Publishing a podcast in 2017 (for first timers)
Where to host and how to distribute for maximum reach?
This post is part of a series we call “How We DU Things” — an attempt to provide a more practical explanation of our processes, so that others can use it in their own entrepreneurial journeys. We often borrow freely available knowledge from other industries and businesses and apply it, sometimes with modifications, to our own company. We believe in sharing experiences across the board so that more entrepreneurs have access to valuable knowledge that can help them build and run their businesses.
Recently, we shared our intent to produce audio content and develop several segments to share with listeners all over the world. We are big fans of podcasting and frequent audio consumers, so we are familiar with the most popular ways to consume this type of content. Our aim was to be present at least on iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast, Soundcloud and potentially on a few other popular players. We had the content and we knew the platforms we want to use as distribution channels, but there was one tricky step — to figure out the simplest and most cost-effective means to host and share our work online.
There were two questions we faced when we wanted to upload audio:
- Where to host the content?
- How to maximize distribution and reach?
After doing some initial digging we were struck by the amount of ways one can go about publishing a podcast which made it difficult to choose the best option quickly. In addition, we were left with the feeling that for a relatively mature technology, there was a certain element of crudeness to the ways of podcast publishing. Nevertheless, we rolled up our sleeves and we figured out a way which, so far, works for us, is relatively hassle-free, saving us a lot of time and is inexpensive (we are yet to pay a cent for the approach we chose).
In short, there are two main steps needed to share a podcast with the world: hosting it and publishing it on the distribution platforms.
Where to host the content?
Once the first episode of our podcast was recorded (we will do a future post on our super simple recording process) we had to upload it on a server, so it was accessible via a URL to the outside world. There are many options here, including hosting the files on your own servers, but that requires a lot of manual work. An alternative way, usually involving a syndication service such as libsyn is also an option. Then there is Soundcloud. We went for the last option.
Soundcloud is a service that lets you create a free account and start uploading audio on the internet. These uploads are then public, unless you specify a private upload, and accessible to everyone with the URL. You can even add an image for every segment you upload, making it look more professional. Soundcloud is free for up to six hours of uploads, afterwards you have to pay for more, but the pricing is quite affordable!
Why did we choose Soundcloud? First, we were familiar with the platform and were very comfortable using it (I cannot stress high enough the importance of comfort and preference when working with technology). Second, the cost of hosting is minimal. Third, the platform automatically generates a special URL that is called an RSS FEED which is needed in order to publish a podcast across the different distribution channels.
How to maximise distribution and reach?
With the hosting figured out we proceeded with the next step — distribution. Where will the podcast be listened to? When choosing the platforms we aimed at being present on all the big ones — iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast and of course, Soundcloud (where our podcast became available immediately after we uploaded it).
The steps described below needed to be done only once.
The first step in publishing on iTunes is to open an account with Apple. Second, it requires to fill in information about your content, paste the RSS FEED (most important step) and submit it for approval. Third, a confirmation is received via email if the application is approved. Afterwards the podcast and the episodes which are uploaded to Soundcloud will appear in the iTunes feed.
Since iTunes is not available on Android (as of writing this post), Stitcher is by far the most popular podcast player for this operating system. The process of registering a podcast with the platform is very similar, albeit a slower one, compared to the one described for iTunes. An account needs to be created with information about the podcast, including the RSS feed, it is reviewed and approved by the team at Stitcher. In our experience, the confirmation on Stitcher took a few days, considerably longer than the application with Apple. But once this is done, the podcast becomes available on the platform.
All of the rest
We were pleasantly surprised that the registrations for Soundcloud, Stitcher and iTunes were the only ones needed. It turned out that the majority of podcast players aggregate the content that appears on iTunes. So, we were spared the tedious process of opening accounts on ten more platforms!
An automated solution
Once the pipeline was in place we found it tremendously time-saving and convenient to publish our audio segments. Once we have a recording ready, we simply upload it to Soundcloud and it automatically spreads across all different platforms. That’s it — no duplication of the work.
For now this solution is the one that works best for us. It takes only a little bit of effort in the beginning to register and set up the accounts, but afterwards, hosting and distribution becomes a breeze. With this approach we don’t lose time worrying about uploading our content, instead we can focus on improving the production and producing compelling, informative and entertaining pieces. Of course, we are used to quick changes and adjusting our methods, so it could be that we find out about an alternative method. If you are an experienced podcaster we would love to hear your advice on the topic!
You can find our audio programs on the following platform: