Today we're looking at hosting services for your podcast. Similar to your blog, we need a place on the internet where your audio will reside. However, they are significant differences from hosting to audio and the typical blog hosting service.
Audio tends to take up more storage and requires integration of your RSS feed, so that it can be distributed to iTunes and other services. As well a popular podcast uses a lot of download bandwidth. So we're going to look at some of the more simple situations that are available on the internet for podcaster's today as well as a couple “roll your own” approaches for those that want to maintain and create their own RSS feed. Let's jump in.
Creating an RSS feed
From the earliest days of podcasting, one of the most tedious processes had been creating your own RSS feed. This can be a complicated process and has to be done absolutely perfect in order for directories like iTunes to read it. A hero's welcome came when a company named Libsyn, which stands for Liberated Syndication came into the market. They made it incredibly easy for podcasters to upload their show, host it, distribute it, and create an RSS feed that is functional for every service out there that reads it. Let's take a look at how Libsyn works and how we find at Podfly, it is the best way to host your podcast.
Libsyn.com (Liberated Syndication)
Starting at Libsyn.com, we can see plans start as low as $5 per month. This is a pretty low barrier to entry for those that are looking to get into podcasting and a place that we normally recommend that you start. You can always change your plan as you go along to upgrade your storage and usage.
One of the great features of Libsyn is that it does not charge you for the amount of shows that are downloaded. In fact, they don't charge you at all for the amount of bandwidth that you use. It is unlimited, which is great if your show really gains popularity in one given month. They also do not charge you to have your shows archived and stored on their server indefinitely so long as you have a plan. What Libsyn charges for is the amount of megabytes that you upload per month as part of your monthly plan. We'll be determining how many megabytes per show you're going to be using and how many times you're going to be uploading per month in later tutorials. There is no question that the cost advantage of Libsyn is fantastic.
As an overview of the products and services that Libsyn offers, they are not only a hosting service, they are THE hosting service. Some of the quick stats include in 2009 this network delivered over 1.4 billion downloads. With a client base and numbers to boast such as that, it is clear that these guys are going to handle your files well.
There's a great on-published system that is built into Libsyn as well, which is incredibly powerful, super fast way to share your podcast in iTunes, Tumblr, Wordpress, Twitter, you name it, including a smart phone app that Libsyn provides for the higher priced plans. If you get really big, there are enterprise solutions as well for Libsynpro. There are a number of people that gain a lot of popularity in their programing and want to sell their podcast. Libsyn has a great option to put it in their store and make it available for sale.
Let's log into a Libsyn account and take a look at some of the features inside. I've logged into one of the accounts here that we manage at Podfly for a client. The first thing we see is a dashboard with announcements from Libsyn, a quick publish system to get your show up immediately, a snapshot of some of the latest statistics, some of the social destinations that may have been assigned to the show, and most importantly the storage usage to let you know how you doing with your upload quota.
Let's jump in to one of the coolest things about Libsyn that makes it an incredibly powerful service - Statistics.
Superior Statistics Reports
An overview of the stats provides me how many downloads per month there are of my program. What makes Libsyn super powerful is these guys have the best stats in the biz. Taking a look at the show in general, I can look at the geographic stats of where this show is being downloaded.
You can see this particular program is enormously popular in the United States. Some great graphics and world maps, visual stats that I can drill down to, and more make this an extremely powerful tool to know who you're marketing your program to and how to target advertisers.
Libsyn also provides you with details on the technology that is being used to download your programs. You'll see here that the vast majority of this particular program is being downloaded or played in either AppleCoreMedia or iTunes. Microsoft Internet Explorer being number 3, you can see through browsers and different types of players that people are using. So as you continue to evolve your programing, you can tailor your show specific for the type of user that you have. As well, at any time, I can drill down and find some of the specific information on each individual episode. It's geographic downloads, the technology used, and more.
Now that we've looked at some of the statistics, let's take a look at how we actually publish the show in Libsyn and the power behind it.
Setting Up Your Show
Libsyn provides you with an easy to use web interface to get your RSS going. The first thing we need to determine when selecting our account information is the name of our Slug. This is basically your RSS feed and your web pages will be located at this domain. Let's just call it, 'mynewshow'. After you've filled out your credit card information, select one of the plans that you feel is going to be appropriate. As mentioned, let's start here at the $5 plan.
Now that we've created our new account, the first thing that we need to do is setup the show, so let's go to settings. Here I can now edit my show settings. The first thing I'm going to change is my show title. Again, let's just call it, 'My New Show'.
A very important step in this process is a good show description. Many people are aware of SEO or Search Engine Optimization, having a good show description is not only important for SEO, but it's going to appear as your description of your program in iTunes, Stitcher, and any where else that you plug in your RSS feed, so a good show description is critical.
It's also recommend that you put tags and keywords in, separated by commas, to make your show more discoverable online. In addition, you can complete your personal web address for the program, so that when people click on it it goes back to your website. Putting in an email for the program is a great idea so that your listeners can very easily get a hold of you. You also want to complete the copyright notice section. This will normally be the name of your company or the name of your podcast.
Many people overlook the visual element of podcasting and that would be the album artwork. Having great artwork means you're really going to stand out in these directories such as iTunes. Not to mention on portable players and on computers, your artwork is going to be what people will look at when they start playing your show. Finding a good graphics designer to put together album artwork is critical. The size that iTunes requires is 1400 by 1400. This is such a large size because of their retina displays and also now podcast being available on Apple TV. Higher resolution graphics with really eye catching results is a great way to get your show front and center.
Libsyn has some great advanced features as well if you need to sync with an external feed or add a custom domain. We will not get in to these today.
Uploading Your Show
Uploading your show to Libsyn couldn't be simpler. We're going to go to content and add a new episode. Here we can see we can select a media file from either our hard drive, an FTP, or in some cases, in Dropbox to upload the show.
This is now where you're going to put the show title, subtitle, and description. Libsyn also provides you an easy feature to upload album art different from your normal show. Many cases, a lot of people like to have album artwork that is prudent to their program. This is where you can do it. As well you can select the category of programing, add some tags and keywords to make it easy to find in the Libsyn directory, and more.
Libsyn has built in as well some of the iTunes ratings, whether or not your show is explicit, clean, or not set. A powerful feature of Libsyn publishing as well is deciding when you want your show to be released. In many cases, a podcaster will put his show up early, but does not want it to come out for a couple of days. In this case, it's very easy to select a new release date and time and instruct Libsyn to release your show then. Additionally, Libsyn allows you to set an expiration date and the availability of a file. Once we have all of this information completed, we simply need to click 'Publish'.
Going a little bit deeper into the dashboard, Libsyn also provides you a great way to share your podcast automatically. Looking at destinations, you can see some of the different destinations I can add. The defaults of course are the Libsyn classic feed, a web page, and a web player. When I click on 'Add New', I'm provided with a variety of other destinations I can use to share my podcast automatically when it's released. LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, Wordpress, this makes it very easy for your show to be pushed out to a social destination whenever it is added. This makes it tremendously easy to push out or tweet or share your new podcast as soon as its published with your followers.
One of our favorite options of Libsyn is the web player that comes with our account. This provides you with an opportunity to configure a web player to any size that you want, is HTML 5 compatible, and works on every device on every platform. We can select how these episodes are going to be distributed, whether we want individual shows, or a master player on our website, where people can navigate through previous episodes, in what order they're going to play it, and more. This web player makes it worth the $5 a month alone.
Monetizing with Libsyn
Libsyn has built in to a monetization system that allows advertisement insertion. If you have more than 10,000 downloads in the United States per month, you can apply for this program and look at options to make money on your show. In addition, if you have premium content, Libsyn is a great way to sell subscriptions to your program. More and more in-demand content is now being purchased at a monthly rate in the subscription model.
As we've seen, Libsyn makes it very easy for you to upload your podcast, have your RSS feed right, and push it out to social destinations. Giving you options down the road to monetize your show is also extremely attractive.
In future episodes of these tutorials Podfly Academy will be speaking to members of the Libsyn team to give you detailed information about advanced use of this incredibly powerful platform.
If you decide to go with Libsyn, use the promo code: podfly and get your first month free!
A great service in the podcasting industry is Blubrry. Blubrry provides ultimate solutions for those especially who have Wordpress websites. With media hosting, statistics, a plugin, podcast advertising, a free manual, consulting, and more, Blubrry is really becoming a popular choice for those who want an all inclusive solution for podcasting.
Blubrry is proving a wide range of services for podcasters. This can be a very attractive option for many people getting started. Blubrry is currently offering a hosting service that is similar to Libsyn. This rolling storage option really makes the most sense for podcasters. The podcasting plugin for Wordpress is great for those who already have a Wordpress site and simply want to plug in their podcast. We invite you to go to Blubrry.com and check out some of the services and see if they're a good fit for you.
Many individuals in the podcast industry tend to be tech savvy, they want to create and maintain their own RSS feed. We here at Podfly tend not to make this as a recommendation. However, we do want to demonstrate there are options for you. Let's dive in to a couple right now.
Feed For All
A popular RSS feed creation tool that's been in the market for some time is FeedForAll. Though, the FeedForAll program is still relatively easy to use, it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Remember though that using something like FeedForAll to create your RSS feed does not give you the necessary hosting solution of where to actually store your podcast. That is still another step in the process that you need to take care of.
FeedBurner is a familiar product amongst many bloggers. They do have something called SmartCast that enables you to turn your hosted audio into an RSS feed available as a podcast. Do note though as we scroll through these instructions how terribly complicated it can be to do this, despite their claims that this is easier podcasting. Further investigation leads me to a complete tutorial, which is no longer available on the internet.
You can see you're going to have to do a lot of digging around to find appropriate information to do this, when you can simply go over to Libsyn, sign up for a hosting account, and have an RSS feed that works today.
One of the questions we get here a lot at Podfly Academy is can I implement my podcast directly into my Wordpress site. Well, the answer is yes. There are a number of Wordpress plugins available for you to use. Again, we don't typical advise this as plugins tend to be maintained by a developer. If the plugin breaks, your podcast breaks. However, we still want to give you an opportunity to see some of these plugins in action and how they might work, so let's dive in to one or two.
Anyone working with Wordpress is familiar with the concept of a plugin. A plugin is basically an addition to your website that you can plug in to provide additional features. These plugins are independently developed with such a great community of plugin developer. Naturally, of course, you're going to see podcasting being implemented into Wordpress sites. One such plugin is Serious Simple Podcasting. At first glance you can see that this provides a lot of great features for podcasters including statistics and tracking.
However, with any plugin developed independently, there is concern. These concerns especially for Wordpress users tend to be security and updates. For example, in many cases when Wordpress itself, as a platform, updates, a lot of people need their plugins to be updated as well. If the developer has not updated that plugin and it is incompatible with a Wordpress update, your plugin simply breaks, which means your podcast goes down.
In addition to this, there is some concern as to whether or not some of these plugins are accurately tracking your downloads and statistics. Without delving too deeply with the technical issues that might be associated with stat reporting, let's just say there's a lot of question within the podcast community as to the accuracy of these stats. Where as company's such as Libsyn have devoted an enormous amount of energy and time to be sure that the statistics they provide you are accurate.
However, if you do have a Wordpress site and a hosting service and are very comfortable with using these types of plugins this can be a great way for you to go.
As podcasters, one of our primary missions is having as many people hear our show as possible. In earlier versions of these tutorials, we spoken about making that content easy to consume by everyone. This often means implementing a verity of services, so that people can quickly, and easily access your show. One popular service that is really being taken advantage of by podcasters today is SoundCloud. SoundCloud has superior web integration of their players, be it in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and as well something that you can put on your website quickly for people to play your show.
SoundCloud is also working on a podcast beta in order to make it even easier for podcasters. Let's jump in and see how SoundCloud can work for you.
Creating a SoundCloud account initially is free. What you then pay for is the amount of content that you decide to upload down the road. Uploading content is extremely simple. You choose a file to upload, upload it to the service, and it is going to be ready to play. Opening up the individual track that I've uploaded, I can go ahead and add tags, descriptions, and more. What makes sound cloud great though is the share feature. When I share it on Facebook or Twitter, it embeds a player directly on that site.
Many other services do not work well with some of these social sites to enable people to just play your podcast with one click. Sharing it via SoundCloud means that when it shows up in someone's Facebook news feed, they can click play and listen right away. Of course, the embed code that is provided is fantastic. It gives you a chance to quickly paste this into your website and make it easy for people to play.
In addition, SoundCloud does keep track of the number of people that play your show. The SoundCloud community is considerable and a lot of people like and share and talk about your show if it is popular.
SoundCloud recognizes that podcasters are using their services regularly. Acknowledging this, they have opened up a beta program, which would be SoundCloud for podcasters. Applying for this program is simple and you can get in on the ground floor of what is promising to be a very exciting way to publish and share podcasts. We, of course, here at Podfly Academy will provide more information about the SoundCloud podcast beta as it rolls out.
That said, we do NOT recommend Soundcloud. We we even have tutorials on how go migrate your podcast OFF of Soundcloud.
Another way to have your podcast heard across the web easily is using YouTube. Let's save the debate as to whether or not YouTube is killed the video podcast for another day. However as audio podcasters, this is a great way to have your show heard. Let's take a quick peak at how we can take our audio podcast and make it available to YouTube subscribers.
The trick to getting your podcast available in YouTube is to change it into something that is recognized as a movie file. In this case, what I’ve done is opened up iMovie on my Mac. You'll notice at the bottom I have the audio track inserted, that is the final track of my podcast. Above it, I've used some of the optional video in order to promote my sponsors, maybe have my logo, and a couple of song titles in this particular music program as well.
Taking this and exporting it and uploading it to YouTube makes it immediately available and shareable as a video. We work with a lot of podcasters who have many subscribers who simply discover and listen to their show via YouTube. This is one of many ways you can do that.
Squarespace for Podcasting
One of the fantastic hosting and web design services available on the internet today is Squarespace.com. Squarespace has a very innovative approach to creating and hosting websites, but we have to mention that they also recently implemented podcasting into their services. I think it would be fair to take a moment and take a look at how Squarespace is offering people a chance to not only host their podcast online, but make it available in RSS and distribute it through iTunes.
Tutorial from Help.Squarespace.com
You can use the audio block within blog posts on your site to publish and syndicate podcasts. Squarespace includes universal iTunes tags to augment your RSS feed with your podcast show information, which is required to be listed in the iTunes directory. In the content manager, select your blog and click blog settings, from there, access the syndication settings and check the box next to enable iTunes RSS tags. You can then add those iTunes tags for your podcast. Each field provides a brief description of use.
You can add an iTunes subtitle, iTunes summary, search keywords, category, iTunes owner, and iTunes owner email. Enabling the iTunes RSS tag also opens the option for you to upload an iTunes cover art for your podcast. Just scroll down to the image upload block, then click iTunes cover art image, and drag your podcast artwork into the image upload box or just click the box to open a file upload window on your computer.
After filling out the fields completely and saving your settings, add an Audio block to any blog post to automatically syndicate it as a podcast. Within the audio block settings, you can insert your audio file. Acceptable file types are .mp3, .m4a, .ogg, and .wav.
There is a file size limit of a 120mb. For files larger than this, we recommend hosting your file with a different source and using our external file option within the audio block. In the edit audio embed box, click on the podcasting tab to configure the iTunes podcasting attributes specific to this episode. Once you have configured the options for your audio block, click the save button to save the block to your post, then save and publish that post. You now have a live podcast available for your blog subscribers.
So we've seen a couple of different ways that you can host your podcast on the internet. Again, our strong recommendation at Podfly is to simply use Libsyn. Libsyn is reasonably priced and provides great opportunities for not only distributing your show easily and properly, but gives you web players, social media integration, and incredible statistics that are super valuable to podcasters. However, if you are adventurous and you want do it yourself, there are a number of ways to do that as well.