How to publish a Podcast

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This Tutorial has detailed information about how to publish your Audacity-created podcast on the internet. In some ways, this is the most important stage of all. Unless you podcast purely to entertain yourself, you want others to hear what you have to say.
Please see Tutorial - Mixing a Narration With Background Music in the Audacity Manual for how to create and edit your podcast. Steps for legacy versions of Audacity are here.
 
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Contents


Find a host

Once you have edited your recording in Audacity, export it as an MP3 audio file. This requires adding the LAME encoding library to your computer. If you have not obtained LAME yet, grab it here.

MP3 is a universal, size-compressed audio format. It will play on any computer or on iPods and other portable devices, and it will be small enough to distribute via the web. Choose an appropriate MP3 bit rate when you export from Audacity. A talk-only podcast or one with only a few jingles may be fine at 56 kbps or lower, and your subscribers will appreciate the quicker download times.

In order for people to download or listen to your MP3 podcast file, it must be uploaded somewhere on the internet. You will need to make sure your internet host:

  • is reliable
  • has appropriate storage space and data transfer limits for when your podcasts grow in number and become more popular
  • gives you sufficient control over downloading and streaming of your podcasts
  • gives you sufficient control over the RSS feeds that subscribers will use to keep abreast of new podcasts.

Host your Podcast yourself

You can use your own server or simply sign up for an account with a hosting service, then upload your MP3 files.

Do it yourself

These are some tips if you just have some web space and want to set up the MP3 files and RSS feeds exactly as you want.

  • Once the MP3 files is uploaded to your web site, create a link for it. You can create a simple download link which is just the web address of the file, for example http://www.mypodcast.com/podcast.mp3. However, when a user left-clicks on a plain text link like this, what happens depends on the user's web browser and its installed media plug-ins. A left-click may download the file to the hard drive, might launch the computer's default MP3 player or might try to play the file inside the web browser.
  • If you instruct your user to right-click the link, this will always enable them to download the file to their drive.
  • If you embed your MP3 in your web page using "embed tags", you can choose if the MP3 plays in the background or if the browser's media player appears in the web page, which will give the user an on and off button to play the file in the browser. You can also choose whether to autoplay the file on page load or not, and other options. This page shows you how to use embed tags: http://www.webreference.com/js/column20/embed.html .
  • To make a plain text link from which users can stream your MP3 into their default MP3 player, create a text file with .m3u (or .pls) extension, paste into it the full web address of the MP3 file, then upload the .m3u or .pls file to your web page.

Install blog/podcast software

It is not that hard to install and set up software that enables you to publish your podcast on the internet. Here are a couple of options.

  • Movable Type is a fully-featured tool but not open source. It is free to acquire and run for private individuals but not for commercial businesses.

Host everything with someone else

There are many good companies that offer a total package: they host your podcast files, make it easy to generate short posts with information about each podcast, and they generate RSS feeds. However you may still want to change the RSS feeds with those generated by FeedBurner, as described below.

There are some disadvantages to hosting your podcast with someone else. If you want more than a very basic service, you'll need to pay some money. If you don't like the way your page or podcast is configured, you may not be able to change it.

  • Google Blogger is one of the largest free blogging services, but is not a podcast service. After creating your free blog, you must upload your MP3 file to another server then point to it in your blog post. Nonetheless if you have somewhere can store your MP3 files indefinitely for free (for example, on http://minus.com/), Blogger gives you a completely free way to advertise your podcasts to the world.


Create a better XML feed

If you use the services discussed earlier in this tutorial like WordPress or Movable Type, you're generating an RSS feed every time you publish a new podcast. However the feeds are typically basic, and creating the feeds yourself can be a lot of work.

A good compromise is a free and comprehensive service named FeedBurner.

FeedBurner

To start, go to the FeedBurner site and create an account. Then, if you're not automatically taken there, click on the "My Feeds" link and follow the instructions to burn a feed. FeedBurner will automatically detect links to MP3 files in your blog postings and set up your RSS feed accordingly.

A 50x50 pixels JPEG or PNG image uploaded to your site can make a nice logo for your podcast. If you want to copyright your material, something like "Copyright 2012 Geoff Podcaster" will suffice, though consider using Creative Commons Licensing too (see below).

You can find the latest support questions for FeedBurner here and can ask for help on the FeedBurner Help Group.

Warning icon Do not include irrelevant or repeated words in your Podcast subtitle, Podcast summary or Podcast search keywords, or there is a very good chance that your podcast will be blacklisted by iTunes.

Use FeedBurner with Your Own Domain Name

With the FeedBurner RSS feed address set up, you will be able to advertise it at once. However, you may not want your feed's URL to be feeds.feedburner.com/MyPodcastName. Instead, you may prefer to brand your RSS feed with your own URL using FeedBurner's MyBrand service. However to use your own domain name with your podcast's RSS feed, you'll need to make a change to your domain's DNS records, or ask your host if they can change it for you.


Licensing your Podcast

You should strongly consider putting your podcasts under a Creative Commons License. This makes it easier for people to re-use your podcast in ways that you specify, thereby spreading the word about you. Podcasting is about communicating and collaborating with people all over the world; a Creative Commons license furthers those purposes.


Making your podcast available to the world is not sufficient of itself. With millions of podcasts in existence you must also advertise and promote your podcast.

Make absolutely sure your web site visitors can see that you offer a podcast. The best way to do so is to use the widely-accepted orange feed icon:

RSS feed icon

Include suitable text like "Subscribe to My Podcast!" next to the icon. This makes it clear that this is the link to your podcast's RSS feed. Also include a link to the RSS feed in your post or announcement for each podcast.

Submit your feed to iTunes and other podcast directories

iTunes is the most widely used podcast aggregator in the world, so it's important it indexes your podcast. Follow Apple's Making a Podcast document to the letter, especially "Testing Your Feed" and "Submitting Your Podcast to the iTunes Store."

Don't forget other major podcast directories and search engines, such as Feed Shark and Podcast Alley.

Tell everyone else

Put your podcast's web site on your business cards, letter heading, e-mail signature and in your Facebook, Twitter or MySpace description. Tell people you meet about it. If you're on a mailing list, and it's relevant news to share, tell everyone on the list.

Get the word out in a polite way, and you'll vastly increase the likelihood that listeners will check you out.

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