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What Exactly is Podcasting?

The term "podcast" was initially used to reference an RSS feed that contained audio files in the item's enclosure field. The meaning of podcasting has since expanded, and now refers to RSS feeds that contain all types of media, including audio and video, in the item's enclosure field. For the non-technical folks, podcasting is simply a means of syndicating and distributing rich-media files via the Internet. The content contained in a podcast can vary significantly, from a song, to a educational lecture, to a political debate, to just about anything else. One great thing about podcasting is the wide variety of content formats it can contain. And unlike radio or television broadcasts, the recipient can listen or view at their leisure, choosing for themselves when and where they wish to listen or view a podcast.

How To Create A Podcast

While it may sound complex, the software and technology available today can make the process of creating a podcast quite simple...

1. Record The Content

The easiest way to create an podcast/RSS feed is to use software designed specifically for that purpose. There are a variety of audio and video applications available that make recording and editing rich-media files quite simple.

2. Create The Podcast Feed

Again, the easiest way to do this is to use dedicated software. There are applications available, such as FeedForAll ( http://www.feedforall.com ), that will walk you through the process of creating a podcast feed. Or if you prefer, you can manually create the RSS feed following the steps at "Make RSS Feeds" ( http://www.make-rss-feeds.com ). There is also a tutorial at http://www.feedforall.com/podcasting-tutorial.htm .

3. Publish The Feed

After the RSS feed is created, put it on your website, using an FTP client that is built into your podcast software or another FTP transfer tool, making it available for others to receive.

Podcast Promotion

Once you have the podcast created and uploaded to a website host, the next step is to let your website visitors know that it's available. In order to signal to website visitors that an RSS feed containing content related to the website is available, you should include a colorful graphic on the website. It has become a standard that nearly all websites having RSS feeds available will use colorful graphics such as flags as indicators that RSS feeds are available for specific content. The flags were initially bright orange rectangles, but as the popularity has grown, some webmasters have bent the rules a bit. Use an icon that works well within your website design, and link the graphic to the podcast feed.

Another way of letting your visitors know that your podcast feed is available is to take advantage of the RSS "aggregators" in use by your visitors. Aggregators are used by people who subscribe to various RSS feeds, providing them with a consolidated view of the content from multiple RSS feeds in a single browser display. They will automatically detect an RSS feed on a website if you add a small bit of code in the header field of an HTML page:

[link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href=http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml]

In the above example code, be sure to replace "http://www.yourdomain.com/rss.xml" with the actual URL to your specific RSS feed, and also replace the "[" and "]" square brackets with "<" less-than and ">" greater-than symbols.

In order to increase exposure of your podcast, it should be submitted to the various Podcast search engines and directories. This can be done manually. Just as you would submit the URL of a website or web page to a search engine, you will need to submit the link of the actual feed located on your website to the Podcast directories. There is a large list of Podcast directories at http://www.podcasting-tools.com/submit-podcasts.htm .

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.