I said I would be returning here to do another tutorial on podcasting once I got mine uploaded and running. Well, yesterday I got my acceptance email from Apple saying my podcast would now be available at iTunes. Yes! I am new to the podcast world, but I have done a lot of research and I’m sharing my experiences here to help other newbies get their own podcasts off the ground.
In order to get your podcast heard, you need to host it. This requires a little more than just uploading it to your existing website. Most web hosts do not like when their customers host large media files on their servers. In fact, if you read the fine print, web hosts sometimes strictly forbid you to host media or other large downloadable content. That is where a podcast hosting site comes into play. There are many to choose from including Libsyn, Podbean, Blubrry, and many others. The decision is yours, but you want to make sure you have control over your product and have enough storage space and bandwidth. Plans start at free and go up from there.
I chose Podbean to host mine. Libsyn is considered the gold standard in podcast hosting, but I have a friend who does a show on 30-year-0ld movies and he uses Podbean and likes it. I am on the cheapest plan right now ($3/mo charged annually) but will probably upgrade to the unlimited plan ($9/mo) once my show gets more views, episodes, and subscribers. Podbean is easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and has very clear and easy instructions for getting your podcast on iTunes which is essential to getting more views (more on that shortly).
Finishing and Uploding
When you’re done recording and editing your podcast, you need to convert it to an MP3 file. Audacity does this using a plugin called Lame, which you’ll need to download and install. This plugin will let you export your Audacity file to an MP3 and tag it with the information that iTunes and many podcasting hosts require. That is, title, author, track number, album, and description. Those tags are necessary to get iTunes to properly display your show. Without them, iTunes will not approve or accept your show.
Once you have the MP3 file ready to go, you will upload it to your podcast host. You will use the interface for whichever host you choose and follow the instructions. After the file is uploaded and you have filled in the information, you will need to get the link to the RSS feed in order to syndicate the show on iTunes or any other site like Stitcher Radio. Most podcast hosts make this very easy.
To really get a large audience, you need to get your podcast on iTunes. Think of it like selling a toaster on your own website or on ebay. You want the biggest market possible.
Uploading a podcast to iTunes is really easy. You simply go to the iTunes store and click on podcasts. Then find the link to “create a podcast.” Fill in all of the information (create an account if you don’t already have one) and make sure to validate your RSS feed by clicking, wait for it, “validate.” The RSS feed is from your host and you’ll need to navigate to it from your host first. Like I said, most podcast hosts make this really easy. Once you have all the info in, click submit.
After a couple of days, you’ll get an email from Apple saying they have approved your show and it should be available on iTunes shortly. You may get the other kind of email saying your show sucks out loud and you need to do something else. Kidding. If your show is not approved, it is because information is missing, usually in the MP3 tags. Or you are missing artwork. You need to make sure you include a 1400×1400 pixel logo (can be bigger but needs to look good shrunk down). Logos are easy to make if you have some talent with Photoshop or GIMP (free and pretty powerful). If not, try a site like fiverr where you can get someone to make you one for $5. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for (normally it would cost $200+), but sometimes you get some really great results there.
Misc. Helpful Tips
Before you try to get published on iTunes or Stitcher Radio, you want to have at least three episodes recorded and ready. iTunes has a “New and Noteworthy” section that you really want to be featured on because it’s right there on the start page. In order to get there, you need downloads and ratings. Having more episodes gets you more downloads (if you have 3 episodes and someone subscribes, you get 3 downloads).
Publish regularly. I’ve read that anything less frequent than once per week is death. Some guys do a show once a day. I am aiming to do 5-6 shows per month. Just like updating your blog helps to drive traffic, so does publishing new shows. People will unsubscribe after a while if no new content is available for them.
Keep your first shows a little shorter than you would think. I have always said I want to do a 30-minute show for my podcast. My first two full-length shows were just under 20 minutes. I’m not concerned. Now, if the first shows are 90 minutes, you might have trouble retaining listeners. Kevin Smith can do 90+ minute podcasts (The Fatman on Batman) because he’s freaking Kevin Smith. You and I are not.
Keep at it and you’ll do fine. Let me know if there is anything I have forgotten and I’ll un-forget it.