Podcasting Demystified

Podcasting is a widely popular method of delivering media over the internet. But many of us haven't a clue of how or why it works. Here we'll explain what podcasting is and how you can use it on your site for sermons, chats, or audio blogs.

Podcasting is a subscription based service.  Imagine that you are the publisher of a magazine.  People subscribe to your magazine and you deliver to them each new issue as soon as it's released.  In the same way, if you produce a podcast, you can deliver new episodes of the podcast to your subscribers instantly and automatically.  People like podcasts because they can get media content delivered to them as soon as new content is released.

What if they don't have iPods?

You may think that people have to have iPods to subscribe to your podcasts, but that's not true.  Podcast is just the brand name that stuck, sort of like everyone calls a tissue a Kleenex.  The truth is that you can subscribe to and listen to podcasts on your desktop or laptop computer, or with any portable media player.  In the future, podcasting will probably become even more widespread as mobile phones integrate podcasting and offer people the chance to subscribe to media content without even having a computer at all.

So what is a podcast?

Let me give you one way to think of a podcast.  This might be oversimplifying a bit for the real techies out there, but for the rest of us, this will do.

A podcast is a blog with media files.

That's it.  Make a blog, attach media files to each post and you've got yourself a podcast.  Now you can start to see the real power of our system's blog element.  Not only can it list information about your media neatly on your website, but it can also simultaneously serve that information out as a podcast.  What could be simpler?

Yeah, but how do I make it go?

Ok, there's just a few more things you need to know, so why don't we give it a try.  Follow these steps:

  1. Create a page for your podcast.

  2. Add a blog element to your page.

    Add Element Button
  3. Add at least one post and attach an mp3 file to the post.  You can do this either by using the "attach file" at the bottom of the edit post screen, or you can link to the file directly inside the text element for the posts body content.
  4. View your blog page and find the orange "RSS" button which should automatically appear at the bottom of your blog element.  Click the RSS button. 
    Blog XML Icon
  5. You should see a page with several lines of code written on it.  Look in the address bar of your browser and copy the entire URL from the address bar (this will be something like "http://[yourdomain]/rss.aspx?p=2647...etc").  This is the "address" of your podcast. 

What just happened?

Every blog element generates an RSS feed which is written in the XML language.  When you click the "RSS" button it takes you to the home page for this feed and shows you the actual XML code for your feed.  It also shows you the address for your feed in the address bar.  This address is very important as it is the information others will need to subscribe to your podcast.

NOTE:  You can also find the RSS feed address for your blog element by clicking the "settings" button for that element and looking for the section on RSS.  Either way, you will get the same result.

What do I do with my podcast address?

Now that you've got your podcast's address, you can share it with others so that they can subscribe.  If someone subscribes to your podcast using the address you've provided, they will be updated every time you make a new post to that particular blog element.  Here is more detailed information about submitting your RSS feed to iTunes, http://www.apple.com/itunes/whatson/podcasts/specs.html.

The most popular way to share a podcast is through iTunes.  iTunes is a free software that a lot of people use to subscribe to podcasts.  In order to make your podcast available on iTunes, you have to submit your podcast address to iTunes.  To do this, you will need to download iTunes, create an account, then go to the podcast area and click on "submit a podcast".  iTunes must approve your podcast and then it will be listed in their podcast directory.  One great thing about iTunes is that if they approve your podcast, they provide you with a link that will take a user directly to your podcast's page.  You can put this link on your website for people to use if they wish to subscribe with iTunes.

For all other "podcatcher" software, you can simply share out your actual podcast address.  Users of "podcatcher" software can enter your address and add it directly to their list of podcasts.

STOP!  Before you procede to share your podcast address to iTunes or directly, please take a look at our help article entitled, How and Why to Use Feedburner.  This article provides further information about an additional free service that can help your podcast.

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Lucas wrote:
This is a great article, thanks!

Tue, November 10, 2009 @ 9:37 AM

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