Before you submit your podcast to the iTunes Directory, you need to know what their review staff is looking for. Part of successful podcast submission consists of striving to meet these criteria as closely as possible. Your aim is to be featured in “New & Noteworthy” for your category or even in “New & Noteworthy” on the iTunes general home page.
To do this, however, your podcast needs to not only prove it is “breaking new ground” with “new or unusual content”, it has to first:
- Stand out
- Capture the reviewer’s interest
So before we get into the mechanics of uploading, let’s quickly make sure we meet these criteria. (Create a checklist, if this is the first time you are uploading, and use it every time you upload later podcasts.)
What this will do, in addition to getting you noticed by review staff and boosting your chances of landing a “New & Noteworthy” spot, is make your podcast much more searchable and easily found by your ideal listener.
Step 1. Make Sure You’re Ready
Remember that you can’t host your podcast on iTunes. You have to:
- Register a domain for your podcast blog, where you will host your podcasts (e.g. “TheWilyTracker.com”)
- Choose web hosting that is up to hosting podcasts, with adequate bandwidth (at least 1gb.) and byte-range support.
While hosting your domain on your own site is generally considered best, you might also consider a webhost that specializes in podcasts, like Libsyn. It is a syndicated podcasting network, rather than a true webhost – but you can purchase and use your own domain name. And their array of tools, apps and services simplifies the whole podcasting process.
- Install and set up your blog. This is where you’ll host your show notes and talk about your podcasts.
- Create an RSS feed. You can’t do it from iTunes, but there are many feed generators and reliable services you can use to create your RSS feed, such as the generator provided by Feedity, which has gathered consistently positive reviews.
Feedity offers a bookmarklet and a widget to display your feeds on your website, RSS button and its pricing plans start at $6.00 per month for twenty feeds.
- Test your feed – you can do this at Feedvalidator.org, but we’ll test it again when we actually upload to iTunes.
Step 2. Optimize and Check Your Content
Make sure you have maximized each element, targeting each to your audience as closely as possible.
1. Your Podcast Title
Make it short, catchy and something you would want to download. Include keywords.
2. Your Name and job title
If you are branding yourself, this is essential. You want your name to be searchable and you can add other tags describing what you do (e.g. Social Media Coach, blogger, entrepreneur).
3. Your Description
This is where you tell your listeners:
- What your podcast is all about
- What it can do for them if they download and listen right now
You have up to 4,000 characters to do it in – but try to keep it as short as possible. Remember, people will be “scanning” – glancing over your description for, literally, key words and phrases that might catch their attention.
Too much prose detracts from your message, so cut out all unnecessary adverbs, adjectives and sentences. Focus only on what your listeners will want to hear. Don’t clutter your description – but do your best to make it lively, personal, active and catchy.
Remember also that your casual searcher will only see the first five lines of your description. Even though they have the option of pressing the “More” anchor text, that’s an extra step you’re making them take. Do you r best to say what you need your ideal listener to read in those first few lines.
If you have a special guest, include your guest’s name and keywords.
- Ask for a review
- Ask people to download your podcast and subscribe to your feed
- Remind them they can head over to your blog (include your blog URL) and leave feedback after your podcast
(Note that you need a separate description for every episode.)
4. Your Podcast Subtitle
Sometimes you may be asked to input this when you upload to iTunes. It should be the same as the short description you put in your ID3 “Comment” field.
Think of it more as a descriptive tagline, and you’ll be able to write one or two lines that more than adequately fulfills this purpose.
5. Your Cover Photo
You will need two versions of this in separate files:
- 1,400 X 1,400 pixels
- 300 X 300 pixels
(The 300 X 300 pixel version is for your XML file.)
Before finalizing your podcast cover design, test-resize it to 150 X 150 pixels, then decide: What detail do you lose? What looks murky or indistinct? Can you still make out what each graphic element actually is? (Take out any detail that gets “lost” in small sizes. And do remember it will display in the iTunes store at 73 X 73 pixels.)
In your cover, be sure to include:
- Your Podcast name
- Your Logo or repetitive branding graphic
- Your Name
- 6. Optimized Metatags
When you save your project and export as an .MP3 in your podcasting software, you’ll be given the opportunity to edit your ID3 tags and save them as a separate XML file.
There may be a few differences between programs, but you can pretty much guess where to put things. ID3 fields are always presented as if you are recording music, so under “Album” put your podcast title, for example. “Artist Name” would be your name. “Track Number” would be your episode number, and so forth.
You can customize your input any way you choose: For example, under “Artist Name”, you might put “Billy Bob Bushwhacker, TheWilyTracker.com. Blogger. Photographer.”
But don’t try to fit in everything but the kitchen sink: Remember that the sole purpose of these tags is for…
If you create a Featured podcast, you must update it regularly with new episodes (preferably within the last month).
7. Your Show Notes
Be sure to upload your Show Notes to your blog! (Include a graphic to posts, to boost their readability and appeal.)
Step 3. Time to Upload!
Got all that done? Good. Now for the actual uploading process…
1. Open your downloaded latest version of iTunes. Go to the iTunes store, if iTunes opens up in any other location.
Sign in (or create an Apple ID, if you have not yet signed up for iTunes).
2. Test your feed in the iTunes Directory (store):
- When you first open iTunes, select “Subscribe to Podcast” from the File menu
- Enter your own RSS feed URL in the textarea box
- Click “OK”
3. Submit your podcast.
- From the iTunes Store, click the “Podcast” tab in the top, horizontal menu
- Go to the Podcast Quick Links vertical, right-hand menu. Select “Submit a Podcast” from the links contained in this section
- Follow the instruction wizard
- You’ll know you have succeeded when you see the Summary page. If there are any missing tags, iTunes will prompt you for them.
There is no charge for submitting a podcast.
And that’s it.
…Well, maybe… not quite. Apple’s iTunes podcast submission process is notorious for suffering unpredictable glitches, and not all of them are due to your computer and its operating systems and firewalls. Apple itself sometimes pops up error messages like this one:
Step 4. Troubleshooting
If this happens, don’t tear your hair out. Instead, refer to the relevant section in the Making a Podcast manual, which goes into detail about specific podcast creation and upload processes.
Remember also that you will find a host of fixes and workarounds from real people like you who have already gone through the process of trying to solve problems at the Apple Support forum (currently the only way to get help from Apple – unless you are having a problem with an actual product purchase).
If you’ve taken care to prepare your podcast properly, your chances of a smooth upload increase significantly – and you should be promoting your new podcast series in no time.