As podcast popularity continues to rise, getting your podcast on iTunes is as important as ever…
Today, there are more podcast listening apps than ever before. Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Cast, TuneIn, and of course the newest big pod-dog, Spotify. Although I’m still #teamiPhone, Androids and Pixels are growing in popularity, too.
But I’m here to tell you exactly why getting your podcast on iTunes – excuse me, now Apple Podcasts – is still a big deal.
And the good news? Anyone with a podcast can do it.
The shift from podcasts on iTunes to Apple Podcasts
Who doesn’t love a good rebrand? In July 2019, Apple broke up with iTunes and instead broke the behemoth into three smaller apps, including “Apple Podcasts.”
But another important shift happened in 2012, when Apple released their dedicated Podcasts app on the iPhone. Shortly after, the app became a default app on all iPhones.
This was a huge deal for podcasters, because in the late 2000s, podcasting was still a pretty foreign concept to most listeners. So when you stumbled across a new show, the host had to spend a lot of energy just teaching people how to listen to their podcast.
So although the Apple Podcasts app is straight garbage,* having a default phone app that made streaming accessible was a huge turning point for the state of podcasting.
(*Ok, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But truly their app is sooo frustrating to use. There’s a reason why so many competitors built listening apps, dude. But we’ve got work to do, so #endrant)
Let’s fast forward to 2019, which I like to informally call, “the year Apple realized that other people were doing things so they’d better get their sh*t together.”
They FINALLY started updating their “best of” feeds in the app. They switched out the famed “New & Noteworthy” for a new “Best Podcasts” section that still feels unfinished. They freshened up the categories.
And the takeaway for us?
They’re paying attention. They’re investing time and money into their listening experience. And since they’re still by far the leader in the space, we’d all be silly to turn our back on our old friend.
And for my fellow data nerds out there, over half of all my podcast downloads put together across all my shows still come from Apple Podcasts.
So now that we all agree that it’s here to stay, let’s talk about what you need to do to get your podcast on
iTunes Apple Podcasts.
When is the right time to submit your podcast for approval?
In a minute, I’ll walk you through the submission process step by step. But there’s one thing I want to cover first: timing.
What most people don’t realize is that approval isn’t instantaneous. (This is true not just for podcasts on iTunes, but for any directory or listening app.)
Takeway: Apple Podcasts typically takes 3-5 business days to approve new shows if you’ve met all of their criteria. But if you catch them during a busy time, it may take even longer.
This is a major factor for your launch! The first time I launched, I didn’t realize that I’d have to wait. So I got all excited and I’d been counting down to my launch day for months….
…and then I realized I’d have to wait another week.
The world went on, and of course a week is no big deal in the grand scheme of production.
But knowledge is power, and now that you know your approvals take time, I’d recommend giving all the apps 1-2 weeks of buffer time to process and approve your podcast.
Your timeline will look like this:
- Create your first few episodes (need a mic? check out our faves)
- Create your show description and podcast artwork (more below)
- Submit to Apple Podcasts and other directories when you’re ready to go live
In short, submitting your podcast to Apple Podcasts is the very last step before launch.
So if you’re ready, here’s how to do it. (f not, just Pin this post for later!)
The major requirements for podcasts on iTunes
Apple’s podcaster admin area is called Podcasts Connect. (Here’s the full knowledge base, but I’ll sum up the important parts below.)
Here’s the big thing; Apple won’t let you submit a show with no content.
You can’t just say, “Hey, Apple! I want to produce a show and I’m going to call it ‘Melissa’s Morning Mojo.’ I don’t actually have any episodes yet, but trust me, dude. The people will l-o-v-e it.”
They want content! They want you to actually prove that you’re capable of execution instead of giving you a metaphorical plot of internet land you’ll never break ground on.
So with that in mind, there are key requirements you’ll need to prepare before you submit. All of these components are things you’ll already be producing for your launch. So although this may sound intimidating, submitting your podcast to directories is very straightforward, and not a ton of extra work.
Here’s the checklist of everything you’ll need to create before you submit to Apple Podcasts:
1. You need an Apple ID
If you’ve ever used iTunes or an iPhone in your life, you’ve already got an Apple ID.
But if not – or if you want to make a new one with your business or podcast email address – then here are the instructions.
Here are Apple’s instructions to create an Apple ID on the web on your desktop, which is my recommended method. There are also instructions for Mac & PC apps, so you have your choice.
2. Create your show and your RSS feed
Behind the curtain, all podcasts are RSS feeds of audio files (episodes). As a podcaster, one of the key tools you’ll need is your podcast’s audio host, and they’ll automatically create your RSS feed when you upload your audio files to their platform.
[WAIT, what’s an RSS feed? Check out our full article on RSS feeds here.]
There’s another big component to your RSS feed, and it’s called metadata. When you build your podcast in your hosting platform, you’ll need to include the following information, at a minimum:
- Podcast title
- Podcast description
- Podcast category
- Podcast artwork
- At least one actual episode. (I recommend a short 30-60 sec trailer.)
Once you find your RSS feed from your podcast host, you’ll be ready to go to the next step. (This shouldn’t be hidden; on almost every podcast host, this is very easy to find in your show settings.]
3. A note on podcast artwork
Ok, now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty. Apple is extremely particular about your podcast artwork, which is the image that represents your show across its platform. (This is the image your listeners will see by default when they’re listening to your show.)
Here are their exact requirements for all podcast artwork submitted for podcasts on iTunes:
- Size: square; minimum 1400 x 1400 pixels and maximum 3000 x 3000 pixels
- Resolution: 72 dpi
- File type: JPEG or PNG
- Colorspace: RGB
- Show artwork must be original and can’t contain any of the following:
- Blurry, misaligned, mismatched, or pixelated images
- Explicit language
- Placeholder images
- The Apple Inc., Apple Podcasts, or iTunes Store logos
- The terms Apple Inc., Apple Podcasts, Apple Music, iTunes Store, or iTunes
- Visual representation of Apple hardware
- References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence
As I mentioned before, your artwork will actually be part of the RSS feed’s metadata when you create your podcast in your hosting platform. But these are the requirements that Apple will look for when they validate your feed.
4. Content requirements
Apple’s content guidelines boil down to this:
- Don’t be graphic or explicit unless you’ve marked your show as explicit
- Don’t reference anything illegal or violent
- Don’t pirate content
- Don’t use Apple’s intellectual property
How to submit your podcast to Apple Podcasts
If your podcast is fully ready to go – with your description, first episode, and artwork all uploaded in your podcast hosting platform – then the actual submission process is very straightforward.
All you need is your RSS feed.
There are three steps:
1. Test your podcast
First, let’s see if your RSS feed is functioning properly. Apple recommends using Podbase’s Podcast Validator to test your feed. You’ll copy/paste your RSS feed into their website and wait for the green light:
2. Validate your podcast
Boom, your RSS feed checks out and now you’re ready to head over to Podcasts Connect.
Podcasts Connect is Apple’s admin hub for podcasters. It’s where you’ll validate and submit your show, and they do also offer some basic analytics about your episodes’ performance.
- You can log in here: https://podcastsconnect.apple.com
- On the Sign In page, enter your Apple ID and password. (Don’t have an Apple ID or want to create a new one under a different email address? Click here: Create Apple ID)
- Accept the Terms of Service agreement, if applicable.
- Go to
3. Submit your podcast
If you get the green light, hit submit! Now it’s just a waiting game.
Time to stare down your inbox for the next 3-5 business days.
In the meantime, YAAS! You’re so close to sharing your brand new podcast with the world.
(And when it’s live, email me! I’d love to celebrate with you and offer my virtual high fives.)