HOW TO MAKE A PODCAST
is intended as a fairly simple guide to making and posting a podcast.
For more detail, please see Apple's Podcasting Help Pages (for links to some
individual sections see below).
you need to record your first podcast episode in an audio editor, and
save it as an .mp3, .m4a,
.m4v, .mov or .mp4 file (not
Windows Media, RealMedia or Flash).
The last three are video formats; .mp3 is audio only (you can embed
one image); .m4a is audio only but can accept chapter markers with
individual images. The facility for doing this has been removed from GarageBand as from version 10.0.0 (and Podcast
Maker is no longer available); for Macs Fission
can do this (I've not tried them.)
The link you will put in the feed must be directly
to the media file, not to an embedded player of the sort provided by
various file-sharing services (including YouTube videos which won't
work). Don't include any spaces or
in the name - stick to plain letters and numbers, and - or _. Upload
this to your webspace and
note the URL by which it can be accessed. (The company who provides
your internet connection may offer webspace, or there are plenty of
other companies who do.) Apple now recommend that the server should use
a secure connection (https rather than http), however using https
will cause some podcast creation programs to fail to create the
necessary 'enclosure' tag. It appears that if you do use https for your
media files (and you should use one or the other for all of them, not mix the two) you must also use it
for your images.
There are various media hosting sites which provide their own
displays of the media: these can work but it's necessary to be able to
provide a direct URL to the file and some don't allow this. Some, such
as SoundCloud, force a download by default and this must be disabled. Storage sites such as Dropbox and Amazon can be problematic; and Google Drive
is best avoided altogether as it has caused endless problems. In many
cases the bandwidth is limited, so if your podcast becomes popular they
will be unable to handle all the requests. These sites are mostly
designed to store your files, and perhaps share to a limited number of
people, not serve them to a large audience.
Some people intermix episodes with and without playable media to match
the way their weblog is constructed; this can cause problems. In any
case iTunes does not display episodes with no media. You should also
note that if when you submit your feed the top episode is one without
playable media the Store will reject the submission as it checks only
the top episode and won't notice the others which have media.
To complicate matters, Apple now require the server you host your
media files on to have 'byte-range support' enabled - basically this
means coping with requests for only part of a file at a time, which is
required for the iPhone to be able to play podcasts - and refusing to
accept podcasts where this is not the case. You should confirm with any
proposed hosting service that they support this: if they don't (or
don't know what it is) you should find another hosting service.
Now you need to write
the 'feed' file which tells iTunes and other services about your
podcast. There are programs which can do all this for you and
make the process a lot simpler: one such, for Macs, is Feeder;
and RapidWeaver can also do this; I don't know about
Windows but there must be
similar programs. There are also online services such as Blogger, Podbean or LibSyn
which will handle
a lot of the work for you but will also leave you with less control.
Many people use Wordpress, which is powerful but has a steep learning
curve - you may find this instructional page helpful.
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A SAMPLE FEED
Personally I wouldn't mess about writing my own XML
file, but if you are
going to write the file yourself: copy the sample XML file
below and paste it into a plain text
text editor. Amend the sections in red (of
course they'll probably be black in the text editor) with suitable
information. Note that there must be no line breaks between the
< and > tags (the browser display may have put some in).
These are the 'type' attributes inside the 'enclosure' tags for the
different file types -
Note that if checking in FeedValidator,
'itunes:order', 'itunes:isClosedCaptioned' and 'itunes:complete' are
recently added tags and as it does not recognize them it will flag them
as errors, which you can ignore.
For an explanation of how the various tags appear in iTunes please
see this page.
If your episodes contain strong or sexual language then the 'itunes:
explicit' tag must be set to 'yes'. Just setting the tag for the entire
podcast won't do: you must also flag every episode containing such
material (and even if there is only one episode with the 'explicit' tag
set you must also set it for the overall podcast). Note that you may
not use strong or sexual language in the
'title', 'itunes:subtitle' or 'itunes:summary' tags however the
'itunes:explicit' tag is set (because people who might be offended
would see them without any prior warning). (Setting the tag in the ID3
tags in the file itself, as WordPress Help has apparently been advising
some people to do, does not work: iTunes does not read these tags apart
from the image one.)
Apple provide a list of suitable categories here and it's best to stick to them. The URL for
the media file given in the
'enclosure' tag must be a direct link to the file, not using a
script to force a download, and scripts redirecting to the actual file
may not work - this includes URL shorteners such as tinyurl. Also, your
episodes cannot be password-protected (and you
cannot charge for your podcast).
A caveat: if you are
hand-writing the feed you cannot use the '&' character directly,
e.g. 'Apples & Pears'; you must use the html code for it: 'Apples
& Pears'. A loose '&' in your feed will cause it to be
unreadable (since its presence indicates the start of a code which you
are not supplying or concluding).
The 'Podcast image' which appears
on the iTunes Store page (see the illustration above) is referenced in
the 'itunes:image' tag; it needs to be .jpg or .png, minimum 1400 x
1400 px and maximum 3000 x 3000 px, and it's advisable that it should
be less than 500kB. Some people have found that it can take
days to show after the podcast first appears, or if you change it it
can also take several days before the change comes into effect. (If you
decide to change it you must also change the filename.) Note
that when people subscribe to a podcast they do not see this image in
older versions of iTunes: the
explanation for that is here
If you have individual episode images in the feed these will not show
in the Store;
if you have embedded images these will show when subscribing in iTunes
but not in the iOS Podcasts app.
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the feed as a plain text
with the name rss.xml or podcast.xml - or any
name but the extension must be .xml (and not .txt). You would be
advised to make everything in the URL lower-case as apparently the
iTunes Store has taken on occasion to failing to recognize URLs with
capital letters in. Upload the feed to your
When you come to add further episodes, duplicate the
<item>...<item> section and place it above
the present <item> section (so you get latest items on
unless you want them on the bottom of the list). Enter the data for the
new episode (note that the 'guid' tag must be different from other
episodes, usually put the URL in again), save and upload.
To test your feed: open iTunes: from the 'Advanced' menu choose
'Subscribe to Podcast'. Enter the URL of the feed file (not
the audio file) and hit return. If the feed works your podcast and
episode(s) will appear in iTunes and you can check if it plays. If so
you are ready to submit it. (You can delete it from iTunes at this
If it doesn't work, go to http://www.feedvalidator.org/
enter the feed URL - this will show any errors. (It may throw up a few
insignificant ones). You can also check your feed at http://castfeedvalidator.com
There is more detailed information on diagnosing a podcast feed on this page
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Although this is a technical
help page, it may be worth adding a warning about copyright. Many
podcasts consist of 'mixes' of commercially issued recordings taken
from CDs or downloads. Using such material without proper clearance
(which you are unlikely to get) is a breach of copyright - the fact
that you are not charging for your podcast is irrelevant, and buying a
CD gets you the right to listen to it privately, not to broadcast it.
the Store staff spot that you are doing this they will remove your
podcast; and though many people do it and get away with it because
no-one notices, at least one podcast creator has received a demand for
$25,000 plus legal costs and claims for loss; I doubt he has any
defence against this. So it's something you may want to at least bear
in mind when planning your podcast.
There is a range of 'podcast safe' music available which allows you to
use it in a podcast: Google 'podcast safe music' for a number of sites
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FEED TO THE iTUNES STORE
If all is
well, you can submit your podcast. Go to https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
and log in with the ID you use for iTunes. Click the blue '+' sign at
top left and enter the feed URL (not
the URL of the media file). Click 'Validate' and the page will check
for errors. If it passes, and you are happy with the preview you should
see, click 'Submit'. iTunes does not store your media, it just
uses the contents of the feed file to provide the details and access on
the iTunes Store. (None of this will cost you anything).
take some days before the podcast is accepted, since each new podcast
has to be checked. You may be rejected for unauthorized use of
material, bad language and sexual content, libel, or racist comments (see the list here
but of course you would never do any of those things, so you should be
When your podcast is accepted, iTunes will give you a URL
which will open iTunes to your podcast. You can manage your podcast at https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
If you click on your podcast on that page you will open an info page
which gives you your feed URL and also a 'mirror URL' which redirects
to your feed (even should you go through the process of changing its
URL, see below
). There is also a link to your
iTunes Store page.
The links there also include the ability to hide your podcast from the
iTunes Store: there have been reports of this being invoked by
accident, so if your podcast isn't appearing in the Store that is the
first place to look.
(There have been a number of cases of podcast episodes missing from the
Store - sometimes all of them - even though they all appear when
subscribing (indicating that the feed is apparently OK). If you run
into this problem, go to Podcasts Connect
sign in, select your podcast and click 'Refresh Feed'. This often
works, but if it doesn't, contact Support and ask for a re-index. Go to
and click the 'Contact Us' link at the bottom of the page.)
If you don't
know your iTunes Store page URL you can also find it by
searching on the name of your podcast and bringing up its page in the
store, then control-clicking (Mac) or right-clicking (Windows) on the
podcast image (or where it should be) and choosing 'Copy Link'.
You will also eventually be
able to search on your podcast's title, though this can take some time
available. However searching just on the category in the iTunes Store
is most unlikely to throw up your podcast. There are thousands of
podcasts out there, and it would be quite impossible to display on one
page the entire list for any category. What you see are 'featured'
podcasts, chosen by Apple as being special; please see this Tech Note
: note that there is no way you can
influence the selection other than making your podcast really special
(bribery won't work).
When you want to add an episode, upload it and amend
and reupload the feed file as described above (new episodes above the
old ones). It usually takes 1-2 days for the new episode to
appear, though subscribers see the changes pretty well immediately (since they are
accessing the feed directly, not through the Store). Regrettably the
iTunes Store provides no way of monitoring the
number of people who visit your podcast, but their Help page here
looks at ways of interpreting the logs on
As there have been some recent, and rather confusing, changes in the
way iTunes handles the display of podcasts it may be worth noting them.
By default only the most recent episode shows when you first subscribe.
To show all episodes click 'Feed' at the bottom of List view. Two
different ways of displaying subscribed podcasts can be accessed from
menu 'View' >' View as' > 'List' or 'Classic list'.
In both views you can delete downloaded episodes
by control- or right-clicking on the name of the
episode, by clicking on the three-dots icon to the right of the title which appears when you hover over it,
or by highlighting the episode and hitting the delete (backspace) key.
The first two of these actions also bring up additional options.
Each episode can be double-clicked to be played as a stream without
it first (so you don't have to wait for it to download fully). Click
the cloud icon at right to download it (as you will have to to sync it
to an iPod).
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IF YOUR PODCAST IS REJECTED, OR REMOVED FROM THE STORE
If your podcast is rejected on its initial submission, or removed once
it's appeared in the Store, this can be for a variety of reasons - see
the list in this Apple Help page
. What you do about it depends on the
reason for rejection.
Obviously you must first locate and deal with the
problem. In some cases, such as difficulty accessing the feed or media
files, being in the wrong category, etc., you can go to Podcasts Connect
and resubmit your feed. However some reasons for rejection will mean
you cannot resubmit the podcast and it will be dimmed out in the
dashboard at Podcasts Connect. In this case you will either have to
contact Support and request reactivation, or change the feed URL and
the podcast title and resubmit it as a new feed (which will lose any
rankings, reviews, etc.). To contact Support go to https://itunespartner.apple.com/en/podcasts/overview
and click the 'Contact Us' link at the bottom of the page.
You may find on re-submitting that you are told the 'podcast has
already been submitted'. This will happen if you are submitting the
same feed URL but are not logged into the account which originally
submitted it. Another reason for this error message is if you submit a different
feed URL which however has the same title and link tags as one which
already exists in the iTunes Store database (even if it had been
removed from the Store) - in this event you need to change the title
slightly, submit the feed, and upon acceptance change the title back.
(One problem here is that it the podcast creation method you are using
is one of those which generates a feed URL based on the title, then
changing the title may change that; which will mess things up
royally when you change it back. See the next section for the way to deal with that.)
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CHANGING YOUR FEED
If you want to move your feed to a different URL there are three
methods. The best way, assuming you have access to the original feed,
is to add the
following tag to the top section of the feed, between the 'channel' tag
and the first 'item' tag.
<itunes:new-feed-url>NEW URL FOR YOUR
Subscribers using iTunes will normally pick this up quite quickly but you should leave it
there for at least 2 weeks - when subscribers next check, their
iTunes application will transfer its attention to the new feed. You may
also wish to use a 301 redirect if you have access to the server (see below
careful when typing
in the new URL because if you make an error and redirect iTunes to a
non-existent URL you will not be able to retrieve the situation and
subscribers will lose contact with your feed unless they go back to the
Store and re-subscribe. You should note that this
redirection is permanent once effected: removing the tag from the old
feed has no effect.
Doing this will change the Store and the Podcasts Connect page to the
new feed, and will seamlessly redirect subscribers, who won't even
notice the change. The Store is likely to take 1-2 days to update.
(Other RSS readers won't be changed by this method, which is where the
301 redirect comes in.)
However in cases where you don't have access to the original feed you can go to https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
in if necessary) and click on your podcast. This will bring up an
info page with a field containing the current URL of your podcast.
Replace this with the new URL and click 'Save'. Then click 'Update' and
the page will check that your feed is valid. If there are any errors
you should correct them, then click 'Save' and 'Update' again. This
will change the Store to using the new feed, but again it will take 1-2
to do so. Note that doing this does not change anything for your
(since their iTunes applications read the feed directly), so all you
can do is make an announcement about the change in a podcast episode.
To confirm what iTunes is up to, click 'Subscribe Free' in the Store
for your podcast. Go to the Podcasts section in the sidebar: you should
see your podcast listed in the main pane. Control-click (Mac) or
right-click (Windows) the line for the entire podcast (not an episode)
and choose 'Copy Podcast URL'. When you paste into a text program you
will see which feed iTunes is working from.
Using a 301 redirect
You need only read this section if you have control of the server and
know how to implement a 301 redirect. If this is not the case you can
ignore the rest of this section. (For information on using a 301 redirect see this page
or this page
, and Googling will throw up other instructional pages.)
Let's call the original feed URL 'A' and the new feed URL 'B'.
A 301 redirect on the server causes all requests for A to be redirected
to B, whether they come from iTunes, web browsers or other RSS clients.
Most browsers will remember this redirect even if it is removed from
the server, at least until their cache expires at which point they may
revert to trying to access A.
When you add the 'itunes:new-feed-url' tag to feed A, the iTunes Store,
iTunes application and (I assume) the podcasts app are permanently
redirected to B. Once they have accessed A and seen the tag they will
always access B in future for that podcast. This tag has no effect at
all on browsers or on any other RSS client.
Therefore if your subscribers and visitors are only using iTunes, then
all you need to do is to add that tag to A. You can remove the old feed
after a couple of weeks as by then all subscribers will have had a
chance to check the feed and be redirected. The Store will redirect
when it next checks the feed, usually within a couple of days.
However if anyone is using some other RSS reader the 301 tag is
essential to keep them up to date. If you enable one, then obviously
iTunes will be redirected to B and will not see the redirection tag.
However it's possible that as soon as you remove the tag iTunes will
revert to looking for A.
For this reason, if you are implementing the 301, you should add the
tag to B. This has the result that iTunes looks for A, gets directed to
B, sees the tag, and makes B the URL it always checks in future for
that podcast, whatever happens to the original server. (That would be
important if, for example, you were changing hosts or the original
server went permanently off-line - it's been known to happen.)
As already said, the really important caveat is to make absolutely sure
you have the redirect correct. If you implement the
'itunes:new-feed-url' tag but get the URL wrong, you can't undo it -
anyone seeing the tag will be redirected to a non-functioning URL and
you have no way of getting them back.
APPLE HELP LINKS
Comprehensive help on creating, checking and submitting podcasts
is available at https://itunespartner.apple.com/en/podcasts/overview
Comprehensive help on using Podcasts Connect
, where you can submit your feed,
change its URL, hide, delete or otherwise manage it, is available at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/
Help on deleting a podcast is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc6b0a3bb98
Help on Podcast statistics is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc2c07d8468
Help on RSS tags is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itcb54353390
Help on iTunes Categories is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc9267a2f12
Help on creating a 'Provider Page' for multiple podcasts is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itcd9a818cce
Help about 'featured' podcasts is a https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc6dcd8ffbb
A list of the reasons your podcast might be rejected and help on re-submitting is at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itc8a10a0c56
and there is a Glossary of podcasting terms at https://help.apple.com/itc/podcasts_connect/#/itce59389726
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© Roger Wilmut. This
site is not associated with Apple.