The most confusing step for new podcasters is figuring out how to upload a podcast to iTunes and Apple Podcasts.
Spoiler: you can't actually upload your podcast to iTunes. Apple doesn't host your podcast's audio files, RSS feed, or website. I'll tell you more about that below.
Apple's podcast directory is important, for three reasons:
It's featured prominently in the Apple Podcasts app and is shipped with every version of the iPhone (more than 700 million iPhones are actively in use right now).
It's featured prominently in the desktop version of iTunes as well (not as important, but still significant).
Nearly every podcast directory (Podchaser, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Breaker, Castro, Listen Notes ) uses Apple's directory as their "master copy." If your show is on Apple Podcasts, it should automatically show up on most of the other directories. (You can still submit your show manually to other platforms. I explain how here).
Like I mentioned earlier, Apple doesn't actually host your podcast. For that, you'll need to find a podcast hosting company.
Podcast hosting is actually really similar to website hosting. If you want to set up a website, you use a service like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress to host your website files, images, and media. Hosting companies charge a monthly subscription to do this for you, and it's the same with podcast hosting.
Note: our company, Transistor is a podcast hosting service! Our online software allows you to generate a podcast feed, that you can then submit to Apple Podcasts. We'll also host your MP3 files (so listeners can download them), provide you with statistics on how many people are listening, and generate a website for your show. You can get a free trial here.
This will be the home for your podcast. You'll be able to edit show details here, add cover art, create episodes, and generate an RSS feed for your podcast. It's the RSS feed that you'll be submitting to Apple.
Just like any software, different podcast hosting providers will offer different features.
On Transistor, you can create multiple podcasts and host them all from a single account:
It's a best practice to have three episodes recorded (and uploaded to your podcast host) before you submit to the Apple Podcasts directory.
Here's a tutorial for recording, editing, and uploading podcast episodes:
You'll want to make sure your podcast is configured properly. Specifically:
Make sure you've chosen at least one category (up to 3 max).
Make sure you've uploaded your show's artwork. Apple requires artwork and recommends an image of 3000x3000 pixels. However, the file size can't be larger than 512KB.
You'll also need to have at least one episode published for Apple to recognize your feed.
To validate your podcast feed, you use the Podbase feed validator.
This is a lesson I wish I'd learned earlier!
To use Apple's Podcast Connect, you'll need an Apple ID. Do not use your personal Apple account!
It's far better to create a new Apple ID that you'll use primarily for podcasting. This is especially important if you're creating a podcast for work. This is the account you'll be using to access Apple's podcast portal (Podcast Connect) and to see Apple's podcast analytics.
If you create a new Apple ID, make sure you verify it! You can do this by logging into the iTunes Store (on your phone or desktop) before you sign in to Podcasts Connect.
Once you have your new Apple ID, head over to Apple's Podcast Connect.
When you log in, you'll see a screen that looks like this:
Now, you'll need to log into your podcast hosting account and get your RSS feed URL.
An RSS feed URL looks like this:
If you're using Transistor, you'll find it here:
Copy your podcast's RSS feed URL.
Go back to Apple's Podcast Connect. Paste in your URL, and click "Validate:"
Apple will give you a preview of your podcast's information, including any episodes you have in the feed.
If everything looks correct, click "Submit."
You’ll need to wait 24-48 hours (or longer) for Apple to email you a confirmation email. (They manually approve each submission, so it can take even longer during the holidays).
Once Apple approves your podcast, you can share the show with others, and add an Apple Podcast badge on your website.
If you're using Transistor for your podcast website, we'll automatically add a "Listen on Apple Podcasts" button to your subscription page:
If you want more information about promoting your show, I've written a guide here.
Remember: you don't upload your podcast to iTunes and Apple Podcasts!
You'll need a podcast hosting company to host your MP3 files, edit your show settings, and to generate a valid podcast feed for you.
Need help? Transistor customers get priority customer support. Sign up today, and we'll walk you through the whole process.