The easiest way to describe a podcast is to compare it to a radio show. Both is an audio-based content that you can listen to, except radio is broadcasted live and a podcast is available on the internet anytime.
Once a radio show gets its own online archive, then it essentially becomes a podcast – an episodic audio content available for streaming or to be downloaded from the internet. Once a podcast episode is released from that moment on you can access it onward. In that way it’s similar to YouTube—except you have to know how to find a podcast.
As podcasts are a fairly new medium, playing them is far from universal and not always easy. In order to answer the question how to play them I’ll briefly describe the concept both from listener’s and publisher’s perspectives.
How do podcasts work
Each podcast is stored on a hosting platform through which it can be accessed. It does not have its data transferred to iTunes, Google Play or anywhere else, all these services only link to the existing content on the hosting platform.
It’s the platform’s role to make the podcast available 24/7 so that it is accessible from all podcast apps ↓ that work as de facto catalogues. If you’re old enough to know what a RSS reader is, then podcasts work on the same basis.
When we were deciding on where to get Freelensers hosted, we were baffled by the amount of different hosting services we can use. A good place to start when choosing is a list of iTunes’ Podcasts Partners – those are safe bets when you want to make sure iTunes will play along nicely.
At the end we narrowed the list down to 5: Spreaker, PodBean, PodOmatic, Simplecast and Soundcloud (yep, that’s a podcast platform too). We didn’t want to break the bank and we were just starting with this projects so we passed on some of the more professional services like Libsyn and decided to go with Spreaker.
Spreaker offers a free hosting for up to 5 hours of content after which we will switch to some of the paid plans but, first of all, the system under the hood is really well made and comes with useful statistics (even on a free plan).
We also encountered some free podcast platforms but they usually come with a catch in the form of mandatory ads, signing content deals or a general uncertainty about the future of the platform.
Podcasts apps are the interesting part of the equation. Depending on your OS, the first one that usually comes to mind is iTunes (made into a standalone app Apple Podcasts) and, in case of Android, Google Play Music. Both are built-in. In the Czech Republic, Podcasts on Google Play Music are not supported, nevertheless, you can find
Then there are third-party apps, I made a list of my favourites for both platforms:
Both iOS and Android
Publishing, searching and playback
Once a podcast goes live on the podcast platform then it’s time to get indexed by iTunes and Google Play. The reason why this step is so important is that most third-party apps build their podcasts catalogue based on what is already in Apple’s and Google’s databases. In our case, submitting process took about a day at both places.
After that simply searching for Freelensers in most third-party apps did find the podcast without any hiccups.
Search by URL
However, what if search results show nothing?
In that case you need the podcast feed. In third-party apps there should be a button called Add Podcast URL. As I mentioned previously, podcasts are a lot like RSS so what you have to do is find the RSS feed of the podcast provided by the podcast platform and use this URL.
For example on our website we put the RSS feed link at the bottom:
Our RSS Feed URL is: http://www.spreaker.com/show/2768889/episodes/feed
Spreading the word
What helps then with increasing the visibility of the podcast and moving it higher in search results is rating. The more ratings and reviews each podcast gets, the more likely it will attract new listeners, subscriptions and get more popular.
So here is the place where I say: If you enjoy our podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes, it helps a lot.
- Open Freelensers on iTunes
- Click the View in iTunes link
- Click the Subscribe button if you haven’t already
- Click the Ratings and Reviews tab
- Rate the podcast by selecting 1 to 5 stars
- Click Write a review and leave us your thoughts on the podcast
Or, you can do it directly in the iOS Podcasts app.
Other way to publish
There is one more significant podcast platform and that is YouTube. It’s not interconnected with actual podcasts ecosystem, it is just another place where you can upload your podcast episodes.
If you have any other questions about podcasts, don’t hesitate to ask.