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Getting your podcast into iTunes is an essential part of finding and growing your audience. Subscriptions of podcasts through iTunes passed 1 billion recently, which means there’s a huge potential audience there waiting to discover your podcast.

In this episode, I’m going to share exactly what you need to do to get your show into iTunes, and what steps you can take to increase your chances of getting featured in the New & Noteworthy section.

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Export your podcasts as 64 or 96kbps mono MP3 files. These are the sweet spots for file size and sound quality.
  • Tag your MP3 files so your audience can see the important information about your episodes.
  • If you’re using WordPress, check out Blubrry’s Powerpress plugin for hosting a podcast on your site.
  • I recommend Simplecast for podcast RSS feed and MP3 file hosting. It’s the best, easiest solution for podcasters right now.
  • Subscription and download numbers play a big part in getting featured in iTunes.
  • Being featured in iTunes isn’t going to make your podcast successful. Sticking with it is how you get there.

Show Notes

  • 1:43 Here’s an overview of the steps that you need to take to get your show into iTunes.
    1. Bounce your MP3 file
    2. Tag your MP3 file
    3. Get your website and post ready
    4. Upload your MP3 to your hosting service
    5. Configure your RSS feed, find the address, and test it in iTunes or FeedValidator
    6. Submit your RSS feed address to iTunes
What About the Other Podcast Directiories Like Stitcher and iHeartRadio?
  • 3:55 iTunes isn’t the only place where people can find and listen to podcasts, but it’s the biggest one. If you’re interested in checking out some of the other directories, click here.

1. Bouncing the MP3 File

  • 4:28 After you’ve recorded your podcast and finished editing, mixing and mastering, you’ll need to export your project as an MP3 file.
  • 4:50 If you’re editing in Logic, you can export (also called bouncing) your project by pressing command+a and then command+b. This will open up a small window that lets you choose your export settings. For the seanwes podcasts, I export as MP3, stereo, 128kbps, with normalize turned on.
  • 5:15 People ask me what bitrate they should export as; 64, 96, or 128? If you have a good mic setup and you understand recording and mixing/mastering, then you can bounce out at 64kbps mono and it will sound fine.

Export your podcasts as 64 or 96kbps mono MP3 files. These are the sweet spots for file size and sound quality.

  • 6:35 If you’re using Garageband; when you’re done editing, go up to the file menu and select “Share”, then “Export Song to Disk”. You’ll see an option to choose file type and bitrate.
How do I Normalize My Podcast?
  • 6:47 If you are using Garageband, open preferences, go to advanced, then check “Auto Normalize”. While you’re there, you should also check 24 bit recording. If you are working with Logic, when you bounce your tracks down to a single MP3, make sure to select “Normalize on” from the dropdown menu.
  • 7:39 Another tool I’ve used to normalize and clean up podcast audio is Auphonic. Audphonic is a great web/desktop app that has a variety of different options for enhancing audio tracks, including an intelligent leveler, loudness normalization, and audio restoration (noise and hum reduction). You can get two free hours of audio processing per month, and buy additional time if you need it. You can also purchase a desktop app version of the app.

2. Add ID3 Tags to Your MP3 File (Tagging)

  • 9:07 After you’ve bounced your MP3 file, you need to add metadata to it for iTunes and other podcast players. This is commonly called tagging. The information you’ll need to add the file includes:
    • Artist (name of your show or podcast network)
    • Album/Artist (your name)
    • Album (name of your show)
    • Genre (podcast)
    • Year
    • Artwork (1400x1400px JPG or PNG)
    • Episode Number
    • Title (episode title)
    • Description (a short description of the podcast episode)

Tag your MP3 files so your audience can see the important information about your episodes.

  • 9:48 You can tag your files using iTunes (free) or Tagr ($10). You can add tags to files in iTunes by dropping the file onto your library, then right clicking on it and selecting “Get Info”. You’ll then see a window pop up with fields where you can fill in your information.
  • 10:13 I use Tagr to tag my MP3 files because it’s a faster and easier way to add all the information.
  • 11:13 Depending on your website, the description for each episode may be added from the episode post. On Simplecast, there’s a place in each episode post to add description and show notes. That will become part of the RSS feed entry so you don’t have to add that information to your MP3 file. We have something similiar setup on the seanwes website (WordPress); there’s a custom field that gets used as the episode description to the RSS feed.
  • 12:13 You’ll need artwork at least 1400×1400 pixels, JPEG or PNG file format with RBG color. Your art should also look good when scaled down to thumbnail size. See thepodcastdude.com/20 to learn more about creating great artwork.

3. Get Your Website Setup for Podcast Hosting

  • 12:49 If you’re using a podcast hosting service like Simplecast or Libsyn, make sure you add all the relevant information about your show (show title, author, description, category, etc) in the admin or settings section.
  • 13:15 After you add all the neccessary information about your podcast, then create a new post and add all the episode-specific information like episode title, description/show notes, and keywords.
  • 13:30 Simplecast makes this really easy, and that’s why I recommend for new podcasters. If you have a WordPress site and you’d like to host your podcast RSS feed there, check out the Blubrry Powerpress plugin.

If you’re using WordPress, check out Blubrry’s Powerpress plugin for hosting a podcast on your site.

  • 14:04 If you’re using the Blubrry Powerpress plugin and WordPress, you’ll still need to host your MP3 file somewhere (iTunes does not handle hosting or file delivery). The very first podcast I started was hosted on a WordPress site (using the Powerpress plugin) and the MP3 files were hosted on an Amazon S3 server. I don’t recommend Amazon S3 for most people, as it’s fairly difficult to configure and update. It’s much easier to use Simplecast or Libsyn for hosting MP3 files.

4. Upload Your MP3 File to Your File Hosting Service

  • 15:09 Q: Can I host my podcast on iTunes? No, iTunes does not host podcasts. It’s just a directory. You have to host your MP3 files and RSS feed somewhere else (like Simplecast or Libsyn).

I recommend Simplecast for podcast RSS feed and MP3 file hosting. It’s the best, easiest solution for podcasters right now.

5. Preparing your RSS Feed

  • 16:44 This is really easy to do in Simplecast. Login and go to the Podcast Settings tab. Fill out the information and hit save. Then go to the Sharing tab, and you’ll see your RSS feed address there along with some instructions for submitting your podcast to iTunes. Make sure you fill in all the necessary meta-data for your podcast and podcast episodes before submitting. The steps for Libyn are similar; you can find instructions here.
  • 17:11 Once you have your RSS feed set up, check it with iTunes or FeedValidator to make sure it’s configured correctly. To test your RSS feed in iTunes:
    1. Open iTunes
    2. From the File menu, choose Subscribe to Podcast
    3. Enter your podcast feed URL in the text box and click OK
  • 17:39 If your RSS feed checks out, then you can submit your podcast to iTunes.

My podcast was rejected. What happened?

  • There are a few reasons why your podcast could be rejected. According to Apple’s guidelines:
    • Explicit language without having the explicit tag set to yes
    • References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence in the podcast title, description, or cover art
    • Images or language that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic
    • Images depicting sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs, or hate themes
    • Third-party trademarks without authorization or usage rights
    • The words “iTunes Store,” “iTunes,” or “Apple Inc.”
    • iTunes Store logo, Apple logo, or the term “Exclusive” without prior authorization from Apple
  • 18:54 Podcasts with technical problems or no episodes may also be removed from the store. If you have any issues with your RSS feed, do a Google search to see if anyone else has had the same issue (very likely) and try to troubleshoot the problem. If you can’t figure it out, check with your RSS feed hosting service.

5. How Do I Get My Show Into New & Noteworthy or Featured?

  • 19:10 This is another question I see a lot; How do I get my show into New & Noteworthy or the Featured section of iTunes?
  • 19:18 I understand why people want their podcast to be featured in iTunes or the New & Noteworthy section. It’s a promise of exposure to anyone browsing the iTunes store looking for a new podcast to check out. It’s nice, and it’s a bit of an ego boost, but from what I’ve heard from podcasters who have been featured, it doesn’t do that much for download numbers or subscribers. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with taking the steps to try to get your show featured in iTunes. You have a window of eight weeks after launching to be featured in New & Noteworthy. Here’s what you’ll need to do (according to Apple).
  • 19:55 1. Launch with 3-5 episodes. That will help boost your download numbers (if people are excited about your show, they’re more likely to subscribe and download all the episodes at once). It also shows Apple that you’ve gone through the podcasting proccess a couple times and are familiar with what it takes to record and produce episodes.
  • 20:27 2. Promote your show heavily on social media in the weeks prior to launch. You should do some pre-launch hype to get people excited about your show. As Sean McCabe says, “People don’t notice announcments, they notice consistency.”
  • 20:42 You could talk about your show on social media every three days for six weeks before you launch, and I guarantee you’ll still have followers who will be suprised when it goes live. So tell your followers, tell your friends. Ask them to help you promote it. This is why you should be doing favors and nice things for your friends; the rule of reciprocity applies.
  • 21:17 3. Get lots of subsciptions and downloads. This is why promoting your show in advance is important.

Subscription and download numbers play a big part in getting featured in iTunes.

  • 21:34 4. Ask for reviews. Reviews are another thing that Apple looks at when deciding who to feature, so ask your audience for reviews. It’s always important but even more so when you first launch.
  • 21:49 5. Have great artwork. Apple specifically states in their podcast FAQ that compelling artwork plays a big part in who they decide to feature.
  • 22:16 6. Make your podcast sound good. Great audio is really important, and I’ve done many episodes about how to get better sound quality. The most important thing is your microphone, but you should also learn the basics of post-production or hire a capable podcast editor to mix and master your audio.
  • 22:18 7. Make sure all your meta-data is there. I talked about ID3 tags earlier in the episode; iTunes checks to see if that information is there, so don’t skip that step.
  • 22:20 8. Write a good description and show notes for each episode. You should already have a general description for your podcast, but take the time to write a compelling description for each episode as well. Tell your listeners why they should listen to it.
  • 22:25 9. Release new episodes consistently. Believe it or not, your listeners aren’t the only ones who notice consistency; Apple does too. They don’t want to feature a podcast that stops releasing new episodes.

Being featured in iTunes isn’t going to make your podcast successful. Sticking with it is how you get there.

  • 22:31 Focus on the long term success of your show. That means:
    • Building up a huge collection of potential topics to discuss.
    • Committing to recording regularly every week.
    • Engaging with your audience to see what they care about.
    • Improving the quality of your show; getting better gear, getting better at speaking, getting better at editing.
  • 23:12 Your show will get better over time if you keep showing up. You’ll get better, your audience will grow, and you’ll reach even more people as your listeners share the show with their friends. It’s ok if you don’t get featured; just keep going!

Recap:

  1. Bounce your MP3 file
  2. Tag your MP3 file
  3. Get your website and post ready
  4. Upload your MP3 to your hosting service
  5. Configure your RSS feed, find the address, and test it
  6. Submit your RSS feed address to iTunes
  7. Party! (optional)

Q&A

  • 28:25 Winston asked, Is there an optimal time to upload your podcast to iTunes?
  • 28:31 It depends on your audience, but consistency is the most important thing. Choose a day and release shows on that day (or whenever you say you’re going to), otherwise your audience will get angry at you (I’ve seen it happen many times).
  • 29:51 Another thing to consider; when is your audience likely going to listen to your podcast? Do they listen on their commute to work? Do they listen on the weekends? Keep that in mind when deciding when to release new episodes.
  • 30:29 The only day that I might suggest avoiding is Monday. Many people are going back to work, they have a lot going on, they’re recovering from the weekend… In the end, if people love your show, they’re going to make sure they catch every episode. You just need to show up every week.
  • 30:55 Brookes Eggleston asked, Is Blubrry “better” than Libsyn for podcast hosting? It looks like it’s $5 for unlimited storage.
  • 31:15 Sorry Brookes, looks like you only get stats for $5/month. File hosting starts at $12/month for 100mb of upload space and goes up from there. I still recommend Simplecast for hosting (unlimited space/downloads for $12/month).
  • 31:59 If you’re interested in learning more about website/hosting options for podcasters, go check out episode 6, How to Setup a Podcast Website.