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There’s probably nothing as misunderstood in podcasting as the RSS feed. This is THE THING that controls all of the content of your feed, and without it you literally wouldn’t have a podcast.
In this module we talk all about what makes up and RSS feed, what you need for it to be considered valid, and a few things that iTunes specifically looks at when it comes to your podcast RSS feed.
It’s important to remember that your feed has 2 main components: the channel information which is meta information about your podcast as a whole, and episode specific information which is unique to each episode you publish.
Topics Discussed In This Module
- Why you need an RSS feed at all
- What items make up a valid podcast RSS Feed
- What are some common mistakes people make with their feeds
- How to troubleshoot a broken RSS feed.
Now that your podcast is launched it’s time to grow your listenership! This is the fun part for most of us since it’s really the culmination of all the hard work we’ve done, and now we can start connecting with our audience, and better serving their needs.
In this module we talk through a bunch of ideas you can use to grow your podcast listenership. Some of these will be a great fit for you and your show, and others might not, but the goal here is to give you a few ideas you can run with, and implement for your show.
Here is a list of all of the things you can do today to grow your podcast audience:
- Start a Facebook Group
- Guest appear on other podcasts
- Start an email list
- Launch a Giveaway for listeners only
- Partner with other shows to cross-promote
- Republish your content to Facebook Live and YouTube
- Paid advertising for your podcast
Congratulations! You’ve done a TON of hard work to get to this point and now it’s time to launch your new podcast. But, don’t let all that hard work go to waste by missing the opportunity to launch your show properly.
In this module we talk through how to best launch your show and make a real impact with your new podcast. We talk through which day of the week to launch on (hint: it really doesn’t matter, but Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday tend to be the best to publish on), how to leverage your guests’ audiences to build your listenership, how to build a core group of supporters to help drive the Social Proof of your show in places like iTunes, what the Call To Action should be for EVERYONE you talk to about your new podcast, and how to keep the momentum going after you’ve launched your podcast.
We see far too many people get started with their new show, and just publish an episode or two…don’t let this be you. Create a big event by really LAUNCHING your show. This is the only way that you can make a splash and an impact with your new podcast.
In this lesson, I’ll be talking about setting up your Castos hosting account, setting up your podcast RSS feed and publishing your first podcast episode.
Once you’ve created your Castos account you’ll be taken to our Welcome page where you can elect to use Castos either with Seriously Simple Podcasting on WordPress, OR just publish your podcast episodes and feed from castos.com
After making this selection and clicking Update you’ll be taken to a screen where you can choose to either Publish Your First Episode or Create Your RSS Feed. We’ll do the latter first.
In your Feed Details area you can fill in all the relevant information about your podcast, including:
- Show Name
- Show Subtitle
- Host Name
- Host email address
- Show Description
- Cover Image (must be between 1400×1400 to 3000x3000px and SQUARE in shape)
- iTunes categories – can have up to 3 unique categories
- Explicit rating
Once you Save this information you can view your podcast RSS feed with the link at the top of the page.
Now on to publish our first episode. Clicking the Episodes tab at the top of your screen, and then Add Episode will allow you to create a new episode. Here we’ll fill in the information about our podcast episode and upload the media file that goes along with it.
Once the file has finished uploading you can either Schedule the post for the future or Publish it now.
Takeaways From this Episode:
- You MUST have a valid RSS feed AND a published podcast episode for your feed to be approved by iTunes
- Enter all of the relevant information in the Feed Details area before saving your podcast feed info.
- Publish your first podcast episode from the Episodes tab in your Castos dashboard
- Once your episode is live you can View the episode or Link To it or the media file in it via the icons on the right side of the episode pane
When considering how many episodes you need to launch with, ask yourself a few questions. How often do you plan to publish? How much difficulty do you have creating the content? Do you have a deadline for your launch that must be kept?
A solid formula for a weekly podcast is to start with three episodes on launch day. The first episode, Episode 0, should not be a full-length episode, but should instead be a way to explain a bit about what the podcast is about, why your listeners should be interested, and what to expect. At the same time, you’ll also release the first two regular episodes of your podcast.
Then, two days later, release a third bonus episode of your podcast. Use this episode to try out a different topic, spin, or format for your show. This is not only a nice extra for your listeners, it can also help you land your show in the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes. Finally, a week after the original launch date on your regular weekly release date, release the fourth episode of your show.
Don’t overwhelm your listeners by posting too many episodes on the first day. Not only is it likely that not many people will listen to a large number of episodes released all at once, it’s better for you to have completed episodes that you can upload even if you haven’t had a chance to create new content one week. One of the worst things you can do is skip an episode in the first eight weeks or so. If you have a backlog of episodes waiting to be released, you’ll have a buffer in the event that life gets busy and you can’t record an episode when you want to.
You should also try out a mix of different styles and formats in the first few episodes and come at your topic from a few different angles. This helps keep your listeners interested and appeal to a wider variety of listeners.
Takeaways From this Lesson:
- How many episodes to launch with depends partly on your expected episode release schedule, the level of difficulty you have in producing content, and what deadlines you might have that correspond with your launch date
- It’s better to release fewer episodes up front than to skip an episode early on. Try to leave yourself a buffer of completed episodes
- Experiment with topics, styles, and formats early on to draw in a broad audience and let your listeners know what to expect from you.
Stitcher is another large podcasting directory that works as a search engine and a mobile app. It’s a popular choice among Android listeners and submitting your podcast to Stitcher helps you reach listeners who are not using Apple products.
Start by logging into Stitcher and creating a new account. It will ask you to fill in information about yourself, including your name, email address, and home address. The reason it asks for your home address is because it has an affiliate program that requires a home address. Once you fill in the fields and agree to the terms, it will take you to the page where you submit your feed.
Enter in the name of the show and the RSS feed URL and choose a category for your show. The form asks you to choose how many listeners the show has, and for a new show you should probably choose the 0-100 option. There are also fields that allow you to fill in your social media information and choose keywords related to your podcast. Choose your keywords strategically.
Once you’ve filled in all the information, just submit your podcast and Stitcher will notify you by email once it’s been approved. Stitcher usually approves podcasts in the same day, which is important to consider if you’re trying to coordinate your launch date between Stitcher and Apple.
Takeaways From this Lesson:
- Stitcher can help you reach listeners who are using Android products
- Choose your categories and keywords based on what words and categories you expect your listeners to search for
- Stitcher typically approves new podcasts within the same day
When you submit your podcast feed to iTunes, you’re submitting not just the episodes, but also all of the metadata that you’ve created for your show in Libsyn or Seriously Simple. ITunes will read the feed URLs and take all of that information to display on iTunes.
To upload your show to iTunes, you’ll need to log into iTunes Connect with your iTunes account. If you don’t have an iTunes account, you’ll need to make one. Logging into iTunes Connect will take you to the Podcast Connect page. You can click the plus icon in the top lefthand corner to reveal a field for you to paste in your RSS feed URL.
After you paste the feed into the field, click the “Validate” button on the right. If there’s a problem – for example, if you don’t have any episodes loaded yet and your field is empty – you’ll get an error message. If everything is OK, you’ll get a message saying that your feed is prepared for submission. Click the blue “Submit” button to submit your feed. You’ll be able to see details like the cover art, the title and author of the show, the category of the show, and so on.
It’s important to know that it takes Apple about a full day to approve new podcasts, so take that into account if you’re planning to launch your show on a specific date. If you’re submitting around a weekend, it could take up to two days.
Takeaways From this Lesson:
- Create an iTunes account to log into iTunes connect
- ITunes won’t accept an empty RSS feed, so make sure that you have an episode before you submit to iTunes
- Remember that it can take a full day for your show to be approved
In this lesson, we’ll talk about connecting your Castos hosting account to your WordPress site via Seriously Simple Podcasting. Start by setting up your Castos hosting account, then create your API Key by entering the name of your show and the slug that goes along with the name. Then click “Update”. This will give you your API key.
Once you have your API key, copy it and return to your WordPress dashboard. Enter the email address that you used to create your account and enter the API Key. Then click “Validate.” This connects your Castos hosting account to your WordPress install.
To add a podcast episode, enter the title of the episode, and scroll down to the field that says, “Podcast File”. Choose the correct file from your computer, and it will upload directly to your dedicated media hosting platform. You can continue to edit the post while the file uploads. When you’re finished, hit “Publish.” You should be able to see and play the episode in Seriously Simple.
To get started configuring your show, go to your podcast settings. The first thing you’ll see is Podcast Post Types. By default, Seriously Simple only posts podcasts to the podcast RSS feed. However, you can change it to include blog posts or custom posts as well. You can also choose to include podcasts posts in the main blog. However, it’s important to note that different themes will behave differently with podcast posts.
The next option to consider is where to display the podcast media player – for example, do you want it only on full pages, or do you want to display it on excerpts as well? After you choose, save your settings and move over to the Feed Details tab.
The details under the Feed Details tab are what subscribers will see when they find you in iTunes – your show title, subtitle, and author. Remember to use keywords in these fields so that your podcast will show up when listeners are searching for words that relate to your podcast.
You’ll also be able to choose categories that your podcast falls under. You can choose up to three parent categories, and each parent category gets a child category as well. Be sure to choose a category for each field. Ideally, you should choose a different category for each field in order to reach the widest possible audience.
Below the categories, you can fill in a description of your podcast. Remember that no HTML is allowed in the description field. You can also upload your cover art. This needs to be at least 1400×1400 pixels, and iTunes prefers 3000×3000 pixels.
Finally, fill in the Owner Name and Owner Email Address fields, and add any copyrights. Then mark whether or not your podcast is explicit. Remember that if your podcast is not marked explicit and gets reported to iTunes, it could be removed. Once you’re finished, save your settings and look at your RSS feed. You should see your title, cover image, and other information, along with any episodes that you’ve already added.
Takeaways From this Episode:
- Begin by setting up your API key
- Use the options under the Podcast Import tab to import existing episodes
- Once your WordPress is connected to Castos, you’ll be able to publish podcast episodes directly from your WordPress site
- Decide what types of posts you want to include in your podcast RSS feed, and where to display them.
- Remember that SEO is important in podcasting: include keywords in the fields under the Feed Details tab
- You have the opportunity to choose three categories and three sub-categories for your podcast. Take advantage of this to reach a wide audience
- If your podcast is explicit, don’t forget to mark it as explicit
Show notes are an important resource for podcasters, because they’re the best way to get listeners to your website and engaging with you. Podcasts are a one-way discussion. Show notes are the entry point that allow your listeners to continue the discussion on a two-way street – and if that street is your website or social media, where they can also subscribe to your email list or join your Facebook group, it will help build your overall brand.
In addition to giving your listeners a reason to go to your website and allowing them to engage in another way, show notes allow you to offer additional resources or information to your listeners, which adds additional value to your podcast. Show notes also increase the overall SEO impact that each episode has. Not only can your podcast show up in iTunes, which is the 3rd largest search engine, your show notes can show up in Google, which is the largest search engine online.
One way to help your show notes become more visible is to make them shareable. A WordPress plugin called Click to Tweet can help you easily click and send quotable tweets to Twitter. You can also add buttons to your post that will allow readers to share the post on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Adding links to your post that allow your readers to find out more about you and your guests and follow you and your guests on social media can help make your show notes more visible and more useful to your listeners, as well as increasing engagement with your brand. You should also include a hook in the beginning that gets readers interested in listening to the episode, and a call to action at the end, encouraging listeners to sign up with your email list, follow you on social media, etc. At the bottom of this post, you can find links to good examples of what great looking show notes should look like.
Takeaways From this Lesson:
- Show notes help increase your listener’s engagement with you and your brand
- Show notes also increase your overall SEO impact for each episode
- Show notes add value for your listeners
- Making your show notes shareable helps increase visibility
- Adding links to your show notes increases brand engagement and usefulness to readers and listeners
- Good show notes should include a hook at the beginning and a call to action at the end