Podcasting Workflow: From .mp3 to iTunes … and beyond

Of all the questions that routinely get asked on our TeacherCast Voicemail, the one that gets asked the most often is “How do I get my Podcast onto iTunes?”  I must admit that the process of taking your RSS feed and putting it on the worlds largest podcasting directory is a very simple one, but I confess… don’t take the easy road. Plan ahead before you submit your show to iTunes and other podcasting directories.

The Simple Answer

I will start by providing the simple answer to this question.  To submit your podcast to iTunes, all you have to do is visit iTunes, and after logging into your account, click on the Podcasts tab and then on the right sidebar select SUBMIT A PODCAST.  From here you will be asked to paste in your unique RSS feed for your podcast.  These RSS feeds can be found on almost any of your podcast media hosts.  At that point, iTunes generally takes 24-48 hours before you receive an email alerting you that your podcast is accepted into the iTunes Podcast Directory.

The Complex Answer

Truth be told, submitting to iTunes directly from your audio host is possible, but it’s not always the most recommended method.  If you are interested in stats and direct integration with your website, you will want to have your RSS take a brief journey before it heads to it’s final destination.  Fortunately, these days, thanks to podcasting plugins such as BluBrry’s PowerPress, the integration of Podcast Feed and Website are quite easy.  Lets take a look at how I have setup my podcasting workflow.  I future posts, I will be diving into this work flow in greater detail to describe how each of the applications listed below function.

In The Beginning….

Once my podcasts have been recorded, I do all of my editing in Final Cut Pro X.  I find that it is far easier for me to edit an audio show in a video application because I can use the visuals for quick and simple edits.  From this point, I export both an audio in .mp3 and a video file in .mov formats using FCPX’s compressor settings. From here, my audio and video files take two different roads that eventually will merge on my WordPress website.

The Path of the Audio File

For the first few years of my podcasts, I went the free route with my podcasting hosting.  I was already paying for unlimited online space with GoDaddy and so I decided to use a program called Feeder to create my original RSS feed and upload my audio files directly to my web host.  This was cost effective, easy to do, and it got the job done.  The issues with this system came up when my audio downloads were hitting several thousands a week and my hosting company began to slow down my downloadable content.  (The same thing will happen to you if you decide to host your podcasts directly in Google Drive as well)

Libsyn

In the summer of 2014, I decided to move my audio files into a dedicated podcast hosting platform.  For only $5 a month, Libsyn provides up to 50mb of upload space for your podcasting file.  For a few bucks more you can access additional analytics and web stats.  To find more about how I set Libson up for my multiple podcasts, please stay tuned to EducationalPodcasting.Today as I will be writing and video demonstrating this process.

PowerPress

From Libsyn, the audio file goes into my website using the PowerPress plugin.  PowerPress is a free plugin that provides a simple user interface and great SEO settings for your podcast.  There are two ways you can use PowerPress.  The first is with a single show that outputs a single Podcasting RSS.  To create this, simply set up a WordPress category called Podcasts and let the plugin do the rest.  The second way to set up PowerPress is through Category Podcasting.  This is the way I have TeacherCast setup because of the multiple shows being generated on the platform.

Through Category Podcasting, I can have individual RSS feeds generated from my WordPress posts with individual SEO, Podcasting Artwork, Podcasting Descriptions and iTunes categories.

Podcasting Statistics and Downloads

There are several ways to track your podcast statistics.  The plan that I am on with Libsyn provides download stats by show, week, month, and more.  Additionally, I am able to track through WordPress the number of times someone visits an individual post on the site.  At this point, I can simply take the feed from WordPress and dive into iTunes…. but my feed hasn’t found it’s final destination just yet.

Podtrac

From WordPress, I bring my feed into Podtrac, a free web application that not only tracks stats and downloads, but also provides your shows with a customizable audio or video player.  To sign up for a new feed, simply paste in the RSS coming out of WordPress and within seconds, Podtrac grabs your feed and processes it.  Nothing else is needed.  It really is simple.

Feedburner

Where it IS possible to change your feed source in iTunes once you have a podcast flowing into it’s directory, Apple really makes it difficult to change things once your show is setup.  In order to have a simple interface for me to create my final RSS feed, I bring my final feed through Feedburner.  Feedburner, ironically owned by Google allows you to not only set up your final feed for iTunes, but allows you to dress up your feed with an HTML version, an email subscribe button, and the ability to track individual feed subscribers.  Subscribers is an important number to track because it is different than show downloads.

On To itunes

Finally, after my mp3 audio file has gone from the editing stages through Libsyn, WordPress, Podtrac, and Feedburner, it goes to iTunes where you have the ability to download, listen to, or subscribe to.

What about the videos?

There are two services that I upload my videos to.  The first one is YouTube.  Each of my podcasts have individual playlists that you have the opportunity to subscribe to and enjoy both in your car or in your home.  The video feeds that are sent into iTunes are hosted by a website called MediaCore.  I met MediaCore a few years ago at ISTE and absolutely think they are the best hosting solutions for school created video.  The best thing about MediaCore’s video distribution system is that it provides a platform to create a video RSS feed for your files.  This is something that YouTube doesn’t do.

From this point, I take my MediaCore RSS feed into Podtrac, then to Feedburner, and finally iTunes as described above.

What Advice Can I Give You?

The best part of podcasting is that there is no right way of doing things.  The setup I described above is one that has proven to give me the best results for my particular podcasting needs.  Although there are multiple steps and logins needed for this, I am able to know exactly how many downloads are coming from my TeacherCast App, from my Website audio player, and from iTunes.

Tell us about YOUR Podcasting Setup

Is your podcasting setup different than mine?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below this post.  If interested, we would love to feature you and your podcast on our new show Educational Podcasting Today.

Do you have any questions about Podcasting or WordPress? Leave us a voice message or send us a quick email.  I’m happy to help you create a great podcast for your personal brand or your classroom.