A friend of mine asked me what he should do to submit his podcast to iTunes. He’s figured out the recording equipment, the software, the storage… He has plenty of recordings. He’s even created a RSS feed. So he really does have a podcast.
I wrote him an explanation of the steps I recommend before submitting a feed to any podcast directory. I thought I’d share my recommendation here.
- WordPress and the Blubrry PowerPress plugin
- .htaccess redirect
I’m a fan of the combination of WordPress and the Blubrry Powerpress plugin. If you are going to do a podcast these are great tools.
Feedburner does a couple of things for you:
- Allows you to clean up and adjust your feed no matter what you use to make the source feed.
- Gives you subscriber feedback on clicks, plays, geographic info, browser type, and much more.
- Offers tools to leverage your feed in ways you may not have thought of . You can make a simple widget you can drop on your website or in an HTML email.
What I suggest is not easy. It is complex, takes time, and will require troubleshooting. But, it is what you have to do to future-proof your RSS feed. Here are my reasons for doing the steps below:
- You will have control over your feed. As long as you “own” your domain, you will “own” your RSS feed.
- You can have the benefits of Feedburner without the risk of losing control of your feed. If you submit a Feedburner feed to iTunes and Feedburner goes out of business or has a break in service, you are in trouble with no way to recover. If they do, you can redirect the feed you submitted to iTunes to originating feed going right around Feedburner. You don’t lose any subscribers.
- You can change podcast host without losing subscribers. If you get more sophisticated or out-grow your current podcast host, you may choose to move your podcasts to a different platform, you risk losing subscribers when you change feeds. If redirect to the new platforms feed, you won’t lose any subscribers.
So, if I’ve convinced you, here are the nitty-gritty details on how to future-proof your RSS feed while getting the benefits of Feedburner:
- Open up a Feedburner account.
- Take your new category / Blubrry PowerPress / Vendor feed and “burn it” in Feedburner.
- Look in your main website directory using an FTP client. See if you have an .htaccess file.
- Look in the file and see if has any WordPress commands. If it is there and there is some wordpress stuff in it, just append your redirect after the WordPress stuff. Make copies of the original before you start making changes so you can revert back when it blows up.
- If the .htaccess file does not exist, then make a text file and include a single line redirect.
- In either case, the syntax for the redirect is: “Redirect temp /podcastfeed.xml http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourburnedpodcastfeed”
- If the .htaccess file did not exist, upload the text file to your root directory then rename the file to “.htaccess” That is a period then the htaccess. Delete the “.txt” file type.
- Open a browser and check your new redirect. Type in the whole url: “http://yourdomain.com/
- Start troubleshooting to get this to all work. This feed validator service can help: http://validator.w3.org/appc/
- Submit your new feed to iTunes and the other podcast directories (at least the top few). Check here: http://www.podcast411.com/
As a review…
Your raw RSS feed (e.g. http://podcastingvendorservice.com/yourvendorpodcastRSS) gets “burned” in Feedburner. The new Feedburner feed (e.g. http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourburnedRSSfeed) gets pointed to from a redirected URL (http://yourdomain.com/podcastRSSfeed) you set up in the .htaccess file in the route directory of your domain. You submit the redirected URL (http://yourdomain.com/podcastRSSfeed) to iTunes and the other podcast directories.