In the world of digital storytelling, the medium of podcasts has pulled to the front of the pack to become one of the more popular medias of today. As an accessible form of creative production, the realm of podcasts has made room for niche media and fandom, ranging from true crime comedy to the audio of Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. The three top podcasts on iTunes currently are Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, This is Love, and Atlanta Monster, the first being an anthropological storytelling podcast and the last being the tale of the Atlanta Child Killer.
With such a wide range of possibilities, you may be wondering how you can get into this medium and introduce your own podcast to the world. But you’ve probably also realized that the technological side of podcasting sounds difficult. I mean, what even is an RSS feed? And why does iTunes need one if you want to submit a series? Keep reading, and I’ll help you figure it out.
When you’re first researching how to create a podcast, you might come across this screen on the iTunes Podcasting FAQ:
To explain it slightly better than Apple does, and RSS feed is a piece of code in a website that allows you to subscribe to frequent updates of a website, kind of like subscribing to a Youtube channel or getting notifications on Instagram. XML is a type of code simillar to HTML or Java. This is and example of what an RSS feed would look like in an XML format:
But guess what? You don’t have to worry about that! Unless you are really into coding and want to design your own hosting site for your podcast, there are other websites that can take care of an RSS feed for you without any nasty coding on your part. Now, Apple makes it sound like the only way you can do this is with Apple partner websites, and that can sound kind of scary to a beginner. However there is a free, accessible website that we’ve all heard of, and can be used to host our podcasts for any podcasting apps: Soundcloud!
How to Use Soundcloud for Podcasting:
Soundcloud is a simple and easy way to upload podcasts to the internet, and it starts with just making a free account. Once you’ve put in your email, chosen password, and age, you’ll be asked to confirm your email. Once you do that, you’ll be directed to this page:
Unless you’d like to use your Soundcloud account for something besides podcasts, you can use your display name as the title for your show.
After you’ve chosen a name (I chose the name Young Stories, for reference), click on your profile and go to edit:
Here you’ll upload a profile image, which will serve as the cover art for your podcast. You can also add a description of your podcast in your profile bio, as well as any links to social media if your podcast will be part of your brand:
You can also upload a header image if you click the button in the upper right corner. Now you’ll need to adjust your content settings so that people who are searching a specific topic can see your podcast in their results. To do that you go to settings, and click the Content tab, which will lead you to this page:
Here the things you need to do are choose a category for your podcast, as well as the language. Also be sure to mark if your podcast will contain explicit content, and check the “Include in RSS feed” box. If you’re using Soundcloud for something besides podcasts as well, this is where you would put your custom podcast name in the “Custom feed title” section. Filled out, the window should now look something like this:
Save your changes, and then go back to your profile. Now you need to upload your first episode! In this case I’ll just be using some random audio, but you might already have an episode ready that you’ve edited using Audacity, a free audio editing program, or possibly with Garageband. Uploading your audio to Soundcloud is pretty easy. Once you’re back at your profile page, click the tracks tab and then click “Upload a track to share it with your followers.” (You can also click “Upload” in the tab next to your profile name)
Once you’ve chosen your audio, create a title as well as any additional tags or a descriptions that you’d like for the particular episode. If you’d like you can upload an image for your particular episode, but that isn’t necessary. If you don’t choose an image it will just default to your profile image.
To make sure someone can’t claim their audio as their own, go over to the metadata tab and input any information that you think might be important. Metadata is information that stays with a piece of media no matter where it goes, like if someone reposts an image an claims it as their own you can still find the true author in the metadata.
I recommend putting your podcasts name, as well as the date that it was released. You can also mark whether your audio is copyrighted, or if you’d like it to be available for people to use, under the “All rights reserved” or the “Creative Commons” buttons respectively.
The permissions tab lets you choose what people can do with your audio. For example, if you’d like people to be able to download your content, you can check that box here:
Now this is all with the free version of Soundcloud, which allows you 180 minutes of upload time. You can also try Pro, which allows 360 minutes of upload time for $7 a month, or Pro Unlimited, which has unlimited upload time for $15 a month.
But what about uploading to iTunes?
To submit your podcast to iTunes, you need to both test it and validate it. To test your podcast, go to iTunes on your computer and click “File” and “Subscribe to Podcast”. Once you’ve done that, this box will show up:
This is where you copy and past your RSS feed URL. To find your RSS feed URL, go to the Content tab again and copy and paste it into the iTunes window:
If you are able to successfully download and play your episode, then your podcast is working and you are able to submit it to iTunes. iTunes also asks that you validate your podcast through their own program or other websites. Because my “podcast” is merely test audio, I won’t be going through with that. But I’ll leave a link to iTunes guide below:
Otherwise, you have officially entered the world of podcasting! Best of luck to you, and enjoy it!