All posts by Mike Dell

How Podcasting Works – Back to Basics – PHD158



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Today I want to go back to the REAL basics of how podcasting works.  

So, without going into a history lesson,  podcasting has worked the same way since it started  16 years ago.  (some say longer). 

So.  Back to the basics: 

Podcasting is just Blogging with Audio.   To create a podcast post, you create a blog post (no matter where you are publishing, the basics are you are making a post) and you attach a link to an audio (or video or whatever) file to that post and publish the “item” to the RSS feed. 

RSS feeds are Fancy text documents that contain information on each “item” (which is the post + the link to the media file).  A feed can have many “items” or posts or episodes.  But each ITEM can only have one media file link (enclosure).  

Think of a feed like a radio frequency.  People tune in to your “feed” to hear your show (or station).  If they just listen for a while and then go to the next station.   If they subscribe, that is very much like setting the preset for your Frequency.  You want them to subscribe. 

Back in the day, people didn’t have computers in their pocket that were connected 24/7 to the internet.  Podcasting was invented because of this.  People would download mp3s (music or voice recordings) and then sync it to their MP3 player. (that was a separate, non-connected to the internet) That way they could take their music or talk content with them.  But getting that content was a manual process.  You downloaded (and waited for a LONG time for it to download) and then you could put it on your player and take it with you.  When people got always-on the internet (That wasn’t a thing in 2005 for many people) they needed a way to download stuff in the background when they were not paying attention.   That is where the RSS feed and “Podcatchers” came into being.  You would “subscribe” to the feeds of your favorite podcasts and your computer program, the podcatcher, would check those feeds from time to time to see if there was a new “item” or episode in the feed.  If there was, your computer would download the file and it was waiting for you the next time you plugged your mp3 player in and it synced to your player.  Of course the iPod was the most famous mp3 player.  Hence, Pod (for iPod) and  Casting (for Broadcasting). People could “broadcast” to the iPod.   Cool huh? 

Fast forward to today.  It still works sort-of, the same way.  Only now, everyone’s mp3 player is part of the computer they have with them at all times, the smartphone and the internet is on all the time.  There are podcast “Apps” which are the podcatchers.  You can still subscribe to a podcast via the RSS feed and your phone’s app checks that feed and when something new is added to it, it PULLS the file to your phone for offline listening. This is exactly how the old system worked other than the fact you don’t have to sync it to your player because your player is also the computer.  BUT, you can still listen to a downloaded file when you are not connected to the internet.  Like while traveling in a bad cell area, away from wifi or on an Airplane. 

 BUT now, there is another way to listen.  You can do what is commonly called “Streaming” but is really, downloading while playing or a progressive download.  Some apps (what I call the not quite real podcast listening apps) that the service that owns the app downloads the file and then does a true stream to your phone. This is fine as long as you have a good signal to a cell tower AND you have unlimited internet. AND that service doesn’t go down (it’s been known to happen).  

The basics are still there.  

Here are the things you need to make a podcast work.  

A place on the internet to store your mp3 files. (Podcast Host) and a place to generate the RSS feed and to make a post for the episodes.  (Just a fancy text file on a server somewhere)

With that valid RSS feed, you can submit that to the directories and apps.  Currently, the important ones are Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon and Podcast Index.  As long as you are in all or most of those, you will also be in a lot of smaller apps.  A lot of apps use the Podcast Index or Apple to supply their directories for people to find your podcast. 

Everything about your show is based completely on the RSS feed.  The Title of the show, the descriptions of the show, the title of the episodes, the “shownotes” (blog post) content, The artwork for your overall show, the artwork for the individual episodes (which is more work than it’s worth, See: post i did on artwork) and your connection to subscribers.  All these things are Pulled (not Pushed) to these places by those places.  You can not “push” your show out to these places or your subscribers.  Your subscribers and the apps/directories PULL your shows LISTING from your feed.  

The best way I found is to host your files on a reputable Podcast media host (Of course I recommend Blubrry Podcasting).  Build a WordPress blog (that is what WordPress is, a blogging software) and use the PowerPress plugin (by blubrry) to generate the RSS feed for you.  That is exactly what I do on my 3 podcasts.  You can use any podcast host with PowerPress.  WordPress based websites are cheap.  As long as $10 a month at Godaddy, Bluehost, HostGater and A2 hosting (my favorite, click the link in the sidebar for A2 hosting).  AND the bonus is you are building your podcast on your domain and platform and not on someone else’s platform. 

This podcast is posted on PodcastHelpDesk.com.  Go there and subscribe!


Build Your Own Podcasting Platform – PHD157



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Why would build your podcast on someone else’s platform when you can build your own?

Building a podcast platform is a little harder than doing it on a Podcast Hosting company site, but it’s so worth it.

At Blubrry, we call it the Blubrry Way.  Have your own domain. Put a WordPress on it and use the PowerPress plugin to generate your feed and let you publish from your own website. It will future-proof your show, your brand and give your show a home that can not be taken away.

For a free month of hosting at Blubrry.com, use the promo code HELPDESK at checkout.

 

This podcast is posted on PodcastHelpDesk.com.  Go there and subscribe!

© Mike Dell


Review of 2020 in Podcasting – PHD156



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In 2020, the podcast industry added over 1 million shows (data from My Podcast Reviews).  Out of 1.7 million shows listed on Apple, 60% (ish) are inactive.

Also in 2020…

  • Joe Rogan went Spotify Exclusive.
  • Spreaker/Voxnest got bought by iHeart Radio.
  • Stitcher got bought by Sirius/XM.
  • Wondery got bought by Amazon.
  • Podcast Index started by Adam Curry and Dave Jones.
  • Podcasting grew slow and steady.
  • Google Podcasts turned into a real Podcasting app.

 


Podcaster’s Block – What do you do when you don’t feel like podcasting? – PHD155



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What are some things you can do when you just don’t feel like podcasting?

Here is what I do. I do more show prep.  It seems I get more motivated to podcast if I do show prep on a show I’m about to record.

Here are some other options:

  1. Delay the episode a day or two until you do feel like podcasting.
  2. Run a re-run.  If you have been at this a while and have some evergreen content, this isn’t a bad option.
  3. Never force a show.  If you don’t feel like it, it will show in the content.  It’s better to skip a show than it is to put out a crappy show.
  4. Totally skip it for this week. (or whatever your schedule is)
  5. Think about why you started this show and try to find the motivation to do it.
  6. Record a few ‘evergreen’ episodes to have some “in the can” for when you don’t want to or can’t podcast for whatever reason.

 


My top 6 Podcast Listening Apps – PHD154



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There are lots of apps you can use to play podcasts.   As a podcaster I’m sure you are also a podcast listener.  Here is my top 6 (in reverse order of use).

#6  Podcast Addict  (Android) – I don’t use Android every day, but when I do, I use either Podcast Addict or Google Podcasts.  Being that I have to test in a lot of apps, I have just about every app for podcast listening on Android.  This one is the best and as a bonus, they get their directory listings from the Podcast Index (as well as other places).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Stitcher Radio (Android, IOS, Web and Car) –  Stitcher is a steaming podcast app.  Not a download and listen later app.  That being said, they are very good with shorter newsy type podcasts.  (in my use anyway).  Stitcher works on the web, IOS, Android AND on Android Auto / Apple Car Play.   If data usage isn’t an issue, this is a good ‘steaming’ way to get new content on the go.

 

 

 

#4 Google Podcasts (Android and IOS) –  Google podcasts has been getting better and better since they dumped “Google Play Music Podcasts”.  It now allows you to subscribe to any RSS feed and is now truly a real podcast app.   The IOS version of it is still a little clunky (but better than Apple’s own app).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 Apple Podcasts (IOS) –  Apple Podcasts is the default app on any IOS Device (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iPod). I’m not a huge fan of how it works, but I do use it a lot. Mainly because if something works in Apple Podcasts, it’s likely to work everywhere.  Also they are the fastest at getting subscribed podcasts after a feed is updated. (I check it there first when I release an episode).  Being in the podcast industry for my job, I have to know how it works (and doesn’t work).

 

 

 

 

#2 Podfriend (PWA) –  Podfriend is the first app (PWA = Progressive Web App) built using the Podcast Index.  It’s a great place to listen to podcasts on your desktop while working without having to install anything.  It just works and works quite well as long as the show you want to listen to is in the Podcast Index (podcastindex.org)

 

 

 

 

 

AND My #1 go to Podcast App (For my personal listening) Overcast (IOS and Web) – Marco Arment is the brains behind Overcast.  He is a very passionate podcast supporter. On top of that, his app works great.  It’s well-designed, easy enough to use (much better than Apple’s app if you ask me).  It has all the features an avid podcast listener would need and some you don’t but are cool anyway.  He has a security feature when you look up podcasts to listen to that tells you if the show is tracking you and where it’s hosted.  The “Smart speed” function is quite nice and will cut some time out of your listening without it sounding weird.  On some shows I listen to, a 1 hour show is cut down to 50 minutes by getting rid of pauses and whatever magic Marco does with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure this is no surprise, but Spotify (in any form) is my least favorite podcast playing app.


What is RSS? Why should you care? – PHD153



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RSS is what powers podcasting.  In fact, this is why podcasting even exists. The enclosure tag in RSS2 allows you to “attach” a media file. Mainly an MP3 but you can also attach just about any media like a video file, a PDF or ebook file.  “Podcasting” is mostly audio but there are some that do video via RSS.

RSS (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed that allows users and applications to access updates to websites in a standardized, computer-readable format.  It is in XML format and for Podcasting, it follows the RSS 2.0 specs.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

RSS Specifications v2 – RSS originated in 1999, and has strived to be a simple, easy to understand format, with relatively modest goals. After it became a popular format, developers wanted to extend it using modules defined in namespaces, as specified by the W3C. RSS 2.0 adds that capability, following a simple rule. An RSS feed may contain elements not described, only if those elements are defined in the namespace.

Why you should care?   RSS still powers your podcast. No matter how people listen, it is tied to your RSS feed.  Things in your RSS feed DO affect if your show gets distributed to directories and apps.

Another reason to care about RSS feeds is that is how Podcasting stays open.  RSS is an open standard.  It’s not controlled by any one company or group. This keeps it free an open.  Anyone that says we need to get rid of RSS in podcasting has an agenda to either make money off of you (the Indie podcaster) or trying to control which shows and hosts get heard.  Neither of which is a good thing.  RSS forever!!  🙂


Why is Podcast Index so important to podcasting? – PHD152



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PodcastIndex.org is a project by Adam Curry and Dave Jones (and a whole bunch of devs and podcasters) that is meant to “preserve podcasting as a platform for free speech” as their tagline says on the site.  This is very important to us indie podcasters.  This can help prevent one company from owning podcasting.

They are also working on the Podcast Namespace for RSS and how to spread a little money around.

Check them out at PodcastIndex.org.  Join the conversation a PodcastIndex.social


Podcast Help Desk going 2 times weekly starting December 16th – PHD151



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I failed miserably at completing the NaPodPoMo 30 episodes in 30 days this year.  OH well,  Such is life getting in the way.

The Good News and part of the “big” announcement I teased is this show is going 2 times weekly starting on Dec. 16, 2020.

As the unofficial companion show to Podcast Insider – Blubry’s Official Podcast and Blog, I will be putting out short 10-15 minute (most of the time) episodes of Podcast Help Desk on Wednesday and Friday, Every single week!  It’s my “Get Mike to take podcasting more seriously” project.  I’ve always preached that being constant is one key way to grow a show.  The only show I’ve ever been able to do that on was Podcast Insider.  Now I want to add Podcast Help Desk to that success schedule-keeping.  Call it my “Podcast Improvement Plan”.

Another thing I’ve been told (and believed) that 1 time a week is good, 2 times a week is better. I want to put that to the test.

Also, recently, I’ve been hearing that people prefer shorter episodes.  We will be testing that theory as well.

If you would like to have me cover a topic, have a general podcasting question or just want to make a comment, hit the “leave a voicemail” tab on PodcastHelpDesk.com or send me an email, podcasthelpdesk@gmail.com and I will put it in Queue.

Be sure to subscribe to Podcast Insider as well at PodcastInsider.com

This podcast is posted on PodcastHelpDesk.com.  Go there and subscribe!

***Note:  I had a slight noise issue on this recording.  Rather than re-record it, here it is in all it’s glory!  🙂


My 8 Favorite Podcasts – PHD150



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I’m not only a podcaster, but an avid podcast listener.  I have something like 30 shows that I subscribe to plus I listen to a lot of one-off shows that I don’t subscribe to.   Here is my top 8 (as of late November 2020) Also, not in Rank order.   Just that these 8 are listened to nearly as soon as they come in.

Lehto’s Law

Steve Lehto is a Lawyer in Michigan and an author. He specializes in Lemon Law cases.  He has been doing a YouTube channel for a 5 or 6 years and then takes the audio and puts it out as a podcast.  He does 2 Episodes a day, 7 days a week!   At the end of 2020 he will have posted 732 episodes in this year ALONE!   DANG!.

They are short episodes.  Normally between 9 and 15 minutes each.  He covers most any law stories.  Sometimes car related stories. But I have to say, almost all of his episodes are funny, well produced and to the point.  I never miss an episode.

WebsitePodcast

Airline Pilot Guy

Airline Pilot Guy is an aviation podcast hosted by Capt. Jeff, Dr. Steph, Capt. Nick,  and Miami Rick (Also a Capt.) along with sometimes co-host Capt. Dana.  Produced by Liz Pyper. It’s a weekly 3 HOUR SHOW all about the Aviation Profession and Hobby. The hosts are current or former Airline Pilots (other than Dr. Steph who is commercial pilot rated but plays a Doctor in real life).

It’s broken it segments for News, “Getting to Know You” where the crew tells what they have been up to the week before, The Coffee Fund (which is Jeff begging for money 🙂 ) and the ever popular “Plane Tales” by “The Old Pilot (who is really Capt. Nick) and of course FEEDBACK.  It’s the show with the most feedback than any I’ve ever heard of. Jeff and the crew answer about 2 hours of questions every week and the audience participation is the best.  You might even hear me on there once in a while 🙂 .

WebsitePodcast

ARRL Audio News

This is a weekly podcast from the American Radio Relay League (Amateur Radio or Ham Radio).  Gives the latest news around the world for Amateur Radio. Hosted by the league employees.

WebsitePodcast

 

Podnews

This is a Daily (Monday-Friday) podcast of the Podnews.net newsletter by James Cridland.  Gives a daily round up of podcasting news and opinions from the editor (James).  Sometimes a bit snarky and James has a very cool aloof British Accent  🙂

You should really sign up for the newsletter AND listen to the podcast.  Very informative about the podcast industry.

WebistePodcast 

Podcasting 2.0

Podcasting 2.0 is Adam Curry and Dave Jones, the guys behind the Podcast Index.  Adam, of course, is the Podfather and former MTV VJ (One of the guys that invented podcasting) and Dave is a “dude named Ben” (developer and I.T. Guy).  They call this podcast the “Board Meeting” for Podcast Index LLC.  This one is a bit geeky, and fun because it’s more Adam.

They talk about what is going on in the Podcast Index and the new “Podcast” namespace for RSS.

Website – Podcast

A few more I don’t miss.

Dave Rubin’s “The Rubin Report
Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak’s “No Agenda
Todd Cochrane and Rob Greenlee’s “New Media Show

AND of course there are my other shows.

Podcast Insider and Mike Dell’s World

There are quite a few more that I like.  But these 8 are my must listen (or watch) podcasts.

This podcast is posted on PodcastHelpDesk.com.  Go there and subscribe!