I’ve spent the last week working on a podcast project using WordPress, Feedburner and iTunes. In my numerous searches of the web, I never found the silver bullet tutorial that explains how to do this well. And perhaps most people, after wading through the thicket of Feedburner options, just give up. I wouldn’t blame them. But it is possible, and here’s how it’s done.
The Trifecta: WordPress, iTunes, Feedburner
This project was with a local author in Portland who wanted to publish a series of readings from his book. A new reading would be published each week, and users would have the option of listening to it on the website, receiving an e-mail notice with a link to download, or by subscribing to the podcast via iTunes. At the end of several months, the readings would be complete, and hopefully enough people were intrigued enough to purchase the book.
WordPress Set Up
There’s quite a few podcast plug-ins out there, and you won’t actually need to use any of them (sorry blubrry and podpress). Feedburner will handle all the iTunes information and enclosures. So the main issues are getting your audio files to play, a category to publish podcasts, and a plug-in to redirect your category feed to feedburner. Here’s what you’ll need:
Download and install the Audio Player plug-in, which allows you to play audio on your website by embeding a nice little flash player.
Create a new category, and call it “Podcasts” or “Audio E-mails” or whatever sounds good.
If you want people who sign up for your feed to receive everything, not just your podcasts, the FD Feedburner plug-in will work fine. But if you want to segregate your feeds by category, you’ll need the Feedburner Category Plug-in from Interface Lab. More on this in a minute.
1) If you don’t have a feedburner account, sign up for one and burn your feed. If you want to just have one base feed, it’ll look something like www.yoursite.com/feed. If you want to segregate your feeds, you’ll need to burn each one separately. Your podcast feed would look something like this: www.yoursite.com/category/podcasts/feed.
If you don’t know what the appropriate feed for your site would be, read this rss article in the WordPress codex.
2) When you burn the feed, check the “I am a Podcaster” button.
3) After the feed is burned, you will need to make sure people can sign up for e-mail deliver. Click “Publicize” from your Feedburner settings, and select the option for e-mail delivery. Copy the source form code for use on your site later.
4) You will also need to enter settings for iTunes. Click “Optimize”, then “Smartcast” and enter the requested information.
Posting the Content
Once everything is set up and enabled with feedburner, you can start posting content. Upload the podcast mp3 via ftp or using the media uploader. Set the proper category for the post (“podcasting”, or whatever you created earlier). If you are using the Audio Player plug-in, embed the audio player in the post by using the shortcode:
You’ll also need a link to the audio file somewhere in the post so that iTunes will pick it up. That link will look something like this:
<a href="http://www.mysite.com/mp3/name_of_mp3_file.mp3">Download the Audio</a>
Testing That it Works
Once your new post is published, you should verify that it all works. Make sure the audio plays on the website when you view the post. Check your e-mail for the Feedburner delivery (sometimes this can take a few hours and assumes, of course, that you signed up for it). And subscribe to the feed via itunes to see if your podcasts download.
Sign up Code
Now that everything is set to go, you just need to sign up some folks and start posting. For the author’s site, I decided to put three links in the sidebar. The first link was to a sample post, so that people could see what they were signing up for. The second was the code supplied by Feedburner to generate a pop up window for people to subscribe via e-mail. The last, was so people could subscribe directly to the podcast via iTunes.
Here’s what the code looked like:
a class="audio" href="http://www.lessonsfromthesource.com/audio-e-mails/">Listen to a Sample</a> <a class="email" onclick="window.open('http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=LessonsFromTheSourceAudio', 'popupwindow', 'scrollbars=yes,width=550,height=520');return true" href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=LessonsFromTheSourceAudio&loc=en_US" target="popupwindow">Get Audio E-mails</a> <a class="podcast" href="itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/LessonsFromTheSourceAudio">Subscribe via iTunes</a>
Oh, wait. Did you know Feedburner only checks your feed every 30 minutes and iTunes can take half a day for your new podcast to show up? If you want to manually ping these services to let them know you have new content, go here to ping feedburner or follow these directions for iTunes. (Thanks Jeff for this suggestion!)