Jacob Haller (jwgh) wrote,
Jacob Haller

Podcasting notes

Hey, a public post! I figured I'd post this here, so if someone else runs into some of the same problems I did they would be able to google it and find this information.

(Oh, and also, my podcast has been launched, though I am holding off on making the big push to tell people about it until it is accepted into the iTunes music store, which might take a couple of weeks. Information on how to subscribe to it is behind this link.)

  • Creating the files

    If you use GarageBand's podcast functionality, you have the option of exporting either mp3 or m4a files. If you use m4a then you have the option of including things like chapter markers, while mp3 is more bare bones.

    In theory mp3 would be more widely supported, but as far as I can tell in practice pretty much every podcast reader can handle both, so I decided to use m4a in the podcast, but also have mp3s available in case anyone couldn't use the m4a version. This ended up complicating things slightly.

  • Hosting the files

    I used Amazon S3 to host the audio files. There were a few tricky things about this.

    1. It took me a while to figure out where it was. To save you some time, here's a direct link:


    2. S3 doesn't automatically detect the MIME type for m4a files correctly, so if you use this type of file, after uploading it you will have to select it, click on 'Properties', click on 'Metadata', and change the 'Content-Type' key's value to 'audio/mp4'.
    3. To give public access to a file, you select it and go under 'Actions' to 'Make Public'.
    4. If you select a file, it will show you the URL to get to it, for instance:


      However, if you actually use this URL, then feedburner won't be able to see it, because feedburner doesn't like https links for some reason. Fortunately, you can just change this to an http link and it still works fine:


  • Making blog posts

    I used tumblr for this, but you can use any blogging platform that will provide an rss feed.

    Each blog post should contain a link to the audio. Things to know here:

    1. The blog's title should be the name of the podcast. I originally named my blog 'Tell Me About Your Song episodes', and feedburner later decided that that was what I wanted the podcast's title to be, and my attempts to override this completely failed to work until I just renamed the blog to 'Tell Me About Your Song'.
    2. As noted previously, it should be an http link, not an https link, or else feedburner will choke on it.
    3. If you have multiple links in a blog post and you want to make sure that feedburner will know which one is pointing to the podcast audio, then add 'rel="enclosure"' to that link, e.g.

      <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/TellMeAboutYourSong/Tracie+Potochnik+-+Tell+Me+About+Your+Song.m4a" rel="enclosure">Download This Episode</a>

    4. I ended up decided to create two separate blogs, one that would be the basis for the podcast feed, and the other of which would contain the show notes. I think that will work well for my podcast, but if you use the 'rel=enclosure' trick cited above then you can probably make do with just one.
    5. On tumblr, the rss feed for a given blog is http://theblogname.tumblr.com/rss (e.g. http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ for my podcast's blog) - this is what you'll need when you're setting up the podcast feed.
  • Setting up the podcast feed

    I used feedburner for this. It can be accessed here: http://feedburner.google.com/ This will use the same login as your gmail account.

    Getting the podcast to work in feedburner was super frustrating, but hopefully if you've followed the guidelines above (setting the content-type of the file correctly, changing the URL from https to http, using 'rel=enclosure' if you have multiple links in your blog post, setting the name of the blog to the name of the podcast) then it will be pretty straightforward:

    1. You paste in the URL of your blog's rss feed (http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ in my case) and select the 'I am a podcaster!' option.
    2. It asks you for the feed title (though I don't know why, since it will just use your blog's title even if you specify something different here) and will ask you what to use in the feedburner URL (I specified TellMeAboutYourSong, so my feedburner URL is http://feeds.feedburner.com/TellMeAboutYourSong).
    3. You then have the option of specifying additional information -- the location of an image that will serve as your podcasts icon, what category of podcast it is, whether it's got adult content, etc. -- which will be useful if you want to submit the podcast to iTunes; I believe Apple will accept podcasts that don't have, say, a high-resolution icon, but they generally won't consider featuring podcasts on the iTunes home page if they don't have these things. (I am also told that the icon must be a jpeg with the extension '.jpg'; '.jpeg' won't cut it, according to this information, for mystical reasons known only to Apple.)

      Actually it may be useful at this stage to link to Apple's podcasting specs.

    4. Once all that is set up, you should be able to go to http://feedburner.google.com/ and see your podcast listed. Click on it and check the following things to make sure that all is well:
      • On the 'Troubleshootize' tab, click on 'PodMedic' and make sure that it finds your blog post ('Content Item') and that it found the podcast link within that post (it should say 'Yay! Media enclosure created for: [the filename of the episode's mp3 or m4a file]').
      • On the 'Optimize' tab, click on 'Your Feed' and verify that the title is correct and everything basically looks fine. Note that if there are any double quotes or other characters that feedburner had to translate so they would work in its feed then you'll see the encoded version; that's normal and nothing to worry about.
      • If you are particularly detail-orented, you can click on 'XML Source', also on the 'Optimize' tab, and see the actual RSS for the feed. The main thing that you want to make sure is there is the '<enclosure url="...' tag for each episode, which should point to the media file. (But if PodMedic found the media enclosure then this should not be a problem.)
      • If you find some things are not quite what they should be, and you have to go back and edit the blog post, feedburner will not immediately reflect the changes. You can try to get it to speed up the process by going to the 'Troubleshootize' tab and clicking on the 'pinging FeedBurner' link. Give it the link to your blog and it should rescan it. This mostly worked, but there was also a period of a half hour or so where it didn't seem to, and where even deleting and recreating the feed didn't make a difference; I'm not sure if this was a problem on feedburner's end or if tumblr was serving up cached information for some reason. Anyway, pinging feedburner is worth a try.
    5. At this point you can try plugging the feed's URL into iTunes ('File'->'Subscribe to Podcast') and see if it works. Hopefully, it will!
  • Submitting to iTunes

    If you go to https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast, Apple will ask you to sign in with your Apple ID, and you'll then be able to submit the Feedburner URL of your podcast. You should then get an email telling you they've received your submission and you'll hear from them once it's approved (or disapproved).

    Searching around indicates that it can take a couple of weeks for new podcasts to get approved, though some people report shorter times. In retrospect, submitting it on a Saturday night during a three-day weekend might not have been my smartest strategy.

    After a podcast is approved, I gather it takes about a day for it to become indexed; so initially you'll be able to share the link to subscribe to it in iTunes, but searching for the podcast in iTunes won't find it.


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