Wheew! After hours of frustration and listening to your own voice. You have your show finished. You have converted the raw audio to a MP3 format, have your intro music and outro music set just where you want it. So, how to you get it you your listeners?
That is the objective for this week. How to make your show accessible to the world. the key is with a little three letter word that now one really knows what it means, Mystery key is called RSS. Most people think it means Really Simple Syndication and others say it is Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Summary. The name is not important other than knowing that it is called RSS. because most Podcast directories will ask for your RSS “feed”.
What is an RSS feed?
According to Wikipedia,
RSS uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: Blog Entries, News Headlines, Audio, Video. An RSS document (called a “feed””web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and authors name
In other words it is a file that acts as the town crier for your website. When your site is updated the people who are subscribed to your feed are notified of the update and they can get your information without having to go to the web site repeatedly. The different directories that your podcast is going to be listed on they want to be told when there is a update to your podcast.
There is a lot of information that is in the RSS feed you will not find useful, most of it helps to categorize and sort the information out so that it becomes easier for you to read in your news reader, or your Podcatcher. Yet if you look and are able to understand what you are looking for, you can see some particular information. Like the name of your show, some tags used for iTunes, Location of the MP3 files and much more. For all of this work correctly you will need to validate
Validating your feed
Validating your feed is the easiest way to determine that your RSS feed to going to be read by all the different directories. There are times that the feed will get messed up and cant be read by iTunes or some other directory.Often the cause of problems is using Microsoft word as your editor. This works great for finding misspelled words but not so good for Feeds. this is because of the hidden characters that Word and some other word processors. These are normally associated with the grammatical characters that are used. Word is not the only culprit, the glorious plugin will at times cause problems with other plugins or incompatibilities that affect the WordPress feed. So if you are using Microsoft Word to edit your show notes then after you release the show you will want to check your Feed. Also, Check it if you have recently installed a new plug in. Best way to verify that your feed is good. Use the Feed Validator
Feed Burner – Should you use it?
Now a few years ago the majority of podcasters used a service from Google called Feed burner. This service is an RSS redirector that helped bloggers and podcasters find out how many people were subscribed to their site in very broad and inaccurate terms. The subscriber amount was never very accurate but Feed burner does offer a good bit of help especially if you are going the free route.
A camp divided
There are two sets of podcasters those who are using feed burner and those who did but are now leery of Google and worried about the search engine closing a very valuable service that bloggers and podcasters both use.
Lets first look at the against camp. These people have seen Google recently close some very popular and valuable services. For instance there is Google Reader which was very popular with the bloggers and podcasters because The reader was the source of the news and topics. Yet Google closed this service earlier this year. The reasons are up for debate but either way the shuttering made many people who use feed burner very nervous and have stopped using Feed Burner.
Then there are people who see the closing as something that was needed and was expected., though they do not believe that Feed Burner is in any danger of being closed this year or next, due to the fact that there are so many bloggers that use Feed Burner it would not be wise for Google to close. Yet in the same breath I will refer back to Google Reader. So, it is really at your discretion as to use Feed Burner. You can use it if you like but just know you might one day find your feed gone.
The most important Directories you should submit to.
Apple iTunes – This is the 800 pound gorilla in the podcasting community. They are the first to have a widely accepted podcast directory that followed on the popularity of the iPod and iPhone. Besides being just the directory for iTunes it’s API’s are allow it to be the directory of several podcatchers, iOS and Android.
Zune – This may seem a little odd to have a somewhat dead MP3 player’s directory as an essential. This is because The Zune market place is not just for the old Zune but it is also being converted to the Xbox market place. At the moment the only place that still is using the podcasts is the Zune software but it is still very active in curating thanks to Rob Greenly.
Blackberry – This the podcast directory for blackberry phones and is still used by the remaining phone users
Stitcher – Streaming audio app that is growing in popularity and is now being implemented into cars.
Two Thumbs up – made by the same guy who did Podcast pickle so he has been in podcasting for quite a long time.
Common feed problems
Feed will not validate
This is probably the biggest problem podcasters run into. They run their podcast feed through the feed Validator and it comes up saying that it is invalid. Why?
plug in – This is normally the problem when trouble shooting the issue it is best to deactivate all your plug ins except the Power Press and run the validator. if it work, Great! Keep turning on the other plug-ins and revalidating the feed each time till you find the problem plug-in. if not then it could be one of the other issues
Edited with Microsoft word – If you wrote your podcast show notes with Microsoft word then take your show notes and copy and paste them into WordPad then recopy the notes from Word pad and paste them into Word press. More than likely you have some of Microsoft’s special hidden characters in your notes and they are confusing the validator.
Themes – I have only had this happen once and it was an experimental theme I cam across so very very rare that this could be the cause but it has happened before.
Other ways tell our audience of your show
Mailing list – If you have a mailing list this is great! you have an audience and they will help you be noticed in the new and noteworthy section. If you are starting your show with out a web presence like yours truly! then it will take a little more work and determination. Yet, still create a mailing list. This will become invaluable when you start to expand.
How else to find your audience
Use other directories
Go to your audience. If you are doing a podcast about weight loss or health then think where you can find those people like a gym and go talk to these people but don’t sell to them. For this show I go to a lot of forums that talk about podcasting. I go to other social media sites, like Google Plus, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like and talk to people who are having different problems. So, now it is time to go find your audience and inform them about your show with out selling to them.
Forums are great in a number of ways one you can meet your audience. You get to know what they like and don’t like. But you also get great topics for your show by listening to what your audience is talking about. This gives you a great opportunity to show your expertise. Word of caution, you have to be careful with how and when you mention your show. Have a link in your signature if the forum allows for it but don’t just start throwing your links around you will be marked as a spammer and kicked even banned. Remember this is a community and you need to prove that you have value in this community before you try to sell them on your goods, and you shouldn’t have to try to sell to them they will come to you if you provide enough of a good service.
News of the Week
As thought there was plenty of evidence put forward that podcasting cant be patented. Unlike what Personal Audio LLC was trying to do while extorting money from popular podcasters. on October 16 the Electronic Frontier Foundation issued a formal challenge to the patent held by Personal Audio LLC. with bits of proof that Personal Audio not only doesn’t create a podcast but also podcasts were being created before the U.S. Patent No. 8,112,504 was filed. EFF uses examples like Geek of the Week, CNN and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A good deal of the thanks go to the fans of Podcasting. With our them pulling together and working together a fine art might have been lost to a non-producing entity. The Podcasting Community also raised over $76,000 through donations.