Graphic Design & Web Development

Adding podcasts to your website and iTunes

Background

What is a podcast?

Let's first explain what RSS feeds are, because this helps in explaining what a podcast is. RSS is an acronym for "Really Simple Syndication". It is a format for sharing and distributing Web content. The concept is, instead of you having to manually visit your favorite blogs, news sites, or other websites to see if there is new content, you can subscribe to the site's RSS feed and the information can automatically be "delivered" to you. Using an RSS reader, you can view data feeds from various sources, which will usually include a headline, summary, and link to the full story. It's an easy and efficient way to receive notification when new information is available in a specific area of interest.

The commonly used symbol for an RSS feed is an orange box with a white symbol resembling airwaves radiating from the bottom left corner (). When an RSS feed is available on a website, it is usually indicated by this icon or some variation of it.

Now, a podcast is simply an RSS feed that contains audio content. The content contained in a podcast can vary significantly, from a song, to an educational lecture, even video. Subscribers can download or listen to the contents of a podcast at a time and place of their choosing.

How do I subscribe to podcasts?

Podcast receivers are programs that display the contents of a podcast, allowing individuals to download the audio file and listen to it on their computer or mp3 player. iTunes is a popular application that consumers can use to subscribe and listen to podcasts. (iTunes can be downloaded for free from www.apple.com). Once users have a podcast receiver installed, they can simply click the icon or they can copy and paste the podcast feed link into the podcast receiver. If your podcast is submitted into iTunes, people can also search and subscribe directly through the application.

So how do I get my own podcast started?

If you already have audio recordings you would like to use for your podcast, you're halfway there. An RSS feed will need to be created for you and then uploaded to your website or web server along with your audio files. At that point it can also be submitted for inclusion into iTunes.

What you need to provide:

1) Your audio files

The audio needs to be in either .mp3 or .m4a format. The .mp3 format is standard and more common, but .m4a is also acceptable and generally has better quality and smaller file sizes.

2) Descriptive information

Your podcast should have a title, short description (a blurb or sentence), a long description (2 or 3 sentences), and keywords (about five, that users can use to search for your podcast on iTunes). There is other information that you can provide for your podcast, such as author, frequency of episodes, etc. Those fields are not mandatory, but it's always a good idea to include as much information as you can. When you submit your audio, make sure you also send this information separately for each episode. Your podcast should also have artwork associated with it.  For iTunes, there are specific requirements that need to be met for your cover art. To make sure these specifications are met and that you have an attractive cover that reflects your podcast, you should have a professional designer create this for you. (If you need help with this, contact N-Vision Designs to create your custom podcast cover artwork for you.)

What you need to know:

Audio and video files take up additional storage space and bandwidth on your web server. Depending on your host's limitations, eventually it may become necessary to either remove/archive old episodes, or pay for increased storage.  

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