WWW FAQs: How do I make a podcast?

2006-07-24: Podcasting is a great way to reach people who prefer to listen to music or talk shows on portable audio players, including but not limited to Apple's iPod. Many users without portable audio players also enjoy podcasts as a way to automatically receive new episodes of a show over the Internet. And both audio and audio/video shows are supported.

But can you create your own podcast? Yes! It's actually really easy to do, even by hand.

To create a podcast, just follow these steps:

1. Record at least one "episode" of your program. For simplicity, I'll assume your show is audio only, like most podcasts. To reach the largest audience, use a program that supports MP3-format audio, such as the excellent free program Audacity. Save your finished episode as an MP3 file.

2. Upload your .mp3 files to your website. In this tutorial, I'll assume you uploaded them to a folder called podcasts inside the main web directory of www.example.com.

An easy alternative: instead of the remaining steps, consider using the feedburner service. Feedburner simplifies the task of creating podcast RSS feeds. But once you get the hang of it, it's not that difficult to do it yourself!

2. Start up Windows Notepad, or your preferred text editor.

3. Copy and paste the following, then edit the title element to describe your show, and change link to point to your show's home page on the Internet.

Very Important: after copying and pasting, check carefully to make sure none of the punctuation was changed in the pasting process. Some web browsers and text editors don't cooperate very well. If the punctuation is wrong, fix it in your editor or your podcast will not work!

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<title>Cat Sounds</title>
... Additional item elements for additional episodes ...

4. Now you have an empty podcast! What's that good for? Well, not much... so let's add our first episode. Copy and paste the following before the closing </channel> tag:

<title>Title of Episode 1</title>
length="989898" type="audio/mpeg"/>
<pubDate>Mon, 24 Jul 2006 16:21:00 GMT</pubDate>

5. Change the title element to describe your episode.

6. Change the url attribute of the enclosure to match the filename of your first episode's MP3 file. In my example, the website is www.example.com and I've uploaded episode1.mp3 to a folder called podcasts on that website. Correct the URL to match your setup.

7. Change the length attribute of the enclosure element to match the size of your first episode's MP3 file, in bytes. Do not use commas.

Not sure exactly how big your MP3 file is? Here's how to find out: locate your MP3 file in "My Computer" (assuming you're using Windows), right-click the file, and pick "Properties." Then look at "Size:" to find the size in bytes.

8. Change the pubDate element to today's date. It's important that the publication dates be correct so that podcatchers (such as iTunes) understand the order your episodes should appear in.

9. Repeat steps 4-8 for each additional episode.

10. Save the RSS feed file. Call the file myshow.xml (you may substitute your own name, but the file extension should be .xml).

11. Upload the RSS feed file to your website.

Now you have a podcast! But there's a catch: web browsers don't magically understand what to do with podcasts. If you were to simply access http://www.example.com/myshow.xml, you would just see the contents of the XML file.

How can we make the podcast do its thing? In two ways. First, by telling users how to subscribe to it manually, which they can do in iTunes and other podcatcher programs. And second, by registering it with a podcasting service.

To help users subscribe manually, just display the URL of your myshow.xml file on your web page, and remind iTunes users that the steps are:

1. Pull down the "Advanced" menu.

2. Pick "Subscribe to Podcast."

3. Paste the RSS feed URL into the box.

4. Click "OK."

Next, publish your podcast with the major podcasting services:

1. Publish your podcast by submitting it to Apple's iTunes Music Store. It's free and brings your podcast to the attention of a large audience. At the end of the process you'll be given a link to add to your own web page so that your readers can find your podcast via Apple's service.

2. Publish your podcast in Yahoo Podcasts. This option is also free, and you can publish your podcast with both services. Yahoo Podcasts features convenient links for listeners to check out individual episodes even if they don't have podcatcher software. Yahoo Podcasts also provides a link to use on your own page.

That's it - you're a podcaster! Enjoy interacting with your new audience.

For more information, see how do I make a video podcast?

Legal Note: yes, you may use sample HTML, Javascript, PHP and other code presented above in your own projects. You may not reproduce large portions of the text of the article without our express permission.

Got a LiveJournal account? Keep up with the latest articles in this FAQ by adding our syndicated feed to your friends list!