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It’s time! Put your sermon audio online: Best hosting plans

Among any church's most easily shared resources is the weekly sermon. New Web technologies and digital recorders make it easy to capture and upload sermons. What are you waiting for? It is time! Take advantage of the latest and best options for getting your sermons online.

First, you must have the capacity to record sermons.
Recording a sermon through a soundboard and a digital recorder will provide the best audio quality. It is also the most technically complicated. However, most sound technicians will know how to accomplish this. The easiest way to record is to use a smartphone or a digital dictation recorder placed near the pastor. Make sure a digital recorder has a USB connector. The quality of the audio will be acceptable, but it will not be the best as the recorders will pick up exterior noises.

Once you have a recording, upload it to a hosting website. The host can be your church website or a secondary service. Hosting on your site may be the most inexpensive option, but it can cause problems if your server has a bandwidth (amount of data traveling from server to individual computer) limit. If a page or sermon becomes incredibly popular, the download traffic can quickly exceed the limit. Many webhosting services are increasing their bandwidth as technologies expand, so be certain to check as you decide where to host your sermons. Most paid second-party hosting services ensure you will not have a bandwidth issue if you have a spike in activity.

After you upload and post a sermon, you are ready to promote and allow others to listen.

Hosting options

If you have a Wordpress-based website that is not hosted on Wordpress.com, you can take advantage of PodPress, a free and longstanding plug-in that offers sermon hosting in a podcast-type format. It will provide an audio player on your website and help put your sermons onto iTunes.

Sermon Manager is similar to PodPress but has a few design tweaks that cater to church needs.

Sermon Browser is also a free plug-in to use with a Wordpress site. However, as of the writing of this article, Sermon Browser had not been updated in quite some time, so use caution.

PowerPress is the Wordpress plug-in through Blubrry. You can sign up with the BluBrry service and their community of podcasters, or just use the PowerPress plug-in "as is" with your Wordpress blog.

Amazon S3 Server can host your files and offer them for streaming. Just link your file to a media player. With the Amazon S3 server, you pay only for the bandwidth you use. After a light listening month, you would pay a minimal fee. If you have many listeners in a month, you could pay more than you would for a separately hosted site.

PodBean, a free secondary hosting service, can be updated and customized and offers mobile configurations.

Buzzsprout might be the best option for beginners. It is a free service with options to upgrade to affordable pay plans. You can upload two hours a month free – a little more than a month of 20-minute sermons. The paid accounts allow you to host all sermons indefinitely in a large archive section.

PodcastMachine has a clean interface and design. It includes plenty of free storage and bandwidth. If you want to archive all of your sermons, you will exceed the free limit. The various priced plans are reasonable.

Sermon Cloud gives you a free option to try before you buy. It comes from the same company that created ekklesia360, which specializes in church websites. You need not sign up for their Web package to use the SermonCloud, but you can expect them to keep it updated, as it is part of their basic service.

Sermondrop offers an interesting benefit that other sermon podcast websites do not. You can mail them CDs or cassettes of sermons, and they will convert them for you. They do have a scaled pay option, but those tend to be more expensive.

Sermon Companion makes uploading easy for the novice, but it also charges the most for the options listed for similar services.

There are many ways to get your sermons online. Be certain to ask your webhosting service for suggestions. Websites designed by companies that cater to churches usually offer some sermon-hosting options, although they may charge an extra fee. As you compare prices of some of the services listed here, using your webhosting service may prove to be the best option.

Please leave comments on how you are posting your sermons online. This article lists many options, but we know these are not the only ones available.