How to start a podcast using WordPress and PowerPress

I’ve been doing podcasts for since early 2006 where I was running two different podcasts and was also president of the OC Podcasters (the website is still up too).  Back then I was rolling my own RSS feeds and then got into using a plugin for WordPress called podPress. This plugin still exists and is maintained, but I have since moved from that podcast over to PowerPress.

Back in my day…

Podcasting started out with people primarily using iPods (yeah, before iPhones and such) and later a few other mp3 players came out that supported podcasts. Alternative podcasting software came out to aggregate the RSS feeds needed to make things happen. In this post I’ll drop the science on how podcasting works and how it can work with WordPress, let’s get started.

RSS? What is that?

Wikipedia defined RSS as: RSS (most commonly expanded as Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works. RSS readers can read the RSS feed and display the contents of your blog posts (or the excerpt depending on how the RSS feed is structured or setup in the CMS being used). This allows people to read your content without going to your website (you weren’t making money on those ads in your sidebar anyway).

How does RSS work with a podcast?

Podcasts use RSS as a way to organize the content of the blog post and using an enclosure tag will link off to the URL of the media file (audio or video) to be downloaded. iTunes (or any “Podcatcher” really) will read the RSS feed(s) it has stored in memory and then using the URL in the enclosure tag will download the media file and make it available to the user to read or view. Periodically iTunes will check the feeds for more content and then download that content as it becomes available.

What media is supported for a podcast?

Podcasts can come in may file formats here are some of the supported ones for iTunes: .m4a, .mp3, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .pdf, and .epub. The ones we will be focusing on today is mp3 and mp4 which are audio and video respectively.

What video resolutions are suggested?

H.264 video containers are the preferred method of video podcasts, finding a happy medium for the video dimensions can be tricky since iPhone and Android tend to be different, It seems that the safe bet between the two is 1280×720 despite the suggestion below for 1136×640 for the iPhone 5.

The maximum video size supported by each device is:

  • iPhone 4, iPhone 4S: 960×640
  • iPod touch, iPhone 5: 1136×640
  • iPad 2, iPad mini: 1024×768
  • Apple TV: 1920×1080
  • iPad with Retina display: 2048×1536
  • Android SD: 176×144
  • Android SD High Quality: 480×360
  • Android HD: 1280×720

What plugins do I need for WordPress

Since WordPress its self creates RSS feeds for just about everything (posts, custom post types, authors, tags, categories) it really depends on how you want to go about things. As I mentioned earlier I use PowerPress (found in the WordPress plugins repo) which supports categories (using something called Category Casting) it also supports Tag feeds (Tag Casting) and Custom Post Types which is what I tend to use, allowing me to separate out my blog posts and my podcast posts.

Let’s start with PowerPress

Setting up PowerPress may looks daunting with all the check boxes and drop downs and tabs that it’s configuration pages has. Really it’s quite simple:

Install PowerPress

In WordPress Dashboard go to plugins and then Add New and search for PowerPress, Blubrry PowerPress will be the result you are looking for. install and then activate the plugin.

PowerPress Dashboard Options

Click on PowerPress and then Settings you are presented with a welcome screen, click Basic Settings.

For WPwatercooler I mainly want to specify the Media URL and the File Size and Duration. The theme I’m using already deals with video embed codes so I don’t use that settings, Poster Image can be used if you want a different image for each of your episodes, WPwatercooler just has one album art so we stick with that.

PowerPress_Settings_‹_WPwatercooler_—_WordPress-2

 

More options follow:

I like to be able to configure the iTunes Keywords so I have this checked. If my podcasts had cursing regularly I’d check the iTunes Explicit field so I can control this, we don’t curse (much) so I don’t use that.

PowerPress_Settings_‹_WPwatercooler_—_WordPress

 

PowerPress Statistics

Click on Services & Stats tab and you can intregrate the Free basic statistics services, you can pay $5 a month for Premium Media Statistics: (U.S. downloads, trending, exporting) or for $12 you can use their hosting services which includes the statistics as well.

Podcast Feeds

Click on the Feeds tab and select the first option “Enhance All Feeds” which is the recommended settings. Check the Feed Discovery checkbox to include the podcast feed links in the head block of your html WordPress outputs. This allows for the feed to be “discovered” by other podcast aggregators.

Set the RSS2 Image to the tul of a file that is at least 300×300 pixels in jpg format.

iTunes

Click the iTunes tab and configure your podcast settings for iTunes. This documention on this page will walk you through all that you need to do here.

Posting your first podcast

Once you record your first podcast (you can learn more about this on a recent post I did, Do it right the second time. and if you have a cohost: How to record audio and video from Skype) we can go about creating your first post. The components of a podcast are simple: Show Notes, Keywords, Media File.

Show Notes

Show notes are the text and links that go along with your podcast media. Show notes are that extra bit of data that is “googleable” that allows a search engine to figure out what you were talking about on the show. I wrote about this too here: Write podcast show notes like a pro.

Keywords

Keywords are used to help make your podcast epsisode easier to find. iTunes supports 10 keywords so make them count.

Media File

You have recorded your podcast in mp3 like I outlined above now it’s time to post it. Create a new post (as a custom post type or as a blog post with Tags or Categories being used, it all depends on how you configured PowerPress.

In the new post screen you’ll want to put your show notes in the body of the post. After doing that you’ll want to configure the podcast episode metabox. Put in the URL of the media file you are using for your podcast. Click the verify button to make sure it’s the correct URL. Hopefully the plugin detected the File Size and the Duration, you can specify these if they are not detected. At the bottom you can specify the keywords for this episode. For WPwatercooler I specify the basics “wordpress, web development, web design” and then some of the infrequent guests that are on the show too.

Edit_Video_‹_WPwatercooler_—_WordPress

 

Once you have completed this you can post the blog post and then we can run a test.

Running a test

Open up iTunes and click on File and then “Subscribe to Podcast…

Fullscreen_7_17_13_8_28_PM

You’ll want to type in the podcast feed url and press OK.

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And then iTunes will display the content from the RSS feed.

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 Submit your podcast to iTunes

Once you have your podcast looking the way you want in the steps above you can submit it to iTunes. iTunes doesn’t allow you to submit your podcast feed to iTunes until a post with a media enclosure exists, so make sure you have done that first.

Click on the Podcasts section on the top in iTunes.

On the right column click Submit a Podcast

iTunes

Then you’ll be prompted to paste in your podcast RSS feed.

It typically takes a few days to a week for the podcast to be made available, an email will be sent to the email address that is associated with your iTunes account.

Please leave a comments in the box below if you have any questions, comments or if you have used these instructions to build your podcast.

Jason Tucker

Jason Tucker

Web Developer at Tucker.Pro
Jason brings 15+ years of hands-on experience as a web developer and systems administrator at large corporations and businesses in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, technology and entertainment. Specializing in PHP coded sites utilizing WordPress. Jason owns and operates Tucker.Pro a WordPress web development company in Whittier, CA. He is also the host of WPwatercooler a weekly WordPress YouTube show and podcast
Jason Tucker
Jason Tucker
Jason Tucker

14 Comments

  1. Kat M Burckhardt on July 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Nice! I’ll reread this when I’m ready for this step (Step 2). 
    I’d like to eventually interview people. Record those interviews and post them on my Youtube to embed in my WordPress website. What type of software do I need to do this? Or can I do this with Hangout? I have a PC.
    Thanks Jason, and great write-up! 😀

  2. 2.5 million views on YouTube | Jason Tucker on July 18, 2013 at 1:12 am

    […] Million Views which is interesting because I too was blogging about and spilling some secrets on How to start a podcast using WordPress and PowerPress over at my blog WPmedia.pro. Suzette Franck the WordPress Evangelist at Media Temple posts about […]

  3. andrew_cpht on July 18, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Thanks for the writeup on this, Jason! And thanks for walking me and Dusty through it the other day for MeetWP.

  4. […] How to create a podcast with WordPress → […]

  5. learntopodcast on July 19, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Another way you can make sure your RSS feed is fine is to use http://www.feedvalidator.org

  6. MTSITeam on October 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    nice article Jason. you mention you use PP but then all the examples are from the watercooler plugin. in any case, I am using PP. my issue is that the actual podcast player does not show on the blog post after I publish it. that said, my feed is valid and has been validated. in other words the feed works, but the blog post does not render with the player in it when viewed online. any recommendations why this might be and a way to fix?

  7. gilagideon on January 11, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Hi, Sorry for the maybe dumbe question… Do you refer here to wordpress.com or wordpress org?

  8. JasonTucker on February 15, 2014 at 11:48 am

    gilagideon  a self hosted WordPress site, not wordpress.com

  9. JasonTucker on February 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    MTSITeam  I actually accomplished this by using the built in functionality.

  10. rezaali on March 15, 2014 at 3:34 am

    Thanks for taking the effort to do this fantastic write up. Was toying between Podpress and Powerpress. I preferred to use Powerpress based on the reviews of the 2 plugins but was intimidated by the many options. You’ve made it easy as pie.

    Thanks.

  11. Ian Knocka Dore on April 30, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Tried all this but itunes rejected the feed. From what I can see its the PowerPress plugin causing the problem!

    On emailing them they simply said…oh well….Tossers. I can’t even work out how to test the feed as I can see no ‘file’ option anywhere

    any pointers greatly received,

    cheers,

    ian

  12. […] How to start a podcast using WordPress and PowerPress […]

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