Welcome to the final part of our series on podcasting for beginners.
If you haven't yet, read the other parts:
Finally, you are ready to upload your audio file to the web and push it out to iTunes. Like the rest of the sections we covered, you have a variety of choices on how to make your podcast audio accessible to your audience.
To have the best results, focus on the following 4 requriements for hosting your podcast online.
Requirement #1. Website Hosting
Every podcast needs a home and your best bet is a self-hosted website. Like editing, many web designers and developers exist if you need help creating your site.
This is what you need in order to launch your website:
- Domain Name: As discussed earlier, the domain name should be or relate to your podcast’s name. It’s the www.yourpodcast.com you type in the address bar of your browser and acts in the same way as your address does for your house. Use 1and1.com to get some of the best rates and features (*Note- 1and1 recently changed their domain center user interface and it has had some inconveniences but not enough to make me look elsewhere). Never use GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com. Both market in "friendly" ways but slam you with hidden fees in the end.
- Hosting: In order to get the most out of your site, you want to be self-hosted. The host is where all of your website’s framework and files reside. It acts the same way the foundation does for a house. Use Arvixe or Siteground. They very rarely (if ever) have website downtimes and their customer support is smart, fast, and helpful. Never use Bluehost.com for hosting. Nearly every marketing and podcast "guru" on the web recommends Bluehost because of its large affiliate payouts. Bluehost is notorious for outages and incredibly slow, inexperienced customer service.
- Website: I believe the training videos here at OSTraining may have some advice on that part of the process :) I use WordPress for my podcasting sites. WordPress is a beautiful platform because it has a very low barrier to entry but can be infinitely expanded on as your skills grow.
Now that you have the website for your podcast created, you need to get your audio file on the web and out to the masses. The final 2 things you’ll need are media hosting and a means of managing distribution.
Requirement #2. Media Hosting
Like website hosting, media hosting is a space on the web dedicated solely to your audio files. Hopefully your podcast is going to receive plenty of downloads and listens. You need a server that can handle that amount of traffic and sharing with your website servers is the wrong way to do it.
Several media hosts are worth looking into:
- Libsyn.com: Libsyn has some of the best rates and dependability in the market. You won’t regret using Libsyn.
- Blubrry.com: Blubrry is very comparable to Libsyn in terms of rates and performance. Where they lack is in the usability of their website. It’s very clunky and difficult to navigate. Besides that, they are another quality choice.
- Soundcloud.com: Soundcloud is growing in popularity and taking steps to being a real competitor. They don’t compare with the previous two companies listed, but they should be a solid contender soon.
Advice on media hosting plans: Estimate how much data you’ll need per month before signing up for a plan. For example, if your average podcast audio file size is 50mb and you plan on a new episode every week, that’s about 200mb needed per month. Try finding a plan that is a little larger than that (like 250mb) to avoid overage fees on your uploads. Last, make sure statistics are part of your plan package. Statistics will make it easier to see which shows are performing well, what areas are listening, and more.
The image below shows an example of how our Happy Mitten podcast appears on our site. We use Libsyn and the black bar is the podcast player:
Requirement #3. Distribution
So how are you going to get your podcast to iTunes and the rest of the world? If you are using a WordPress website, get the Blubrry podcasting plugin. It’s the number one podcasting plugin and it’s free. Plugins extend WordPress to do almost anything. In this case, it’s to extend your WordPress blog to sync with your media host and play your podcast episodes.
You’ll need to do a bit of reading on the Blubrry site, but basically this is how it works:
- Install the Blubrry plugin via your WordPress admin menu. Activate the plugin.
- Go over the settings to configure things like the podcast rss feed, how the audio player will display on the post, and more.
- Create a post for each episode you have done.
- In the post, include the show notes (a summary of the episode, hyperlinks to important things discussed, etc.) There is also an area to put that audio file’s hyperlink (the link to where it is on your media host) and some fields to fill out information for iTunes.
After making a few posts and configuring your Blubrry plugin, validate your podcast feed. Your podcast RSS feed is different than your websites regular RSS feed and it’s what iTunes uses to keep your podcast up-to-date. Your feed will mostly be "www.yourwebsite.com/feed/podcast" and you’ll need to paste that into a site like castfeedvalidator.com. If that checks out, you should be ready to submit to iTunes.
Requirement #4. iTunes
Built right into the Blubrry Plugin is a link that launches the necessary process to get your podcast synced with iTunes. Click the link, set up or log into your iTunes account and submit the feed to get the process started. Within a day or two, you should see your podcast live in iTunes.
Tips before submitting a podcast to iTunes:
- You have about 8 weeks to make it on the "new and noteworthy" section and gain extra exposure. To maximize your chances of this happening, wait to submit your feed to iTunes until you have at least 3 episodes live. That way you have more content to consume and a higher chance of people investing in your podcast.
- Make sure you follow the expectations for the iTunes cover art. This is the picture that represents your entire podcast so give it some thought. Cover art "must be in the JPEG or PNG file formats and in the RGB color space with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 2048 x 2048 pixels."
- Once the podcast goes live, make sure to leverage your social networks to get involved. Make words like "subscribe," "review," and "share" part of your common vocabulary. The more people you can get involved and promoting your podcast, the better.
Here's my Happy Mitten podcast on iTunes:
Final thoughts and feedback on this Podcasting series
Starting a podcast is a lot of work but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Hopefully this post gave you some helpful information on how to start your own podcast. Still have questions? Want more help? You can find me at JeffLarge.com or ComeAliveCreative.com.