How to setup a Podcast in less than two hours.

What is Podcasting? In a nutshell Podcasting is a form of Syndication where a publisher records content into Multimedia files and makes it available to the world for listening or viewing. A Podcast is published with an RSS feed containing Podcast specific tags to describe the type and location of the multimedia files, the title, the genre, copyright and license information etc...

A listener or viewer subscribes to Podcasts with software such as iTunes. Once subscribed, the software downloads the multimedia content into a PC or device able to play it. Often the content is in the form of MP3 files for audio Podcasts and the device is an MP3 player such as iPOD. For a video Podcast the content is most often published in the form of MP4 files and the device is an MP4 player such as a Video iPod.

If you use iTunes, you may want to check out iTunes Essential tips for podcast lovers. It will give you all the information you need to understand podcasting the iTunes way.

While the concept of Podcasting has been around as early as 2000, it was only around the end of 2004 that it took off and thousands of Podcasts started to circulate.
For more general information on Podcasting take a look at Wikipedia under Podcasting.

In this article I’d like to describe how you can create an Audio Podcast in less than two hours mostly using free tools. This article describes one way of doing it, but there are many other ways. Let’s get started...

First of all, you need audio or video files with content you want to publish! Assuming you want to publish Audio files and that the content of the Podcast is a speaker talking about something, there are two main ways to generate this content.

The first one is to record the audio with a microphone and a recording device that allows you to generate good quality sound files.

The second option is to type the text with a computer and have a Text To Speech software read it and generate the audio file for you. As a Text To Speech engine I recommend "TextAloud", by NextUp. It costs only a $30 and if you purchase some of the advanced natural voices (another $35) the quality is decently good. You may disagree, so you should evaluate the product and find out if you like it. At the end of this article you’ll find the link to an MP3 with the content of this post read by TextAloud using one of the AT&T natural voices. Check it out!

Once you have the audio files you need to host them somewhere. These files can get very big so you need a reliable service that is not going to charge a ton of money for bandwidth in case your PodCast gets very popular. I suggest FREE. You don’t get cheaper than that! Such service exists if you plan on releasing your content with a Creative Common license. Check out www.archive.org which provides hosting for multimedia files for free, and no limits in bandwidth. The setup on www.archive.org is a little strange; for this reason I’ll give you some details to make it easier.

First of all you need to create an account. Go to www.archive.org home page and click on Upload your own recordings in the Audio section. It will ask you if you want to login or join. Since I assume you have no account yet, you must go to "Join" (it’s free, so don’t worry about getting your credit card ready). All you need is an email address, a password and a screen name. Once you are done and your account is created, go back on the main page of archive.org and click again on the "Upload your own recordings". At this point you should already be logged in (if you are not, do so).

The upload page will ask you an identifier for your item. It is basically asking a name for the collection of files you are going to upload. Let’s assume that you want call your collection "mypodcast" (original, huh?). Simply type that into the input box on the upload page and press "Create Item". At this point the collection with that name gets created. After creation the collection is in "check-out" mode; that means you can upload files into it (with FTP or a browser) and describe them. Follow the instructions, describe your files and pick a license type...

When you are done uploading you’ll need to check-in the files in order to make them available to the public. Follow the instructions to do so.
An undocumented (or poorly documented) trick I found. You can always checkout a previously checked-in collection with the following web API:

http://www.archive.org/checkout/mypodcast

You can check-in the collection with:

http://www.archive.org/checkin/mypodcast

You can check the details of a collection with:

http://www.archive.org/details/mypodcast

You can download the files that you uploaded using:

http://www.archive.org/download/mypodcast/filename.mp3

Simple, isn’t it?

If everything went well, you should see your files when you browse your collection’s detail page. These are the URLs that you can use to publish your Podcast.
The hardest part is done! Now you need to create an RSS feed with your Podcast information and the links to the audio files in it. How to do so?

I suggest that you use a combination of Blogger and FeedBurner; Blogger is good to create and manage the Atom feed and FeedBurner to create the RSS feed from the atom feed. Complicated? Not really! It’s actually very simple once you get going and understand the concepts.

First go to blogger.com, create an account if you don’t have one and create a new blog. The instructions are clear and the process easy. Once you have a blog, simply create a post containing, anywhere in the text, a link to any of your audio files hosted on www.archive.org.

Now, go to FeedBurner.com, create an account if you don’t have one and create a feed from the blogger’s blog. FeedBurner has a good Quick Start guide that will guide you in the various steps. You really need to understand what you are doing anyway, so a little bit of reading and trying will only be good.

The important part at this point is that you setup and activate the SmartCast section of the FeedBurner feed settings. That will instruct FeedBurner to add all the Podcast information necessary for iTunes to work with your feed.

Well, you are done! You can just run iTunes and subscribe to your feed! To do so go to the "Advanced" menu and select Subscribe to Feed option. Put in the URL of the FeedBurner RSS feed. That’s going to look something like http://feeds.feedburner.com/mypodcast.

The next step is to make sure people know that your Podcast exists. To do so the best way is to get listed on iTunes. Go to the music store, select Podcasts and look for the “Submit Podcast” link. Go from there… your traffic will explode.

If you want more information on the iTunes requirments for RSS feeds, check out Podcasting and iTunes: Technical specification.

Imagine the possibilities! Now you can have your private radio show with potentially thousends of listeners!! I whish I had this when I was a kid :)

Audio Podcast of this Post