Publishing a podcast is not rocket science, but it’s probably something you’ve never done before. That was the situation we found ourselves in when Dave, Justin and I decided to start a weekly tech podcast called Technophilia; that was nearly a year ago now, and we’re getting close to 50 episodes and now live broadcasting too. Read on to find out how you too can publish you own podcast to iTunes.
There are two main tasks involved here. The first is setting up storage for your podcast, and the second is letting iTunes know about it. To clairfy, iTunes is not a podcast host – they don’t store any podcast files, and they don’t pay for the bandwidth transfer involved when thousands of people download it – you are wholly responsible for hosting, maintaining, and paying for bandwidth. iTunes is merely a directory; a tool which makes it easier for users to find your podcast, subscribe to it, and be notified when new episodes are out.
Today I’ll be showing you the process using Podcast Generator, an easy to use, open source and free, self-hosted web app that handle the feed generation for you. It’s recently surpassed over 100,000 downloads and has been around for a while now, so it’s a solution you can trust.
- An iTunes Account, and iTunes software.
- Web hosting with FTP access, and capable of running PHP
Notice that you don’t need a MySQL database for Podcast Generator to function; this is a key advantage over alternative self-hosted solutions.
I wrote a quick guide on how to do this with WordPress before; if you’re comfortable with WordPress or have it installed already as a blog, that’s probably your best choice.
Podcast Generator is also open source, and completely free, but very simple. It can create a very basic website to host your website; that’s all. If you literally just want to publish a feed to iTunes and don’t need any other fancy features, it’s a quick and easy option to set up.
Note that neither Podcast Generator nor iTunes includes any statistics about downloads. If you go this route, you’ll need to use your webserver’s built-in access logs for statistics. Podcast Generator includes an mp3 web player, and though it can also produce video feeds, there is no included player for them.
Download & Install
Grab the latest version of Podcast Generator (v1.4 at the time of writing) from Sourceforge. Unzip, and upload the files to your site; in the root of the server is fine.
Point your browser at the server to run the setup routine, and remember to delete the /setup directory after you’re done.
If you get permission errors, set them manually on the directories indicated.
To add new episodes, you can use the Admin function – though it’s likely you’ll be limited to 2MB size limit on some hosts – in which case just upload new episodes to the “media” folder via FTP. PodcastGenerator will scan the directory and prompt you to confirm the new file.
Submit To iTunes
The admin area of Podcast Generator includes a helpful link to go directly to the podcast submission part of the iTunes store. Use this, as it will pre-populate the form with the correct feed URL.
The rest of the submission process is quite simple. A few points to note:
- Ensure all meta data is filled out correctly; if you swear in your podcast, don’t say it’s safe for kids in the hopes of getting more listeners.
- You must have at least one podcast already published; you can’t “pre-submit” before your official launch.
- You’ll receive an email saying your podcast is in the process of being approved. It takes a few days to a week to be listed if your submission is successful.
- iTunes rescans podcasts about once a day, so your latest episode may not show immediately on subscribers machines. If speed is important, encourage them to subscribe directly to your feed and not via iTunes.
The full specifications for podcasting with Apple iTunes can be found here.
See how easy it is to submit a Podcast, get famous and earn millions in ad-revenue? Well, okay, perhaps the latter two are unlikely; but being both a content producer and distributing your work has really never been easier. The question is: do you have anything interesting to say?