Podcasting with Feedburner + iTunes

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.

YouTube Preview Image

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:

Audio Player

Download and install the Audio Player plug-in, which allows you to play audio on your website by embeding a nice little flash player.

Podcast Category

Create a new category, and call it “Podcasts” or “Audio E-mails” or whatever sounds good.

Feedburner Plug-in

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.

Feedburner Instructions

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.

feedburner_optimize

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&amp;loc=en_US" target="popupwindow">Get Audio E-mails</a>
<a class="podcast" href="itpc://feeds.feedburner.com/LessonsFromTheSourceAudio">Subscribe via iTunes</a>

Finished, Finally

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!)

13 Responses

  1. Good post. I’m also surprised that there’s no silver bullet explanation out there for getting a podcast up and running, including WordPress and Feedburner info.

    One thing I would note is that if you think you may build a decent audience for your podcast, then you need to investigate a hosting service for your podcast files. You could easily eat up your bandwidth limits for most web hosts – if you’re storing the mp3 file on your own server.

    I use libsyn for hosting my podcast files. I think there are competitive services to libsyn too.

    One final note, whenever I update my podcast blog with a new podcast, I usually ping Feedburner, then ping iTunes. Otherwise, it can take a 1/2 day to a day for your new episode to show up in iTunes. If you ping, it will usually show up in iTunes within a few minutes.

    1. Thanks for all the great suggestions Jeff! I had run across Feedburner and iTunes ping issues myself- so I added links to the post for how to do this.

      Another issue with Feedburner is it will only send out the e-mails once a day at the time you have specified in the settings. So if you are wondering why your e-mail hasn’t sent right away, that’s probably it.

      I don’t have storage or bandwidth limits because I use BlueHost (yes, that’s a shameless affiliate plug for my hosting company). But if you do, it definitely makes sense to use libsyn or another service.

  2. Thanks Devin. I’ve been searching all over the google universe trying to find out exactly what you just described. Is anything worse than reading a tutorial and then realizing it’s from 2005?

    I’m hoping to get my podcast feature added soon, thanks so much for the tutorial!

  3. You can eliminate a few steps by using the Blubrry PowerPress podcasting plugin. Under PowerPress Settings, you can set the FeedBurner Feed URL for each feed. You would not need the FeedBurner plugin or the WP Audio Player plugin since both functions are found in PowerPress.

  4. Ike

    Hi Devin… maybe you can help me with an issue I’m having.

    A couple of weeks ago, I started recording my posts and embedding the audio. Apparently, this makes my feed “too large” and now Feedburner is seriously truncating my feed. It used to be full text, and now I am losing subscribers over this.

    Any idea how to embed the player without killing the feed? I haven’t seen this addressed in any of the plugins I have investigated.

    thanks…

    1. Check your reading options under settings. Your syndication feed should not be over 10-20. Perhaps that’s the issue? Otherwise I’m not sure.

  5. Tony

    Great post. I am developing a site for my musician friend and have been trying to figure out the “best” way to do the podcast thing. Dealing with audio/video files and podcasting is new to me, but I have pieced together pretty much the exact steps you outlined (wish I found this post sooner). My only question at this point, is the best way to track statistics about the podcast. Do you take any special steps for this, or just use the statistics from your host regarding pageviews and the statistics Feedburner provides? I’d rather not use the Powerpress plugin, but I wonder if it provides more statistics than you can get without it.

  6. Hi Devin,

    Have submitted my podcast to iTunes, but it has come up with no title. What do I need to update on my WordPress site to ensure iTunes gives the podcast a title? Not sure where to edit the feed. Forgive my stupidity, completely new to this. Many thanks.

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