A lot of people know of an RSS feed, but do you know what it is, why it is important and should you generate your own one, or use the one that your podcast hosting provider generates?
Before we get to that, what is a podcast? You may think you know the answer. Independent content producers recording audio shows at home and uploading the results for the world to consume? Yes!
Then how is it that the top 10 lists of podcasts are dominated by radio shows? These shows were professionally produced, in many cases by multi-decade veterans who have been doing it successfully long before the phrase podcast was even coined.
Well there are podcasts and there are podcasts. Or to put it in detail, there are independent audio shows produced which are what we traditionally call podcasts and then there are a series of audio media listed in an XML format, also known as an RSS feed.
Really Simple Syndication, RSS, is a basic format used by websites to indicated what articles are available, usually accompanied with a date to show where one article was released and relative to each other. It is this feature that was adopted by the early podcasters. They used the date to indicate the release of a new podcast episode.
In a very unusual condition for the internet, this format has withstood the test of time and the RSS feed today is still the same. It is this feed that makes a podcast a podcast. Any one who adheres to the convention of this feed can plug into any podcast tool and there shows, or what ever they call them, will be presenter to the happy consumer.
So when you launch a podcast and you want to be listed on Apple, Spotify etc. They ask for you to submit an RSS feed for your podcast. If you are new to the game and you are hosting on the likes libsyn, podbean or buzzsprout they will supply an RSS feed for you, for example
It can take months fo application to get your RSS feed out to all the directory services any good podcaster wants to be listed on. Here is a work in progress:
However you should look at podcast hosting providers like insurance companies. Be ready to change if and when you see a better deal. If you had used their RSS feed to get listed and wanted to change provider,you would need to go back to all the directory services and resubmit and re-wait. This is the trap! Having gone through it once and the associated pain a minor saving on hosting provider is usually not considered worth it, so it’s not done. They have won and you have lost!
But it doesn’t have to be this way! The RSS feed IS your podcast, if you believe in your podcast as the expression of you then it is you should own it!
So you should host your own podcast feed! how?
The best way is to have your own website, with your own domain name. The best way I can recommend is a WordPress install under you domain name and using the Podlove Publisher plugin. Once setup, there will be an RSS feed from your website, this generate a feed like this:
A feed like this is what should be submitted to all the podcast directory services. It is through your website you can mange your hosting provider and when a better deal comes along you can change painlessly in the background. Win/Win!
I will detail the setting up of podlove in an subsequent article.