Founder of Gazellish.com WordPress training, content contributor at Digium, Inc.
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Podcasts are here to stay, and entrepreneurs everywhere are jumping on board.
In fact, popular podcast hosting company Libsyn reported that the number of podcasts it’s hosted have more than doubled since 2008.
Okay, okay, I know. You’ve probably heard podcasting success stories, but for whatever reason maybe you haven’t bought into the hype. Well, the data speaks for itself, when it says podcasting isn’t just hype, and it isn’t just a fad.
For example, did you know podcast listening grew 23 percent between 2015 and 2016?
How about the fact that monthly podcast listenership has increased 75 percent since 2013?
Short-term data is cool, but what about long-term numbers? Over the last 10 years, the number of people, who have listened to a podcast, has more than tripled.
As for long-term data on regular podcast listeners, from 2008 to 2016, the percentage of U.S. adults, who listened to a podcast within the past month, has more than doubled, from 9 percent to 21 percent.
That’s right, 21 percent of U.S. adults have listened to a podcast in the last month, indicating regular listenership. Think about that.
The number of people who listen to podcasts is about the same as the number of people on Twitter (21 percent). If you’re an entrepreneur, that should make your ears perk up.
Now, consider the fact that it’s estimated by the year 2020, nearly all new cars will have Internet connectivity. What do you think people will turn to for radio, when they can connect to the Internet in their cars? You can’t watch YouTube while you drive, and satellite radio still costs money. That leaves podcasts.
With all of that considered, you’re talking about a bright future for podcasting.
Maybe you’re just looking for a new way to build an audience for your business, or maybe you’re looking to launch a new business venture altogether. Either way, podcasting is worth considering, at the very least.
To top it all off, you can start your own podcast for relatively cheap.
If you decide to jump into podcasting – or just want to get your feet wet — here’s how to start a podcast from scratch, for basically free.
How to start a podcast
Make a website for your podcast.
Before creating your podcast and submitting it to iTunes, you’ll need to have a place where your podcast episodes live and a feed that gets updated every time you publish a new episode. That’s where your website comes in handy.
WordPress is perfect for this. It allows you to easily publish and organize your podcast episodes, and it automatically creates the proper RSS feed for your podcast.
If your website is not built with WordPress, I recommend learning how to use WordPress.
Then, you’ll either need to redesign your website, using WordPress – which may not be ideal — or create a subdomain, such as yourpodcast.yourdomain.com or subfolder, like yourdomain.com/yourpodcast, and install WordPress there. That way you can build out a beautiful website just for your podcast, and you don’t necessarily have to redesign your primary website to do it.
If your website is already built in WordPress, great. Keep reading.
Find a microphone.
Finding a podcasting mic is really a matter of personal preference, but there are a few that stand out above the rest.
When it comes to all things podcasting, you’d be crazy not to listen to Pat Flynn. He has an insanely helpful article, which dives into his recommendations for podcasting microphones.
Here are the top two he recommends.
- Heil PR-40
- Audio-Technica ATR2100USB
I would say go with the Audio-Technica starting out, then move to the Heil PR-40 down the road, once you’ve gained some momentum.
I purchased the Audio-Technica, and I have been very pleased with its sound. It’s clean, crisp and doesn’t have that muffled sound other mics have. You can’t beat it for the price. It’s around $79 on Amazon.
Record, and edit your podcast episodes in Audacity.
If you do a little research, you’ll probably find that Audacity is the industry standard for podcast beginners. It’s easy to use, well-supported, and best of all, it’s free.
To get started with Audacity, just head over to its site to install it. Then jump in, and hit record.
It may take a little time to understand the ins-and-outs of Audacity, but it’s fairly straight-forward, for the most part. Plus, there are a good bit of tutorials out there on Audacity, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding help learning the ropes.
Host your media files.
Podcast episodes will weigh heavily on your regular web host if you try to upload them, and host them directly on your site. Technically, you can do it, but it’s not recommended.
I recommend hosting your podcast episodes on Blubrry or Libsyn. Its plans start out relatively cheap, and it’s well worth it.
You can find all sorts of recommendations for podcast hosting on the web, but big names, like Pat Flynn and Cliff Ravenscraft, recommend Libsyn, so check its plans out to see if it’s a good fit for your needs.
How to publish your podcasts in WordPress
The first thing you’ll want to do is download the Blubrry PowerPress plugin. Whether you’re using Blubrry for your media hosting or not, this is still a good plugin to use to turn your WordPress site into a podcast platform.
Once it’s installed and activated, head over to the Powerpress settings on the left-hand side of your dashboard, and fill out your podcast information.
This is where you’ll add your iTunes category and artwork, among other things. These settings will be used in your RSS feed, which iTunes will use to populate your podcast.
The next thing you’ll want to do is make sure you create a category specifically for your podcast episodes. This could just be labeled podcast, but you could get creative if you want.
For example, if you look at Pat Flynn’s podcast feed, you can see his URL is smartpassiveincome.com/podcasts/feed/.
The “podcasts” in the URL is probably the name of his podcasts category, so that should help give you an idea as to why you need a separate category for your podcast. It just helps WordPress create a separate RSS feed for your podcast.
If you’re going to have more than one podcast, or if your podcast posts will be labeled with more than one category, you’ll want to enable “Category Podcasting.”
To do that, go to the Powerpress plugin settings, and scroll down to the “Advanced Options” section, then check the box next to where it says “Category Podcasting,” then click save.
Now, on the left hand side of your dashboard under the Powerpress tab, you should see a new tab that says “Category Podcasting.” Click that, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can tell the plugin which categories are your podcast categories.
When you have your settings updated and your podcast category created, you just have to do the following.
- Create a new post
- Select your podcast category (so it goes to the right RSS feed and signals iTunes that you have a new podcast episode)
- Add content to the text editor, and write whatever intro, show notes or other copy you want to add. You don’t have to add another link to your audio file in the text editor, unless you want to. Blubrry will automatically add it either before or after your post, depending on how you set it up in your Blubrry settings.
Then scroll to the bottom of the page and you should see a “Podcast Episode” section.
This is where you’ll either enter the URL of your recording, or if you’re using Blubrry for media hosting, you’ll simply link your Blubrry account, and select the file.
Hit publish and your podcast episode is now live. But you still have to do the most important part – submit your podcast to iTunes.
How to submit your podcast to iTunes
Now you need to let iTunes know about your podcast so you can launch it and have it appear in the iTunes Store.
To do that, first, you need to make sure you have a few things in order. According to Blubrry, you’ll need:
- Artwork that is a square JPG or PNG formatted image at least 1400 x 1400 and at most 3000 x 3000 in size in RGB color space (1400 x 1400 JPG image recommended).
- A unique podcast program title (check iTunes to make sure your program title is unique).
- At least one iTunes category selected.
- A valid email address in the iTunes email field (notifications from Apple will be sent to this address)
- To have created at least one blog post with media (a podcast episode) in either mp3, m4a, mp4, m4v, pdf, or epub format.
When you’re ready to submit your podcast to iTunes:
- Go to podcastsconnect.apple.com
- Click the + button at the top left
- Enter the RSS feed URL of your podcast and click “Validate.” Typically your feed will look like http://www.yourdomain.com/podcast/feed, but it could be different, if you’re using the category podcasting feature. Usually with WordPress, you can just slap “/feed” at the end of the URL for a category, and you’ll get the feed for that category.
- You should see all of the information and artwork for your podcast. If everything looks good, click “Submit.”
After you’ve submitted your podcast, be patient. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a matter of days. Apple should send you an email with your podcast’s URL once it’s approved.
Related: Should You Really Start a Podcast?
You’ll need to copy this URL – your actual podcast URL — and paste it into your Blubrry Powerpress plugin settings under the iTunes section in the iTunes subscribe URL section.
Once your podcast has been approved, you’re ready to start podcasting and building your audience.