Everyone knows how easy it is to publish a blog. At this point, who doesn’t have one of their own? But where blogs have picked up and become more mainstream, podcasting has yet to reach the Mom Plateau. The Mom Plateau is a name I just made up to describe the point at which my mom knows about and understands just what something is. Podcasting isn’t quite there yet.
The only way podcasting will ever reach that plateau is if it’s as easy to start up and publish a podcast as it is to start up and publish a blog. Luckily, with WordPress, a Plugin, and a bit of guidance, anyone can publish their own podcast.
What makes something a podcast?
Briefly, a podcast is nothing more than an RSS feed like the one you have flowing from your blog already, but carrying an audio or video file attachment along for the ride. Traditional podcasts are of the audio variety, but there are plenty of video podcasts out there too.
One common misconception is that you need to do something really different when publishing a podcast entry rather than a blog entry. Truth is, there isn’t much different. A podcast entry can sit right alongside a blog post and no one will be the wiser. The difference, most of the town, will be how people digest your podcast versus your blog.
The vast majority of people, depending on your niche, will be reading your blog using an RSS reader of some sort (Google Reader, NetNewsWire, etc). Podcasts are much more pleasantly consumed using a podcatcher of some sort, like the most popular one available: iTunes.
If you search iTunes for podcasts you’ll see album art, descriptions, and lists of
AAC files for download. But all of this is parsed from a validly constructed RSS feed, same as an RSS reader parses your blog content into different entries.
Enough talk, let’s publish a podcast already.
Podcasting Plugin options
Just like any kind of Plugin, there are a multitude of options when it comes to those that will help you manage your podcast. In good conscience, I can suggest three of them for podcasting:
- Blubrry Powerpress Podcasting — I’ve not personally given this one a go, but I’ve heard great things about it and look forward to giving it a shot the next time I start up a podcast.
- Podcast Channels
- Podcasting — Aptly titled, this is the Plugin I’m using on this blog.
I’m using Podcasting here on this blog, so it’s the one I’ll be using for the tutorial. Odds are the same things can be accomplished with the other two Plugins (and others) but the screenshots won’t match up.
Saving podcast settings
How you end up with an audio file for your podcast is up to you. Grab a USB mic and record straight into GarageBand, as that’s the easiest way to add nice things like chapter titles and changing artwork.
Whatever the kind of audio file you have, you’re going to want to set up your podcast settings on the Plugin settings page. So activate your Plugin, Podcasting, and head over the Podcasting Settings page on your WordPress Dashboard.
The first thing you’ll see on the screen is your podcast feed address, which is the clean address to your podcast RSS feed. Everything after that line should be editable, and you should place in all of your podcast’s info.
Remember that whatever you make as your podcast title will be what shows up in iTunes. Same goes for the tagline and the summary.
There will be a place to add the
URL of your podcast album artwork. Create a high quality 600 by 600 pixel image, upload it, and drop the
URL in there.
Don’t worry about all of the advanced options right now. Get the basics in place, then hit Save Changes.
Posting your first podcast
Pull open a new post screen, same as you would if you were blogging normally. The title becomes this podcast episode’s title, and the content of the post becomes your description in podcast directory listings.
Next you’ll want to upload your audio file using the media uploader. Once it’s up, grab the direct
URL to the audio file, copy it, and close the media uploader.
Below your post area you’ll have a custom field entry titled “Podcasting”. Drop your new
URL in the input area and hit the “Add” button. Optionally modify the new fields that pop up like episode tags, length, and rating and you’re good to go.
Have you had fun yet? Good, because coming up is the really not-so-fun part.
Submitting your podcast to iTunes
Of course there are lots of different ways to digest podcasts, and odds are many of you use these alternative methods. Based on the subscription numbers to the Theme Playground Podcast, I’d say about 10 or 15 percent of you stick with non-iTunes podcatchers. For the rest of you, iTunes will probably be the first place you run off to list your podcast.
Navigate, in iTunes, to the podcast section and look in the middle of the window for the “Submit a Podcast” button. It should ask for your podcast feed. Remember the clean RSS address from your Podcasting Settings page? Copy and paste that into iTunes and submit it.
Pro tip: if you hope to track the number of people subscribing to your podcast in iTunes, treat this like you would any other feed. Run it through Feedburner first, then give that feed to iTunes.
Now what? Now you wait. The process for podcasts being accepted into the iTunes listing is shrouded behind the usual black curtain of Apple, and will take anywhere from three days to a week to be either accepted or rejected. In the meantime just sit back and consider the possibility some poor schlepp in Bangalor is having to listen to your silly podcast.
I didn’t cover anywhere near everything here. There are tons of little tips and tricks for those of us publishing podcasts, on WordPress or otherwise. Do any of you publish your own podcasts? Tell us about them, and what tips you suggest others follow, in the comments below.
Me, I run the Theme Playground Podcast (found here on iTunes), all about WordPress of course. My suggestion? Spend as much as you can afford on a high quality mic, and stick to a regular weekly schedule.