Explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK.
Word spreads as fans flee in confusion, terror, fear.
Hold your breath and hope it’s just a false alarm, an equipment malfunction perhaps.
And then we learn it’s what we feared.
A willful slaughter of fun-loving innocents.
Bloodshed and tragedy and weeping and despair…
And all the words just leave.
Hollow, is what I am. Every time this happens, this is what it feels like. (And this is what I think they feel like — until dread reality crashes in and they wake up.)
Because there are no words to describe or explain.
All the people — pundits, politicians, preachers — try to make sense of it. But all the words and feelings and thoughts just blur. There is no distinction.
We were not made to fathom these dark depths, to contain them, to grasp them.
This is death the world cannot contain. Their blood will cry out for eons and eons and forever. Their tears will scream across the immeasurable depths of space and pain the ears of extraterrestrials (if they are out there).
Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel, American Gods, couldn’t have been more prescient when it was written. Now that the series is getting the small screen treatment, the clash of gods—mythical and modern—reminds us that there really is a war going on, and the battlefield is our hearts. Continue Reading
Okay, you’ve done the hardest part. The cold plunge is always the toughest, and you’ve taken it. However, what comes next is equally difficult. The overwhelming majority of podcasts do not become successful overnight. Like anything in life, success in podcasting comes with time, patience, and commitment. With that said, here are three keys to successful podcasting.
1. Be brief. People are busy. And as much as they may want to listen to your podcast, there will always be something more important for them to do. So, the less of their time that you take up, the more popular you will be. If you can deliver what you have promised in the space of a television commercial break, you will likely reach more people than you would with a thirty minute or hour-long podcast.
2. Be consistent. After the first few episodes of your podcast, you should settle on a release schedule that works for you. Whether it is every weekday, once a week, or on the fifteenth of every month, decide on a regular schedule and stick with it. People will begin to depend on that schedule. If you are consistent, they will begin to look forward to to each new release. Just as you do not like it when your favorite TV shows decide to go on hiatus in the middle of the season, your viewers don’t like finding out that you haven’t done a podcast on the day that they have come to expect one. Does this mean that you can’t take breaks? Of course not. If you plan on taking a few weeks or months off, just announce it ahead of time on your podcast, your podcast website, and your social media accounts, so people will know what to expect.
3. Be real. Authenticity is a valuable trait, but one that is rarely seen. No one likes to bare their heart and life to the world, but people who are honest about their failings are able to help others much more than those who aren’t. If, on your podcast, you are talking about a topic that you have had experience with, you will have a greater impact on your listeners by telling your story. Don’t whine (or brag). Simply say, ‘This is what happened to me, this is what I did, and this is what I learned from that experience.’ You will find that people will come back to listen to you.
Godspeed and best of luck in all of your podcasting endeavors.
This post concludes the PODCASTING FOR MINISTRY blog series.
Below are the top seven podcast directories, listed in order of importance. On all of these places, it’s free to get listed. The steps to submit your podcast are pretty self-explanatory. Just make sure you have basic details such as your RSS Feed, the purpose statement of your podcast, and your e-mail address handy. Continue Reading
While having your podcast on iTunes and Google Play is great, you want to have a place on the internet where you have complete control over how your podcast is presented. While your podcast host will provide a page for your podcast, it is a good idea to have a website or blog for your podcast as well.
You can create a free blog for your podcast on WordPress.com. Once your blog is set up, you would publish each episode as a blog post. In order to include your podcast audio file in your blog posts, just copy and paste the URL to the MP3 for each episode into the post editing screen. WordPress will automatically convert it to an audio player.
If you want to start your own website with your own web address (mypodcast.com), you will need to order a domain and a hosting package from a good web host. Below are a few good ones that will work great for a podcast website.
A2 Hosting (a2hosting.com)
All of these companies have low monthly fees. Once you sign up for a domain and hosting, install WordPress on your site. WordPress is the best platform for blogging and podcasting sites, hands down.
Once your website is all set up, be sure to include the following in each of your blog posts.
Audio player so people can listen online. You can just paste the MP3 URL from your podcast host. Alternatively, some hosts provide an embed code that you can copy and paste.
Clickable link for people to download the MP3 file for your podcast episode.
Brief description of each episode.
A longer description that goes into more detail about what the episode discusses. These are called show notes.
Links to any relevant online resources that you discussed in your podcast. Remember, people may be driving, exercising, or doing other things while they are listening. They won’t have time to write something down. So, tell them in your podcast that they can go to your website to get any resources that they may have missed.
Links to your podcast’s page on iTunes and Google Play. Encourage listeners to subscribe on their mobile device.
Encourage listeners to share your podcast with others. You can include a statement that says, “If you enjoyed this episode, please consider telling a friend.”
Invite listeners to send feedback and questions via e-mail. This can be a great way to figure out what topics your listeners are most interested in and whether they have any questions that they would like for you to explore further in future episode.
This post is a part of the PODCASTING FOR MINISTRY blog series.
While Apple has a much longer history as a marketplace for podcasts and while most mobile podcast listening is done on Apple devices and via Apple-created programs, the Google-backed Android platform is used by a larger number of people. According to stats by Kantar Worldpanel, Apple devices are used by 29% of mobile users in the U.S., while Android devices are used by 65% of people in the U.S.
According to the 2016 Internet Trends report, the previous five years have seen 28% growth for Android devices, but only 10% growth for Apple devices. Markets for mobile devices (phone, tablets, phablets, etc.) in the U.S. and other developed countries are quickly reaching a saturation point, and there is no reason to believe that there will be any major shifts in this trend going forward.
So, while many of your podcast listeners will be discovering your podcast through iTunes or the Apple Podcasts app, it stands to reason that, in the future, most of this activity will take place on Android devices. And Google has an iTunes-esque app for Android. It’s called Google Play. Like iTunes, it carries apps, music, ebooks, movies, and TV shows. But it also has a special section just for podcasts. Here is how to get your podcast listed.
Go to play.google.com/music/podcasts/publish. If you are not logged in to your Google account already, you will be asked to log in. If you use an Android device or any Google product (such as Gmail), you already have a Google account. If not, create one.
Click the orange “Publish” button. (You may also have to click a blue “Add a Podcast” button on the next page.)
You will be asked to agree to Google’s Terms of Service. Click “I Accept.”
Enter the RSS feed for your podcast and click “Submit RSS Feed.”
The next step will be for you to verify ownership of the podcast. Google will send an e-mail to the e-mail address listed in your RSS feed. This e-mail address will be the one you used to sign up with your podcast host. Google will display this e-mail address onscreen. Click the “Confirm Email” button.
Go to your e-mail and get the verification code that Google sends. It may take a few minutes to come in. Once you get it, go back to the Google verification page, put in the code, and click “Verify Ownership.”
Google will take a few days to review your submission and then it will be listed in the Google Play Store.
You can manage your podcast details at any time by logging in to your Google Play publishing account at the link above.
This post is a part of the PODCASTING FOR MINISTRY blog series.