Set up and promote a podcast in 35 minutes with PodServe
- Article 3 of 9
- Practical Web Design, July 2006
Newspapers do it. TV shows do it. Even educated ninja do it. Podcasting has become a massive success because it’s such a simple idea.
It’s like Sky+ for Internet radio. You look through the programme guide for a show you might be interested in; if you find one, you click a ‘Subscribe’ button. Then every time there’s a new programme available, your podcasting application downloads it, ready for you to listen to it whenever you want – and if you have an MP3 player, wherever you want.
So if you’ve got something to say or something to play (if you’re musical) and you expect there’ll be more to come, a podcast is truly a great way of giving more to your users and giving your site a little extra oomph.
The mechanics behind podcasting are a bit harder than it might appear, at first, but in this tutorial, we’re going to make it as simple as can be using a service called PodServe. For any podcast, you need what’s known as a feed. This is an XML file that obeys a modified version of the RSS standard and lists all the shows available to download. A podcast application needs this feed so it can find out where to download files from, what their titles are and so on. Putting one together is not easy unless you have an application to do it for you.
Then you have to find somewhere to store your podcast files. Most podcasts use the MP3 file format and at a few megabytes each, it doesn’t take long before your server’s full up; figure in the bandwidth necessary for all your subscribers to download those files and it becomes clear pretty quickly that podcasting can be quite an expensive pastime.
Then there’s formatting the feed to make it look good in a podcasting app, formatting the podcasts themselves, publicising the feed to attract more subscribers and hopefully visitors to your web site. That’s a lot of effort and technical expertise.
PodServe takes away almost all those problems. You simply tell it about your podcast, upload all your ‘broadcasts’ and it generates the feed for you. It’ll get you listed in directories, help you publicise the podcast, do some cleaning up of your podcasts and let others collaborate with you by uploading their own podcasts to your feed. It’s free, and all you need to use it is a web browser.
Incidentally, you can listen to the real Practical Web Design podcast at http://www.pwdmag.co.uk/