Your first episode
Now that we’ve done the groundwork, we can finally make a start on our first episode.
This series doesn’t cover the actual production of podcast audio. There are lots of handy places you can go to for advice on that topic, but assuming you’ve got your first episode in the can, it’s time to release it to the world.
Before we get back into WordPress, I briefly want to talk about the metadata you can bundle with your MP3. This data is set out in something called ID3 tags, which live in your MP3 file and are picked up by podcast apps. If you’ve ever imported MP3 files into iTunes or Windows Media Player, ID3 tags are what will have stopped you having to enter all of the artist and track information in yourself. One of the principle benefits of adding ID3 tags to podcast files, is that you can embed custom artwork into each episode of your podcast.
Your audio software will probably give you some limited options for metadata, but you can add more by downloading the free ID3 Editor app for Mac and PC. This is especially useful if you want to add custom artwork to each episode. Here’s how you use it.
We’ve already looked at the hosting options available for your audio, and I’ve shown you how to upload a file or link a file hosted elsewhere. So let’s pick up that process and talk titles, show notes and other metadata.
The title and description for your episode is what listeners will see in their podcast apps, and it forms the description that goes into the iTunes store. Remember visitors to the website will see the same text, only it might be formatted slightly differently.
You should include links to things you’ve talked about, as listeners can tap these to find out more while they’re listening. Also consider adding in the social media accounts of any guests or co-presenters, so listeners can keep in touch. Remember to make reference to your show notes in the podcast itself, so listeners know where they can find out more info, and point them to your podcast’s website.
When you upload or link audio in the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin and publish your post, SSP should automatically pick up the file size and calculate the duration of the audio file. This data gets fed, through your RSS feed back into the iTunes store and other podcast directories, and lets listeners know how long an episode is, and how big the file is, before they download it. It’s not essential, but a very useful feature to have, as it makes your listeners’ lives just that little bit easier.
Now that we’ve hit Publish on our first episode, it’s time to list it with iTunes. For this, you’ll need an iTunes account. It doesn’t have to be associated with the podcast in any way, and using your personal account is fine… it won’t affect the podcast at all. Whether you want to use iTunes or you feel, as many do that you want to steer clear of it, it’s still the #1 directory of podcasts, so if you don’t already have iTunes, you’ll need to download it and create an account. Once your account is active, you can do the rest on the web.
You have to have an episode in the bag in order to submit to the iTunes store. They won’t accept a feed that has no episodes, so either produce an “episode 0” that acts as a preview - you can always delete this later - or upload your first episode, and wait until you have your iTunes URL before you tell the world.
We’ve discussed categories in previous chapters, so let’s revisit that as they relate to the iTunes podcast store.
Apple maintains a number of podcast charts across different countries and spanning different categories. It has an overall chart for each country too, but each category has its own, hotly-contested chart.
The podcast categories you choose in WordPress determine where it’s listed within iTunes, so think carefully about which category and subcategory is right, before you submit.
Apple doesn’t know how many people are actually downloading a podcast, so the charts are based partially on ratings and comments. You should encourage your listeners to rate and comment on the podcast, as this really will help boost your rankings. Some podcast apps use the iTunes store as a basis for their own directories, so you may find that it boosts your visibility in other apps too.
Apple also maintains a “New & Noteworthy” section, which again relates to each country and also can be split out into different categories. If Apple deem your podcast interesting enough - or you ask them nicely - they will consider adding your show to their list, and you can expect a bump in listeners as a result. The bump varies, and it’s purely down to the quality of your content when it comes to the decision they make.
Assuming you’re all set with an iTunes account, head over to Podcasts Connect.
Congratulations, you’ve now submitted your show to iTunes. Within a few days, you should get an email back informing you that the podcast has been approved. In the next chapter, we’ll hook up the iTunes URL and fill in a few other blanks so that people can easily subscribe to your podcast from the website.