What file types/formats are supported?
At the moment we support popular formats for audio and video podcasting. Acceptable audio formats include MP3, M4A and WMA. Acceptable video formats include MP4, M4V, MOV and WMV.
Let us know if there's a specific format you're looking for or would like to use.
Can I use audio with either service plan?
Yes. Both of our plans support the use of audio.
Can I use video with either service plan?
Yes. Both of our plans support the use of video.
What content can be embedded into my existing website?
At this time you can embed the media players into your existing website to provide content in MP3 and M4A audio formats, as well as MP4, M4V and MOV video formats.
Which plan is best for my church?
The specific plan that is most suitable for your church depends on what you need. We have a detailed explanation of each plan, their benefits, and what type of use they're geared toward on our Services page.
What is an RSS feed?
"RSS" stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a format used on the Internet by web browsers (such as Firefox, Safari and others) to provide regular updates to information that is frequently published. A good example is a news site using an RSS feed to quickly show a reader their most recent articles. When the reader sees a headline that interests him or her, he or she can select it and read the full article. In the context of podcasts (which is how Church Messages Online is using it) the RSS feed will provide the title, speaker's name, date and duration of your message along with a link to the media file.
RSS feeds are used by programs such as iTunes to allow users to subscribe to podcasts. iTunes checks the RSS feeds regularly and when it finds a new message, automatically downloads it to the user's computer. The RSS feed is also used by the iTunes Store® to feature podcasts in their directory listing.
Included with both service plans is a separate RSS feed for audio and video content. We provide instructions for submitting these to the iTunes Store® and also provide links for your visitors to subscribe through iTunes. Using the iTunes Store increases visibility to your church's content and eases your listener's ability to subscribe to your church's messages.
What type of software can I use to prepare messages before uploading?
For preparing audio files we recommend the free program Audacity. It is available for Mac and PC platforms and provides the tools necessary to prepare audio files.
For preparing video files we recommend using QuickTime Pro, $29.99 from Apple's online store. QuickTime Pro is available for Mac and PC and allows you to easily trim video to the proper length (removing unnecessary footage before and after the message). It also includes options to export video in a format suitable for streaming online and for portable media players (such as Apple's iPod®).
What settings should I use to encode the files?
If most messages will be limited to a person speaking (i.e. no music, etc.), the files can be encoded at modest rates.
We recommend encoding audio files in mono with a 22050 Hz or 44100 Hz sample rate and a 64 kbps bitrate. This will result in a file that is about 0.5 MB per minute in size (or 22 MB for 45-minutes). These settings will suit most venues when saving as an MP3, M4A or WMA file. Your individual results may vary; if the final file has a washy, poor cell phone type of sound, increase the bitrate.
Video files need to encode both audio and video. We suggest using the same audio settings described above. Use a video resolution of 320 by 240 with a 384 kbps bitrate. This will result in a video file that is 3.2 MB per minute (or 148 MB for 45-minutes). If the final video is blurry, fuzzy, or does not seem to redraw the picture fast enough, increase the video bitrate. When encoding MP4, M4V or MOV files, the H.264 codec should be used to ensure compatibility with the Adobe Flash player used on Church Messages Online.
While most modern computers can encode audio files fairly quickly, video files do take a substantially longer time to encode. Depending on the speed of the computer used, it could take several hours to encode a video file.
How much control do I have over my content once it's online?
We provide you with an easy to use interface that allows you to control most aspects of how your content is managed. Your control panel will allow you to do the following:
- Add, edit (title, speaker's name, etc.) and remove messages.
- Take individual episodes "offline" to make them unavailable for a period of time, without actually deleting them.
- Make individual episodes hidden so only visitors with the exact web address (URL) will be able to listen or watch (useful for department meetings, etc.).
- Separate audio and video into two separate pages and RSS feeds, or combine them into a single page and RSS feed.
- Set the maximum number of episodes that will be displayed to your visitors. After which messages are archived. (Archived messages are still available for download and can be browsed using a simple, but unique web address you will receive.)
- Set the maximum number of weeks a message is displayed before being archived.
- Publish multiple messages for a given day and control which message is featured on your main page. Whether that's your most recent service; or, if you publish morning and evening services and always want the morning services to always be featured, you can select this as your preference.
- Customize the verbiage of the main page and side panel.
- And more...
How many messages/sermons can I keep online at once?
This depends on how the files are encoded. Following the recommendations we provided above, you can keep 80 audio or 11 video messages with our Standard plan; or 409 audio or 56 video messages with our Enhanced plan. See our Services page for a breakdown.
What happens if I need more storage?
We've arranged our plans to meet the needs of most churches. If for some reason you use the entire capacity alloted for the plan you are on, you can remove older messages. If you want to keep a larger archive of your messages, please e-mail us to let us know your specific needs; we'll be happy to discuss additional options with you.
What happens if I go over my monthly bandwidth?
We've setup our service to prevent you from going over your alloted bandwidth. If you reach the designated limit for the service plan you're on, access to your media will be temporarily disabled while we work with you to find a solution for your bandwidth needs.
This course of action is designed to prevent you from incurring unnecessary, and potentially costly, overage charges.
How do I pay for the service?
We accept cheques from Canadian banks, or most major credit cards through PayPal. PayPal also makes it easy to setup recurring monthly payments automatically. When signing-up for our service, you will have the option for which payment method and frequency you want. You can pay per month, quarter, or annually. We do not provide refunds when paying annually; however, we do provide a 10% discount if you prepay for a full year.
If you choose to pay by cheque, we require minimum two months payment initially and we will invoice you 30-days before the end of your last payment period. The initial cheque will require 10 business days for clearing, during which time you will not be able to publish content. Payments made by cheque in Canadian dollars are invoiced at the current exchange rate plus %5.
Can I change service plans after signing up?
Absolutely. You simply need to use the contact form on our site to let us know and we'll make the appropriate changes. If you're paying monthly, the change will take affect at the start of your next billing period. If you're paying annually, your balance is prorated and the length of your service will be adjusted according to the service plan you are switching to.
What if I'm not happy with the service?
We want to provide you with the best service possible. If there's something you're not happy with let us know. If you find our service is simply not the right choice for your church, you can cancel your service at any time. We provide a full refund for cancelations within the first 30 days (one exception is that we do not offer refunds when prepaying an entire year).