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How to create an RSS feed for your podcast

Your podcast will use a syndication tool known as an RSS feed. So it’s probably a good idea to know how to create an RSS feed for your podcast!

Simply put, the RSS feed is the code which tells podcast platforms what to expect within your podcast content.

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”, and this is a bit of a hangover from the dot com bubble of the early 2000s, when everything was news server based.

RSS feeds were the main way in which data was communicated across the internet in newsreaders like Outlook.

These feeds were mainly used for blogs and community groups.

We’ve come a long way since those early days of RSS, when you would literally stick an RSS feed into your newsreader and.. well… read the stuff when it came in!

Nowadays, RSS feeds contain video and audio, and this is where the podcasting element comes in.

The point of this is to explain to you how RSS works and how to create an RSS feed for your podcast.

And hopefully dispel some of those myths around it, such as the fact that it costs you to have your podcast listed in Apple Podcasts.

It doesn’t!

How to create an RSS feed

Understanding podcast RSS feeds

The function of an RSS feed is to tell podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, even YouTube now, what content is contained within your podcast feed.

When you sign up with a hosting company, be it Captivate, Libsyn, RSS.com, Buzzsprout, or any of the other hundreds of podcast hosting company offerings out there, they are creating an RSS feed for you the moment you sign up for their accounts.

The role that RSS feed then plays is constantly updating the podcast directories on what is contained in your feed.

This is useful for when you have new episodes published.

This is the easiest way that podcast directories can stay up to date with that feed, rather than you keep having to tell them, “Oh, by the way, I’ve released a new episode. Here’s the link to it.”

This allows for automation to take over so that directories such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify automatically know when they need to look at your feed and check it.

Usually this is happening every few minutes or so.

Preparing your podcast for RSS feed curation

The first thing you need to do is figure out who you’re going to host your podcast with.

There are a number of different podcast hosting platforms.

I always recommend Captivate.

That is the platform that Podknows Podcasting’s client system is based on.

I’ve also been a customer of Libsyn in the past and highly recommend them, particularly if you are a big publisher or brand, because then you can have access to their enterprise level features such as geographical dynamic ad insertion.

An image of a podcast feed

What goes into this RSS feed?

The first things you’re going to need to think about when it comes to creating your RSS feed is the title of your podcast and the artwork, because that needs to be integrated into the feed at show level.

You’ll also need to think about the metadata, the description and what kind of keywords you’re going to incorporate into that description.

If you want to get a comprehensive list of things you need to think about, by the way, when you’re launching a new podcast, you can go and download my “Podknows Podcasting ultimate podcast launch checklist”.

You’ll find that under the ‘free podcast advice and training’ link in the main menu above.

Or, click this.

Creating a DIY podcast rss feed

Creating your own DIY podcast RSS feed is entirely possible, and it’s how many of us did it in the early days. But, you’re going to need storage and bandwidth if you go down that road.

Not so bad if you know an IT geek with loads of servers they’re not using.

Here’s a couple of things that you’re going to need to research before you start.

You’ll need a basic understanding of XML and the structure of an RSS feed.

That is what the podcast hosting companies are creating for you.

They’re creating XML sheets for you.

You’re going to need to know what tools you’re going to need to create the RSS feed.

We’ve always relied on feedburner in the past, which is now a part of Google, but you might be able to find another way of creating that RSS feed that works better for you.

You’re also going to need to think about validating that RSS feed to ensure that the app directories will accept it.

Assuming that you’re going to not make this RSS feed yourself, which I highly recommend you don’t, just because it takes a lot of time, can be a bit clunky, and isn’t guaranteed to work, then read on…

Let's talk about creating an RSS feed with Captivate

First of all, what you’re going to need to do is sign up for an account with Captivate, and they’ve got a number of different options for you, whether you’re just wanting to do it as a hobby or whether you’re a brand.

The great thing about Captivate is they don’t charge you for individual feeds. So if you want to start a podcast now, but think maybe in the future, you might have a spinoff podcast, great!

Captivate will take care of that for you, and it won’t cost you any extra.

Once you’ve signed up with Captivate, you need to then start creating your audio trailer, and make sure that you’ve got that published within your feed.

I recommend that your audio for your trailer is a minimum of 90 seconds here just so you can guarantee that it ticks the IAB compliance box, although IAB is currently becoming less relevant.

More on that another time.

Once you’ve done that, then you can start sending it, via the RSS feed link provided by the hosting provider, to the dashboards of the various podcast hosting platforms.

For Apple, it’s Apple Podcasts Connect.

For Spotify, it’s Spotify for Podcasters.

And there’s also a dashboard for Amazon music.

And of course you can make use of the podcast ingestion tool now in YouTube.

Of course, the easiest way of doing all this RSS stuff is just literally let Captivate handle this for you.

How you can maintain your RSS feed once you've created it

First of all, you want to make sure that you’re definitely correctly publishing new episodes within your feed, IE ensuring they’re not just going to drafts, never to see the light of day in your feed.

It’s so easy sometimes to think that you’ve published an episode and actually you haven’t.

This is particularly easy to do by the way, if you’re scheduling, just check you’ve scheduled for the right date, because it’s very easy to maybe schedule it for a year later than you think you are, in which case it’s not going to be in your feed publicly until that date arrives.

You also need to be very mindful about the artwork. Apple podcasts have traditionally been very fussy about the dimensions of your artwork. Now they’ve relaxed on this a little bit. It always used to be 1400 by 1400 minimum, 3000 by 3000 pixels maximum, 72 dots per inch and under 500 kilobytes in terms of file size.

They’ve now relaxed on that. However, it is good practice to still keep the file size as low as you can possibly get away with. Bad artwork in incorrect dimensions can break your feed. So just be mindful of that if it’s not showing up in the apps as you expect it to.

Remember, your podcast hosting platform should have a support team. So feel free to reach out to them rather than the podcast app directories in the first instance, because sometimes it can be a really simple problem that your hosting provider can help you with straight away. The podcast directories are incredibly busy.

And certainly when it comes to Spotify, they’re not rushing to answer your customer questions. So I hope that helps. If you have any problems with setting up your RSS feed with any hosting provider, let me know, and I will do my best to help you

Need help with setting up your podcast rss feed? Let me know!

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