What Is Podcasting
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5. Publish and Syndicate Your Podcast

5a. Upload the file. At this point, I usually drag the file back out of iTunes to my desktop, and then upload it to my server via FTP. If the show becomes popular, you'll need a server that can handle the traffic, but hosting generally isn't free.

Some podcasters share the load with BitTorrent (bittorrent.com), which is free but not easy to install. Others use Apple's .Mac service, but they've been known to shut off too-popular files. This is a topic we discuss on makezine.com. The important thing is to upload the file to any public server space with a URL you can link to.

5b. Create and publish the RSS feed. The magic of podcasting happens when a podcatcher checks an RSS feed to see if there's a new show. If so, it downloads the show for you to play later. Blogging applications like Movable Type have plug-ins that automatically create an RSS feed, so if you use one of these, it's worth checking for this. Otherwise, here's how you can roll your own in any text or HTML editor. Create a file that looks as shown below (the bold parts are what you change every time you publish a new podcast; the normal text is an RSS template):


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<rss version="2.0">
<channel>
<title>Title of your site</title>
<link>http://www.yourserver/podcast_info_page/</link>
<description>All about your Podcast</description>
<language>en-us</language>
<lastBuildDate>Fri, 01 Jun 2005 08:00:00 +0000</lastBuildDate>
<pubDate>Fri, 01 Jun 2005 08:00:00 +0000</pubDate>
<item>
<title>Title of your podcast.</title>
<description>Show notes and other information.</description>
<enclosure url="http://www.yourserver.com/yourfile.mp3" length="31337707" type="audio/mpeg"/>
</item>
</channel>
</rss>

In the enclosure tag, the URL value is the server location of the file; length is the file size in bytes; and type is the file type and format. Other possible enclosure type values include application/ogg (for Ogg Vorbis), video/mpg, video/quicktime, image/ jpg, and application/x-bittorrent. You can learn more RSS capabilities at blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss. lastBuild and pubDate are the times the feed was last updated and published (for us, the same thing). It's important to keep these up-to-date so podcatcher applications know when you've published something new.

Save this file, in plain text format, with the extension "xml" (for example, podcast.xml). Then upload this file to your server. This is the file that tells the podcatcher apps what you have to offer, and you'll update it with another <item> section whenever you publish a new podcast.

Create a Musical Intro with GarageBand

If you use GarageBand, you can use the loop browser to create music for your podcasts. I dragged-and-dropped the bongo drum intro for MAKE: Audio from Garage- Band right into the Audacity track. Voilà, a free and easy orchestra.

5c. Create OPML show notes (optional). Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) is an HTML/ XML relative that's used to create outlines. Some podcasters create notes for their shows in OPML format and upload them alongside the XML, making a richer layer of documentation available to compatible podcatchers. While not a requirement, it's worth checking out at opml.org.

5d. Publish to the web. You're almost a podcaster! Now you need to let the world know about your podcast. There are a few directory sites you can register your podcast on, with more in the works. Start by filling out the forms at audio.weblogs.com, podcastalley.com, and odeo.com.

You've recorded your audio, edited it, compressed, tagged, uploaded, syndicated, and published it. You're a podcaster now. Talk hard--and welcome to the revolution!

Finding Your Voice (and Others')

Building an Audience

The most important part of all comes next: building an audience. Tell people about your podcasts. Participate in the forums on podcast sites. Listen to any audience feedback you receive, and use it to make your podcasts better.

But the surest way you'll develop an audience is through your material. My best advice is to follow the things you're passionate about. If you have a good show and you keep it fresh, people will find you.

Finding Other Podcasts

ipodder

The types of podcasts out there are as varied as the web itself. The majority of podcasts tend to be bloggers who use the audio medium to supplement their sites. Podcasts aren't censored, they're not bound by any time limit, and there are no rules.

To get an idea of the more popular podcasts out there, check out my favorite spot: Podcast Alley at podcastalley.com.

You can also see the latest podcasts published from all over the web on audio.weblogs.com. When a podcast is published, the site is usually notified (pinged) and populates the list. If you're ready to listen to your first podcast, then it's now time to grab an application that will do the podcast grabbing for you.

Listening to Other Podcasts

Browse and search podcasts on the same sites where you published yours. Of these, my favorite again is Podcast Alley, which features forums and vote-based rankings.

On the application side, dozens of podder/podcatcher "getters" have been coming out, and most of the ones I've tried work just fine. iPodder.org is a great resource for assessing what's available. My favorite is the iPodder, the standard, which is free, cross-platform, supports BitTorrent, and lets you add podcast feeds from the iPodder.org directory without having to manually cut and paste them in.

Podcasting can be used for any type of file, not just audio. Following the usual succession of tech capabilities, video podcasting (a.k.a. videocasting) is starting to pick up steam, as evidenced with sites like ourmedia.org.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in Volume 2 of Make Magazine. If you'd like to find out more about Make, or how to subscribe to the magazine, go to www.makezine.com. Podcast fans: You can also click here to subscribe to add the Make podcast to your iTunes.

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