Podcasting seems to be the latest branch of the Internet vine. In March of this year, Nick Quah at Hot Pod noted:
The share of Americans who report being monthly podcast listeners (the key metric in my mind) is now 24 percent (67 million), up from 21 percent (57 million) the year before. That’s a 14 percent (or 3 percentage point) growth year-over-year. The story is more dramatic if you take a longer view: Over the past two years, monthly podcast listening has grown by 40 percent.
Podcasts are audio (closer to an audiobook), rather than video or text. Podcasts can supplement rather than supplant reading and research material done online; two blogs might be mutually exclusive. A podcast and a blog need not be.
You congregation (and others) can listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, taking an elevator, or mowing the lawn. Podcasts provide the opportunity to do two things at once.
Podcasts are easy to start (and relatively inexpensive to create and maintain), but they are not for everyone. Depending on the type of podcast you might consider, there is time involved researching, recording, editing, and publishing. So, before you start a podcast, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Do I have the time to do it consistently?
Podcasting takes time. Even if you choose to release bi-weekly episodes you still have research on your subject, record the episode, edit it, and upload it to your podcast publishing site. Then, especially early-on, you have to promote it. (Social media is the best place since listeners can click the Facebook or Twitter link and open the episode to listen immediately.)
Before starting a podcast, review your weekly workflow. Do you have the tools to find and save the content that will form the basis of your podcast? Do you have a quiet place that is readily available for recording? Can you use the apps/programs necessary to edit?
I have started and stopped the same podcast twice. One reason is the time issue. I simply do not have time right now to research, record, edit, publish, and promote. So, my podcast remains on hiatus.
Consistently builds a sense of expectation in your listeners. As a result, they are more likely to subscribe.
2. Have I found a niche that is not being covered?
You can choose to do a podcast on sports, theology, politics, cars, or cooking. There are plenty of podcasts in each of these lanes and they are becoming more crowded by the day.
In August, I attended the Podcast Movement Conference, an annual gathering of active podcasters, soon-to-be podcasters, producers, hosting companies, and more. One of the facts driven home in several sessions was this: “niche down.” In other words, if you can narrow your niche, you will probably find a more avid audience. You also are more likely to be found in the vast ocean of all podcasts.
3. Am I willing to promote my podcast?
Do not start a podcast if you are not willing to tell people about it. While podcast platforms are searchable, no one will be excited about your podcast if you are not.
Podcasts are incredibly easy to share. You can share each new episode on social media, and you can include episode links in emails. You can link to your podcast (depending on relevance) from your personal blog or your church website.
Sometimes promoting our own content feels, well, “self-promotional.” But, as long as you are not obnoxious about it, you may find an excited audience who anticipates each new episode you release.
Marty Duren is the Executive Editor and Marketing Manager of LifeWay Pastors and host of the Pastor Talk podcast at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He also serves as the Groups Pastor with Green Hill Church in Mt Juliet, TN.