Podcasting and the steps needed to set up a podcast came up in a recent conversation.
I’ve been working with a friend/client on the promotion of a book he wrote. Recently I was advising him to start a weekly podcast that incorporates portions of his book and then directs people to his website (were he sells the book, of course!)
He has already posted MP3 audio excerpts from the book (www.AllenPaulWeaverIII.com) and wanted to know what the difference is between these recordings and a podcast. I thought the answer would be a good addition to this site.
So, What is The Difference Between an MP3 and a Podcast?
Short answer, not much!
The audio file in a podcast is just a plain old MP3 – nothing fancy. But, the content of the audio file will be different.
The content of the file will probably have an opening segment to the show, maybe some commercial breaks, and a closing segment – like a radio show.
The resulting MP3 file is loaded onto your server, like any other file.
What distinguishes a Podcast from other MP3 files is the way in which it is promoted and distributed.
Podcasts use the RSS technology built into blogging software to create a ‘feed’ for people to subscribe to. This feed gets promoted at places like Apple’s iTunes store, iPodder.com, Odeo.com, and other places dedicated to tracking and promoting podcasts.
When a subscriber adds the RSS link to your podcast into a program like iTunes, the software will automatically download your podcast MP3s when a new one is posted and synchronize it with the subscribers iPod or media player.
There is one special distinction between a regular RSS feed and the RSS feed required for a podcast. The podcast feed must include enclosure tags around the link to the MP3 file. These tags tell the feed reader that a link to media is present.
Some blog software adds enclosure tags automatically and some does not. WordPress handles it automatically. For those blogs that don’t do this automatically, take the feed from the podcast category and use feedburner.com to ‘burn’ a new feed. Feedburner will add the enclosure tags and then you can submit their feed link to the podcast directories. (Bonus – Feedburner will also give you lots of great statistical traffic data about your feed subscribers, so you might want to go this route anyway!)
Here is a sample method for distributing a podcast using WordPress:
- Record and Upload your audio files
- Create a new Category on your blog for the podcast
- Post a new entry into this category that has a link to the audio file
- Submit the RSS feed from your category page to the podcast directories (run it through Feedburner.com if you want the added stats)
- Brag to all your friends about your cool new podcast
- Record and Upload More Episodes
To create a link to the RSS feed on a specific page on a WordPress blog, you just need to copy the address of the page from your browser and add “/rss” to the end. Here is a non-podcast example of a feed from my website as an illustration:
The hardest part of the whole process is coming up with great content for your podcast. The tech isn’t as complex as it may appear at first glance.
Did I leave something out or give an answer as confusing as the question? Just add a comment to this thread and I’ll do my best to clarify.
I haven’t set Allen’s podcast up yet, so I may discover a few new issues along the way. If I do, I’ll update this post.