Apple iTunes is the biggest marketplace for podcasts. The virtual media library launched in January 2001 as a music download service tied to the popular iPod device. However, it soon grew to include movies, TV shows, e-books, audiobooks, and of course, apps. Hundreds of thousands of podcasts are also published in iTunes. iTunes has so many podcasts that, in 2012, it launched the Apple Podcasts app just for podcasts.
According to 2015 data, 82% of all mobile podcast listening occurs on an Apple device — iPhones, iPods, and iPads; and 78% of that listening occurs via the Apple iTunes or the Apple Podcasts app. So, no matter what you are podcasting about, a large part of your audience will be listening via iTunes.
Most podcast hosts (such as Buzzsprout and Libsyn) will provide you with step-by-step instructions for getting your podcast in iTunes. (There are some minor technical details that you must adhere to.) But, just in case you chose a host that doesn’t make this clear, below are the steps to getting your podcast listed (no matter who your host is).
- Go to podcastsconnect.apple.com and log in with your Apple ID. If you use any Apple products, you likely already have such an ID. If not, click the link to create one. (You will have to agree to Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policies, and such.)
- Once you are logged in, you are going to see the title “My Podcasts” and a “+” symbol. Click the “+” symbol.
- Apple will ask for your RSS Feed. An RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed is a syndication file that is used to tell various services when new content is available. In this case, your content is your podcast episode, and the service you want to update is iTunes/Apple Podcasts. (RSS feeds are used all throughout the web — for blogs, news headlines, and video content too.) Your podcast host provides you with an iTunes-compatible RSS feed for your podcast. And that is what you need to get ahold of right now. So, log in to your hosting account and find it; it won’t be hard. (If you use Buzzsprout, you can find it under iTunes & Directories > RSS Feed.) It will look like a regular website address such as this one: http://www.buzzsprout.com/3192.rss. (It may or may not have “.rss” at the end; that’s not required.)
- Once you have your RSS feed URL, paste it in the box, and click “Validate.” Apple validates RSS feeds before allowing you to submit it so you won’t waste your time or theirs with things that need to be fixed before your podcast is included in iTunes.
- If all is well (and it should be if you followed your host’s instructions), the validation will be successful. Apple will display your feed’s content onscreen.
- Click “Submit.” Apple will show you a confirmation of your submission and you can go on your merry way. You will also receive a confirmation of submission at the e-mail address linked to your Apple ID.
In a few day (about five to eight), your podcast will be live on iTunes and the Apple Podcasts app.
Re: Validation Errors
As I mentioned before, if you are using one of the recommended podcast hosts, you should not have any validation errors. However, the most common error is podcast artwork not being the right size. Apple requires that all podcast artwork (or logo, if you prefer) be 1400 x 1400 pixels. (If you use iTunes regularly, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because Apple never displays artwork at this giant size. All you get is a tiny square less than 400 x 400 pixels. But Apple is just picky that way.)
To abide by Apple’s rules, you need to create a logo at that size to go along with your podcast. Here are a few tips.
- Go for clean and clear over cluttered and colorful.
- Make sure the title of your podcast can be clearly read when the logo is small (because it will be small). You may create the logo on your laptop or desktop, but most people will be looking at it on a phone.
- If you must include a picture, include one — only one.
- If the picture is of you, make sure it is a professional photo and that you are smiling reasonably. (Oprah tip: If smiling for a photograph seems unnatural to you, say “money”, not “cheese”, as the photo is being snapped. It works.)
- If you have no graphic design skills, get someone who has such skills to design your logo. Services such as Fiverr come in handy here.
Here is an example of a good podcast logo.
This post is a part of the PODCASTING FOR MINISTRY blog series.