In the March 2008 issue, we went over how to properly record and add professionalism to your podcast. This month we’ll publish the finished product.
Let’s assume that your podcast is finished. The subject was chosen with care, the uncomfortable pauses and “ums” were edited out and the bumper music on the beginning and end of the podcast is all finished. Now comes the time to choose a file type for exporting.
Choosing a file type is important in podcasting. If you choose a format that is not supported by enough music players, subscribers will be forced to listen at their computer, which will limit the amount of people who listen. I’ve found that mp3 for audio is the most widely accepted format. When outputting a final audio file, make it an mp3 at 128kbps. This will keep file size down. Remember that the majority of people listening to your podcast will do so on a portable music player, and their space is limited.
After you’ve output your final product, the next step is to make ID tags. Information about the finished file is stored inside the file itself containing the artist’s name, album info, genre, etc. Think of an ID tag as the basic information you’d expect an mp3 file to know about itself.
To make or modify your ID tag, place the finished mp3 file into said application. iTunes as an example is a free application on both Mac or PC. If you are using iTunes, you need to right click on the file name and Get Info. Then click on the Info tab. Fill it out to the best of your ability and click ok. You’re done. If you are using Musicmatch, open the music library. Right click on the song and select edit>Edit Track Info. Now fill in the appropriate information and click ok.
Now you will need to upload your audio file to a server on the web. This means that you are placing your mp3 onto someone else’s computer that is always on the Internet so that anyone at anytime can download it, not just when you happen to be online. RSS is the basic technology that makes podcasting possible. To set up a podcast for the very first time, one has the option of getting RSS service from a “free” podcasting service, which in most cases actually is free. I must warn those considering free service however that I have read entries from those who have been forced to pay after a podcast show becomes popular. I have no personal experience with a company that has done such a thing but I do know that moving an RSS feed and all the registrants to another service can be daunting if the former service is not entirely amiable.
Setting up RSS is not difficult but does fall beyond the scope of this article. You need access to a server actively on the Internet, a database with descriptions of your content, and a server-sided scripting language with access to your database. For more info on the specifics, search, “setting up simple syndication feed using RSS” in Google or Yahoo.
To set up a free service, search for free podcast hosts online. I have had success with Podbean.com. Their paid service is less than $5 per month. Plan to spend less than $10 per month if you choose to spend money on this. Remember, what makes this such a valuable technology is that it’s practically free. Many services require you to fill out a membership with your email, name, date, a quart of blood from your first born, all the normal stuff.
Once you have subscribed or purchased a membership you may now upload a file. Most times it’s as simple as clicking on a link that says ‘Publish a Podcast.’ Then you would fill out the information as the site walks you through the process of setting up an RSS feed. Finally the interface will ask for the file to be uploaded. As a matter or organization, you should keep a copy of all of your podcasts, in good order. Don’t depend on a commercial server to maintain backups of your personal files. It is your responsibility to maintain your files in case a server goes down or if your service should change.
It is important to note that setting up a podcast for the first time is the most technically difficult element of this entire process. Once a podcast RSS is set up, you can add more podcasts in minutes. So the majority of time you will spend on podcasting will be in writing material, recording, editing, and promoting.
After you’ve uploaded your file(s) it’s time to promote your podcast. The name of your podcast should remain close to the subject of the podcast. Unless you’re a celebrity, stay close to the purpose of the podcast. The subject is what will draw people to your podcast at first glance. Ambiguity is not your friend here. If your podcast is called “John’s Helpful Words”, people may wonder if your name is John, or if it’s a podcast based on the book of John. Podcasts like “Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul” or “The Daily Audio Bible” tell a great deal about what it is presenting.
Obviously all of this work and self-educating is done for an end result. This is where blogging, searching, and cross promotion helps. Some of the most popular podcasters are not just the ones with the best speaking skills or the greatest looking websites. They network. They help other podcasters out who are just getting started. They give back to the podcasting community. I know it sounds hokey, but if you compliment another’s blog or podcast in your podcast, shoot the author a quick note telling them that you mentioned them. Most similarly self-promoting podcasters will return the favor.
Another self-promotion tool is Google. Search out your own name or better yet, automate the process. Google Alerts has a cool thing where it will email you as often as your want whenever your “search term” is mentioned online. Put in your name, your podcast title, etc. into the system. Every time your name is mentioned, go to that website and comment or write about it on your blog, then link it to the website where your name is mentioned.
Finally, add podcast notes. Put links to your podcast on your blog or website. Make it easy for people to subscribe. Once you have a new podcast available, write a short blurb that adds interest to the podcast with one or two sentences.
Next issue we will be following a podcasting Pastor for a month and see what results he sees in and out of his congregation.