Submitting your podcast to Apple Podcasts

You’ve designed and prepped your podcast, you’ve produced and uploaded your first episode, now it’s finally time for listeners to hear your hard work.

The importance of Apple Podcasts

Apple introduced podcasts into what was then the iTunes Store back in the early 2000s. This brought what was previously an exceptionally nerdy medium a little more into the mainstream, but it was still a medium largely for fans of Apple products.

iTunes has long had a way for programmers to search its catalog of products, to make it easier to create affiliate links and “Buy this song on iTunes” buttons. Since podcasts were a part of the iTunes catalog, it meant that any developer who wanted to, could create their own app that leveraged the iTunes catalog to make it easier for listeners to subscribe to podcasts, whatever their platform of choice.

Now, apps for Android and Windows can take advantage of the directory Apple has built, so it remains the primary place where podcasts are listed. It’s by no means the only one, but it is still true now that if your podcast is not listed in Apple Podcasts — regardless of whether people use the app to subscribe — it’s almost considered not a “real” podcast.

Before you continue

In order to submit to Apple Podcasts, you’ll need an account with Apple that has a valid credit or debit card on file. If you don’t buy anything from the iTunes Store — and you don’t have to — then you’ll never be charged for anything, however the sis a requirement Apple has stuck to. If you’re running Windows, you’ll also need to download iTunes. If you’re on a Mac, open the iTunes or Music app, depending on your version of macOS.

If all this seems like a hassle, some hosting companies can submit your podcast to Apple and other directories on your behalf. Check with your hosting provider to see if this is a service they offer.

Create an Apple ID

The first thing you need is an Apple ID. It’s a free account you use to login to Apple services. You don’t need an Apple device or software to get one.

If you already have an iTunes or iCloud account — which you probably will have setup when you bought an iPhone or iPad — that is most likely your Apple ID, so you can skip to the “Login to Apple Podcasts Connect” section using that email address and your associated password to login. Create your Apple ID.

If you’re planning on running multiple podcasts, you only need one account.

You’ll be asked to enter your name, email address and date of birth, and create a strong password. You’ll also be asked for your mobile number, which is used to verify your identity if you login to your account on another device. Make sure you use an email address and phone number you have access to.

Once you’ve filled the form in, check your inbox for a verification email from Apple, which contains a code you’ll need to enter back on the Apple ID website. You’ll then get a text message with another code, which you’ll need to enter on the Apple ID website.

Create an iTunes Store account

This is the painful bit. You’ll need to open iTunes or the Apple Music app as mentioned above, go to the Account menu and login with your new account. You should be asked to review your account, and add payment information. The card you choose will need to be valid. Sadly we can’t walk you through this process as Apple gets upset when people try and create accounts to help demonstrate their service, but it is safe.

If you have no plans to pay for any Apple products or services, that’s no problem. Apple won’t try and bill you for anything you haven’t paid for — this process is simply in place because their podcast directory if built onto of the iTunes Store, and this is a core requirement.

Login to Apple Podcasts Connect

Once your Apple ID and iTunes Store account are setup, you can login to Podcasts Connect. If you’re prompted, enter your Apple ID credentials and hit Enter. If you’re asked to login again more than twice, or you get a message about your iTunes Store account, go back to the previous step and make sure you have a valid account. You can even try downloading a free app from the App Store if you have access to an Apple device, as this goes through the purchase mechanism but doesn’t charge you anything. But if you see a white page with the title “iTunes Connect” and a + button, you’ve over the hard part now, and you can submit your podcast.

Click the + buttoned enter your RSS feed URL where prompted.

RSS what URL?

Back in the section on hosting, we covered RSS feeds. An RSS feed is a file that lives online, that Apple will check periodically for new episodes. All you need, once your account is setup, to submit a podcast to Apple is your RSS feed URL.

It might look something like this: https://feeds.hostingcompany.com/mypodcast/rss.xml

Switch back to the Apple Podcasts submission page and paste in your RSS feed URL, then hit Enter. Apple will check your feed, and if all is well, the blue “Submit” button will light up, and once you click it, you’ll enter the review process.

If you see an error message, these tend to be human-readable so take a moment to read the message — it’s probably going to be about your artwork size or that there aren’t any episodes published yet. Check the previous lesson for info on your artwork, and if you’ve uploaded an episode, make sure the Publish date in the sidebar of the edit-episode page has already passed, and you haven’t set it to a date in the future.

Correct any errors, click the Validate button again and when it lights up, hit the Submit button.

Once you’ve submitted, you’ll get an email from Apple after a minute or so, letting you know your podcast is in the review queue.

Apple’s review process

One reason Apple Podcasts remains a viable directory is because it is human-curated. Apple’s Podcasts team does its best to vet new submissions, to make sure they’re not duplicates of other podcasts, that they self-report profanity, and that the episodes listed are playable and in the correct format. If you’ve followed Apple’s guidelines (linked below), you’ll be fine.

The review process can take anywhere between 48 hours and two weeks (on rare occasions it may take longer if they’re working through a backlog). The Apple Podcasts team is fairly small, but they do review every submission, so yours shouldn’t get lost in the pile.

You’ll get an email from Apple once you’ve passed the review, or if there are any issues. The email will be sent to the address associated with your RSS feed which, unless you’ve changed it, will be the email address you signed up to your hosting provider with.

Final step

The confirmation email Apple sends you at the end of the process contains a link to your podcast listing in Apple Podcasts. Your podcast won’t be searchable within Apple Podcasts straight away — that process might take a few hours — but it will be accessible via that URL.

The final thing you need to do is tell your hosting company your Apple Podcasts URL. Doing this means visitors to your podcast website will see a “Follow on Apple Podcasts” button.

Other directories

As mentioned above, Apple’s catalog fuels a lot of other apps, so once you’ve told your hosting provider about your Apple Podcasts URL, you’ll be able to generate URLs for apps like Overcast.

There are other directories you can submit to manually, or have us do on your behalf. It’s a good idea to be listed in as many as possible, so your listeners can always find you no matter whoever they listen.

Making it easy for listeners to find you

Some hosting accounts come with a special, mobile-optimised page that lists all the ways listeners can subscribe to your podcast, including directly using your RSS feed (for power-users).

Check to see if your hosting provider offers this, or take a look at pod.link.

Complete the course