Want to know why others are using SnapShot Web to manage their Church Websites? Here's what a pastor from Hedgesville has to say about using SnapShot Web for the church website at Hedgesville Church:
Our church is located in Hedgesville, WV (Eastern Panhandle) and has been in this location now for about 34 years. We are a very young church at heart with contemporary worship and very strong children, youth and young adult ministries. Our first goal is to serve our community and let them see the love of Christ in what we do not only what we say. We love technology! We try to squeeze every drop out of everything we have and Snapshot helps us do just that.
I am the Associate pastor and have been on staff going on ten years. I lead our young adult ministry (HC Live) and handle all the technical stuff. (sound, lights, video, graphic design,computers, etc)
We use our church website as the front door of our church. Visitors can get a feel of what our church is like while finding out info and schedules for all out ministries. We also embed sermon archives and a live stream for our Sunday morning service. This gives people a chance to experience a service before they get here.
We routinely update the schedules and announcements and sermon archives and we have totally changed the look of our site once since we have been with SnapShot Web.
We have had visitors attend out church expressly because they visited the website. It's the first thing people looking for a church do when they come into a new community. We have to do our best and SnapShot has made that easier for us to do in house instead of a big web design bill.
The first tip I can think of is to look around. There are a ton of incredible looking church websites out there and you can get a feel for what is good and what's not. I have found that it is pretty easy to customize snapshot to fit just about anything you want. Don't try to come up with everything on your own. If I like the way a website looks as soon as I see it then I try to look at WHY I like it and incorporate those principles into ours. Chances are the really good websites at the really big churches cost a lot of money and I can get that look for a lot less as SnapShot Web is quite affordable.
Our team of people who head up our small groups usually change the info about their group activities themselves. It is extremely easy to show people how to make basic changes to their pages.
One other thing! I have been a customer of SnapShot Web for more than a couple of years now and the one thing that stands out is their customer support. They get back with you quickly! They have answered all my technical questions and have equipped me to make changes to our site for a very custom look. The customer support is first class.
So far in the Church Website Podcasting Series we have discussed Why You Should Podcast and the steps to Recording Sermons and Resizing Sermons for the web. Once you have sized your mp3 so that it's web-ready, you will want to upload the file to the internet. There are a handful of ways to do this but in my opinion, there is one that stand out as the best option for most church websites - that is DropBox.com.
Go to dropbox.com and set up a free account in just minutes. You'll start with 2GB of FREE Storage. By sharing your love for DropBox on Facebook and Twitter as well as inviting some friends via email, you can quickly boost your free space up over 10GB. If you have sized your sermon files well, this free space will be enough for you to host over over 1000 sermons. That's over 20 years of your preaching available on your church website for free.
Once you have signed up for DropBox, you will download a desktop app that will basically just be a folder on your hard drive. You can put the same folder on all of your computers and your mobile devices and anytime you add a file (such as a sermon mp3 file) to the DropBox folder, it will be accessible to you on any of your synched devices. You will also be provided a direct url to the file - something that looks like - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/########/SermonTitle.mp3. This direct link will be what will be used to play sermons on church websites. You will be able to embed or play this file with almost any website hosting provider. If you have a SnapShot Website, you can play the mp3 with the new Flow Podcast Feature.
More on embedding or playing the sermon on your Church Website in part 4. For now, sign up for a DropBox account and get started uploading your sermons. If you have questions about setting up or using the service, let us know. We love to help.
In the last post, I explained a few of the great benefits of setting up a podcasts for church websites. Now for the process of beginning to pull it off.
Recording Sermons - The manner of recording will have a lot to do with the sound system that you are using at your church. If there is not already a built-in recording mechanism in your sound system, you will want to connect your computer and record the sermon using software such as Audacity or Garage Band. Once you have the audio file on your computer, you will be able to burn the file to CDs. To do this you will want to use the “Export as WAV” or “Export as AIFF” command to save your recording in a sound file.
Shrinking Sermons - The WAV and AAIF files will be large files that are CD quality. Sometimes people will unknowingly add these CD quality files to their church websites. Sometimes these files can be 50MB or more for the 30-45 minute sermon. You may have experienced this in the past when you go to a church website and click to play or download a sermon… 10 minutes later, the file is ready. Most people don't want to wait that long so you will either have to convince your preacher to shorten the sermon length to about 5 minutes or simply reduce the bit rate of the audio file to make it web-ready.
If your Audio file is merely spoken word (as opposed to music) you can reduce the bit rate to 32kbps (kilobits per second) without compromising much quality. Some have even said that you can take the file down to 16kbps but in my experience, this can add a bit too much static to the sermon. If you are using Audacity or Garage Band, you will be able to reduce the bit rate right from the interface and export the file as am mp3. If you already have a large audio file and you would like to simply reduce the bit rate to make a web-ready smaller file, one easy and free way to pull this off is through iTunes.
Here are the steps to make it happen:
Using this method you will be able to reduce the file size of a 30 minute sermon down to about 6MB - 8MB. Once you have done this, you are ready to upload the file to the web so that you can drop it on your church website. More on where to store this file for free in part 3.
When I was in college, I went to a local church with fantastic teaching. At the back of the sanctuary, there was a audio cassette rack where you could pick up a copy of a previous sermon for a one-dollar donation. I loved this cassette rack. I loved that if I had to miss a week of church I could grab the cassette from the rack and play it in my car on the way home. I loved that if there was a sermon that I thought a friend or family member would especially enjoy that I could grab a copy of it and hand it to them.
The days of the audio cassette are over (in most places, I'm assuming.) Most churches made the jump to CDs several years ago and then to the internet. With the technologies available today, sharing a sermon with those you love is easier than ever.
If your church is not already recording and sharing your sermons through your church website, here are four quick reasons that you should start right away:
We've had lots of people asking about easy ways to add video and audio podcasts to their church websites. We've had the Advanced podcasting feature for several months but we're now ready to announce that things just got a whole lot better.
The New Flow Podcast Feature is here. Sign up for a 100% risk free 30-Day trial to test it out yourself.
There are all sorts of features that you are going to love.
Check out the video tour that will show the player in action.
Here are a few of our favorite features: