If you have started or are thinking of starting a podcast then there is a high probability that you intend to distribute it via iTunes. This is a great strategy as iTunes is the most heavily used application used by listeners. However, it’s a bad idea to completely rely on iTunes to gather all of your listeners. You should really have a website that can act as an archive of every episode you publish and also gives other potential listeners options on how they interact with your podcast.
There is no better way to offer all of these services as well as publishing to the iTunes podcast directory than creating a WordPress website based around your podcast. As with practically any advanced feature you can imagine, there are plugins that will allow you to configure your website to work well with podcasting. The plugin that we are going to look at in this instance is the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin.
Configuring the Blubrry PowerPress Podcasting Plugin
As with every plugin, simply download it from WordPress.org and upload it to your website. When the plugin is activated it creates a new menu item in your WordPress Dashboard where it can be configured.
The plugin configuration comes in two different modes. The default mode walks you through all of the settings and requirements stage by stage. This gives you a simple step-by-step approach to configuring everything correctly before you try to publish to the iTunes podcast directory.
The advanced configuration gives you access to all of the settings at once and allows you to completely configure every aspect of your podcast management. We’ll go through the options using the Advanced Settings option.
The first menu to look at in the advanced mode is the Basic Settings. This allows you to configure the multiple aspects of the Podcast Entry Box that is part of your New Post screen.
The initial two check boxes for the media URL and the media file size and duration are the important options; the others simply add a little extra should you need them. These other options include the ability to use an embed code if you are running a video podcast.
Here, you can also customize various pieces of information that are sent to iTunes. That includes the podcast keywords, summary and subtitle. If you don’t have these options active, all of the information will be derived from the content within your blog post.
Services and Stats
Blubrry give you the optional ability to connect to their stats package and track information about your podcast. There is a free but basic package that is worth looking at to gather some audience information or there is the professional package available for $5 per month.
To get started you simply need to create a Blubrry account and then add your podcast to the Blubrry Podcast Directory. It is worth noting that to qualify for the free stats package your show can’t have advertising and you must participate in advertising with Blubrry.
This section covers all of the media player options and allows you to play your podcast directly from each blog post. It also lets you completely disable playback from your website if you only want to use PowerPress to add podcasting support to your feeds. Allowing the playback is the preferred option here.
The media player options cover where the player displays on your page, whether that is above or below your blog content. It also gives you a shortcode in order to refine the media player positioning as well as several other options. There are options to allow your listeners to download or even embed your podcast episode to their own sites as well as automatically detect which device the player is being used and use an HTML 5 version if required.
This section dictates the podcast feed on your website that is used to submit your episodes to the iTunes directory. A special feed is created and can be validated once you publish your first podcast.
You can also alter the feed title and description and set the number of recent episodes that will be shown in the feed. The recent episode number defaults to 10. Using a larger number than this can cause some directory listing speed issues.
Here you can also change your default language and add a location and episode frequency. There is finally a parental rating system you can apply to your podcast that can be used on Internet connected TVs.
When you first publish a podcast to the iTunes podcast directory they will supply you with a Subscription URL that needs to be added here.
The iTunes section also gives you the settings to configure your podcast for the various settings within the iTunes directory. This includes your podcast category, program subtitle and summary and any keywords you wish to apply to your podcast. This is also where you supply our email address associated with iTunes. This and the iTunes category fields are the only ones explicitly required in this section.
The final section in your podcast settings is where you add the image that will display in iTunes with your podcast. This image is a requirement for the iTunes directory. You can set this image to also work with your RSS feed on your website.
The Media Players
There are two additional windows within the PowerPress settings. These allow you to choose a style of player for both audio and video playback. The default options are very clean and stylish, but there are numerous other players to choose from if you want to use something a little different.
Adding the Podcast to a Blog Post
The final aspect of using your website to host a podcast is adding that podcast to your posts. You can set a specific category on your website for podcasting if the site is also used for other things, though this is entirely a personal choice. When you add a new post you are presented with an additional panel below your content entry section. It includes the additional basic settings you activated as well as the Media URL field that can be verified before you publish the post. The media player with this episode will then display on your post along with any additional content you add into the normal content creation window.
Having a website that allows you to host your podcast as well as publishing it to the iTunes directory is extremely important. Not only does the website give those listeners who don’t use iTunes a way to listen and subscribe to your podcast, it also gives your community of listeners somewhere to discuss each episode.
You can use each post that links to a podcast episode as an area for detailed show notes or further information. You can use the comment section of each post to get feedback from your listeners about each episode and it gives you an archive that isn’t relying on a third party.
Do you run a podcast and have a WordPress site based around it? We’d love to hear how you do it, as well as your thoughts on the whole process in the comments.