Validating Your RSS Feed
Now that we've created our RSS feed, we need to validate that feed before we submit it to any directories. iTunes is very particular, as are other directories, so we want to make sure we don't have any odd characters or anything unusual in our feed before we begin the submission process. Let's take a look first at a free service in order to validate your new feed. No matter how we created our RSS feed, we're going to end up with a RSS feed address. This URL is similar to that which you will find on a website. Starting with: Http://thenameofyourshow.hostingcompany,com/rss.
Finding Your Feed in Libsyn
In this case, let's take a look at one of the shows that we manage here at Podfly. We manage this particular show in Libsyn. By visiting the destinations page on Libsyn, you can see some of the quick links that are available to you. One of these quick links is the RSS feed.
This RSS feed will never change as long as you stay with the same hosting provider. In order to validate this feed, we simply need to highlight the feed, copy it, and paste it into a free service called FeedValidator.org. When I copy in my feed, I simply click validate. We're looking for the first word being 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'. This means that this feed is available to submit to directories, which we'll be looking at in the next tutorial.
Following that are great recommendations from Feed Validator to make sure we don't have something that might be incompatible with a directory. Though many of these recommendations may seem inscrutable to the average user, they are valuable for the advanced user who wants to really tweak their feed. This gives an opportunity to insure that you are 100% compatible with all the directories that are available. However, for the purpose of validating your feed, we're only really looking for 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'.
Working With Text
Within the blogging community it's been a well known rule of thumb to never use Microsoft Word. If you're copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into a website, into a blog, or in our case, into an RSS feed, there tends to be an issue with something called 'special characters'. Microsoft Word uses special characters and these can break our feed. Let's take a look at some of those special characters and try and remember to use the same rule of thumb as bloggers do. Never Use Microsoft Word.
No matter what type of content we're putting on the internet. It is always advisable to be working in a plan text editor. Microsoft Word is a great, beautiful, powerful tool for doing office work and creating documents. However, it is not a good tool for creating text to be used on the web.
I point to a C-net article here on tips to make sure you do not break your podcast feed by using special characters that are often and involuntarily put into your document by Word. We can see here in this article a couple of special characters that are marked as bad and good. However, again, to avoid these issues, it's always advisable to simply use a plain text editor. These are provided by your operating system whether you're using Mac, Windows, or Linux.
Check Your Feed With Each New Release
We've learned now no matter how we created our RSS feed, whether it be using an online service, a program such as FeedForAll, or hand-coding our own, it's important to check and validate that feed. We also advise with each update and release of a new episode, you take a moment and check that feed as well. We sometimes forget within the show description itself, that feed can be broken. Using this free service is a great way to make sure all of your content gets out to your audience trouble free.