Podcast Software for The Beginner Podcaster – Part 2
In part 1 of my Software For The Beginner Podcaster I provided an overview of DAW recording software and plugins for mixing and mastering your podcast, but now that you have a podcast recorded, how do you get it online? That’s where Part 2 of the Software for the Beginner Podcaster series comes in to play, where we’ll cover setting up a website, installing the software needed to publish blog articles and podcasts and getting your podcast listed on external services like iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio and TuneIn.
Web Hosting & Domain Names
While it may seem like a good deal to get a free website somewhere, a lot of times being hosted on some-really-long-unique-name.someone-elses-site.com can prevent you from being properly indexed on search engines, which means that people aren’t going to be able to find your content, no matter how relevant it is to their search. If you’re not terribly interested in having traffic directly to your website, that isn’t exactly a problem, but if your revenue models include any sort of ad impression, or targeted product placement advertising, driving traffic to your actual site is priority number one when it comes to converting your listeners into revenue. Assuming that you’re working off of a similar model, you’re going to need a domain name and web hosting.
Domain Names are fairly cheap and will cost an average of about $15.00 a year, depending on what registrar you use to purchase them. Personally, I recommend using GoDaddy.com for all my domain purchases because of their reliability, quick turn around, ease-of-use on admin panels and excellent customer service.
Picking a domain name is fairly straightforward, but you’re going to have to put a good amount of thought into coming up with something unique, catchy, easy to remember and ultimately, fitting for the podcast you’re going to create. Finding a name that hasn’t already been taken can be a difficult task, so I recommend coming up with a few good ideas and some variations on those ideas that you’ll be happy with. Your domain name is your brand and it’s going to be the thing people identify you with, so it’s important to make sure you pick something that is right for you.
Web Hosting, while important, gives a fair amount more flexibility than choosing a domain name . That is to say, it’s pretty easy to transfer your site to a new webhost down the road if you’re not happy with it, but it’s not as easy to rebrand yourself under a new domain name. With that said, when it comes to podcasting, you have a few choices for web hosting;
- Libsyn is probably one of the best known and most used hosts for podcasting that’s out there, with hosting plans starting at just $5.00/mo, however, they don’t support domain hosting, meaning your domain will have to forward to your Libsyn page instead of being directly accessible from your whatever-name-you-picked.com domain name. You’re limited to 50MB per month for storage (meaning, you get an additional 50MB each month) and without paying for their more-expensive services, you’re not getting a whole lot of bells-and-whistles for your podcast.
- Blubrry is another podcast-specific hosting plan, which is actually more of a media-host and notsomuch an actual web host. They offer a lot of premium services, like in-podcast ad placements and syndication that can help you monetize your podcast a little better, but for large amounts of storage and high bandwidth usage, you’re going to end up paying a lot of money. Their cheapest hosting plan starts at $12/mo, and will get you 100MB of storage per month (meaning, you get an additional 100MB each month) with unlimited bandwidth. Considering each of our episodes at Above The Airwaves are about 70MB each and we post somewhere between 4 and 8 episodes a month, the storage restrictions are fairly limiting for us, but if you’re planning to only do one or two shorter episodes per month, I can see it being a reasonable host. The downside though, is without their premium hosting, you don’t actually get a domain-hosted site and the best you can hope for is getting your shiney new dot-com address to forward to your Blubrry page. One solid benefit of Blubrry though, is that they actually wrote the Powerpress plugin for WordPress, which I’ll be talking about later on in this post.
- HostGator is a webhost I highly recommend. Some of the key features you get with even their least expensive hosting packages include; unlimited domains, unlimited email accounts, and unlimited bandwidth. The unlimited bandwidth alone would be worth a few hundred dollars on other hosting services, plus you get unlimited storage, a cPanel controlled administration system, automated install of wordpress (which I’ll tell you about soon) and direct FTP access if you need it. Now here is the tricky part, HostGator has a “WordPress Hosting” plan that you can sign up for that is a few dollars cheaper than their other plans, but it limits the number of visits you can have per month, which is counterintuitive to trying to grow your business, so I would recommend you ignore those and go for their Hatchling Plan. If you purchase 36 months worth of hosting, you can get a pretty big discount (like, you pay about $3.95/mo), but even if you go month-to-month, you’re only looking at $10.95/mo.You can try using the following coupon codes to get a better deal, all of which were valid at the time of writing this;
FREEUPGRADE3 – Not sure how it calculates the coupon, but 36 months of Hatchling Plan hosting costs about $120 when using it. That comes out to about $3.33/mo.
SNAPPYDAY – Up to 30% off new hosting plans.
CJSAVE25 – 25% off your order.
WordPress, Powerpress and Getting Your Podcast on iTunes/Google Play
The easiest way to manage your new podcast and website is going to be through the use of a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress. If you ended up getting hosting though Blubrry or HostGator, you should be able to set up a new WordPress site with a few clicks. For HostGator, follow the guide on WordPress installation to get started. If you’re installing on your own web host, you can follow the Installation Guide on WordPress.org to get everything set up.
Once WordPress is installed, you can search Google to find a responsive theme that works for you, or you can design your own. I’m not going to into themes in this article because there are honestly so many to choose from, each with their own pros and cons, that I could fill a full article just discussing them. I’ll leave that particular choice up to you, but you can check the WordPress Theme Directory to get started.
There are a few plugins you’re going to need for your WordPress installation in order to truly get the most out of your podcasting experience. First and foremost, you’re going to need PowerPress by Blubrry. If you went with Blubrry hosting you’ve already got it and you can skip ahead, but if not, you can follow this guide on how to search for and install a WordPress Plugin. Here’s a few plugins you may be interested in;
- PowerPress works by allowing you to create a podcast-ready RSS feed, post audio files and featured images for your podcast episodes to automatically embed an audio player into your podcast posts. This really is the meat-and-potatoes of your podcasting site. It handles all the backend stuff related to your audio files leaving you with the easy tasks of uploading the file to your server and typing up a related post for each of your podcasts.
- Jetpack is one of the few plugins on this list that is actually developed by WordPress themselves. The features are way too numerous to list, but some of the key highlights are; Automatic publishing of new posts to social networks, automatic sharing of new content to search engines, search engine compatible sitemaps and more. It would be on this list if the only feature was the social network auto-sharing, so all the other added benefits just make it even more appealing.
- SumoMe is another plugin in the too-many-features-to-list category, but some of the primary benefits are the integrated social sharing buttons that appear on each page, Google Analytics integrations and their Discover app, which lets you exchange links with other blogs/podcasts running the SumoMe plugin to automatically get you advertised on other pages.
- FatPanda Facebook Comments replaces the standard WordPress comment system with a Facebook Comment system. There are a lot of plugins out there that do this, but I find that most of them are fairly difficult to get positioned correctly on your template, or that they don’t actually replace the built-in comment system, which leaves you having two separate comment boxes and a whole lot of ugliness on your site.
Now that you have your plugins installed and your site is pretty usable, we need to start working on getting your podcast out to the masses, because what good is sitting down and recording, setting up a website and posting your podcasts if no one is listening to them? Don’t fret though, it’s actually pretty easy to get listed on external services.
Submitting to iTunes
Before you submit to iTunes, there’s a few things you’ll need to prepare ahead of time before you begin your submission;
- You’re going to need your Feed URL. If you’ve been following along and you have PowerPress installed, your feed should be http://www.yourdomainname.com/index.php/feed where “yourdomainname.com” is your actual domain name.
- You’re going to need some show artwork in a JPG or PNG file that is at least 1400 x 1400 pixels in size. Your image can be as large as 3000 x 3000, but no larger (I recommend a 1400 x 1400 JPG image).
- You need a completely unique Program Name. This can be the name of your show, the name of your website, or something completely random, but whatever you choose, it will end up being the name people have to search for in order to find your show on iTunes.
- You’ll need an Apple ID tied to a valid email address. If you don’t have an Apple ID, you should create a new Apple ID now.
- You’ll need to download iTunes and install it on your PC or Mac.
- You’ll need to have created at least one Post with Podcast media in either MP3, M4A, MP4, M4V, PDF or EPUB format.
Once you have all of those prerequisites out of the way, you can actually get started on your submission.
To complete your submission, follow the steps below;
- Sign into iTunes Podcast Connect using your Apple ID. Note: You may have to sign into iTunes using your Apple ID before you can sign into iTunes Podcast Connect.
- Once you’re signed in, click on the [+] icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
- Enter your Feed URL into the text box and click the “Validate” button.
- If your feed is valid, you’ll see a Feed Preview load. Once loaded you can review your podcast artwork, description, general information and episodes. If your feed does not validate, you can check your Feed URL against the W3C Feed Validator to find out what may be causing issues.
- If everything looks good, click the “Submit” button.
Your podcast is now submitted to the iTunes Store podcast directory. All submissions must be manually approved by Apple, which can take up to 10 days to happen, although, most podcasts are approved within 2 – 3 days and in some rare cases, only a few hours.
Apple will email the address you entered as your iTunes email in PowerPress Settings when your podcast has been approved, with an email that contains your iTunes Subscription URL.
Submitting to Google Play Store
Submitting your podcast to the Google Play Store is fairly similar to submitting to iTunes with only a few small differences. The prerequisites are as follows;
- You must know your podcast Feed URL. If you don’t know where to find it, or if you skipped ahead, read the “Submitting to iTunes” section of this article for all the information you need.
- Your artwork must be a JPG or PNG with square dimensions at least 1200 x 1200 pixels in size and no larger than 7000 x 7000 pixels in size (I recommend a 1400 x 1400 JPG image).
- You must have a completely unique program name. Again, this can be the name of your show, the name of your website, or something completely random, but whatever you choose will be the name people have to search for to find your Podcast on Google Play.
- You must have a Google Play Account. If you don’t have one, you should create a new Google Account to use.
- You’ll need to have created at least one Post with Podcast media in either MP3, OGG or M4A formats (I recommend MP3 format for it’s universal support and relatively small file size)
Once your prerequisites are taken care of, the actual submission process is pretty simple. Follow the steps below to publish on Google Play;
- Open the Google Play Podcast Publishing page and click the [Publish] button. If you don’t see the publish button, make sure you log into your Google Account first.
- Click the [Add a Podcast] button.
- Read and agree to the Terms of Service that pops up.
- Enter your Feed URL into the text box provided and click the [Submit RSS Feed] button.
- Sit back and wait.
Your podcast is now submitted to Google Play. Like when submitting to iTunes, it can take 1 – 10 to get approved, although most submissions will be approved in 2 – 3 days at most. You’ll receive an email from Google, at the email address associated with your Google Account, when your podcast is approved.
Submitting to Stitcher Podcast Radio
It’s no surprise here that Stitcher Podcast Radio has relatively the same minimum requirements as iTunes and Google Play, so make sure you meet all of the following criteria before beginning your submission;
- You must know your podcast Feed URL.
- You must a JPG or PNG image with square dimensions at least 1400 x 1400 pixels in size (I recommend a 1400 x 1400 JPG image).
- You need a completely unique program name.
- You must have created at least one Post with Podcast media in either MP3 or M4A audio formats.
If you’ve completed all of the minimum requirements, you’re now able to submit your Podcast to Stitcher. Follow the steps on their website to apply to become a “Provider” and get your Podcast indexed on their site.
Submitting to TuneIn
TuneIn has all of the same prerequisites as Stitcher Podcast Radio does, so if you’ve already submit your podcast for indexing there, you’ll be ready for TuneIn.
TuneIn is the only podcast index that I’ve mentioned so far that uses an email-based application process. You’re still required to fill in all of the same information as you would when applying anywhere else, but it’s all done over email
Just head on over to their Submission Form, fill out all of your info, submit the form and wait 1 – 10 days for an approval email. Easy peasy.
That wraps up Part 2 of Podcast Software for The Beginner Podcaster. If you haven’t read them already, you can check out the other articles in this series, Software for the Beginner Podcaster: Part 1 and Podcast Equipment for the Beginner Podcaster to learn about what hardware you need to record your podcast from recording interfaces and microphones to mixing boards and headphones as well as different recording software you can use and the plugins to mix and master your podcast to production quality standards.