RSS Feeds and Podcast Feeds
Make your podcast available to the public by publishing it, effectively creating a means by which listeners can subscribe to your podcast.
RSS Demystified - A simplified overview of RSS
What exactly is RSS? RSS, commonly referred to as Really Simple Syndication, is a subscription mechanism that enables you to receive new content as it becomes available, either downloaded to your PC or media player. This is achieved by using an RSS aggregator, which continuously scans the Internet for updated content that you are subscribing to. In terms of podcasting, you can check for updates at your convenience or wait until your subscriptions update automatically.
RSS Analogies - Comparable services
Let's go over a couple of analogies. In other words, an RSS feed is like a personal delivery service for your podcast or other media subscriptions. RSS feeds are created from links to and from other distribution sites, sending material directly to you instantaneously. This differs from bookmarking a site because if you wanted to see if there was new content, you would have to revisit the website to seek updates. With RSS, new content or updates to a web page are sent directly to you using an RSS aggregator such as Gator. RSS files are one of the most widely used XML formats on the Web. They provide an open format for syndicating all types of content, including podcasts.
RSS Functions - What RSS can do for you
RSS files let you create complex news feeds that can include headlines, links and editorial summaries generated directly from your website content. As the de facto industry standard tool for distributing electronic media feeds, RSS feeds allow and encourage individuals to subscribe to your news feeds and even incorporate them as content for their own sites.
Not only is RSS used simply to syndicate text, RSS files are now being used to syndicate audio content, more widely known as podcasting. RSS files are used to summarize the contents of the audio programs.
Elements of an RSS Feed
RSS files define a channel that contains items. The channel provides meta information about your RSS news feed, and describes your show as a whole. Items are the content of the channel, your individual programs. Each item provides information about one program, in MP3 format, located on your web server.
The channel describes the kind of content that is featured in the feed, details the author and includes keywords and other information so that RSS aggregators and readers can provide information to a subscriber.
A channel requires 3 elements:
- Defines the title of the channel (e.g. Voices.com)
- Defines the hyperlink to the channel (e.g. http://www.voices.com)
- Describes the channel (e.g. Free web building tutorials)
A channel can have an image associated with it: e.g. your websites logo. This helps to enforce your branding and make your channel easily identifiable. The image is provided by the image element, and it requires 3 elements:
- The full URL to the image (e.g. http://www.voices.com/images/voices-logo.png). The image must be either a GIF, JPG or PNG.
- A description for the image (e.g. Voices.com). This can be shown in place of the image.
- The link to the website hosting the channel (e.g. http://www.voices.com)
You can specify the width and height of the image by adding: width and height elements. If not given, these default to 88 and 31 respectively. The maximum values are 144 and 400.
An item describes a single piece of content within a channel. While the other elements in the channel are usually static, the items will change frequently as you add new podcasts.
There are the three required elements for an item:
- Defines the title of the item (e.g. Introduction to Podcasting)
- Defines the hyperlink to the item (e.g. http://www.voices.com/podcasting/introduction-to-podcasting)
- Describes the items content (e.g. An introduction to Podcasting, history, creation and more)
For a podcast there are some additional required elements:
- Enclosure provides the link to the actual recording and includes a length and type attribute describing the type of file and the size (in bytes) (e.g. http://www.voices.com/podcasting/introduction-to-podcasting.mp3)
- The GUID is a Globally Unique Identifier that never changes for the item. Even if the URL changes the GUID should remain the same. It typically looks like a URL (e.g. http://www.voices.com/podcasting/introduction-to-podcasting). If the element is not provided the link will be used instead.
Creating RSS Files - Make Your Own RSS Feeds
If you have limited technical skills, you should use a blogging service such as Blogger to create your RSS feed. Most blogs are formatted into RSS format already and require no extra work on your behalf other than creating a blog journal entry.
If you have a website already, you can turn any web page into a live RSS feed.
RSS for the Technically Minded - Create your RSS File
If you are more technically minded and plan to host your audio on your own website, the following instructions will guide you through creating an RSS file. The RSS code is written in XML, a similar language to HTML. If you are unfamiliar with writing in HTML code, you can use this handy RSS code generator tool to produce the necessary XML code.
Creating an RSS file is as easy as taking an example file, opening it up, and entering your own information. In practice, most RSS files are generated by applications automatically. For example, RSS files are generated by almost all blogging programs and services.
Example of an RSS File - Diagram of an RSS file
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> <rss version="2.0"> <channel> <title>Voices.com</title> <link>http://www.voices.com/</link> <description>The Voice-Over Marketplace</description> <copyright>℗ & © 2013 Voices.com</copyright> <language>en-us</language> <image> <url>http://www.voices.com/images/logos/voices_logo_120x60.png</url> <title>Voices.com</title> <link>http://www.voices.com/</link> </image> <item> <title>Introduction to Podcasting</title> <link>http://www.voices.com/podcasting/introduction-to-podcasting</link> <description>Podcasting is radio your way. Podcasts are radio-style shows with some from major media with others from passionate individuals and that are delivered over the Internet to your computer.</description> <enclosure url="http://www.voices.com/podcasting/introduction-to-podcasting.mp3" length="12345678" type="audio/mpeg" /> <guid>http://www.voices.com/media/podcasts/s1e1_0000001.mp3</guid> </item> </channel> </rss>
RSS Validation - Validate Your RSS File Before Publishing
After you create or generate your RSS file, you should test it to make sure it is valid before publishing it. There are several validation services available online. Just paste in your RSS feed's URL and submit, and the sites will validate your RSS file.
Publish Your RSS Feed
After you have created your feed, you can publish it for all to see. Post it to a public area of your site, and provide a link to it. Use the logo to indicate that your visitors can receive an RSS feed at your website.
Because you are making an industry standard tool available for syndicating your podcasts, your published content can be accessed by anyone in the world who subscribes to your feed, receiving your podcast automatically. You now have a syndicated podcast and can share your information quickly and effectively with a global audience.
In order to start the rapid spreading and distribution of your podcast, you will need to promote and publicize it. In addition to using the XML logo on your site and or press releases, you will want to submit your RSS feed to larger RSS directories and niche directories related to your podcast theme. Submit podcasts to podcasting directories and podcasting news sites to get the ball rolling.
In addition to directories, consider submitting your site to aggregators such as the Apple iTunes Music Store. These are services that take RSS content from a variety of sites, collect it and re-organize it into customized formats.
For an iTunes podcast, some additional elements are required in your feed. You can view all the requirements on the iTunes Podcast Spec page.
Summary - Key points about RSS
The simplicity of RSS files make them a good way to publish all types of information. This section has outlined the basic concepts behind RSS feeds. Now, let's look at services that make your life as a podcaster easier. Enter FeedBurner.
Written by David Ciccarelli