So far, you’ve seen how to let viewers play individual audio tracks or a playlist with
a bunch of music on it. Podcasting is a similar, but slightly different, way to present
audio. It gives readers the choice of listening to audio files the normal way (in their
browsers by clicking the Play button) or downloading the audio files so they can
put them on a mobile device.
The central idea with podcasting is that you prepare content that busy people will
listen to on the go. Usually, the content is long—30 minutes to an hour is common
for podcasts. If your audio file is only a couple of minutes long, it’s not worth a visitor’s
trouble to download it and transfer it to a mobile device.
Podcast creators also tend to organize podcasts in groups—for example, they make
each audio file an episode in a series, and release them at regular intervals (say,
weekly). Good examples of podcasts include a web talk show with commentary
and interviews, a motivational lecture, a spoken chapter from an audio book, or a
45-minute techno mix for a workout session.
NOTE The word podcasting is a mash-up of pod and broadcast—pod because this form of audio file distribution
first gained popularity with the iPod music player, and broadcasting because a podcast creator provides
easily accessible, regularly released audio “shows,” a concept that’s a bit like television broadcasting.
CREATING PODCAST-FRIENDLY AUDIO
You don’t need any special technique to upload a podcast audio file. You can simply
create a post and add an ordinary link to the file. If you want to get a bit fancier, you
can use the audio player feature described on page 360. That way, visitors can play
the audio in their browsers if they haven’t caught the podcast bug.
You should save podcast audio as MP3 files, because a range of mobile devices can
play back that format. You can also create podcast video files, but that process is a
bit more complicated. You first need to make sure the video is in MP4 format, then
you have to upload it to a host, and finally you need to link to it from your post.
NOTE If you want to use a video file for podcasting and embed it so guests can play it directly inside their
browsers, you need the help of a high-caliber podcasting plug-in, as explained in the box on page 368.
GETTING YOUR PODCAST FEED
Although podcast audio is the same as normal audio, there’s a slight difference
in the way you present podcasts. For readers to find your podcasts quickly and
download new episodes easily, you need a way to separate these audio files from
the rest of your site.
To do that, you create a dedicated category for posts that contain podcasts. You
can give this category a name like “Podcasts” or “Lectures” or “Audio Book.” Then,
when you create a new post that has an audio file in it and you want to include
that audio as part of your podcast, assign the post your podcast-specific category
(Figure 10-23). Depending on the structure of your site (and the way you let viewers
browse it), you may decide to set two categories—one to identify the type of post
(say, “Sports”), and one to flag the post as a podcast (“Podcasts”).
You group audio files into a single podcast category so you can generate a feed for
that category. As you’ll learn on page 433, a feed is a sort of index to your content.
In the case of podcasting, your feed tells other programs and websites where to
get the podcast files on your site. It also lets you notify visitors when you publish a
new file—say, if they subscribe to your podcast in iTunes.
NOTE iTunes is one of the favorite tools for podcast-lovers. If your site offers podcasts and you’d like to use
them to attract new visitors (and why wouldn’t you?), you need to submit some podcast information to iTunes.
You can get the feed for a category using a URL with this syntax:
So if you have a site named http://dimagiosworkouts.com, you can get a feed for
the Podcasts category like this:
This is a valuable link—it’s the piece of information you need to supply to iTunes to
register your podcast.
To register with iTunes, start by reviewing Apple’s instructions at http://tinyurl.com/
podcastspecs. First, read the “Testing Your Feed” section, which explains how to
make sure your feed includes the podcast files you expect, and that the feed works.
Then, follow up with the instructions in the “Submitting Your Podcast to the iTunes
Store” section to learn how to officially tell iTunes about your feed, and make it visible
to a podcast-hungry audience of millions.
Better Podcasting with a Plug-In
Podcasting with WordPress is easy. All you need is the right
type of audio file (MP3) and a post category just for podcasts.
However, if you’re a power podcaster—meaning you plan to
invest serious effort in making podcasting a part of your web
presence—it’s worth considering a plug-in that can make
your life easier. The most popular podcasting plug-in for selfhosted
WordPress sites is Blubrry PowerPress (http://tinyurl.
Among PowerPress’s most useful features is its tight integration
with iTunes. PowerPress can optimize your feeds for iTunes,
submit your feed to iTunes, and even help you manage your
iTunes cover art. PowerPress is also invaluable if you want to
forge into the world of video podcasting, because it lets you
video player. (That way, visitors have the choice of
downloading your podcast for a mobile device, as usual, or
playing it right in their browser, as they would with a YouTube
video.) PowerPress also offers statistics that help you gauge
the popularity of your podcasts and an optional paid hosting
plan for audio and video files.