When iOS 8 arrived, Apple started to include its Podcasts app by default on iPhones. You may have only recently explored the wealth of great podcasts available on the iTunes Store, there really is something for everyone and the podcast users number in the hundreds of millions. But what do you do if you have something you want to talk about and you think that other iTunes users might be interested in hearing it? In this article we look at how to make a podcast and how to publish a podcast on iTunes, including how to submit a podcast to the iTunes Store, how to add podcasts to iTunes, and how to get your podcast listed on iTunes.
Now might be a good time to join the podcast bandwagon. There’s a suggestion podcasts are ‘back’ after some undetermined time in the doldrums. The truth is, they never really went away. Instead, ever since the term ‘podcast’ was first coined in 2004, the format’s popularity has slowly grown. In part, this has happened because of familiarity and accessibility; although the basic podcast has changed relatively little (most remain episodic audio shows, subscribed to and streamed/downloaded to clients/via browsers), people hear about podcasts an awful lot more these days, and it’s much easier to find them. You may have heard about Serial, for example, an incredibly popular podcast from the creators of This American Life and hosted by Sarah Koenig. If you want a piece of this then read on.
How to publish a podcast on iTunes
It’s important to publish your podcast on iTunes (although this shouldn’t necessarily be the only place). In order to do so, you’ll need to prepare a few things first. Obviously, you’ll need your podcast files, which can be in a variety of formats. For audio, MP3 remains your best bet for widespread compatibility, and MP4’s good for video. M4A, MOV and even PDF and EPUB (for text-based podcasts) are also viable formats.
You’ll then need some cover art, which must be a PNG with minimum dimensions of 1400 x 1400 pixels, and an RSS feed. You can code the feed XML manually, and Apple provides an example of how (scroll down to ‘Example RSS Podcast Feed’). However, it’s simpler to automate the process somewhat, for example by using a blogging system such as WordPress, which natively supports podcasting, and then by adding iTunes-specific information in Feedburner.
Checking your podcast works
Once you’ve got your feed sorted, test it by opening iTunes, going to File > Subscribe to Podcast…, entering the feed URL, and clicking OK. If you can play an episode, all is well. At that point, ensure you’re signed in with an Apple ID, access the podcasts section in iTunes, and click Submit a Podcast (or the previous linked text, which will open the relevant page in iTunes).
Enter your feed URL, click Continue, and you’ll then get a chance to review the feed’s details, such as its artwork and descriptions. If information is missing regarding language or category, or whether the podcast is explicit, you’ll be asked for it. Note that your podcast information can be updated by changing tags in your feed, but post-submission alterations may take 24 hours to later be reflected in iTunes.
Submitting your podcast to iTunes
Click Submit. If you get an error, respond accordingly. If not, you’ll have to wait until Apple decides whether to approve your podcast. If it’s rejected for technical or content-based reasons, you can make adjustments and resubmit. If it’s approved, you’ll be sent an email that handily provides a link to your podcast, which will shortly be live in the iTunes Store, but may take another day or so to be accessible via search. The approvals process can vary; we’ve heard of times where it’s taken a couple of hours, but it may also take anything up to two weeks.
Of course, even once Apple hits the GO switch on your podcast, the hard work isn’t over. Make sure you market your podcast, utilising social media and a website that provides more information about what you do, along with a means for listeners and other interested parties to get in touch. And while we’d never suggest you need the kind of output frequency that would make a 24-hour news station controller go wide-eyed with jealously, keep episodes coming regularly if you want your audience to stay interested and steadily grow.