Creating a podcast is both simple and fun, and with a small amount of effort it can payoff for both yourself and your listeners. A podcast is simply a media file, which has uploaded to the Internet and is syndicated out to listeners, many of whom are hopefully subscribers, for playback on their PC's or MP3 players. The word podcast can also refer to the method by which the media files are syndicated out to listeners.
When recording an audio podcast the show should be recorded in the highest quality possible. One of the best, and most simple, programs out there for audio recording and editing is Audacity; coincidentally it is also free. After recording you should export your audio into MP3 format, which has become the standard for podcasts, although there are many podcasts available in WMV (Windows Media) format also. However, exporting your podcast in anything other than MP3 format may mean that some users will not be able to listen to your podcasts.
When creating your MP3 you should keep the following in mind about quality. A 64k bit-rate is great for talk radio, audio books, talk radio with background music, and just about anything else you can think of. However, if you are intent on publishing quality music, if you are say a musician or DJ, then you should strongly consider publishing your content in a 128k bit-rate.
There are also podcasters who choose to include ID3 tags. The most frequently used ones are title (the title of the show), and artist (mostly the podcaster), although I have seen podcasters also include genre, year, and even comments. This isn't a bad idea, particularly if you are a musician, but also for those who may save their own podcasts.
After creating your audio media, you must upload it to your website for distribution.
Next comes the task of creating the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed. A RSS feed contains all the needed information about your podcast, and points prospective listeners to both your website and to your hosted audio files on the Internet. Some podcasters create their own feeds by hand, but for many people this is a fairly difficult task to undertake. There are many free options available on the Internet for creating your podcast feed, but I would personally recommend FeedForAll, a quality program that can be downloaded for a modest price, available at www.feedforall.com. Not only do these programs help you properly format your RSS feed, which is essential, so that everyone may be able to read it, but they also simplify the entire process.
One of the major mistakes I see with podcasts is that many podcasters fail to provide detailed descriptions for their podcast series and individual shows. It is unfortunate that all too often many podcasters may include only a few words or no description at all for their series or shows. This is a major selling point for your podcast, and should not be overlooked; many times this is the only chance that a podcaster will have to sell their podcast to potential listeners.
The podcast series description should be brief but descriptive, containing 75-100 words (approximately 4-5 full sentences), and should give your listeners the gist of what the podcast series is about. Information such as the host's name, any credentials, and when and how often the podcast is updated, are all very important to include.
Item descriptions, or descriptions of individual shows, should be detailed about the show. It is not necessary to include information about the entire show, but should always contain information on at least the first one-half of the show. Many successful podcasters item descriptions are only a transcript of their verbal intro at the beginning of the show. The item description should also be approximately 75-100 words, and should contain talking points for the show, music line-up, or other relevant information. It is also important to note that the item description for a show can also contain HTML coding, allowing you to create hyperlinks or include images.
Another important aspect of creating your RSS feed is to include an [image] element in your feed; although it is not required for the functionality of your RSS feed, it is almost a necessity. Many podcasters call this album art, or a cover; it is extremely important for branding purposes.
After finishing up your RSS feed and saving it you should upload the feed to your website.
About the Author:
David is a freelance writer and chief editor for PodcastFerret.com - podcast directory, where you can find feeds, download, rate, and comment on podcasts.