The Cheap and Easy Guide to making and releasing a Podcast, 2014 edition

podcast-headphones

Podcasts are internet radio shows. Anyone with a computer can make one and publish it to a potentially enormous audience, for less than 100 dollars / euros a year.

After a decade releasing podcasts, here’s the simplest, cheapest and most flexible way I’ve found to distribute one. It’s not free but it’s inexpensive. Podcasting can certainly be done for free, but you’ll pay in time and effort later on, especially if your show takes off.

The beauty of this method is that you can actually host multiple podcasts and an essentially unlimited audience from the same website (without any additional cost). You don’t need to worry about bandwidth or additional fees. This is my current workflow, and once it’s all set up, it only takes about five minutes to put out a new podcast episode.

Note: The following guide assumes you’re using a Mac. It’s just as easy on Windows / Linux, but the software for recording, tagging etc is different. If you’re using windows, just use the substitute software MP3 Tag for Tagr, and CDEX for MAX.

The Guide

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1) Record and edit your first episode

You can do this directly through your laptop in Garageband (free), or on Reaper (reasonable), or Adobe Audition / Logic (expensive). Or you can use an external recorder, or even in a pinch a smartphone. For more details about a decent recording setup see here. Export your final show as a WAV.

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2) Convert your episode to MP3

I’d suggest using the free OSX conversion programme MAX. It’ll make smaller higher quality MP3’s than say Audition, Garageband or Reaper. In MAX, go to preferences -> formats -> MP3/ and set encoder quality to portable.
Now click on File -> Convert files and find your episode. Encode your WAV file to MP3.

3) Create a graphic for the podcast.

There are any number of ways to design a logo. Probably the simplest is to use a logo design app like Logo Design Studio Lite (3 dollars on the OSX app store). You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel JPG graphic to use for itunes etc. You can upscale one from a smaller resolution, provided it’s the right aspect ratio (i.e.: provided it’s square). You can do this with Preview in OSX. Save a smaller version for your website and episode art (say 500 * 500 pixels).

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4) Tag your MP3

I’d suggest using the OSX tagging programme TAGR. It’s 10 euro from the iTunes app store. You can drag your episode art into the box on the bottom left of TAGR (marked ‘artwork’, see image above). This will be the art that appears on smartphones and MP3 players when listeners play the programme. Enter the name of the episode and programme and all other relevant details. Save the file.

5) Set up an account at wordpress.com

Lots of people will suggest buying your own webspace and installing wordpress from wordpress.org, or some other blog software. You can do this, but I’d recommend against it unless you’re a professional web developer. WordPress.org is easy to install, but difficult to keep secure from hackers, and time consuming to maintain. WordPress.com is cheaper and more than good enough for podcast hosting.

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6) Purchase a domain name & space upgrade

Go to the wordpress store – your link will be something like https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/wp-admin/paid-upgrades.php

It’s 15 euro for registration and mapping.

It’s 40 euro for a 25 gig upgrade, enough for well over three hundred, two hour long podcasts.

7) Make your first WordPress post

Make your first post with an audio file attached. To do this, upload the audio file in wordpress’s media uploader, and then paste it into the body of the post.

Don’t forget to name your post. E.g.: ‘Great Podcast – Episode 1 – The Beginning’. Now create a tag in WordPress for your podcast, which you can add in the Tags box, on the bottom right. This tag can be anything, usually the name of your programme: But make sure it’s all one word.

Now when you go to https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG – you’ll see all the episodes of the podcast.

Copy the link to the tag RSS feed, which should be – https://YOURACCOUNT.wordpress.com/tag/YOURTAG/feed

9) Make a Feedburner Feed

Go to Feedburner.com and ‘burn’ a new feed, using the RSS feed you copied from your wordpress tag above. Give the new feed the name of your podcast and go through all the set up on the feedburner site. The resulting feedburner feed is the feed you’ll submit to itunes etc.

14) Create a graphic for your podcast

You’ll need a 1400 * 1400 pixel graphic to use for iTunes, which you again upload directly to WordPress, and link via your feedburner settings. If you don’t have one big enough, just expand an existing image, no ones looking at it in that definition on itunes away. Check the feed is working by viewing it on feedburner.

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15) Submit your podcast feed to iTunes

You can do this here. You’ll need iTunes installed for this to work, and you’ll need at least one episode already in the feed to have it approved. Approval usually takes a couple of days to a week. Make sure not to include profanity in the podcast name or description as this will get your feed rejected. If your show is explicit, tag it as explicit at this stage (and in Feedburner).

16) Making Additional Episodes

Be sure to include the relevant tag every time you make a new post. Each new post, correctly tagged and with an audio file attached, will become a podcast episode. The name of the post will be the name of the episode in iTunes and in the podcast RSS feed on Feedburner.

17) Publicise

Submit your Feedburner RSS feed to Stitcher and any other third party podcast lists you’d like. Stick your show up on Facebook etc.

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4 thoughts on “The Cheap and Easy Guide to making and releasing a Podcast, 2014 edition

  1. You’ve created a great resource and should be commended for your effort, but you leave out a critical detail which is wordpress.com has a tragic flaw for podcasters that even Feedburner can’t mediate. They cut off all RSS feeds at 50 entries no matter what. You can’t pay them a fee to disable this limitation.

    They’ve done it to fix a bug in their database layer that they don’t care to trace down and fix. They do not appear to have any plans to remedy the situation in the future. This means that if you want a comprehensive feed of your episodes in iTunes and everywhere else, you will have to come up with a complicated and annoying-to-maintain solution to have a true “archive” of your podcast.

    The easier solution is not to get trapped into wordpress.com in the first place, which apart from the other excellent advice you give, is, IMHO, a terrible way to get started in the medium.

    1. First off, thanks for commenting. No one but spambots comments on blogs anymore. Much appreciated.

      I was aware of the limitation you mention (although not the reason behind it). But I think it’s not a huge issue. It’s trivial to set up an archive of older casts on archive.org, or through a pay solution. I’d be surprised if many podcasts had large download figures on shows more than 50 episodes back in the feed in any case. The episodes will still be available through your site, and you can of course always put up a ‘best off’ feed under another tag, if your show really is that popular.

      To me a bigger issue is that by default, wordpress.com only shows I think 9 or so posts in a feed. You need to manually change this in wordpress settings for more to be available. WordPress is certainly not the perfect solution, but it’s a stable platform that’s been around for a long while, and seems considerably more reasonably priced (especially given the lack of bandwidth limitations) than any other solutions I’ve seen.

      1. I’m sure it just depends on preference, but I know a lot of listeners who solely use iTunes for interacting with podcasts at all. They don’t visit a web site, ever. When I look at various competing ‘casts in a given category, I see others like mine with hundreds of episodes back to when they started easily available on iTunes. I see mine limited to 50, because I can’t move our site right now and WordPress.com has this *insane* limitation that you can’t even pay a fee to fix. I think it’s worth mentioning because for at least some people, this is a complete showstopper.

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