Editor’s Note: This is part 3 of a 4 part series: Podcasting Sermons]
With the sermons all nicely edited, it’s time to upload to a hosting server somewhere and get them on a website!
There are several ways you can put sermons onto the web. These range from ‘all in one’ services that do everything for you, to doing everything yourself.
We’ll look at the different options so you can see what would best suit you needs.
All In One
Probably the easiest way to put the sermons online and create a podcast is to use an ‘all in one service’ which does everything for you (hosting the sermons, having an online audio player and a page where the sermons are listed).
In my opinion, the best all in one service is Buzzsprout. It’s very simple to use. With the free option you can upload up to two hours of audio a month (so four 30 min sermons!) and ‘episodes’ (a sermon) are kept for 90 days. Pay for accounts start at $9 a month where you can upload four hours a month and the episodes are kept forever.
With Buzzsprout you get your own ‘mini site’ and some very nice players you can embed into your Church site. Buzzsprout is not ‘overtly’ Christian, but the company is owned by Christians and was originally created to help Churches put sermons online!
Another ‘church only’ option is Sermondrop, but I think Buzzsprout is a better all round service.
Both of these services take care of the hosting of the Sermons (you upload the MP3 into their site/hosting), give you a player to put on your site and also make the podcast feed (more on those later!) and makes it iTunes friendly, etc.
If you’d prefer to do things yourself, here are some other ways:
First, you’ll need to put your MP3 somewhere online so people can listen and download it.
The easiest place to put your MP3 files is on the same space/package/server where you host your Church website (normally uploading them by FTP). But unless you have a very big hosting package with lots of space and bandwidth allowances, you might find that you could quickly use this up!
You can upgrade your hosting package (which might cost!) or there’s a special type of hosting offered by Amazon that can be excellent value for hosting media files (like MP3s).
The service is known as ‘Amazon Simple Storage Service’ (Amazon S3).
Rather than having a ‘lump sum’ price, with S3 you pay for what you use (a combination of storage, bandwidth and requests for the files). This can often work out much cheaper than ‘normal’ hosting. (I use S3 for hosting the sermons for my Church. There’s several GBs of sermons on there and it costs about $1 a month!) This is a very good article explaining how S3 can be used for media hosting.
As the article says, uploading items to S3 is done differently than using FTP. The S3Fox Firefox addon is excellent for doing the job. There are also some programs that you install on your computer that can also easily upload files to S3, such as Cloudberry Explorer (Windows) and 3Hub (Mac). Also on Mac, the popular FTP client Transmit can also upload to S3.
When you upload a file to S3 you can either have a long ‘bucket’ (folder) and file name such as:
Or if you (or your hosting company) can manage your domain name settings, you can tie your bucket to the domain so the address would be:
It’s not as complicated as it sounds (honest)!
So, now you’ve got your sermons online and ready to use, but you’ve got to make them available for people to listen to!
Manually Displaying the Sermons
Now you’ve uploaded the files you need to display them! There are a number of web sites/services that can help you do this.
Here’s another good blogger podcasting tutorial (it’s a little old but still good!).
With Blogger you can either use a ‘blogspot’ account (provided by blogger) to display the sermons, or you can edit the template and publish it to your own site/hosting.
WordPress is another popular option for bloggers/podcasters and is what ChurchM.ag uses! It comes in two flavours, a ‘hosted’ WordPress installation where you get a http://yoursite.wordpress.com url or you can download the wordpress software and install/run it on your own hosting. WordPress can do more than just blogging/podcasting and can be used to run a whole site very easily.
There are several good sites offering free wordpress themes such as WordPress’s own Theme Directory (with the ‘hosted’ option there are a limited number of themes), iThemes and of course 8BIT creates it’s own themes like the Standard Theme! You can also get custom themes from web designers who love WordPress – like me!
In WordPress you can use ‘plugins’ to allow you to do extra things. These are the best podcasting plugins:
PowerPress is widely used among podcasters and is good for general podcasting with WordPress. It includes a choice of customisable players and iTunes feed support (more on that later). I think it’s best to have a category called ‘Sermons’ and put each sermon as a post within the category.
Sermon Browser is designed for podcasting Sermons by Mark Barnes, a Church Minister from Wales (UK). This is a plugin that really takes the work out of Podcasting sermons with WordPress. You can add your Service Times, Preachers/Speakers and Sermon Series within the plugin settings, so adding a new sermon is a breeze. It also features very customisable templates for how the sermons are displayed and there’s a player. The sermons can also be filtered by users using a number of choices (such as date, preacher, series, book of the Bible, etc.).
You can also Do It Yourself using WordPress!
Another way of podcasting with WordPress, which is more ‘techy’ (and geeky!) and how I run the sermon podcast at my Church, is to set it up for yourself!
I did this way as when I started there weren’t nice plugins like Powerpress or Sermon Browser to help you! (I would now use PowerPress or Sermon Browser to podcast using WordPress). But if you’re looking for an easy and very ‘full featured’ way of podcasting sermons on WordPress, I thoroughly recommend PowerPress or Sermon Browser.
Yahoo Media Player
If you don’t want to use something like Blogger or WordPress, or maybe you’ve already got a list of sermons on your site which you wish to have a player and perhaps turn into a podcast, there is another way!
Yahoo Media Player is a very simple way to turn a list of links to MP3 files into players on your site. All you have to do is add one line of code to your page:
So we’ve got our sermons online and displaying nicely in Buzzspout, WordPress, Blogger or on another type of site! But we want this to be a full blown podcast and that needs one crucial thing, a podcast ‘feed’ and that’s what we’ll be looking at in the final part of the series.